the blog

I have questions asked of me over on Instagram often by fellow designers as well as small business owners. I always make a list of the questions I get asked so that rather than just answering once, I can create blog posts like this that help more people with the same questions! I also have some digital products and online masterclasses in the works right now so keep your eyes peeled for those launching in a few months time.

If you’re new to the world of branding, or are a designer looking to learn more about what the ‘best practices’ are when designing a brand identity for a client, I really hope the following tips are helpful to you. As I said, digital products I’m creating at the moment will expand on all this knowledge, but in the mean time, here are 4 ‘best practices’ for creating a brand identity design.

1. Gather inspiration from more than one place

During the research phase when you’re gathering imagery to inspire the look and feel of the brand identity, it can be tempting to only look at other logo designs that have already been created. Worse still would be to look at only logo designs from the same field of business.

Of course you need to know what else is out there in the field of business you’re creating the identity for, but there is SO MUCH MORE to see, and I don’t just mean on Pinterest. Really dive deep and think about the story of the business owner and their journey to where they are now.

Are there little ‘story’ elements you can pick out, are there themes you can build on, are there any images that come to mind when you’re reading all the information your client has given you? It’s important that a logo design has elements that feel familiar and not totally ‘out there’ but that it also feels like it has something ‘new’ to offer.

The most original designs come from combining different inspiration sources together. For example, combining a style of typography or text layout you may have seen in another logo design with some interesting angles or shapes inspired by a tiled floor pattern that gave off the right vibe for your clients’ brand.

2. Know what the businesses goals are as well as the specific objectives of the design/rebrand

It’s important to know what the future goals of the business are so that the new design can be aligned with this. You brand for the future of the business, not the past or present.

If the business is looking to expand in some way, an objective of the new brand identity might be to diversify the overall design so that there is scope to add more product lines or service offerings. More design elements might be needed for product packaging, or set colour combinations for each new service for example.

If the business is looking to target a slightly different customer or an additional type of customer, an objective of the new brand identity might be to elevate the overall feel of the brand to bring it in line with the revised target market.
Always discuss goals and objectives so you have a marker on which to judge the effectiveness of the new brand identity.

3. Make sure the logo stands out against the rest of the identity design

There may be more than one font used within a logo design, but the main typeface or font used should not then be used in other parts of the branding like for headings.

There are always exceptions to the rule – sometimes if your logo has illustrative elements or has had lots of customisation done to the text, you could feel that the same font is going to work best for headings. However, as a ‘best practice’ try to find a heading font that blends nicely rather than using the same one – or at least use the logo font very sparingly. This will make the overall brand identity look and feel much more professional.

In addition, you might think that adding more elements to a logo design will make it stand out more, but this just makes things complicated. The best logo designs have one or two ‘wow’ elements (this could be an illustration and custom letters in the text for example). Don’t try to add too many ideas into your design so that it becomes confusing or too busy.

4. Think about where the logo will be used – make sure it will work for these scenario’s

Make sure you think about (or talk about with your client) all the places the brand identity and logo’s might be used. If you go ahead and start designing using a really thin weight font in part of the logo and then it’s decided that the logo needs to be letterpress stamped onto stationery, it can be impossible to make a stamp at certain sizes to get the desired printed result.

Similarly if the logo is going to be blown up very large onto a shop sign, make sure it’s going to look perfect at this larger size! Hand drawn elements can sometimes be tricky at larger sizes and may need a bit more tidying up so they don’t look too messy.

Another example would be involving colours – some blues and turquoises don’t replicate well from screen (RGB) to printing (CMYK) and you may need to use Pantone printing to replicate the correct colour. Same with neons – spot colour printing is the only way neons are possible in print. Make sure your client is aware of any colour printing limitations if they are keen to use colours that might present problems and try to explain Pantones and spot printing if you can.

I hope these tips have helped you get clearer on some aspects of designing a brand identity. As ever, if you have any questions for me or things you’d like me to cover please do send me an email at – I’m always happy to help!

Read more

When creating a logo design either for yourself or as a designer for a client, in some cases, all you really need is some unique typography to bring things to life.

Sometimes it’s best to keep your logo design type based so that you can bring in illustrative elements in other parts of the branding like on product packaging or as elements to build into a website design.

Or, you can combine typography with other elements to take your designs to a whole new level.

There are so many amazing things you can do with typography alone to make it unique and interesting, so I’ve pulled together my top 6 ways of being creative with type for you!

All of the examples below are my own work and have been created inside Adobe Illustrator (or as a combination of the Procreate app on my iPad and Illustrator on the computer).

The same effects could also be achieved in Affinity Designer which is professional design software that only requires a one-off purchase and works out much cheaper than Adobe Illustrator.

1. Type onto a path

Typing onto an open or closed path in Illustrator is such a fun way to bring movement and fun into your typography!

In this first example for Tea and Crafting I’ve used this effect in each part of the text. For the main logo typography in pink, I created a wavy path with the pen tool and typed onto it. Then for the tagline I’ve typed onto a circular path.

The second word of the business name here was much longer than the first, and so adding the tagline in a circle to the left balances things out.

In this submark example for Susana Torralbo I’ve typed onto two wavy paths to create a playful and energetic look. I created a few different text layouts, then sent these layouts to my iPad Pro and opened them in the Procreate app – this allowed me to draw the faces around my typography so they fitted perfectly!

I drew in black at a high resolution, sent the png image back to my computer, ‘image traced’ the faces to turn them into a vector, and combined them with my wavy vector typography.
In this last example for Kate North Kinesiology, spirals were a big part of the brand design concept. To create this unique looking submark I carried the shape of my spiral vine on and typed onto the path I made. Simple but effective and it fits in so well with the rest of the branding!

2. Embellish your type

Sometimes you’ll find a font for a logo design that feels like it is almost perfect…but there’s just something missing. In this case, think about how you add add to your letters to create the exact feel you’re looking for.

Maybe this means cutting bits off letters from another typeface and adding them into the typeface you want to use. That’s totally ok to do and is a lot of fun! To find what works you’ll need to spend the time playing around with different things.

You can also try adding illustrative elements either by drawing them or adding details with the pen tool in illustrator.

In this first example for Folk Rose Beauty, I found two typefaces that I liked for the design and wasn’t sure which was going to work. In the end, I took those curved embellishments from one typeface and added them to the other to create the perfect balance.

I also drew in some dots and the other detail on the K to add some more interest to the other letters. It’s important to not go overboard with adding your embellishments, they don’t need to be on every letter! 🙂

In the example below for The Prairie Wellness Co the font I’d chosen was very minimal and I knew we wanted to include some Prairie wildflowers in some parts of the branding.

It looked like far too much to add flowers to every letter, but the word Prairie was luckily the perfect length to add flowers to every other letter! I took an image of my typography into Procreate on my iPad to draw the florals, then ‘image traced’ the flowers to turn them into vectors.

3. Combine uppercase/lowercase or different font styles in a unique layout

When you need to create something really unique you can try combining uppercase and lowercase letters, or perhaps regular and italic letters. You’ll often need to work hard on the layout of these letters to make sure things look balanced and are readable.

In this example for Susana Torralbo it took a while to combine things in such a way that the text was readable still. All you can do is keep combining things in different ways until the composition feels balanced. Also notice ‘Torralbo’ typed onto a wavy line from my first tip, this follows through the the submark design.

Ask other people whether it’s readable still! My husband is a great help to me, he’s not a graphic designer and so he sees things in a different way. He can instantly tell me if something looks forced or if the text is no longer legible.
In the example below for Caro, I’ve spliced a couple of fonts together, created a completely new letter A, and combined them in an interesting way for this secondary logo. Having the A almost italicised and having the straight line on the right created some nice symmetry with the letter R which makes this layout work. It also works well with the text being laid out in a straight line for the main logo.

4. Create your type from scratch

Don’t freak out when I say that, we’re not talking about creating your own serif typeface here. You can create some pretty awesome typography just with monoweight lines in illustrator.

For this example below for Artificially Intelligent Claire, I couldn’t find a typeface that had the right balance for her brand. So I created my own letters just using lines and those little squares. There is so much you could do with this especially for a brand that will suit a minimal type design and it doesn’t only have to be for techy brands like Claire’s.

5. Keep it minimal

Don’t feel like you need to go overboard with the type customisations each time. Sometimes all you need to do is make some minor adjustments to your letters.

In the example for Louise Howarth below I disconnected the middle line of the H and A, and edited the curve of the letter R. The design is super simple, and there were other logo versions that provided some more visual interest. To create a ‘high-end’ logo less is always more.

Similarly with the Balance Hot Yoga logo below, I changed the middle line in each letter A to point upwards. This made me think of a yoga pose in a very subtle way and was enough to make the logo typography unique when paired with other elements in the branding.

6. Combine letters together

This can work nicely with so many different types of fonts. Some typefaces will have extra glyphs or ligatures (in Illustrator go to Window > Type > Glyphs to access the panel that will show you any extras that came with your font) where letters are already combined for you, but you can have some fun with combining things yourself too.

In the example below for Huma Qureshi I’ve combined the U and M in the first name – be careful with customisations this and make sure each letter is still legible in it’s own right! I’ve also combined the A and H after I lined them up to fit perfectly together, play around with your spacing to see if you can get things to line up.

Again, ask others who aren’t aware already what the words say if you’re unsure if you’ve gone too far with your design.

In the example below for Brilliantly Visible, I used some extra glyphs that came with the font but customised them to fit those little dots underneath the L and E.

I hope this has given you some fun ideas to play with for your next project. Remember to always seek balance with your typography logos and to not go overboard with embellishments and customisations. You never want your work to feel forced. Always ask for a second opinion if you’re not sure if things work 🙂

Find me over on Instagram at @lemonandbirch if you need advice on your typography!

Read more

When creating a brand design, either for yourself or as a designer for a client, the most important step is getting the right information down on paper at the beginning. Talking on the phone or in person is sometimes important too, but a paper questionnaire allows time and space for reflection.

I don’t work with clients who come to me with a brief as such. They may have some ideas about the direction they want to go in which is great as a starting point, but I’m always wary of working with a client who wants to dictate exactly what they want their logo to look like.

Many graphic designers prefer to have a set brief to guide them and for some clients that is exactly what they want to give and that is fine of course. But the way I like to work is to gather lots of information in the beginning and then let that information guide me on the design choices I make. I’m guided by the persons story, how they got to where they are, and I’m always trying to infuse as much meaning into the brand design as I possibly can.

This is not to say that the client has no say in where the design goes – of course they do! The difference though, is that they are hiring me as a branding expert to steer them in the best direction for their brand. A direction that feels true to their business and who they are, and a direction that will also appeal to and make sense to their target audience/ideal clients.

And so, I thought it would be helpful to show you how I peel back some of the layers with the questions I ask my clients at the very beginning of their projects.

The important things to remember is that the person you’re working with probably doesn’t know the information you need in order to create a meaningful design for them. You are the expert, so you need to guide them.

And if you’re not a designer but are looking for someone to work with you on your branding, hopefully this will help prepare you for the experience a little!

1. Is there any special meaning behind your business name?

Maybe this sounds like a super obvious question, but it really is necessary to ask it. Like I just mentioned, your client might not realise that this would be really useful information for you to have.

If your client is using their personal name for their business then maybe this won’t give you any nuggets of wisdom, but if they have chosen something other than their own name it can give you a wealth of information to start with.

An example of where this simple question really paid off for me is with a recent client of mine – Caroline, see her website here.

When Caro first booked in with me her business was called Blue Cicada Photography, but she wanted to rebrand to bring herself more into the centre of the business. She wanted to rename the business to her own personal name, the short and sweet ‘CARO’.

On the surface it didn’t seem like there would be any meaning to find from asking the question, but upon reading Caro’s questionnaire she surprised me with some beautiful information that really helped steer the direction of the project.

An extract from Caro’s questionnaire is below:

Is there any special meaning behind your business name?

There is [meaning behind the name Blue Cicada Photography] but I feel that I have moved on from there and that my business has evolved to be more about me.

It’s funny because recently, someone pointed out that cicadas stay in the dark until they shed the skin that protects them as they are growing.

Once it is done, they go in the sun and sing their heart out. I feel like this is me now. Enough staying in the “dark”, I feel more ready than ever to celebrate my business, who I am, what I can do and the skills that I have been working on for the past 20 years.

After reading this I knew straight away that although the Cicada was not going to be in Caro’s business name anymore, the imagery was still something I wanted to explore and perhaps keep in the new branding because it represented the history and story behind Caro’s business.

2. Why did you start your business? Is there a story that lead you to where you are now? What is driving you to deliver your product or service?

So this is a few questions in one, but sometimes I like to ask questions in groups to get my client thinking about not just each question, but how each question/answer interacts with each other. The three questions are separate, but they are also linked and there is probably some crossover in the answer for each.

I also mention that these questions might warrant a long answer and I make sure to say they can write as much as they like which allows the client to feel a bit more free.

Asking the questions together is almost prompting them to reflect and think more deeply and answer in long form rather than with a couple of sentences.

I love reading this section of the questionnaire the most because it really helps me to understand the persons history and the driving force that lifts them. Often, because the answer is longer than a paragraph I can pull out or highlight small sentences that feel like they could take me somewhere – as in they might be a starting point for imagery to explore for the logo and branding.

An example is a simple sentence I got from my client Katie when she was explaining her story is “I love the magic of translation” (she is a translator and copywriter). This gave me the idea that we could add a sprinkle of magic into the branding, nothing over the top, just a little something extra.

3. List 2-3 of your ‘competitors’ or businesses that are somewhat similar to what you do. What are they doing well? What are they NOT doing well?

I don’t particularly like the word ‘competitors’ because I think if you have a strong and defined brand then the notion of competitors sort of fades into insignificance. Your brand can be so unique that for your ideal clients or customers, you are the ONLY choice for them to go for. I can write much more on this subject so let’s save that for another blog post!

The word competitor is easily understood by all though and most people will have a few businesses that they know they are somewhat similar to, so I do use it in this question.

Asking follow up questions like ‘What are they doing well/not so well’ helps me to understand what my client views as ‘good’ and ‘not for them’ in terms of business and branding. It’s always so interesting to see the answers to this question and it really helps to know who we need to differentiate their business from.

Often, clients might say a business is similar to them in terms of services, but they want to have a much different feel to their brand so that they’re attracting a slightly different customer. They may often describe this other businesses brand in words and so it gives me a benchmark and an understanding of what words they use to describe different ‘vibes’. This is really helpful because words sometimes mean different things to different people.

After working through all the answers my client has given me, having pulled out various snippets that stand out, I will head over to Pinterest to begin to find some imagery that feels like it matches with all the information and come up with a visual direction for the branding.

This is such a fun part because I will get to try various combinations of colours and imagery to see what feels right. This is where words lead to images and images lead to more images and I’m sent down a wonderful rabbit hole!

I try to look for inspiration not just from branding that has already been created, but from other sources, like book covers, magazine layouts, beautiful artwork, tiled patterns, interior decor, and nature (to name just a few).

I hope this has given you a good starting insight into the branding process. I’m always open to questions so feel free to email me at or DM me over on Instagram!

Read more

This post is written by guest contributor Sophie Livingston. Sophie is a website copywriter working with freelancers and small business owners who want to attract clients they’ll love working with.

If you’re delivering a service through your business, like coaching, photography, virtual assistance or design, for example, you are a big part of what your clients are buying when they invest in that service.

They don’t just want the service you’re selling, they want the way it will make them feel. And how they feel will depend on how you’re shaping the experience you provide.

Your words can have a big impact on that experience. How you talk in and about your business influences the conversations you’re having with people. Both your words and your visuals give you an opportunity to connect.

If you let your personality shine through in your marketing, you’ll connect with the right clients who’re going to truly benefit from working with you.

And finding the right clients is a big deal, right? One of the best things about being independent is getting to choose who you work with and what you work on.

When you put in time and effort to develop a consistent and unique brand, you’ll attract the right clients and projects naturally. You’ll get enquiries from people who want to work with you above anyone else because they’ve come to know, like and trust who you are.

With that in mind, here are my top three tips on how to write with personality in your business.

How to write with personality in your business

1. Define your brand personality

The visuals we use online play a big part in how people perceive us, and it’s no different when it comes to the words we use.

In the same way that a logo can be recognisable and invoke emotion, the words you use can help you build relationships and trigger actions.

But a brand is about so much more than just a pretty logo or a strong tagline.

Your brand is made up of all the impressions your clients and contacts have of you. It’s your reputation. It’s how people would describe you when you’re not in the room.

And, as you’re building your brand, you have the opportunity to shape those impressions. With a strong sense of what you want your brand personality to be, you can develop visuals and a voice that influences the way people see you.

To define your brand personality, start by asking yourself the following questions.

Q. What feedback have you had from people you’ve worked with? Why do they enjoy working with you? What do they say about you?

Q. What do your ideal clients need you to be? If they were to describe the kind of person they’d love working with, what would they say?

Q. Think of someone in your field or community who you look up to and admire. What is it about their personality that you enjoy or can relate to?

Q. Now think of those you might consider competitors. What makes you different from them? How would you describe their personality and how is yours different?

Q. And finally, which aspects of your personality do you want to see reflected in your brand?

After you’ve answered those questions, you should have a clearer idea of what makes up your personality and which of those traits you’d like to inject into your brand.

To keep you focused, you might find it helpful to create a list of three to five words that sum up your brand personality.

Is your brand personality bold, fiery, calm, direct, charming, formal, cheerful, playful, witty, reflective, friendly, supportive, inspiring or energetic, for example?

Defining your brand personality in this way doesn’t need to be about setting parameters, but it can help you find direction and be more consistent.

Write these words down and stick them up next to your desk so you can keep them in mind when you’re writing content.

2. Write like you talk and write to one person

One of the golden rules in copywriting is to write like you talk.

And writing like you talk is the easiest way to stay consistent.

A consistent tone of voice helps build credibility and trust. It does this because it feels familiar and unique. When your tone of voice is recognisable across all the different touchpoints in your business, it creates a seamless, personal experience for everyone you’re interacting with.

There is no one way to talk about a business or to communicate with an online audience. In your business, in your brand, there is only you and the way you talk.

Imagine how you’d feel if you decided to work with someone because, online, they come across as bold, fiery and opinionated, but when you meet them in person, they’re quiet, agreeable and reserved. Or vice versa.

We’d feel cheated, wouldn’t we? Like we’d been lied to or tricked into something.

Marketing isn’t about tricking people into doing business with us. It’s about understanding people and connecting with them.

Try these tips to help you write like you talk

After you write something in or about your business, read it back to yourself out loud. Does it sound like you? Does it feel natural? Would you feel comfortable saying the same thing to someone face-to-face?

Imagining that you’re writing to (or talking to) one person is a useful trick. If you’ve developed a good idea of who your ideal client is, it can help to give them a name and write directly to them when you’re drafting content.

It might be a made-up name that suits the persona you’ve created, or it might be a real-life person from your community who embodies all the traits you hope to find in the people you’re working with.

Write “Dear [name]” at the top of your content draft and write like it’s a message or email that’s going directly to them.

The copy or content you write for your business doesn’t need to appeal to everyone. In fact, if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll be doing more harm than good.

It can feel scary, at first, to be so relaxed in your writing when you’ve probably been taught to always be “professional”. Being professional means delivering on what you promise. It doesn’t mean being formal or boring or writing like a robot.

Writing like you talk will help you feel so much clearer about who you are in your business and who you’re here to help. And it’ll help you attract like-minded people who want to work with you because they like who you are.

Related post: 4 steps to identify your ideal customer

3. Show up as yourself and be honest

One of the things I admire most about Meg (the brand stylist behind this blog), is how authentic she is in the content she creates and the stories she shares.

In her blog post on the importance of being visible in your business, Meg says “What I love about the internet and social media is that it allows us to be seen just as we are. Real people telling real stories. You write the script, you set the scene, you can be inspirational just by being your very own self. People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.”

When you think about the people you enjoy following online, I’m sure you feel a connection to them. You probably feel like you know them even though you’ve never met them in person before.

As humans who spend a lot of our time online, we’re seeking those genuine connections. We want to feel seen and understood, and when we hear from other people who are sharing openly, it helps us feel a little less alone in the world.

Being authentic doesn’t have to mean baring your soul. You can share honestly about your working life without talking about the things that feel private and sacred to you, like your health or family life, for example. Or perhaps you’re someone who feels comfortable sharing some aspects of your personal life, but you draw the line at talking about the struggles you’re facing in your business.

Whatever feels right for you, it’s important to have boundaries and keep some things back. You don’t need to tell the whole story for the online version of yourself to be authentic.

Remember that the content you’re sharing is part of the experience you’re providing to your clients or future clients. You’re not sharing because you want the whole world to know everything about you, you’re here to help a small, select group of people overcome a problem they’re facing.

To help you find the right balance, consider what your ideal clients will find helpful or relatable. That’s who you’re here for, after all, and I know you want to show up in the best way you can for those people.

Ask yourself the following questions to start writing a list of ideas that you can expand on later.

Q. What experiences have you gone through that your ideal clients might be able to relate to?

Q. What lessons have you learnt, in life or in business, that can help your audience with the challenges they’re facing?

Q. What do you wish you’d known 3, 6 or 12 months ago that could be useful for someone who’s a few steps behind you?

Q. Why have you made [X] decision? What’s guiding you? What do you believe in relation to this that’s given you the confidence to move forward?

Q. What fears have you had in the past that seem silly now? Or what’s something you’ve done recently that you wish you’d done a lot sooner?

After you’ve answered these questions, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of ideas for stories you can share with your community.

Keep a notebook close by or use an app on your phone to develop these ideas and add new thoughts as they come up.

Take inspiration from the real-life conversations you’re having with friends and clients, and remember to write these stories as if you’re talking to that one person who comes to mind when you think about who your ideal client is.

Things to remember

You are a big part of what your clients are buying when they invest in your service – let your personality shine through in your marketing and you’ll attract clients who value you.

A brand is about so much more than just a pretty logo or a strong tagline. Your brand is made up of all the impressions your clients and contacts have of you. It’s your reputation. It’s how people would describe you when you’re not in the room.

There is no one way to talk about a business or to communicate with an online audience. In your business, in your brand, there is only you and the way you talk.

People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.

The content you’re sharing is part of the experience you’re providing to your clients or future clients. You’re not sharing because you want the whole world to know everything about you, you’re here to help a small, select group of people overcome a problem they’re facing.

This blog post was written by Sophie Livingston. Sophie is a website copywriter working with freelancers and small business owners who are ready to start attracting their dream clients. Find out more about her website copywriting service, or join her community of determined creatives on Instagram.

Read more