What does branding fully encompass? How can you make sure that your brand style is evident across all elements of your business? What can you expect when working with a designer?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks with Jade Rennie about timeless branding and dealing with criticism.
Meet Jade Rennie
Jade Rennie is the founder of The Brain Child, the creative design studio located on the South Coast of NSW. Specialising in logo design, branding, web design and offers design services to business and not-for-profits, ultimately growing their business through her creative designs.
Obtaining a diploma in arts (illustration) after high school introduced her to the world of digital design. Adding style editor, business admin, buying, marketing and sales to the CV over the next seven years took her from Melbourne to Sydney to Singapore to presently, the South Coast, NSW
In This Podcast
- Doing what you love
- Improving your brand
- Things to expect when working with a designer
Doing what you love
Having built her business over the past 5 years to something she can work at full time, its a dream come true for Jade to be able to work around her family’s schedule. Also seeing her clients have this newfound confidence in their business when using their marketing materials as everything is aligned with their branding.
Alot of people get a bit muddled when they think of a logo, they think their logo is the brand. But a logo is really just a part of the brand.
A brand is a whole picture, it is the colors of your business, your logo, the fonts you use and the tone of voice you use in marketing. Clients don’t necessarily need to know what their brand is going to look like but it is important to know where they see their business in 5 years, who they think their target market is and who their audience is right now.
Improving your brand
Your website is an extension of your brand.
- Refer back to your brand guide (this includes your logo, design elements, font, and colors)
- Make sure your website is in line with your brand, this could be achieved by using the same font for everything and making use of your brand colors
Things to expect when working with a designer
- You will schedule a time to meet on either Skype or Zoom
- A quote will be sent and once accepted you will be invoiced
- An agreement will be drawn up and a timeline will be decided on for the project and will be set up in a project management tool
- Provide your designer some sources of inspiration (use Pinterest) before the design work can start
- FAQ 4/4: When Should You Rebrand? | MP 10
- Email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Design Services With Sam
- Join Next Level Practice
- Apply to work with us
Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
Thanks For Listening!
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Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
On the Marketing a Practice podcast, we have Jade Rennie. Jade is a graphic and web designer who owns her own boutique design studio called The Brainchild, which is currently in its fifth year. And she’s based on the south coast of New South Wales in Australia. Jade, welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast. We’re so glad to have you.[JADE]:
Thank you so much for having me. Such an honor. Thank you very much. [SAM]:
Yeah. And I realized this morning that it’s 9pm your time there. For the listeners, I’m based in Cape Town, South Africa, so our time difference is quite big. So, thanks so much for making the time. [JADE]:
It’s fine. I’ve got a cup of tea, I’m ready to answer some questions so, all good, it’s fine. Actually, it works better than in the morning because you would hear the two little people running around. So, night times are a lot quieter. [SAM]:
Yeah. So, they are stashed away, shame. [JADE]:
Fast asleep right now. [SAM]:
That’s great. So, Jade, tell us a bit of your backstory and how you ended up in branding and design and owning your own business. [JADE]:
Sure, sure. So, I guess I’ve just always been very creative. After high school, I did a fine arts illustration course at TAFE, and that gave me my first real taste of graphic design. After TAFE, I then did every other job that wasn’t created at all because I left TAFE feeling quite disheartened because what I did want to do was illustrate children’s books. But after some rejection, and just TAFE in general and being critiqued on my art, it just left me really disheartened thinking that I would never get a job and so, yeah, I was doing sales and retail and marketing probably for the next five years. I mean, there was a few interstate moves there, and then I met my now-husband and he’d gotten into med school and so we moved into [unclear] and so, we had our little baby girl Olivia in tow and just from being new to a new state and not really knowing anyone I really had no… well, there was always a choice but I think what I wanted to do was just have my own design business where I could work around my family. So that’s really where it really was born, The Brainchild, and I already had the graphic design background but yeah, starting a business was something completely new to me and something that really scared me. But, you know, you grow, and you learn. So yeah, that’s how I ended up starting The Brainchild and yeah, now five years later, it’s grown into something that I can work at full time and I’m just so proud of it. [SAM]:
Yeah, that’s amazing. You should be, definitely. [JADE]:
Well, thank you. [SAM]:
That’s awesome. So, what is the main thing that you love about what you do? [JADE]:
Definitely – I think I touched on it just before – working around my family. That is just a dream come true. Something that I don’t need to ask anyone if I could have the morning off to watch my little girl sort of get up on stage and accept an award you know, I don’t… I can rework meetings or projects. I can work late at night if my kid’s home from school sick, you know. That in itself is something I know a lot of mums and dads just are quite envious of. Something that makes all the hours of painstaking revisions or design worth it, is just seeing my clients at the end of it have this new-found confidence in their business. That’s something so cool, and a lot of designers would understand as well. That they’re just able to grow their business and everything’s aligned with their branding and all the marketing materials. And you can just see them feeling really good, and they’re more active on social media and they’re more… just have more confidence in networking and putting themselves out there as well. That’s something what I really… that’s what I absolutely love about giving my clients that confidence, and also just the energy that small business and startups tend to have in the early days. It’s so great. That’s very inspiring. I really like that, before they get burnt out and jaded. [SAM]:
Well, I’m glad you haven’t reached that stage yet. [JADE]:
No, I hope not. [SAM]:
Yeah, it’s definitely an exciting time. I spent most of my beginning years in my career working for startups, and yeah, it’s definitely I think one of the main things I learned was how you need to just… you quickly become a jack of all trades. You just need to be whatever the company needs at that stage. And so, I know I learnt a lot about business as a whole, just because at one stage, I’d have to be marketing and I’d have to be finance and I’d have to be pretty much whatever the business called for at that time. So yeah, definitely interesting. So, what would you… What’s your perspective on branding, the importance of branding and just around, obviously, a business building its brand? What are your thoughts on that? [JADE]:
Sure, so I think a lot of people get a little bit muddled when they think of a logo; they think their logo is the brand, but the logo is really just a part of the brand. And the brand is everything from how… like, the tone of message that you talk to your audience with. So, it really is… A brand is the whole picture. So, it’s the colors of your business, what your logo is, fonts you use, tone of message, the tone of voice that you use in your marketing. All of this sort of comes together to create a brand and a good brand is something that knows all those dot points, and also has a really good understanding of its brand’s personality, because I feel like it develops its own little personality, and the mood it evokes in people. And if they can understand that, then it’s a really great head start into understanding if it is attracting people that they want. You can work backwards, of course, with a designer that likes doing branding strategy, which I absolutely love. So, I’ve got a branding questionnaire that tackles a few of those questions, and from there, I work backwards. And then, do some logo concepts, but all of those logo concepts will work to attract that final audience. [SAM]:
So, are you quite involved in the branding process then, in terms of giving a lot of input? Do you sometimes have clients coming to you where they obviously want a logo designed or they want to set up their brand but they aren’t really sure where they want to go, or what they want their branding to look like? Do you then get quite involved in helping them develop that look and feel and maybe coming up with a slogan and things like that? Or do you kind of encourage them to…? [JADE]:
In my bigger branding packages, I definitely have the branding strategy involved. I think it’s a really great investment. All of my logo packages, they always have the branding questionnaire element. So, I find if I can get a good understanding of where they want their business to be, they don’t need to necessarily know exactly what their brand is going to look like. But if they could tell me… I’ve got some questions that sort of get these answers for me. If I can find out where they see their business in five years, that’s a really good question. Who think their target market is, who their audience is right now, if they’re an active business? And so, all my logo packages have this element to it, but the real branding strategies is only included in my total branding package, which is the most involved. The brand guide’s a lot bigger. Yeah, so I do touch on it in all of them, but I love the branding strategy. I feel like it’s a service on its own, really. [SAM]:
Yes, no, I think so too. And it’s something that I’ve been punting a lot more to clients, is this idea of this brand style guide and just making sure that you have all of that down from the beginning, because I know a lot of brands will, maybe after like 10 years of being in existence, then they want to do a brand style guide and of course, then it’s more of a rebrand, and it’s a bit of a mission, you know, having to redesign everything according to a new look and feel. So, I think, yeah, I think just having that brand style guide from the beginning is a really good thing. And I know that you also mentioned previously that you think it’s really important to make sure that you’re constantly working on your brand. And I think that’s also something that stuck out to me because I think a lot of businesses will kind of, you know, they’ll have the logo design and a few brand elements and then never look at it again for five or ten years. And then everything is off-trend and is not making an impact anymore. Do you… Can you talk into that a bit and do you maybe have some clients coming back to you after a few years and wanting a fresher look? [JADE]:
Not typically after a few years. I think the livelihood of a logo, a good logo should last you… Unless there’s a major change in your business, I would like to see a logo design last at least five to 10 years. I feel like that’s an average time businesses tend to rebrand. And a lot of the time it’s because the business models changed to some extent or they’re trying to tap into a new market. What was the question again? If you were to tweak the brand? [SAM]:
Well, just constantly working on your branding and on your visual identity, yeah. [JADE]:
Yeah. I think keeping up to date is so important, especially doing what we do. If you’re seen to be an inspiration for this, it’s… you can’t really just use something that’s dated, whether it be colors… I’m really bad with pinpointing my own brand colors. I’ve got some that see me through and they’re like my backbone brand colors, but then I’ve got some trendy ones that sort of come and go. I’ve also got some printing features, which I just love, which… I’m not sure if you’ve seen my business cards, they’ve got a lot of holograph foil on them. So, I feel like that should definitely be included into my branding colors, but it’s not. But I think just staying ahead of the trend, or just keeping your branding fresh. It doesn’t necessarily have to be new logo design, doesn’t have to be this whole big mission, but just having some fun with your brand and using it perhaps on some different… You might want to get some new business cards and that might be enough, you know, just caring about your brand because I feel like if you put your energy into creating a really good experience from the get-go… So, I meet someone, as an example, and I give them my business card. They comment, I love your business card. What do you do? Well, funnily enough, I’m a graphic designer and I make business cards. Just from that initial experience, I might not have had that chance to have that conversation if they didn’t fall in love with this business card they were holding. So, I think just caring about the details is really important for businesses. And keeping their brand relevant. [SAM]:
Yeah, no, definitely. And I think people who aren’t necessarily creative sometimes struggle to understand the importance of, or the importance that visual impact makes on people. And I think for our listeners who predominantly own private practices, obviously, a lot of their clients will find them through their websites, and so just making sure that your website represents who you are, I think, is really important. So, if business owners were to take action on improving the brand, what are some of the first things that you think they should look at? [JADE]:
Well, funnily enough, I wrote some dot points earlier, and my biggest dot point is the brand guide, which we’ve already talked on. It’s such an integral document to refer back to, it really is. And it’s something that you can keep up to date and add to as well. Like you said, it’s not the be all and end all, and you don’t have to touch it for 10 years, that doesn’t… it’s not the way it should be. It’s just something that you should refer back to. A good brand guide or style guide should have your logo, your design elements, your fonts, your colors, and that all combines obviously to become your brand. And if you don’t have a professionally designed brand guide then the next best thing is just to know your fonts and your colors and to try to use them on everything that goes out to your audience.
You mentioned a website as well and I see so many times people’s websites aren’t in line with, you know… Let’s just say it’s a social media page or I can see that their logo isn’t, you know… There’s a huge disconnect, a lot of the time, with websites so, I feel that is another arm of your brand and a digital footprint if you will. So, it’s definitely something that you would just want to be all in line with each other. Whether it’s just simply using the same font on everything, that’s a really easy way. And then play with your colors, you know. Your brand color guide might be just bright colors and you don’t have to stick to three or four. It could be just bright, clashy colors – that’s what my brand is all about. Roll with that.[SAM]:
Yeah, I like what you say there about, almost your brand style guide being like a constant… like a working document, almost. So, it’s never any complete; it’s being added to, and changed. Yeah, that’s very cool. So, what… you mentioned earlier that you have a bit of a questionnaire that you get people to fill in. So, can you run through the process that you make use of when onboarding a new client, whether it’s a rebrand or a new brand or they want some design work done, just so that our listeners know what to expect when working with a designer? [JADE]:
Sure. I actually redid my processes last year. I did a business organizing automate course which really just changed my life, my business life. It was really, really amazing. So, it gave me a chance to really sit down and write down every single step of process. And I now use a project management tool, Asana, but from… I’ll just start from the start. So, say I get a lead, and it’s a web inquiry. I’ll follow up that with an email just introducing myself, and just scheduling in a time to meet or meet up if we can – face to face is always preferred, with me anyway – a talk or a Skype date, or Zoom like we’re using right now. And after we meet and we gel, like, we get along, I now can… just so I know, especially, after meeting, you typically know whether or not you can do the work and do it well. I know there’s been, you know, maybe a handful of people in the five years that I’ve had meetings with where I’ve already known, you know, I’m not the one for them, and that can happen. That can totally happen. I feel like I’m getting more confident with saying, you know, I don’t think I’m the right fit for you. But at the start, definitely, that’s something that you learn. So, say we all get along and I feel like I can exceed their expectations with what they need designed, I’ll then send them a quote via email. And then once that’s approved, I then drop an invoice, just the deposit, and I’ll get an agreement drawn up. And I’ll work out the timeline for their project. So that’s the starting date, and the milestone dates. So instead of… at the start, I was doing 50% upfront and 50% at the end of the project, but I’ve changed that now just so I can get more of an even income stream. I’m doing milestone payments and they’re on a date. They’re not on the end of the project, because the project, it gets held up all the time and typically it’s on the clients’ end. So, just to take a bit more control of where… how your money is coming in, I’ve turned to the milestone dates and it’s worked out so well. So once the timeline’s all set up, and the milestone dates, I let them know in Asana, which is a project management tool that I use, and the whole process from start to finish is all laid out and it’s all really neatly organized. And so far, my client feedback has been terrific. A lot of my clients have actually just fallen in love with this project management tool that they’re actually using it in their own business as well.
So, there’s a few… There’s a bit of homework before we get started, and I know I mentioned it just before the branding questionnaire. There are people that want to have logos designed or even websites designed, finish this questionnaire because, again, a website is an arm of your brand. So, even if they’ve got an existing logo, I’ll still get them to fill out this branding questionnaire because it’ll ask them questions on their audience just so I know how it should be laid out. And then I’ll ask them for some sources of inspiration and because I’m so visual, and a lot of the time clients aren’t, or aren’t creative at all, and they think they know what they’re writing down. They think they know what minimalism is. But a lot of the time they might write they’d like minimalism, but then their inspiration from Pinterest is not minimalist at all. I ask [unclear] and then if there’s a big disconnect, I might need to clarify with them before I get going on the concepts of the page. Yeah, but that’s typically my onboarding process.[SAM]:
Okay. Yeah, I think that’s so funny that you mentioned that because I think I quickly learned as well, the importance of getting them to include some visual examples, because exactly what you say they’ll describe it and then you’ll send, you know, send them some ideas, and then they’ll be like, Oh, no, that’s not at all what they had in mind… But that’s what you described in your brief. Yeah, so I think… [JADE]:
Yeah, it saves a lot of time. [SAM]:
Yes. No, absolutely. And I think just for the people listening, us designers always appreciate as detailed a brief as possible, and we do struggle with things that are a bit vague. And I think if you can include some visual examples, that’s always definitely super helpful. And so, spending some time on Pinterest. Looking at things that kind of resonate with you. Yeah, that definitely helps us. So, what are some of the design trends that you are currently in love with? [JADE]:
Right now, for me, it’s all about that tonal color; those warm browns and the tans and the creams, just the really warm tones. I just am so in love with them. I’m moving away from blush, pink. Finally. Finally. It’s had a long stint, I feel like, in the design world. Something that I’m noticing that’s coming up is a real nod to the retro typography. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it but the big, bold font and the real clashing colorways as well. I feel like yeah, typography is really… not that it’s ever gone away, but I’m seeing it more and more in the mainstream as well, which is exciting because typography is so amazing and just such an art form. [SAM]:
Yes, yeah, I think… Yeah, definitely. I’ve also noticed with regards to logos, just making use of typography in interesting ways, and sometimes you don’t even need to include an icon or illustration, just the use of interesting fonts is enough. [JADE]:
Yes, the logotype, and being able to alter things to make it personal and unique to the client. I feel like there’s definitely a trend that I’m loving right now. [SAM]:
Yeah. So, what would you say… What would you describe your design style as, like, overall, not just [unclear]? [JADE]:
I hope that I design for the client and that I don’t input my personal style, and what I like, too much because I hope that I am designing for the client and they’ll be like, this looks good. But I do hear a lot from the client, from clients, that they are attracted to, say, my Instagram feed or my portfolio. They say it’s really clean and minimal, with a touch of femininity, so whether that’s a style or not, I definitely do like the more simple clean designs rather than too much going on. I feel like that’s never gonna work long term. [SAM]:
Yeah, absolutely, I think minimalism for the win. So, one thing I wanted to touch on, and I think it’s actually pretty much how I came across your Instagram page, was this design that you did on a door. So, it’s pretty much a door design, and for the people listening, you can check out Jade’s Instagram page @thebrainchildstudio. But basically, this design was, I thought, so incredible. It’s basically a frosted door and then there’s this image of a horse. It looks like it’s coming through the door, so the nose and the front two feet are clear, and the rest is blurred. And so, it literally looks like this horse is coming through the door. And then you’ve got your, obviously branding, the company name and stuff next to it, which is Pony – it’s a clothing label, I think? [JADE]:
Yes. So, I just thought this was incredible and obviously needed to follow the person who did it, and I think I still commented and was like, it’s so cool, or whatever. And a few months later, I think you posted it again, mentioning that you had gotten some hate on it and that people had been commenting saying that they don’t think it’s design… [JADE]:
…which I was so shocked by, but can you just speak into that a bit and just, how you handled that criticism, you know, as a designer and as a business owner? [JADE]:
Not well. I vented on Instagram stories and had a whinge. It shocked me as well. I think that’s why I did sort of get my Instagram fans to rally around me because I was shocked. How this troll came about was I used… I don’t often go down that promotion to gain followers… you know, how you can boost posts, but I did with this because it was getting so much love, and it said, do you want to promote to get further reach and so I thought why not? And I did and I started getting these comments that weren’t very positive and this one guy said that it’s not design, it’s just a photo of a horse. You know, why are you using this as a designer, because it’s not design? I was like, Well, where to begin? And so I did a little Instagram Live on the actual process it took me to design this image that I… you know, it is a compliment someone thinks this is a photo because it’s not. This is like layers and layers and layers of this horse and took me so long and I didn’t charge enough for it but it’s one of those love jobs, you know. You had a vision and you… just to hear someone potty talk it was just really upsetting. But anyway, I was being very petty about it and did a little sneak peek of behind the scenes on how it came together. And yeah, I feel vindicated. I don’t think that person ever saw the Instagram stories. But it was also nice to go back and have a look at the process as well. And that was a real collaborative job too, with amazing signwriters down in [unclear]. They did such an amazing job and it wouldn’t have come to life as well without them understanding what I wanted to portray. I really wanted it to look like that horse was leaping out of the door. And they understood that, and they worked with me on printing layers. It was a collaborative process, for sure. But yeah, it’s not easy. I feel like I’ve got a lot thicker skin than Jade at TAFE. But it’s still not nice to hear. [SAM]:
Yes, of course. But I think you handled it well, and I think, as you said, it was nice for you just to get back on the process, but also just to show that, you know, it really is… it really was a process and a lot of hard work went into it. And I think these days, it’s just so easy for people to criticize, especially on social media, it’s like an anonymous way for them to do it. And I don’t think they’d ever actually say that to your face, but of course, social media makes it a lot easier. So, yeah, thanks for touching on that. And I think it’s definitely something that business owners have to deal with these days, unfortunately. So, just ending off, reaching the end of this podcast: if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [JADE]:
Something that I would have loved to have been told at the start, because it is so daunting going into business, I remember just being so scared, and it’s not that bad. Also, you don’t need to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out at the start. And we’re all just learning as we go and making changes to our systems when we make a mistake, or we feel like it’s not working anymore. And don’t let that not having it all worked out yet, hold you back from putting your name out there and introducing yourself to people and getting work and learning on the fly. Sometimes at the start, I totally said, Yeah, I can do that, when I had no idea how to do that. So, I feel like at the start, you’re allowed to make mistakes, and it’s fine to not have everything sorted out yet. And then you just learn as you go. I think that’s the best way to learn. [SAM]:
That’s great. And where can people reach you if they want to reach out to you? [JADE]:
Sure. So, I’ve got my website, thebrainchild.com.au. And you can also catch me on Instagram @thebrainchildstudio. [SAM]:
Great. Thanks so much, Jade. Thanks again for being on the Marketing a Practice podcast. And it was really great to hear from you and hear your perspective on branding. [JADE]:
Oh, thanks. It’s great chatting to you as well. [SAM]:
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
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