Friday, January 24, 2014

Branding Behind-the-Scenes: Price Tags, Biz Cards, and my Pedantic Creation Process


Consistent, strong branding is critical. Good design uses less for more impact; every pixel, word, and line tells a story. I'm always curating behind-the-scenes, editing to make my story obvious. It's too easy to do for my clients as the third party streamlining their thoughts but clearing out my own tangled brain-matter is like trying to take solid hold of a greased-up water snake toy. Underwater. During a Tsunami. I thought I'd share my behind-the-scenes branding-mess process and start a discussion on what attracts you to certain brands and designs.


I still love my newer large novelty-sized custom-stamp price tags (creation process here) but needed more diversity in size for smaller items. The big tags overwhelm small items and too many together look crowded on a shelf.


I decided to use three diminutive stamps I found in a random craft store while visiting Japan on 1"x 1" tags. They look perfect in my antique mall booths, adding variety while showcasing the playful nature of the brand. No one locally can have stamps like these, love their solidarity.

I'm also taking a re-taking branding photos to use on shipping labels, thank-you cards, icons, web banners, linking buttons, business cards and more behind the scenes. This one was staged for my business cards and items seen were arranged various times before I chose this composition.

The various photos staged and re-staged as seen in my memory card. When boyfriend watches me take and re-take photos with slight adjustments he says I have OCD and ADD and need adderall...

Seems too busy though, I'm thinking maybe text-only cards would be best? I want to include robots and dinosaurs in my branding because it's so uniquely me but it's hard to use them without making it look tacky, like a a confused toy store.


Edit: Here are my initial card designs, all too busy and the balance of the text is all off. Below is my latest "finished design".


So Let's Discuss, what attracts you to a certain brand or design? I'm attracted to sincerity, humor and honesty and very consistent, clean branding that doesn't neglect texture and diversity. I'll be editing the apartment today, taking photos for my upcoming eBook, aaaah, 'tis a beautiful thing!
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40 comments:

  1. Water snake reference is, by far, the best thing I've read in a very long time ~ and describes me dead on right now! I'm in the "thinking it all out" stage of starting a creative adventure. I believe branding is very important and, although I don't have graphics/marketing experience, I enjoy and am fascinated by branding. Happy Friday!

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  2. Happy Friday to you! It's really hard to make so many business/creative decisions on your own. From what I read self-loathing and crippling indecision is all a vital part of the artistic process. We're not alone! Let us all find our nearest graveyards and write pensive poetry with lots of ellipses...and cry. ;D

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  3. I like your use of the dino and robot! To me it seems humorous and very you/personal. Of the four designs I like the second one on the top because I think the use of the blue breaks up the red and makes your eye move around and read everything. That's my totally non professional opinion LOL. I don't have any branding....I like your ideas and will maybe try to think more about having a consistent brand. I think it's more important on Etsy but would be good to use on ebay too especially now that I have a blog. Thanks for sharing your process.

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    1. Non-pro opinions are the best ones, everyone else can tend to over-think it :D Thanks for the tip. If you're an eBay seller selling random things you know will go for a lot (no shame in that) branding isn't as important, there are plenty who far out-earn me with blurry photos and no banner. If you're on Etsy and trying to break into magazines/books/get press features/sell original pieces good branding is vital.

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  4. I like the turquoise font color mixed in too; the all red is too... something. The composition of the last one is good; if it was me, I'd ditch either the thermoses or the plant. You might try moving the slogan "Wares for..." to the bottom. That would make your store name at the top stand out more. And you can tell me to drop dead too (I do have an art background for what it's worth). Good luck!

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    1. Most of my designs had the turquoise mixed in but then I thought it might be too much on the eye? Definitely mixing up the colors and paying with it. Thanks for the tips, the whole thing's too busy to me so I appreciate all the tips! Love your eye :)

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    2. Here's my progress re-doing the card, may not include imagery on it to clutter-up the design, trying to decide the most important info to include. So many services I provide ;P perhaps too much, haha: http://instagram.com/p/jj6ZpuM6sj/

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    3. Just had a peek-- it is hard to pare down and decide what to include. Maybe include one image??? I would have "Thrift Core" at the top. Guess I'm campaigning for the "Diane, shut up," award today. Just trying to help! Keep us posted!

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    4. No, the feedback is awesome. I was thinking the same of adding one image of the robot at least. Adding some changes to the card and will update with the results soon. Thanks for the help!

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    5. Here's my progress thus far, happy with this design. I took a photo of my robot toy on a white background for the card but liked how it looked better without it: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ds0O-H-KSeU/UuLnpzJhq_I/AAAAAAAAyGI/3bZCBm7uDP4/s1600/final_biz_card.png

      I do feel like the toy on the card can be limiting misleading and I like how the red/white matches the tags for a consistent look, but it's all subject to change! Decisions, they burn.

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  5. What if you just used the robot? His color matches the color of your lettering and it would keep your business cards more simple yet fun.

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    1. I was considering just that, great minds think alike ;) We shall see, I do feel a bit like the robot alienates some/pigeonholes me but it's certainly definitely "me" which is important to include.

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  6. Have you considered putting the text on the back side of the card?

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    1. I'm designing these for a free biz card deal I got so I'm not sure if they're double-sided yet but yep, did consider that option and may pay extra to go with it. The current design is far from the one in the post already, may have to update with it.

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    2. Current design, subject to change ;p haha http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ds0O-H-KSeU/UuLnpzJhq_I/AAAAAAAAyGI/3bZCBm7uDP4/s1600/final_biz_card.png

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    3. In all honesty, I think your photo of interesting items says more about your brand than all those words do. I don't know what demographic you're aiming at, but I'm 55 and to me all that red lettering is reminiscent of a sale sign from an old five and dime store. If that's the look that you're trying to achieve, you got it. Personally, I'm much more attracted to the photo of items. I think that along with just the Thrift Core name, your website and email address would have more style. JMO, of course. :-)

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    4. I was inspired by early 1900s vintage signage so it looks like I hit the retro nail on the head with the lettering. I'm leaning toward this design because the initial photo composition looks cluttered when it's all going to be on a small 3.5" x 2" card, your eye dances around the card too much and it doesn't fully paint the picture of what I offer. I need my cards to be a call to action. I think the toys can be confusing to a casual viewer too. I don't really even sell toys, I keep them all as props and decor around the house. Thanks of course for the feedback, something to consider and play with. Thanks for sharing the demographic too, my demographic for buyers is 25-35ish I'd say.

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    5. Thanks again for your advice, may change the still life but took your advice and like this design a bit better: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MfNJJdZNQDo/UuPEDdHGI0I/AAAAAAAAyG8/a1EngXIS_ck/s1600/a_card.png

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    6. Thanks for the helpful feedback, yet another version here! It continues to evolve, appreciate all the kind tips: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/PnHYfAxLIgk/UuPn43b3MtI/AAAAAAAAyIk/Utx21muXfVc/s1600/a_betterp.png

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  7. I'm happy you are always auto evaluating yourself since this is the perfect way to improve your work I think the cards are pretty busy because of many items in the pic, try only 2 items and leave some white. Thrift Core has to be the biggest words but I think it's tooooo big.
    Those japanese rubberstamps are the cutest thing ever <3 I use asian stationery to say thank you to my costumers :)

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    1. Yeh definitely agree with the critiques on the card, not going with the designs in the post at all. This is my current one: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ds0O-H-KSeU/UuLnpzJhq_I/AAAAAAAAyGI/3bZCBm7uDP4/s1600/final_biz_card.png

      I love Japanese stationary and Japanese design period, just bought an epic Japanese tea tin collection I'll have to showcase on the blog soon!

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  8. I see what you mean about not using the images if you don't really sell that type of thing. I still think you might want to add the turquoise color somewhere. All one color tends to cheapen and have no punch. Is there room to drop the last two lines a bit? Less crowded is always good. If you want to work more (ha, ha), my husband suggested using the dino head image, very light/faded, in the background somewhat large. Are you now sorry you opened this subject?????

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  9. Great minds keep thinking alike, I tried the large dino head in the background large/lightened/faded too but it was still a bit too comic book shop/pop culture-y. The robot alone too plain. I took the awesome CLAMCO advice above to come up with this design, like how it's cleaner and to-the-point and will force me to design the actual blog with more call-to-action language. Could do the back with the teal color and contact info or just the back with plain teal so the branding colors are all present:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MfNJJdZNQDo/UuPEDdHGI0I/AAAAAAAAyG8/a1EngXIS_ck/s1600/a_card.png

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    1. May re-do the still life below, it's just a place holder for now, not enough light to take another photo yet.

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  10. Speaking of branding......:D Make a side button for your awesome graphic abilities and i'll put it on my side bar versus on the bottom. The guy who did the template is down there. I'd rather you be a little more front and center seeing as how I kinda like you and shit. I LOVE the last one, its very powerful (as you know red is a power color!) And its simple. You know how I feel about simple. But its such a colorful kind of chaotic world now, simple grabs your attention and its down right classy. Yet yours has that funky certain something something that Thrift Core stands for. Damn good job! I gotta say though your dinosaur has been most affective and the robots. I think of you every stinkin time I see one at the thrift stores.......is that creepy? HA!:)

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    1. Aw, thanks for the kind words and SPREADING the word. Yep, definitely want to put banners advertising services on the blog today, along with making all the old content easier to scan through. Glad you appreciate what I was going for with the design. I also have this one I made based on the awesome critiques in this post: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MfNJJdZNQDo/UuPEDdHGI0I/AAAAAAAAyG8/a1EngXIS_ck/s1600/a_card.png

      Still deciding. Not creepy at all on the dinosaurs/robots, lots of people grab them up for me when they see them and tell me that. "Oh, those look like some Van-robots right there..." ;D

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    2. Damn it should have read your comments.........and double damn it. I like your very last one underneath Diane's comment. But the words are far to over bearing on your still life. I keep expecting them to crush your dinosaur. Its a (don't hate me) bad composition. But it does incorporate what I see you as, your brand so to speak. Ummmmm have you thought about tucking in the dinosaur and robot around your message? Do it like you would for a picture on Etsy. Your selling say a game board (about the same type of width as your message there.).....No actually better yet a bunch of vintage drinking glasses...... Now you being you, you'd have say a robot and a dinosaur incorporated in those pictures so when someone see's it They think "oh thats Van's picture." Ok now do that on your business card. Take out the rest. You don't need the other stuff its to much. Keep it like you would one of your pictures. And I might add you take out most of it but the dinosaur and robot you can use the same model for your graphic design. Not everyone who works with you will be into antiques. They may just like the vibe.

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    3. THIS..........https://www.etsy.com/listing/163580079/retro-wood-shelf-1970s-wood-curio-or?ref=shop_home_active_20 Is gorgeous. Just a fantastic composition. Truly in art professor would give you an A+. I know its not the same as working with font. But its the same width and its a clunky something something that you ended up making interesting and almost light as air. Not to mention your trademark there. Cute little guys.

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    4. Thanks for the feedback and help! Will definitely have to take a new photo composition as soon as I can. I may try that very image if I can find the original, otherwise the resolution will be too small for printing.

      Made this more balanced one and yep, definitely does look better with the still life bigger in relation to the words. Not sure if I'll include an image yet but the card's getting better with every change:

      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/PnHYfAxLIgk/UuPn43b3MtI/AAAAAAAAyIk/Utx21muXfVc/s1600/a_betterp.png

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  11. Weird, damn you blogger: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PnHYfAxLIgk/UuPn43b3MtI/AAAAAAAAyIk/Utx21muXfVc/s1600/a_betterp.png

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    1. Thanks, you guys have helped make it a lot better~! Better still life likely 'a comin'!

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  13. Love the small tags and love the b. cards. So good!

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    1. editing to add...I thought these cards were 2 sided, if not you should spring for two sided. picture only on one side. text only on the other. The picture capture your brand great...but the picture and the text together is a little much for my eyes. Whatever you end up with is going to be perfect.

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    2. Thanks for the tip, not sure if I'll do two-sided or include the image yet, not pleased with that still life as it is. Good idea to have just the photo on the back perhaps though. Thanks for the suggestion!

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