The journey of a brand refresh
Let’s begin with some confessions, shall we?
My website was a coming soon page for approximately 18 months. I’m a web designer, and my website was literally a logo, a text blurb and a few links… for a year and a half.
At one point, I hired a developer to help build what I thought I had in my head. The resulting site was fine. It functioned. But it was a bit too cold and corporate… which isn’t exactly in line with reality. (After all, my “corporate office” consists of a spare bedroom with multiple dog beds on the floor.)
The great thing about investing in outside assistance, though, was that it allowed me to focus on what really needed to be done to create a site I could be proud of. It forced me to write the content and copy, which is always about 85 percent of the battle.
But it also made it super obvious that my brand needed a refresh.
A brief but meandering history of Melismatic Designs LLC
Melismatic Designs as a name has existed since 2005. At the time I was taking an intro to graphic design class at Southeastern Louisiana University and completing the ubiquitous self-branding assignment that comes with such pursuits. The word ‘Melismatic’ (which you can read about on the front page) is musical. And it’s honestly just a cool word.
It’s different and memorable but says so much about me as a person, designer and writer. I knew that if I was ever going to strike out on my own, this would be the moniker.
Fast forward to sometime after graduation, perhaps around 2007, when I discovered Etsy. Couple that with living alone and having easy access to a Hobby Lobby, and Melismatic Designs the Online Business was born. I designed the basics of the logo I use today. I chose dark purple and blue as brand colors. I loved the certain mix of feminine and masculine geometric energy present in my (admittedly limited) logotype. It was enough to see me through to officially forming a Limited Liability Company in 2010.
FONTS + COLORS: CHECK.
Now travel in my mini Delorean again to the present-day. I’ve been running Melismatic Designs LLC as a solopreneur full-time for about 12 months. I’ve reviewed my fair share of online courses promising to help attract a bazillion clients that shout about creating an instantly recognizable brand.
Everything I’ve come to realize about branding that wasn’t taught in my graphic design 101 class became very apparent with regard to my own brand. There was no personality. Nothing really tied this brand to me other than purple being my favorite color. So I set to work.
PERSONALITY: (finally) CHECK.
The brand-new brand: A down-home, modern look made in Luling, Louisiana
I put together what’s commonly known as a Brand Board. This document pulls together a brand’s visual representation, including logos, submarks, fonts, colors and even patterns. Previously Melismatic Designs LLC was extremely limited in its color palette and had no variations for its logo. I knew adding more options would increase the brand’s functionality.
Now I have my original horizontal logo, a full logo utilizing the ‘M’ submark and a circular variation (which I’ve already used on some swag – check it out). From a design standpoint, having some logo variants helps when different space scenarios arise – for example, I wouldn’t necessarily use my circular logo on a business card, but I might on a billboard!
I also focused on creating a more comprehensive color palette that not only featured some of my favorite hues but also allowed me to cull inspiration from my heritage and surroundings. (Read more about my ancestry under ‘Fun Facts’ after my bio.)
There’s ‘Spanish Moss’ – a muted sage; alongside ‘Aubergine’ – a dark eggplant purple using its German name.
The color scheme is still made up of cool tones, but it’s more interesting and multi-dimensional. The colors can almost be dressed up or down like a good piece in one’s wardrobe. It can be corporate; it can be a little moody; it can be sophisticated; it can be light and relaxing when it needs to be. And it all works together.
And there are three new geometric patterns ready to be utilized in graphic and web design pieces. Here I followed what I love about the main ‘melismatic’ font – its harsher lines and semi-retro vibe. The patterns help the brand fall between modern and old-world, kind of like the fleur de lis’ resurgence in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The bottom half of the board (which I graciously grabbed from January Made Design) features what we see all over Instagram and Pinterest – the Mood Board. This is essentially a collage of images that help communicate the look, emotion and personality of a brand. It’s a visual way to make the viewer FEEL something. And in my case, I wanted it to be a way to tie the brand back to my hometown roots in the River Parishes. (See my bio for more on that.)
Textures include concrete and whitewashed wood, but also organic ideas like moss, purple irises, swamp grass and succulents, which make up the flora in my neck of the woods. And the most recognizable landmark in my parish just happens to feature strong geometric lines as it spans the Mississippi River.
Building on the brand
Suddenly the creative block around my new website became nonexistent. Not only did I have clear design direction, but I also had permission to unapologetically make it mine! My headshot is part of my Mood Board because, well, I am my brand.
That quote from Jeff Bezos about your brand basically being what other people say about you when you’re not around? Well, now my web visitors will finally know what to say. In addition to getting really clear about my offerings, mission and values, the visual side of my brand helps tell my story and sell my expertise in an engaging way.
Renee A. Simpson is a communications specialist and graphic designer in the Greater New Orleans area who offers branding services to small businesses. Her “corporate office” is south of 90, y’all. For more information about her, visit www.melismaticdesigns.com.