Whether you’re looking to design a new brand from scratch or reinvent and reinvigorate an existing brand, you must start by gathering inspiration.
But how does that work?
Do you start with an idea? An image? Do you search for logos, websites, packaging, and typography? Or do you just let your mind wander and go where it leads?
Some people believe that creativity is innate and cannot be taught or learned. But I think that, even if you don’t think of yourself as a particularly creative person, if you act creative, you will get more creative ideas.
One of my favorite ways that creative people act creative is that they gather inspiration from everywhere. But they don’t stop at collecting inspiration; they curate it the way a museum curates a collection for a show. You don’t include everything, only the very best pieces to express one particular idea.
In our Build Your Own Brand Book Workbook (which we’re offering to you free for the first time — click here to grab it!), we start with pages for your to collect your inspiration. But you’ll notice that there’s a limited amount of space. That’s fully intentional! I don’t want you to put everything you’ve ever liked in there; I want you to curate only the best.
And today, I’m going to show you how to get started.
Start with a blank slate
The best way to begin collecting inspiration for your brand (new or old) is to throw out all your assumptions. Just because you’ve always done things a certain way — used a certain color, or font, or type of photography, for example — doesn’t mean that’s the best way for where your business is now.
I want you to begin as though you were beginning from scratch, whether you have an established brand or not. Clear your mind and your palette of all your previous brand incarnations and start fresh.
I like to do this by creating a vision board without any sort of destination in mind.
N° 1: Create a home for your vision
Create a Pinterest Board (or some kind of online Swipe File). I like secret Pinterest boards because they make it so easy to save images from all over the web, and you can keep things private until you’re ready to share them with a partner, team member, designer — or no one at all.
You can, of course, also do this with physical images as well. I love having a physical vision board for certain projects to which I can add three dimensional objects — gold scissors, wonderful swatches of fabric, the perfect string of pearls, a lavish tassel. You may choose to start digital and then move to a physical board in the editing stage, when you can print out your favorite digital images.
N° 2: Go deep and wide
The most important thing to remember in the collecting stage is to look everywhere. Don’t just gravitate toward the brands you already like and admire.
Pin logos, colors, typography (fonts), photography that you like, packaging, etc. Spend some time with this, and go outside your comfort zone. Look at websites, brands, and styles you wouldn’t normally frequent. Don’t just look at brands inside your niche; branch out and look at brands that are as different from yours as possible. What do you love? What do you hate? Make notes of the details as you go.
The search and explore functions on Pinterest are great for this stage, but here are some additional websites you may want to check out:
Don’t feel confined to places you already know in this stage. Let yourself tumble down the rabbit hole and click whatever links interest you, save whatever images move you, and don’t worry about how it all fits together… yet.
N° 3: Curate
Pin freely at first with the idea that you will go back later and identify trends. It’s very important not to edit or censor yourself during this brainstorming stage. As I said at the beginning, check your preconceived notions at the door. This is about exploring, branching out, and experiencing new things.
Once you have a large number of pins (at least 40 or 50), go back and try to identify some trends. You might take notes in a document, or create a new board with selected images that embody those trends.
For example, when I was working on my brand book, I noticed that I was pinning lots of things with fine black or gold borders around them. I noticed that I was selecting a certain style of typography with lots of white space. Even though the individual images were different, I started to notice trends that I could incorporate into my own style.
See if you can detect any trends. If you have trouble, show the board to a trusted friend, and ask what she sees. She may notice that you’ve pinned a lot of florals, or that most of the typography you like is capital letters — things you might have missed.
In addition, see if you can identify any overall brands that you admire. What do you admire most about them? How could you apply what they’re doing to your own brand? Again, it’s best if most of the brands you choose to look at are outside your business niche.
Remember, you’re curating a gallery or museum show — not trying to include everything. When it comes time to make choices about your brand, you will want to confine yourself to just a few fonts, a few colors, a few elements and use them consistently. The curation stage is when you begin to see the first glimmers of what those elements might eventually be.
Once you’ve identified your trends, pull out one or two good examples of each and add them to your Build Your Own Brand Book Workbook along with a line or two that describes the trend.
Allow yourself some time with the collecting and curating stage, but set an end date so that you don’t procrastinate by looking for inspiration forever!
Even if this is the only step you do in creating your own brand, any professionals you hire to assist you (designers, writers, photographers, developers, etc.) will have a much clearer understanding of your vision because you took the time to develop and curate it on your own.
Don’t forget to download our Build Your Own Brand Book Workbook right now. This workbook is part of a training inside Business Class, so if you get stuck filling out any of the sections, you may want to become a Business Class VIP so you can access the entire training!