Many times, the branding process doesn't begin when a business does. When a business is just starting they tend to DIY as much as possible to save on costs and make sure that their business will grow before hiring a professional designer. I actually love this fact because it means that I get to work with businesses and individuals who already understand their brand and simply need help communicating it.
When Candice Prentice, cozy mystery author, first approached me to design an updated website for her to share her work and her blog, I was thrilled. Candice already had a very clear idea of her audience, her style, and her brand, but wasn't sure how to pull all that information together to create a consistent visual brand. We worked together closely throughout this process to make sure that her vision was being reflected in my design work.
As in all projects, we started with a series of questionnaires that helped Candice communicate her brand and her ideas to me so that I could be sure that my design fit her unique mission and personality. Her "readers run the gamut from working moms to retirees to single people, and even some men," which means that her audience isn't as specific as in some businesses, but she was still very clear on who she was writing for and what they wanted: "they're looking for mysteries that are intriguing, but safe enough to leave lying on table in the living room around curious children of reading age."
Once I really got to know her brand, I looked through the Pinterest inspiration board she created and pulled all this information together to create a mood board for the project. She wanted her brand to feel "warm, cozy, mysterious, safe, inviting, intriguing, interesting," so I chose warm colors and images that reflected a eclectic and welcoming atmosphere.
Once Candice approved the mood board, I finalized the color palette and started work on her logo design. As an author, we wanted her logo to be simple, but still recognizable so that she could use it across her website, social media, and book cover design without having to adjust it to fit the medium.
I started with a few design options and we narrowed it down based on her preference, industry standards, and Candice's needs. The final logo is a simple, sans-serif font with little decoration, but we did choose to reuse the coffee cup icon on her website later.
Once her brand basics were complete, I then began work on the collateral items Candice had chosen: a business card design and social media cover images. Because Candice wanted to use an image that would bring consistency to her design, we began this part of the process by searching for a stock image that matched the feeling of Candice's brand.
Ultimately, it was Candice who found the image we moved forward with and I edited the original slightly to better reflect the colors in Candice's brand.
From there, I created a few business card design options and Candice chose her favorite for me to revise and finalize. The design is simple and elegant, but still retains the warm and cozy feeling of the overall brand.
I also designed the cover images for Candice's Facebook and Twitter profiles.
After the collateral design, I was ready to begin work on Candice's new website. She wanted a website that could be "a place for readers to engage with me. A place for them to be able to purchase my books. A place for them to contact me, if they need. A place for me to engage with my readers." The website needed to include a blog, links to all her books, and a place for recipes, in addition to the normal About and Contact pages.
To accomplish this, I actually set up two blogs: one for her writing, where she can share mystery stories, and another for her recipes with a drop-down menu for the different types of dishes.
Although this website was designed on Squarespace (using the Bedford template), I customized it to match Candice's new brand. Instead of the basic white background, I made the site a light, buttery color to reflect the pages of old books. I also went outside the strict grid design that many sites use because, as an author, Candice's website needed to be inviting, warm, and layered.
I also used a lot of custom CSS in this project to enhance little details, like the recipes, which were created using the Squarespace Menu Block. We also needed to include different disclaimers on each blog because of the information that Candice is going to share with her readers.
I loved working on this project because Candice was so involved in the process and was able to trust my decisions as a designer. We had regular phone calls to discuss the brand and get feedback, so this was a truly collaborative experience. Candice's new brand and website are a reflection of her personality, audience, and the work that she does, while standing out from the normal "author" websites. You can check out the full site (and get some great recipes) here.
Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family. I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.