My incredible clients NEVE Wellness just launched their business and their first product! NEVE Wellness are two sisters, Sarah and Laura. Their brand was born from a desire to create spaces and products that will support women to live with balance and vitality.

They offer plant powered skincare to get you feeling good about your skin, holistic therapies to let you unwind and re-centre, and immersive events where you can try, learn and grow with a like-minded community of women.


Discovery & Mood Board

Each project begins with a discovery phase. NEVE Wellness booked onto Unfurl your Brand, watched the short videos, and then filled in the Brand Discovery Workbook inside the online portal. 

The Workbook is simply a series of questions designed to get you thinking about your brand in a slightly more structured way. It helps to focus your ideas and get them all written down in one place. There are also a few questions that are almost like journaling prompts aimed at teasing out thoughts and ideas that might not have come to light previously when thinking about your brand.

Once I’ve reviewed the info and we’ve chatted back and forth about ideas and themes, I put together a Mood Board and explanation of the Creative/Design direction we’ll be moving in. Below is just a small part of the presentation I put together.

NEVE Wellness is:

A brand offering plant powered skincare to get you feeling good about your skin, holistic therapies to let you unwind and re-centre, and immersive events where you can learn and grow with a like-minded community of women.

NEVE Wellness brand keywords & themes:

Down to Earth, Artisan, Simple, Modern Apothecary, Natural, Holistic, Cyclical & Seasonal, Connected, Softness & Strength.

NEVE Wellness Visual Inspiration

Image sources: Greenhouse, Sunburst, VerbenaTea


Design Development

Once the discovery work was done and Sarah & Laura booked in their first design sprint weeks, I could begin designing.

The concept sketch for the logo is shown above. 

The idea of cycles and connectedness is represented by the circle. The seasons are shown both by the circle being split into 4 segments and by the 4 symbols round the edge of the circle.

The elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are shown in the 4 symbols – these natural elements are the basis of all life on Earth. The heat of the sun, the earth beneath our feet, the air we breathe and the water we drink are essential to our existence. They exist in a harmonious balance and this balance is necessary for us and the planet to stay alive.

They also have archetypal meanings for us as human beings which layer up into the representing the balanced ‘whole-self’. Having the element symbols within the logo lays the groundwork for these and other small symbols to be used throughout the brand identity.

The sun at the centre has rays emanating from it, but these are curved on the end to hint at the fact that we must always cycle back round again, come back to resting and centering ourselves before using our outward energy again. The curved lines also hint at flower petals and give the overall image a feminine tilt to balance out the bold text.


The Result

The result is a meaningful logo icon that represents all the areas the brand will expand into alongside skincare as their offering grows – holistic therapies, events, and community. 

The logo icon can be used on it’s own or alongside the text to create the full logo. The text works centred underneath the icon, or aligned to the right.

The overall branding has both a softness and a strength to it with both fine and bold lines, and although the lines are ‘clean’ all corners have been slightly rounded for a feminine tilt.

The label designs give a real Modern Apothecary feel which was a key theme for the brand.

Product Photography by Amelia Jacob


Sarah’s Experience

“I really loved the process of working together, I particularly like how we worked in stages as I felt like it gave us time to reflect before moving on the next part of the process. 

I thought using Voxer was an effective way to communicate as we are both busy mums and organising zoom meetings and things just wouldn’t have been as practical. 

I am both thrilled and surprised with the outcome. I feel like you created something that was in my head that I hadn’t quite identified yet and I’m really grateful for that, I didn’t want to just give you a list of requirements and you turn them into the right files, I wanted to hand over my hopes and let you interpret them and I feel we did that. 

I’m excited for working together again in the future!”

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An inspiring look inside the branding process for FOREST Flower Studio, based in Hawarden, North Wales. My lovely client Emma just opened FOREST Flower Studio in North Wales so it’s the perfect time to share all the work we did together!

Branding Story - FOREST Flower Studio. An inspiring look inside the branding process for FOREST Flower Studio based in Hawarden, North Wales.

Discovery & Mood Board

Each project begins with a discovery phase. Emma booked onto Unfurl your Brand, worked through the short videos, and then filled in the Brand Discovery Workbook inside the online portal. 

The Workbook is simply a series of questions designed to get you thinking about your brand in a slightly more structured way. It helps to focus your ideas and get them all written down in one place. There are also a few questions that are almost like journaling prompts aimed at teasing out thoughts and ideas that might not have come to light previously when thinking about your brand.

Once I’ve reviewed the info and we’ve chatted back and forth about ideas and themes, I put together a Mood Board and explanation of the Creative/Design direction we’ll be moving in. Below is just a small part of the presentation I put together.

FOREST Flower Studio is:

A flower shop and floral design business based in Hawarden, North Wales. Emma’s work has a natural style with a focus on sustainable practices where possible.

The FOREST Flower Studio brand is:

Natural, Enchanting, Approachable, Timeless, Mysterious, Serene, Well-crafted, Seasonal, Dramatic, Passionate

Mood board images for FOREST flower studio

Image sources: Green apron in forest, Paper bagFloral illustrationFoxglove in Forest.

The FOREST Flower Studio ‘season’ is:

Autumn/Winter

Seasonal Colour Psychology helps to provide a jumping off point for the style of the brand.
I talk this through in the videos during the discovery phase.


Design Development

Once the mood board and creative direction has been signed off, the design work starts! Sometimes I’ll sketch on paper first, but in this case I headed straight onto the iPad and computer to draw and design as I had a good idea in my head about how the branding was going to look. 

I worked on a few of the logo versions during the first design sprint, and then expanded on the branding in further design sprint weeks (these weeks can each be booked together or separately, there’s always a finished deliverable a the end of each week).

Take a peep at the design process in the video below.


The Result


Emma’s Experience

“I was looking for a graphic designer who would align with my own natural floristry style and really use the opportunity to be creative with the branding for my new shop. Meg’s intricate yet contemporary designs were a perfect fit for the brand.

Meg was so lovely to work with! She really takes the time to understand any existing ideas you have for the brand, so that when the first logos arrive, they’re exactly what you had in mind – but better! 

In my own experience as a designer, it’s rare to find creatives who are so dedicated to the brief in this way. 

Our communication through a mix of voice notes and messages was a little out of my comfort zone initially, but I found it to be a very effective way to respond to ideas. The questionnaire at the start of the process was really helpful – I found that it gave direction and purpose to my ideas.

Meg created a series of beautiful hand drawings to adorn the fonts of the logos and use interchangeably throughout the designs, and these have become a really key part of my branding and packaging.

I’m so pleased with the brand identity, the designs not only elevate the brand to justify the luxury look I’m aiming for, but also give clarity and purpose to the brand identity.”

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I softly launched a new way of working with me a couple of months ago (March 2023) and I’d love to share how it’s going so far with you. I haven’t seen anyone else doing branding for small businesses this way in the UK or further afield.

It’s called Unfurl your Brand, and it’s a pay as you go brand identity design process.

There are currently 4 wonderful women-owned businesses working with me through Unfurl your Brand.

  • For one business we have completed their brand identity design and they’re opening their flower studio in North Wales, UK in June.
  • For one business we have completed their logo design and the next session they book we’ll work on building out their brand identity.
  • For one business we have their mood board, colour palette, and a plan for what I’ll be designing sorted. On their next booking (which is already in the calendar) I’ll be diving into the design.
  • For one business, we’ll be working on their mood board and colour palette when they’re ready to book the session.

Note that each business is at a different stage in the process, and that’s the beauty of it. I have split the process up into manageable chunks, so it can either be worked through back to back (availability allowing) or it can be slowed right down. 

Each stage is a potent, soft edged container of action that will move us along just enough. There’s no ‘all or nothing’ here. Just…enough.

After each stage there is a tangible outcome that’s complete and ready to be implemented, or can be savoured in favour of doing a branding launch when the rest of the process is complete. Launch with a bang, or go softly, softly.

Why it feels important to offer branding in this format for small businesses

Allowing you to do things your way is at the very heart of the values in my own business. It’s so important to me that I’m the guide who shows you the way and does the hard work for you, but that I’m also completely honouring who you are as a person and business.

There is structure and a process, but I’m allowing you to financially, logistically, emotionally, and energetically go at your own pace. This is not something that is generally encouraged in society as a whole, and especially not in business. 

We’re measured from birth against a pre-determined timeline, tested, kept in line, kept indoors. We’re told to grow up, then later, especially as women, to snap back.

In business we’re told to get things done quicker, extract more, give less. 

As well as allowing freedom for you within the branding process, it’s important to me that I counter the narratives I’m uncovering that are harmful. Once I see it, I can’t un-see it. I can’t go back, so I’m forging my own path.

To be really honest, the offshoot of all of this is that financially for me, income is way less predictable in a sense. It can’t not be if I’m allowing so much flexibility within the timeline of projects. I’m under no illusion that I’m building a way of working that would meet everyone’s needs, that isn’t the point. 

Our move to Pembrokeshire and a huge downsize in space and living costs (after 9 months living in a caravan!!) means that I have a certain amount of freedom to try such a drastic new way of working. 

This is just a note to say please do not think you should be working with your clients in the same way if it is not financially viable for you. Figure out your own way if it feels important. I’m doing what feels right to me and I know myself how it feels to see what someone else is doing and to feel like I should be doing it to, but it doesn’t work like that. We’re all learning and growing together. 

I highly recommend this online course by Bear Hebert as an amazing starting point to figuring this stuff out, if you’re called to it (again, your business is yours). It’s $50 and well worth that price. Please note it’s for service based businesses and this is not an affiliate link:

Freely: An anticapitalist guide to pricing your work

I also made my own resource about the way I’m offering PAYG services, It’s a 3 part video series. And it’s only £9!

Final thoughts on Unfurl your Brand. 

The cool thing is, I’m only ever working with one of these businesses at a time. They book and pay for time in my calendar each session, so although there are 4 clients here, it’s easy to manage. Something I really struggled with as my business grew and especially since having my first child. I have bits and bobs of other work in the background like single day design bookings from long term clients, but logistically, it works.

As you know may know I’m also growing the digital products and courses in my business so I hope that by having multiple income streams, things will even out financially. Offering payment plans on anything and everything has also been great actually – it not just a help to the client.

The whole Unfurl your Brand process also sets things up for me to be a longer term design partner with my clients. I’ve seen from recent Design Day bookings that working with people you already know is so easy and enjoyable. With the Unfurl your brand process split down into week long design sprints, clients can easily book further sprints or design days in the future to build things out even more. 

Synergetically, it weaves together so many threads I’ve been pulling at and unravelling for the last few years. I feel both at peace and so excited about where this journey is taking me next.

If you would like to learn more about PAYG services with a view to offering them yourself, I made this 3 part video series all about it. It’s only £9!

Would you like to Unfurl your Brand together with me?

You can book in with a £150 deposit to get access to your online portal on the Tree House. You can watch the self-paced videos giving you more insight into the design process and fill in the Brand Discovery Workbook over the Summer.

When my availability opens back up late Summer / Autumn, you can begin to book in your 1to1 sessions via the calendar in your online account. First the mood board and colour palette session (£350), then later at your own pace, the design sprints (£550 per week). 

Here are some handy links and more information for you:

About unfurl your brand - accessible pay as you go branding uk

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The very lovely Lauren from Lauren Clegg Jewellery completed my branding mini course recently. She has created the most lovely branding for her business, take a look below 😍 and then read her thoughts about the course.

Lauren’s Etsy Store

Before you went through the course, how were you feeling about rebranding? 

OK ish about it. I had done my previous logos for two different businesses, however I had never really done the ‘fuller branding’, and that it where I felt I needed some help.

While you were working through the course, were there any particular light-bulb moments you had?

I think the part about seasonal branding really stood out to me. But to be honest it was all so good.

What was the most helpful piece of info or lesson for you and why?

Like I said I really valued all of it. I think I probably gained the most insight from the journaling prompts that really got me thinking about my brand and what I wanted it to say. A lot of other courses focus so much on the ‘ideal client’, that I think previously I had been focussing far too much on them. Which is obviously important as my product is for them, but I had lost the ‘me’ part of my branding I think, which is the soul of it I guess. Going through those journal questions really helped me get clear on what I stand for, and what I want my jewellery (and therefore my brand) to represent and say. I also really liked how practical it was. You can really follow along and implement what you explain in each video as you go if you wish. So the course gave me something really tangible to go away and work with, like the branding sentence at the end, or even the websites you can use to help make your logo etc. 

Did the format of 20-30 minute self-paced lessons, notes, and then feedback and help inside the community work well for you?

Yes perfect for me, especially as a busy mum with little kids. If I see a training course and the video content is longer than an hour, I am immediately put off, as I don’t know when I will get an hour to sit down and pay it attention. However 20 mins is the perfect amount of time to watch when you are getting ready, sorting the dinner or doing the washing up. And yes, even though I haven’t needed to use the community space much, having it there and being able to utilize it when needed was invaluable for me. Especially when I reached out for advice and you gave me really honest feedback (which I value so much) and some pointers on where to go with and and how to improve, and reminded me of the contrast and the seasonal branding. That’s when I realised that the initial logo just wasn’t saying what I wanted it to say, and started afresh. I’m so glad I did.

Now that you have worked through the course and created your new branding, how do you feel?

I am very happy with my logo, and I’ve had lots of lovely feedback about it too. But it’s not just that, its all the stuff underlying the logo, the heart and soul of my brand which I now feel so clear on. Before I did my rebrand, I wasn’t even sure on what type of jewellery to make, and which direction to go with it. Going through this process has helped me to drill down on my direction. By just thinking about my values and the keywords that I wanted to reflect my brand, it has helped me create a vision for the type of jewellery I want to make going forward, and I have been able to create the logo and the visual elements that really embody that. So thank you so much, I’m over the moon. 

You can read more about the symbolism behind Lauren’s logo icon on here instagram post here.

Learn more about the course and enrol here! (You can watch the first video for free)

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Something I’ve found that just isn’t talked about by other brand designers is exactly what makes a brand identity feel impactful and evocative.

To look at this we need to look at the core principles of what makes design (as a whole) impactful. Branding is about creating something that’s true to the business and the clients and customers the business wants to attract. But also, in simple terms, it’s about really great design.

There’s one key design principle I’ve identified that’s at the heart of impactful work. It’s the principle of Contrast. For example, shadow and light, colour contrast, empty space and filled space, size contrast.

I wrote a post about how and why contrast works as a branding principle in the linked posts below so have a read of those if you’re new round here.

Related posts:

In essence, the principle of contrast is used in all areas of design – interior design, architecture, music, all creative fields. In a world where we’re increasingly craving something a little different, getting inspired by those outside our own industry can lead to stand-out design that pushes the boundaries in our fields.

Weaving contrast through different areas of your branding and business

After identifying this key branding principle, I wanted to talk to some fellow small business owners about this idea and see how they use it themselves. I’ve come to the conclusion that the idea of ‘light and shadow’ is a key thing we can tap into for all aspects of building our brands and running our businesses. It can show up in so many different ways.

In their own words, I’ll share how some of my clients and small business friends use the principle of Contrast in their brand and how the idea can be taken further too – to the core of what they do.

Contrast can help us create a brand identity that feels alive. Contrast can help us create work that is striking and evocative. Contrast can help us run a business that feels balanced and doesn’t lead to burn-out.

How my client Safiyyah uses the principle of contrast in her artwork

“When I started painting, I mainly used pastel colours and stuck to a similar tone. But I noticed that I wasn’t ‘loving’ my results. Looking back I felt like there was something missing but at the time I just couldn’t pin point it. So I decided to try experimenting with different colours during my explorative painting phase. It was during this experimentation that I realized the importance of contrast and how it can bring a painting to life. 

Incorporating contrast and playing with darks and lights has made a huge impact on my work, not just in terms of gaining more traction in selling my art, but also in terms of the overall look and feel of my paintings. By using value to create flow and tell a story through my art, I’ve been able to create a cohesive and engaging Instagram feed. I know my paintings need a backdrop and they sit very well with my moody floral photography in my feed, which I have always had a passion for capturing even before I started to paint. 

My process involves planning and adjusting intuitively with colours, contrast, and scale. This approach helps me create art that is both visually appealing and tells a story. It helps the eye travel around the page and each flower gently guides the eye to the next. I’m really happy with how my art has evolved, and I’m excited to keep creating and improving.”

Safiyyah Choycha – Safiyyah Studio

How Kimberly uses this branding principle in her photography

“I create products for which scent plays the biggest role so selling online can always be challenging. Instead, I try to highlight a feeling or a mood that the scent evokes in order to give people an idea of the way one of my products might make them feel.

The idea of creating contrasts to bring life into your brand really resonated with my own experience. I had some photography experience in the past (shooting interiors) but I had never done product photography before and so when I started my business in 2021, that was its own challenge.

As a small maker, I was doing everything myself including my own product photography. Every tutorial I found online advised not to shoot in bright sunlight – the shadows that were cast would be too harsh and softer light was preferable but I was never really happy with my product photography. I knew my products were lovely looking (I had worked so hard on the branding to get that right) and I had plenty of styling experience from my interior days, but I felt like my product photography just felt flat – it was as if it was missing something although I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I began following some photographers on Instagram hoping to pick up some tips or inspiration and I noticed the photos I was always most drawn to were the ones which comfortably played with light and shadow. And so I decided to toss out that rule of shooting only in a softer light.

I began experimenting with shooting in bright direct sunlight, playing with the shadows the textures created and embracing those light/dark contrasts. Once I started to do that, I realised how much more life my photographs had. Those feelings I was attempting to evoke became so much clearer and stronger in my product images. I’m slowly working through my entire product collection to reshoot everything in this new style.”

Kimberly Duran – Swoonworthy Scents

How my client Tee has woven this idea of contrast right through to the core of her company, and how we built this story into her branding

HUSTLE has long been a word that resonated with me. It can get a bad wrap, but in my mind, HUSTLE means leaning into high, positive energy and activity, the DOING.

I wanted to explore a counter energy to sit alongside the HUSTLE, something to balance that high, go-go-go energy. Still positive, but one that allowed me and YOU  to rest, recharge and reflect. One that gave us permission to BE.

Our company name HUSTLE + hush represents my belief that we need both HUSTLE and hush (in our own unique, dynamic ratio) to be our most brilliant, authentic, wonderful selves.

The Venn diagram sitting in the heart of the logo represents both the hush and the HUSTLE energy and the space within us that exists in the intersection between the two.

Tee TwyfordHUSTLE + hush

Read more about the meaning behind the branding on the HUSTLE + hush website here.

Does this branding principle resonate with you? I’d love to know if you can identify areas of your business where you’re already using contrast. Join us in the Tree House Community (it’s free) to chat! Sign up here.

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Since I’ve become a Mother, and as the years pass, the weight of all it is to be a woman pushes my feet more firmly into the ground. I feel the roots there now, growing from my feet simultaneously backwards and forwards in time.

Did you know that when your Grandmother carried your Mother in her womb, you were a tiny egg in your Mother’s ovaries? Three generations, connected. Sharing space. Maiden, Mother, Crone. The Triple Goddess.

This fact brings me comfort because I didn’t meet my Grandmother, she passed when my Mum was only 9. But I existed in her womb once.

As I think about this, I imagine what life was like for her, and for the 3 generations of women before that she and I are both connected to. Nesting dolls inside nesting dolls, spanning centuries.

Oh, how far we have come, but how far there is still to go.

The IWD website says “Are you in? Will you embrace equity? Show the world your huge embrace. Strike the IWD #EmbraceEquity pose to show solidarity.”

Yes, I am in. I’ve been in it since the beginning. 

We’re connected to those that we owe this current iteration of ‘liberation’ to. We’re living it.

We lived it inside our Grandmother’s womb as she lived it inside her own Grandmother’s womb. We are nesting dolls.

We don’t need to strike a pose and use a hashtag to hold deeply nuanced feelings about equity, equality and all the ways we might both benefit and not benefit from the intersections and gaps. I don’t feel like celebrating when we’re living it, still.

Here’s what I’m doing every day to carry on the legacy of the women that came before me. 

  • Raising my boy to be an ally
  • Modelling to those we come in contact with what our version of equality looks like as a family – eg. more equal household and family duties.
  • Offering this ‘free to you’ online community space for women in business with high quality articles and access to advice – to give what I wished I’d had, with reverence for every person who has paid me with their time, energy, or money along my business journey so far. There’s a mission statement brewing in my mind.
  • Actively looking for ways I can collaborate and co-create with the women around me, in life and in business, so we rise together.
  • Became a founding member of Pregnant then Screwed for £3.50 a month 

What I want to assure you is that what you are already doing is enough. Whether you’re raising the next generation, modelling behaviour, having important discussions, or simply existing as yourself, it is enough.  

We are nesting dolls ✨

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This post has been created from a transcript. If you’d rather watch it as a video you can click here >> Storytelling through visual branding.

What your visual brand identity does is it helps you to express your values, your ethos, what you are all about in a way that is easy to absorb quickly.

Creating a brand identity really is simply telling your brand story through typography, imagery, illustration, if that’s what you need, and colour, all that stuff.

And if we’re talking about a brand as a whole, you’re telling the story through your words and actions too.

Back in the day before I knew anything about branding, when people would say “we’re trying to tell a story” it used to confuse me because that kind of means like a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

It’s really linear and in writing when you are writing for your brand, that might be the case. But telling a story with visuals for your brand is different.

Storytelling with visual branding isn’t linear.

Think of it as telling a story with layering instead. Layering up different elements in your brand to build up a technical picture.

Brand Identity Assets – what role does each play?

Okay, so we’ve talked about what brand identity is and what its function is. So next up, let’s get clear on all the different assets within the brand identity.

The Logo

We all know what a logo is, but what’s its real function? Logos can take lots of forms.

Most often they’ll be simply just typography or typography and some kind of icon or illustration, but really there are just two functions of your logo.

The logo should one clearly state your business name in a way that is easily readable. And number two, it should be an identifier and have something that makes it recognisable as yours.

We can weave some lovely things into the logo, like symbolism and meaning, but really you don’t have to. This is something that my clients and I like to do, so that their branding is imbued with their energy and the energy of what really inspires them, and then they can really get behind it.

That’s really the beauty of working with a designer. You can start to bring layering into the actual logo design in a way that feels balanced.

I usually make sure that we have typography that can stand alone and an illustration that can be used with it as well as in other places in the brand identity.

Secondary Logo

Okay, so secondary logo, or sometimes they’re called alternative logos. In many of the brand identities I create, we have a main logo like we’ve just talked about, and then we’ll have secondary or alternative versions. You can have one or more alternatives.

It really depends on your brand. These logos are variations in layouts so that the logo will work in more places.

In this day and age, there are so many places your logo needs to be used, so don’t get bogged down with having one logo to rule them all.

You can create alternative layouts for those other places.

So the function is really the same here, clear and legible and something that makes it recognisable as yours.

And it’s hopefully the same font and the same sort of recognisable features as the main logo so that it all feels cohesive.

And here is an example for the Forest and Cove brand. So with this one, the main logo is quite tall. It’s got a few different features in that one logo, and then the secondary logo is a bit simpler. It takes it less space height-wise, so it can be used in places where the main logo isn’t necessarily going to fit. It’s really useful to have different layouts like this.

Sub marks, maker’s marks, monograms, oh my!

Now, moving on to Sub marks circular marks, maker’s, marks, monograms. I’ve grouped these together because they have a similar function and you definitely don’t need all of these. It depends on your brand and what needs to be branded up.

For example, if your work is mainly based online, you might simply need one sub mark, and also these names can be interchangeable as well. Some people use the word sub mark, some people literally call them what they are.

I work with a lot of jewellers and they always have makers marks, it’s basically the same thing as a monogram or a sub mark. It’s a simplified version of the logo that fits into a smaller space. So, there are these interchangeable names for them, and it depends on the industry that your brand is in.

If you are a product-based business who needs to brand up packaging, then you might have all these different versions. You might have a circular logo and also a monogram and all these different things. They’re extremely useful for printing onto stickers, labels, turning into patterns for tissue paper and all of that kind of thing.

Here’s some examples of the different versions that I did for a Forest and Cove. So we’ve got another little alternative logo layout, then we’ve got just the typography, that’s a sub mark. We’ve got circular logo, and we’ve got another little illustrated mark with the brand name inside.

There’s really no hard and fast rules with what you call these really. And then we’ve used some of the details from the illustration and the circular mark and turned that into a pattern so that can be really effective.

Colour Palette

And then moving on to colour palette, and I’ve got a quote here at the top from the Little Book of Colour by Karen Haller – such a lovely book.

So the quote is:

“Colour is light, and light is energy. When that light strikes the eye, it is converted into electrical impulses. Those electrical impulses pass through the same part of the brain that processes our emotions.”

When I read about this years ago, it was just such a light bulb moment in my mind, and I find it fascinating that a colour is not just a colour.

Green is really not just green, it’s blue is really not just blue. When we look at a colour, it can change the way we feel. And I find that really fascinating and really useful knowledge for branding when we’re looking at colour palettes.

So really recommend this book if you want to understand colour from an emotional impact perspective. It brings together the work of various people and sort of ties it together in a lovely way. It’s just a useful book to dip in an it dip in out of often, and it’s not just applicable to branding either.

I really like to use resources that aren’t just about branding so I can understand things from a wider perspective. I think that gives you more well-rounded knowledge.

With colour for your brand, this is where that layering starts to come in. The colour palette can bring in a layer of personality, it can create emotional impact and emotional connection. But it doesn’t need to say everything. It doesn’t need to tell them the entire story.

When you’re trying to tell the whole story with each and every piece in your brand identity, this is where things start to feel busy. I may feel counterintuitive, but it doesn’t make things feel cohesive, it just makes things feel messy and muddled because there’s too much going on with each piece.

We want to build in that layer of personality and leave room for other layers to tell us more. With each layer, we’re inviting people deeper into the brand. Exciting, huh?

Typography hierarchy

Typography hierarchy just means our heading fonts, our subheading fonts, and the, the rest of the text. I’ve found that a bit of contrast for the heading fonts particularly works really well.

So for example, say the logo font is quite thin and refined, and then the heading font is something slightly more chunky – that contrast works great.

The reason I say contrast works firstly is because we want the logo to stand out as being the logo, we don’t want it to blend in. We don’t want it to become invisible.

And secondly, so that we’re starting to bring in like another layer of personality. Again, I’m gonna keep talking about these layers because I feel like it’s the key to everything. Layering, contrast, balancing out opposites. These are the things that are at the root of all of this from my perspective.

Textural backgrounds, icon designs, illustrations, photography

Moving on to things like textural backgrounds, icon designs, illustrations and photography. I’ve grouped all of these together because they are supporting elements.

It’s nice to have one or two of these different things. Most people will have photography, whether that’s photography of your products or lifestyle photography, photography of you as the business owner, or it can even be stock photos, that’s absolutely fine.

Having one or two of these different things usually can feel like enough layers. They’re all supporting elements that deepen the emotional impact of the branding. So it’s where you can really start to have fun and bring in those contrasts and those opposing themes. Build in those like real true to life paradoxes.

Let’s show you some examples here for Forest and Cove. The typography here, we wanted to keep it luxurious because of their tagline – Luxury, handmade treasures.

The typography, we kept it really luxury. And then with the textured background that’s painted, it’s got lots of energy in it, it’s very earthy. That brings in an opposing theme and just makes it feel really interesting. Rather than having the background as a flat colour or having something else that also feels very luxury, that would make it starts to feel kind of one-dimensional.

Bringing it all together to tell a story with visual branding

I’ll just talk more about the Forest and Cove branding, and remember this is just one example. I chose this branding to illustrate my points here because they are a brand that had all of the different assets that I’ve been talking about. They’re a bricks and mortar shop, so they needed to have lots of different moving parts.

I also chose this one because of immediately opposing themes in the brand name. We needed to bring both Forest, and Cove themes into the branding in a way that felt balanced. I also wanted to show you that forest doesn’t always mean greenery and the ocean or the coast doesn’t always mean like sea foam blues and turquoises. And like I mentioned before, luxury can have its place balanced with earthiness.

You can see the shop front here and the textural background with the typography layered over that. They painted that textured background on to the back wall as well. We brought in some nice textures with the the bags that they used.

This is the mood board that we began with, and because we used quite literal illustrations of leaves in the logo, it was important to balance this out with other parts of the brand story. Rebecca was inspired by these red cliffs in the sea coves that she visited when she was younger. So this was an important thing for the palette, to get these beautiful red colours in there.

It also kind feels like falling autumn leaves, which brought in the idea of the forest as well. The teal side of the pallet is a literal opposite on the colour wheel. The colour wheel by the way is a very handy tool and it means that the teal is a perfect contrast to those red and orange colours.

Final Thoughts

All the time we are playing with contrasts and opposites. And in my humble opinion, this is what brings a brand to life.

Just like your personality in real life has paradoxes and contrasts and that’s what makes you unique, this is what a living and breathing brand should have as well.

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Been wondering how to create a soulful brand identity for your business? In this post I’ll talk about the simple, key principal I’ve uncovered that helps me to do this for my clients.

There’s something I’ve been trying to articulate. A feeling about what is at the heart of all the work I try to put out there for my clients, but I’ve not been sure how to put it into words.

Have you ever felt like that? There’s something you understand and embody, but you don’t quite have the words to describe it and explain it to others?

Then, I saw someone talk about art practices for painting and drawing as part of a personal course I’m taking. It finally clicked into place.

The simple, key principal I’ve uncovered for creating soulful branding

You see – what I’ve been trying to articulate is really at the heart of everything that people create. No matter if it is art, music, a piece of writing, cooking, dance, film-making, architecture…a brand identity.

The creator wants the viewer/listener/reader/taster to feel something. And we are always looking for things that make US feel something too. Things that make use feel something stand out to us.

But what exactly is it that we want to feel? What makes a piece of Art, music etc either good or…forgettable? I’d argue it’s whether there is a sense of aliveness in the piece.

Whether ‘the thing’ makes us feel alive. Whether we can see the aliveness in it. Whether we can feel the aliveness of the author or artist. By alive what I mean is that it feels like it has heart and soul. It isn’t bland.

So, how do we make what we create feel alive?

Here’s that key principle:

It’s through contrasts and differences. Subtlety mixed with boldness. Lightness and dark.

This is what I already bang on about with branding, but I’ve only just connected the dots back to why it works.

Annoyingly, if you’ve ever worked with a client or employer on any kind of design or artwork and they’ve said ‘Can you just make it pop?’ (or something to that effect) this is what they mean. It needs more contrast, more differences. It doesn’t feel alive yet.

As a person, part of what makes you so wonderful and interesting is your unique mix of personality contrasts, contradictions, and differences. This is your aliveness, your soul.

When you add contrasts and differences into your brand identity, you’re infusing your brand with heart and soul too.

How to build a sense of aliveness into your branding

Building a sense of aliveness into your brand identity through contrasts and differences can work in many ways. It’s important to note that it really is about subtlety mixed with boldness, because when you have too much ‘middle’, things can begin to feel muddy, rather than clear and alive.

Here are some ways to begin thinking about this. you don’t need to harness each way of creating contrast, there are no hard and fast rules. We’re talking about how things feel here…so feel it.

Choose your own adventure.

Colour

In your colour palette, you can quite literally choose two or three main brand colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Colours and the way they interact with each other, what they mean, and how they make us feel is so fascinating to me.

The complimentary and triadic opposite colours here create a bold contrast, so you need to make sure you have subtlety elsewhere.

For example in my main branding for Lemon & Birch, I use a bright blue, pink, and yellow. This is roughly speaking a triadic palette, and so you’ll see less bold contrasts in other areas such as the fonts I’m using. Apart from differences in size, the fonts I use are simple, clear, and easy to read.

If you were to use an analogue (sometimes called a harmonious) palette, these colours have less contrast between each other, and so it would be important to create bold contrasts in other areas of your branding.

It’s always about balancing boldness with subtlety.

Brand Photography

This is something the photographers amongst us are already masters of. Balancing light and shadow, and framing a photograph so that there is ’empty’ space balanced with ‘filled’ space.

There are some really bold contrasts that can be created in an image when you know how to capture them. My client Caro comes to mind when I think of light and shadow play in photography.

You can also create a sense of spaciousness with your brand photography, but couple that with perhaps a detail rich illustrated logo, and you have a beautiful, balanced contrast.

Inversely, if you have busy floral photography for example, keep your logo and even your colour palette on the minimal, chilled-out side.

Image by Sophie Carefull

Typography

The typefaces you choose for your brand identity are a lovely way to bring in more contrast. You can use one type of font for headings and another type for body text.

You’ll probably instinctively be able to tell which fonts contrast with each other; but here’s some quick examples:

  • Bold font weight with a lighter font weight
  • A chunky slab serif with a simple sans serif
  • A bold retro display font mixed with a simple sans serif
  • Don’t forget how font sizing can play a role in creating contrast
  • Colour can come into play with your typography too

I hope that discovering this principle has opened up a new way of thinking about branding for you, one where the rules are less constrictive.

To read a follow up post about 3 small business owners who use the principle of contrast in their business click through to this related post: Contrast – a key principle to build into your branding and business

You can also sign up to my email list if this post resonated with you! 🥰

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In this blog post I’m sharing advice for creative small business owners, written by members of my online community

Helena Murphy – Commercial photographer capturing product, places and people.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to past you?

Nothing that is meant for you will pass you by. Don’t stress about your ideal timeline – it’s going to unravel in the way it’s meant to, and it’s not a race.

What’s one thing you learnt or implemented in your business where you thought ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

I definitely would have done the SEO work I’ve done this year much sooner, if I could go back! Because SEO is a slow piece and takes a long time to make an impact, it would have been beneficial to work on it from the start and not be so dependent on a platform you can’t control, like Instagram or TikTok.

Read the full Q&A bu signing into the community here

See Helena’s website here

Lauren Clegg – Jewellery designer and maker creating sterling silver jewellery inspired by nature.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to past you?

Trust my instinct and listen to my inner voice for guidance more. I’ve spent a long time looking externally for direction, thinking that everyone else had insider info that I was lacking, but when I’ve followed advice from external sources, it hasn’t fit right. I realised I just need to trust myself and follow my own path.

What’s one thing you learnt or implemented in your business where you thought ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

This is going to sound really behind the times, but downloading apps onto my phone for the platforms I use for my business. For example, I sell on Etsy, and I used to transfer all the photos from my phone onto the laptop, to upload them onto my listings. It was so time consuming, then I realised I could download the ‘sell on Etsy’ app, and I can upload images and edit listings straight from my phone. Game changer (that probably everyone else is already aware of!) Lol. 

Read the full Q&A by signing into the community here

See Lauren’s work here

Sophie Carefull – Coach for introverted creatives and a business mentor for personal branding photographers.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to past you?

I’d say: “Everything will get so much easier when you stop fighting against yourself.” I spent so many years focusing on all the things I disliked about myself, and rejecting my true nature as an introvert and someone with anxious tendencies, and actually, the more I’ve been able to face and then embrace those parts of myself, the more peace I experience. 

I never used to believe in the power of self-compassion (“If I stop being horrible to myself, surely I’ll never get anything done?!”), but now I see it as an absolutely essential ingredient for a happy life.

What’s one thing you learnt or implemented in your business where you thought ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

One of the most important lessons for me has been “be a farmer, not a hunter,” as I think the saying goes. I spent so much of my first couple of years in business on a constant (and tiring) treadmill of trying to find my next new client, that I’d often neglect to appreciate my existing clients. 

It dawned on me that it’d be much more worthwhile to cultivate longer-term relationships with everyone I worked with so that I didn’t have to rely so heavily on outward marketing. I started to get more repeat bookings and referrals when I actively encouraged them, which may sound obvious but I think a lot of us overlook this, especially in the early days when your confidence may still be wobbly and you’re just so relieved when a job goes well that you quickly move onto the next thing without looking back.

Read the full Q&A by signing into the community here

See Sophie’s website here

Ammaarah Jeewa – Creative copywriter for creative women

What’s one piece of advice you would give to past you?

Stop letting other people tell you your limitations. Only you can decide what you are and are not capable of doing. You get to dictate what happens in your business, not everyone else.

What’s one thing you learnt or implemented in your business where you thought ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

Be authentic. It sounds simple, and maybe almost obvious, but it’s so easy to feel like you have to conform to some type of ‘appearance’. Even when I thought I was being authentic, it turns out, I was still trying to hide. It wasn’t until a gentle marketing coach suggested that I look at what I do through the lens of, ‘Does what you’re doing make you love yourself?’ that it really opened my eyes.. 

I was genuinely surprised at how often the answer was ‘no’. It prompted me to take a good hard look at what I was doing, especially in terms of marketing, and adjust things so that I could finally answer ‘yes’.

Read the full Q&A by signing into the community here

See Ammaarah on instagram here

Rebecca Broad – Writer and social media manager

What’s one piece of advice you would give to past you?

Charge. More. Money. 

What’s one thing you implemented in your business where you thought ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?!’

Oh, I love Starling Spaces. In my business account with them I have Spaces for all sorts: different tax years (I automatically put away 30% of all income), Christmas bonus, my next three months’ wages, new tech fund, and ‘investment’.

It’s made everything to do with finances so much more visible for me. I never used to feel financially safe enough to spend any business money, but Spaces help me to see what I can afford to spend.

Read the full Q&A by signing into the community here

See Rebecca on instagram here

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I’m really excited to share this with you toda! I was interviewed by Ruth Poundwhite for her podcast Quietly Ambitious all about the benefits of asynchronous communication, and it was such a lovely chat! This is my first time speaking on a podcast!

I have wanted to get into podcast guesting for a while, but being a quiet, introverted person I was putting it off 🙈. I applied to be part of a summit Ruth was hosting, and as a result, she felt my topic would be better on her podcast instead.

I really hesitated to reply and say ‘yes please’ because I was so scared of putting myself out there in this way. Inevitably, it felt like fate had stepped in to stop me putting this off, and I knew from listening to Ruth’s podcast already that she was lovely and all of her interviews sounded natural and laid back.

I’m so, so glad that I got to have this wonderful conversation with Ruth – it didn’t feel like an interview at all, it was just a really soul nourishing chat!

We talked about the benefits of asynchronous communication (and what that actually means!), how we can put our needs first and create freedom with the way we support our clients, and all the ways I have reduced 1to1 calls in my business. This will be a great listen if you’ve ever wished you could have a little more freedom and spend a little less time on Zoom.

You’ll find all the links below of how you can listen!

Click here to go to the podcast page on Ruth’s Website

Click here to listen on Spotify

Click here to listen on Apple podcasts

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Reducing calls in our businesses without reducing support with Meg Harrop - Quietly Ambitious Podcast. The benefits of asynchronous communication
Once you start questioning one thins, you start questioning everything. I always ask myself now: why do we do things that way? and what if there's another way?

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