Have a relaxing weekend.

Have a relaxing weekend. - that's pretty ace
 

What are your plans for the weekend? Chris is going on a retreat with the guys in our home group, so I'm having a good old-fashioned sleepover with girl friends tonight. Planning on eating cookies, swapping funny stories, and being the one to fall asleep first (it's my signature move). Here are a few links for your weekend: 

The 411 on Branding

Branding. We hear the word a lot, especially as small business owners or those looking to hire a small business owner – but the word can seem a bit vague. So, what is branding, and why is it important?

The 411 on Branding - that's pretty ace

What is branding?

There are two common misunderstandings about it:

  1. Branding is not simply a logo. A logo is definitely a main component of a brand, but it's only the beginning. Confusing a "logo" as a "brand" is easy to do, but doesn't fully explain the weight of work a brand does.
  2. Branding is not just for large companies. When we think of a brand, we think of brands we're familiar with – for example, Apple, Starbucks, or Target. The truth behind this is that every business has a brand, and a business's brand is always communicating something visually to it's audience. A good brand says you're responsible and pay attention to details, and also authentically expresses your personality. A bad brand says you're unprofessional and not sure what you're doing. You've probably seen both of these daily without realizing that it's the branding that's communicating this.

So what is a brand? A brand is the complete image of a business. It expresses what customers can expect from your products and/or services. It differentiates you from others in your field. It visually explains what you are, what you want to be, and what people perceive you to be. This is important for all businesses, but especially those who are exclusively online or just starting out – a good brand is intentional about using their branding elements to portray not only what their business or blog is, but what they dream of it to be. It's exactly like dressing nicely for an interview. When I talk with clients in our initial consultation, I focus mainly on what they want their business or blog to be – not necessarily what it is right now – because it's that future image that I want to help them present to their potential clients or readers. You're letting them know right away what to expect and what to love about you. 

On a practical level, branding includes an overall look and feel that is expressed across a logo, color scheme, and additionally designed pieces, like buttons, packaging, stationary, social media images, etc. It also includes some aspects of your business that aren't as tangible – like your business's tone or voice, the terminology you use, and the experience you provide. Both the tangible and intangible aspects of your branding are equally important, and must be thoughtfully carried out. 

So why is branding important? 

Branding gives customers a mental image of your business. Most people have a visual memory, meaning that they remember things by what they look like. When we think about memories, people, or places, images usually come to mind. The same is true for a brand. The visual, tangible aspects of your brand give your audience images to remember it by and associate it with. Branding gives your audience a picture of your business to help them understand who you are and be able to remember you once they leave your page. It also helps differentiate you from others in your field by visually looking different. It helps to establish an emotional bond with your customer – when they see something they like, they remember it and grow attached to it. So, when done correctly, branding will win you your ideal customer or reader. 

There are endless benefits to having great branding. Successful businesses realize this, and their branding plays a large part in their success. Think of a brand like Starbucks – the classic, green circular logo. The smell of fresh coffee. The ambiance of stepping in the store. The ease of using the app. Branding gives your audience a reliable first impression of your business, making your business memorable and recognizable to them, and causes them to want to come back to you over and over again. 


Essentially, branding is the clear road to finding, attracting, and keeping your ideal customers – it's where you will prove your worth and build trust with your audience.

How have you established a strong personal brand?

Have a nice weekend.

 

+ some links for your weekend:

Photoshop and Illustrator... What's the difference?

Should I learn Photoshop or Illustrator? This is a common question for business owners, bloggers, and those who are learning to advance their skill set. In fact, most questions I get about That's Pretty Ace involve these programs, so today I'm sharing what makes them different – and similar. 

 
 

Photoshop is best for editing photos. This program creates raster images which are made up of individual squares called pixels. These pixels allow images to be easily edited, but raster images cannot be resized without appearing pixelated and losing quality. On the upside, Photoshop has unique special effects and filters, and great tools for photo editing. And since websites are made up of pixels, Photoshop is commonly used by web designers, too. It's in Photoshop where you'll find the features to make designs look glassy, digitally appear letter-pressed, or have shadows. So I'd say that if you're working with photos frequently, Photoshop is worth your while.

How I use Photoshop: I work in Photoshop when I need to crop a photo or do a touch up edit. I also primarily work in Photoshop at my job, since I spend most of my time making website pages and updates. 

Illustrator is best for creating images. This program creates vector images, which uses points on it's edges to keep it sharp and crisp at any size. Illustrator allows illustrations and text to be designed and resized without sacrificing quality or resolution. It's commonly used for logos, print material, illustrations, and text, but it's tools are pretty limiting when it comes to photo editing. 

How I use Illustrator: I design every logo, illustration, print piece, and blog post graphic in Illustrator. I can also design pieces for my website and social media presence in Illustrator, if I design to the specific pixel dimensions I'm looking for. Since my designs often include flat colors and illustrations, this program is my go-to for my freelance design work.  


PHOTOSHOP

  • Best for editing photos
  • Raster images (made up of pixels)
  • Resolution is restricted – not scalable
  • Can add glassy filters or create realistic shadows
  • Basic illustration capabilities

ILLUSTRATOR

  • Best for creating images
  • Vector images
  • Easily scalable – never loses quality
  • Popular for logos, text, and print materials
  • Limited tools for editing photos

It's pretty clear to see that these programs were created for different functions and they each have different capabilities – making them both great programs. Photoshop is best for photo editing, while Illustrator is best for creating graphics and illustrations. And because both programs are in Adobe Creative Suite, they're compatible with each other; they often go hand-in-hand. For example, when putting together a blog post, it's helpful to edit a photo in Photoshop and then bring it into Illustrator to add text and graphics. 

And if you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, you have access to the latest versions of both of these programs (as well as the rest of Adobe Creative Suite) for a reasonable monthly price. You can learn more here. If you are a blogger or business owner (or desire to be!), I highly recommend it.

Now that you know more about each of these platforms, you might be curious how to use them. That's why I offer one-on-one classes through That's Pretty Ace! I teach a two-hour crash course that can be done in person or via Skype, and it's a great way to get started in each of these programs. Because it'll just be you and me, I tailor the course to fit your specific needs – so we might lean more into Illustrator or more into Photoshop, and you'll get to design something specific to your field. 

So, which program are you currently most familiar with? Do you work more with photos or graphics? Did you learn anything new from this post?

New Logo Design for Stewarding Life

One of the biggest compliments you can receive as a designer is when a client reaches out to you again for another job. Last year, I had the pleasure of creating a visual identity for Lillie Duncan of Redeeming Love Photography, and at the beginning of this year, she emailed me saying she and her husband had begun to offer wellness coaching sessions under the name Stewarding Life. They have big dreams, and were looking to put together a logo to make things official. 

During our client meeting, Jake, Lillie, and I discussed their hopes for their business. They've been serving clients online all over the nation, and hope to someday open a physical place of business that they would dub the "Wellness Center." While they didn't want those words as part of their logo yet, they did want to be able to easily incorporate that later. They're also very passionate about Stewarding Life encompassing all areas of wellness – lifestyle habits, eating habits, physical activity, and natural remedies where applicable – so we wanted the logo to be able to evoke that easily. They also wanted a designed "mark" that they could separate as an icon for their business. Jake and Lillie are both such authentic, gentle people. I wanted their logo to be a personal reflection of who they are. 

During the first week of the design project, I pulled together images and colors into three mood board options. The chosen mood board would function as a starting point and a reference throughout the remainder of the project. We ended up merging two of the mood board options into one! To keep with that professional, healthy feel, the main color was a bright pop of turquoise, with two darker neutrals and two lighter neutrals to balance things out, and an accent "color" of kraft. This fits Jake and Lillie's authentic style and would be a perfect fit for printed brand elements. I also incorporated organic, typographic images that had a lot of clean white space, a little texture, and pops of turquoise. 

Stewarding Life | That's Pretty Ace

I spent the next week coming up with five different logo concepts. My goal was to give them a logo that would be bold and strong, and would call to mind the idea of growth as people learn to steward their lives well. The final logo not only accomplishes these goals, but also feels balanced both up and down and side to side, evoking the lifestyle Jake and Lille are helping their clients achieve. 

Stewarding Life | That's Pretty Ace

In the process, Jake and Lillie told me they had a hard time choosing between two of the logo options. I sent them back the below image, showing them how the logos would interact across all kinds of different branded assets. This was exactly the visual aide they needed to help them decide – after seeing the two logos in this way, they immediately realized which one was the right fit for them. Each client thinks differently, and I love getting to learn more about them as I do my best to serve them in their individual needs. 

I'm honored that Jake and Lillie trusted me with their brand, and I'm excited to add this project to my portfolio. It was a joy to partner with them, join in the excitement of their growing business, and provide them with a new visual identity that suits them well.  

Branding Identity Mock-Up Vol4_opt4.jpg

"I have worked with Brittany before so I  knew when my husband I were brainstorming about logo ideas that we had to use Brittany's talents again. I am more of a visual type person, my mind is very imaginative and Jake will tell you he is very much the opposite so I was interested to see how this process would go for him. 

I love that the first thing we got to do with Brittany was meet (via Skype) and talk about and talk through our ideas and our vision for the business. She asked us very intentional good questions. From our talk she is able to put together  three different Mood Boards. This is one of the things I love the most. I loved being able to see how the colors go together and  how the sample logos and pictures make feel. With this logo we wanted something that was calming and natural so as we looked at the mood boards we could easily determine the direction we wanted to go. This was extremely helpful for my husband as well because the mood boards are so visual he didn't have to struggle to imagine anything. Deciding on which mood board to go with is the hardest part, but from there it is a relaxing process. Brittany listens to our likes and dislikes, takes the mood board and creates a handful of logos for us to choose from.
" - Lillie Duncan of Stewarding Life


What do you think of the new Stewarding Life logo?