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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Jul 16, 2012

Branding You

How to design the right identity to market yourself

In recent discussion with a group of students I learned that a major stumbling block in completing a portfolio is creating a personal identity package in which the finished portfolio will reside. 
When in my 3rd year of undergrad, I was approached by a friend, in her final year of grad school and taking a portfolio class. One slow afternoon in the college design studio she asked me to help her brainstorm her personal identity package.

1. The design process starts on paper
The obvious isn't always the best solution
My first idea was to make a list of things, objects, images that her last name, Dana Marsh, evokes. At the end of this first exercise we scratched out 25 terms pertaining swamps, marshes, and water fowl.

This was a good start, but this list did not say anything about Dana’s personality or design style. We then made a better list: one with her design influences, her personality traits, personal style, and her favorite activities. We ended up with several words and phrases that would help narrow in on the target. We cleaned up the lists and crossed out all mention of beer, bourbon, and rum.

At the final tally, we knew that Dana’s design style was irreverent, and quirky. She was drawn to bright, bold typographic solutions. While not breakthrough revelations, the list in front of us would help create her final identity.

2. What’s your type?
Dana knew that she wanted a bold hand-drawn typeface with little embellishment but lots of personality. She poured through the Fontbook database and scoured dafont.com. When these resources were tapped out Dana grabbed a sharpie from my desk and scrawled out her full name several times on sheets of copy paper. After the 7th attempt, she had found her typeface. The next step was to create horizontal rules and hatch marks in the same style--in case she needed them for the design later. She then scanned and cleaned up her work digitally, ending up with several PSD files with transparency.

3. A color palette is worth a thousand words.To choose her colors Dana went back to her list. Bold and irreverent type isn’t harmed by a high-contrast palette. Since the logotype was black she chose to use pink to speak for her. To envision this vibrant hue, think bright neon high lighter marker. In the end the colors and type became a direct reflection of the woman I knew.

4. Putting it together
With the hard work done, Dana’s final task was to put it all together; create her collaterals and portfolio site. She already had the skill to create an effective presentation. So, she sketched out two different versions of her resume, cards, CD package in InDesign. Then she found a hosting site with the right look and enough user controls so that she could work with and got started. In the end Dana created a fabulous identity package that landed her a job within weeks of graduation.

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