As I sipped my morning coffee and scrolled through my Instagram feed, I let out an audible “Oooh!” My friend had just launched her lifestyle blog with a gorgeous, polished website and cohesive branding across all platforms. I was in awe flipping through her professional mockups for mug designs, T-shirts, and other swag. How did she create such a premium, put-together brand identity? As a creative just starting my business, her success seemed so aspirational yet totally unachievable.
But that initial moment of inspiration stuck with me over the next few weeks. I realized I wanted to level up my brand. After years of creating more as a hobby, I was finally ready to fully embrace my creativity as my career. I no longer wanted to hide behind the excuse of “Oh, I just do this for fun.” I was proud of my work and wanted to confidently share it with the world.
The only problem? I was utterly overwhelmed with how to even begin defining my brand aesthetic and creating those sleek mockups I envied. As creatives, we have endless ideas swirling in our minds of how we want to visually represent our work. But actually executing a cohesive visual identity across multiple platforms? Let’s just say InDesign makes me want to flip my desk over.
So I did what any millennial does when in doubt – I furiously Googled and YouTubed! After consuming more branding and design tutorials than I care to admit, a few key steps finally began to help my branding vision materialize:
Find Your Inspiration
A mood board is like a dream collage of visual inspiration. Gather images, textures, color schemes that speak to you. Trendy minimalism or playful watercolors? Black and white or vivid neon? Pay attention to what consistently catches your eye across marketing materials from brands you love. Your aesthetic is likely hiding in plain sight!
Sketch Your Concepts
I’m no artist, but rough, simple sketches help brainstorm how fonts, shapes, layouts come together into a logo. Experiment with icon ideas that could represent your brand. It felt silly at first, but this step gave my mind space to wander more freely without limitations of my subpar design skills.
Invest in Professional Mockups
This was a lightbulb moment for me that truly elevated my brand. Affordable services like Placeit create mockups for everything from business cards to websites to clothing. You simply customize sleek, high-quality brand templates. When I saw my clumsy sketches transform into polished mockups, that rush of excitement told me I was onto something special.
I’m slowly learning to silence my inner critic and instead appreciate each iteration as progress. Branding is an evolving, lifelong process of refinement. It does not need to be perfect right away. I may someday cringe at this first website design, but I’m choosing to celebrate it now as the foundation of my dreams coming to life.
The journey continues as I add new products, establish consistent branding, build an audience who resonates with my vision. While at times utterly daunting, leaning into professionalism has filled me with newfound courage and pride. No more hiding. I am ready to own and share the creativity within me. The world better get ready!