The thing I find truly fascinating about visual branding is the layers of meaning that can be brought into the design work.
Layers of meaning and symbolism can of course be used in all types of visual art, but in my opinion, it’s an especially important part of branding.
To be clear, what I mean when I talk about symbolism here is the use of imagery like the illustrations in your branding to represent ideas or qualities.
Symbols can come to mean something in retrospect, and that will be true for imagery used in your branding, that’s true for many big brands and was certainly true for my own logo design. Sometimes the image comes first and it gathers meaning as the brand grows.
But it’s also wonderful to make design decisions from the outset based on what has meaning for you as a business owner, and also what will have archetypal meaning for your customers or clients too.
Again to be clear…
“An archetype is a term used to describe universal symbols that evoke deep and sometimes unconscious responses. Archetypes are defined as recurring patterns of situations, characters, or symbols existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious of man.” Citation
When we use imagery that has universal meaning behind it we’re holding up little green flags for our audience that show that we’re the same as them, we think the same, we care about the same things. This is the very start of building up that ‘Know, like, trust’ factor with your audience.
When we add a layer to our branding that has deep meaning for us as the business owner, it means it’s more likely to feel right for us long-term. We do it once, we do it well, and we do it with meaning.
Take this Moth design for Helena Rose Photography; There is a layer of archetypal meaning with the design that like minded people will be drawn to.
The style of drawing, the witchy vibe of the elements, the Moth being a creature that is drawn to the light. This last point makes sense for a photography business where working with light is part of the skill of the art form. These are things that we intuitively understand as humans when we look at imagery, without really thinking about it.
And then we uncover the symbolism of what the design means for the business owner. It’s a deeper layer that might not always be apparent at first glance, but it’s important none the less.
Here the Moth represents the ethical and sustainable businesses that Helena works with; they are drawn towards the light in the sense that they are conscious of the how they impact the world.
If possible, we’re looking for something that works on more than one level, but you can always combine symbols together or weave meanings into other parts of your brand identity.
If you’d like to explore weaving symbolism into your brand identity with me you can can apply to work together in my Signature Branding Package called 🌿The Unfurling.
I can’t believe how much has happened in the past month. When I wrote my last ‘life update’ it was early February. We’d just put the house on the market and had sort of settled on our plan.
The house was on the market for about 17 days. We had SO MANY viewings in that time, 3 offers, and we accepted an offer that was over our asking price.
It’s now Fri 18th March and we moved into our temporary home last weekend – a static caravan owned by family members on a lovely nearby holiday park.
Kieron wasn’t quite ready to move as he wanted to have everything sorted out at the house, plus we haven’t actually finalised the sale yet (it’s close and is running smoothly as there’s no chain either end).
For me though, it got to the point where the house was feeling less and less like home, we’d sold or put a lot of the furniture into storage, and I was already letting go in my mind. We have some final things to sort out over the next couple of weekends at the house before we say goodbye for good.
I had some questions over on Instagram so I thought I’d answer those to help me structure this post.
I’m not sure I really know how to articulate it well, but I almost feel guilty for not finding this harder. I’ll never forget that home, because it was wonderful in so many ways.
I built my business there, we put so much thought and work into the garden and the renovations. We went through IVF together whilst living there, we brought our gorgeous baby boy back from the hospital to a perfectly renovated, beautiful, cosy home. And we loved living there. Until we didn’t. It was perfect, until it wasn’t.
The last couple of years have made me mature a lot and it’s not like how things look are no longer important to me, they are. I’m a designer, an artist, I like things to be beautiful. But I feel like we bought and renovated that home when we were different people. Or maybe, different iterations of the same people.
We are different, we’re a family unit now and we want more from life than that home could give us. Kieron’s job loss and pandemic isolation allowed us to reflect on what we want and get creative about how we could get there whilst keeping our newfound freedom. Less outgoings (no mortgage) is a huge driver for all of this.
So all that is to say that I don’t really feel sad. As an eternal optimist I’m much more interested in looking forward and know that there’s so much we’ve already tackled together and so much potential for what we could do.
And you know what? I’ve been getting more sleep. Which means I’m even more like my old sunny self.
Logan now has a double bed in the static caravan rather than a cot. Yes the double bed takes up the entire width of the room, but it means there’s no need for a bed guard and no way he’s going to fall out.
I/we can now lie next to him while he falls asleep rather than me having to hold him for him to fall asleep. He WOULD NOT be put down awake in a cot and was waking up 3-4 times at night…needing to be held to sleep each time (what felt like a regression after him being more easy-going with sleep for most of his first year of life). It wasn’t so much the amount of wake ups, I’m happy to get up for a toddler cuddle, it was the amount of time it was taking to get him back into his cot, which meant I was super wide awake and finding it harder to get back to sleep myself.
He now wakes up once and I lie next to him until he’s asleep and then sneak back to my own (our) bed. Sometimes I fall asleep next to him and that’s fine too. It works. An unexpected up-side of static caravan life that may or may not have been one of the reasons I wanted to move before we’d properly finalised the sale.
I’d already intuited that either a double bed or floor bed scenario might be an answer to our sleep woes and by this time there was no point making the change in the house. We’ve bed shared a little through sheer desperation, with Logan in the middle of the two of us (because of no bed guards) but none of us seemed to sleep as well.
Maybe it’s just because we’re temporarily living on a holiday park, maybe it’s the novelty aspect, but I actually have that holiday feeling.
I’m still being a Mum, being a wife, cleaning and tidying (not cooking, Kieron does the cooking 🙊) running my business and doing my client work, all the things I usually do, but I feel different. The internet is a bit sh*t and the Labrador is still malting her winter coat (if you know you know 🙈) but there are no real negatives so far.
In fact, with the living space being smaller we can be doing various different things, but still have an eye on Logan as he potters about and plays. Even the outdoor space works really well – there is a small deck that runs round the front and side of the caravan, it’s fenced and gated so is safe for Logan to wander around. At this point in time, with the size of our family and and how old Logan is, it feels pretty perfect.
I’ll let you know how it feels when it’s all less new.
We’re still in the process of doing it and it certainly hasn’t been easy but that’s because of the volume of stuff that you accumulate over the years!
It’s been a lot easier with knowing the space we’re moving into and the amount of storage we have. So we’ve not been downsizing everything by an unknown amount – we visited the caravan a few times to get a feel for the amount of storage and that really helped.
We do have a local storage locker that we’re paying for monthly to keep a few bits of furniture I couldn’t part with, the lawn mower, power tools, and some of the stuff from my studio office.
Most of Logan’s baby things we sold or sent to charity shops except for his cot and pram because they’re great quality and we’ll store them, even if it’s just for a while.
I love that we now know exactly what we’ve got because we’ve sorted through absolutely everything, and have let go of everything we don’t need. My head feels a little clearer because of it.
The next step isn’t solidified, and that’s what partly makes this feel fun for me!
We would like to earn an income through buying and renovating a property within the next couple of years.
The property to renovate could be here in North Wales, or in West Wales. We may do more renovation projects if the first goes well.
We would also like to have some land that we can make a living from. Initially as a camp site, and eventually with small holidays cabins amongst other things. Ideally the land will be in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, by the coast, where we have family ties.
We may buy the land and live on it in a static caravan, or live in a towable caravan at the sites of the renovation projects. The renovation project is likely to happen before we do any work with land we buy so that once that house is sold we have some capital.
Land/house projects all depend on what’s available once we have the money in the bank.
As a long term goal as mentioned in the previous blog post, we would like to self-build (with help 😂) our dream house. And THAT all depends on how these other things go over the next few years.
Have I lost you yet? It all makes sense in our heads…
We saw a patch of land this week actually that we are going to have a look at. It’s in Pembrokeshire, and it’s called Rainbow’s End – what a perfect name! It has woodlands, meadows, a stream, and a variety of buildings already on it (making planning permission for caravans and other structures more likely). I’ll update you on that next time as it’s bidding via an online auction – we may miss out as our sale won’t have gone through yet.
Just knowing that we are working towards a bigger future whilst still staying flexible with neither of us having to work a 9to5 or other set shift pattern.
Not saying it isn’t going to be hard work, but it’s a different hard. Hard work at our own pace. Feeling frazzled? Let’s take a holiday.
Having all the power in our own hands about how we make our money and dare I say it…build wealth.
Knowing that we have an awesome set of skills between us and the same dream in our heads.
Having the possible chance to build, run, brand, and market our own family business THING and leave a legacy for Logan is bonkers exciting for me!
Looking forward to updating you again in a month’s time.