Rachel had been qualified and practicing as a counselling for over a year; so when we started working together her business has already been up and running. She had a website when she had put together herself as well as some business cards she ordered, but there was no cohesive brand identity.
I asked her about her goals; like most service based businesses, her main goal was to increase her client numbers. This allowed us to have a discussion about how to utilise design most effectively to achieve that goal. Largely this would be achieved simply through having a strategically designed brand identity which would resonate with her potential clients. Looking polished and professional will not only help instil confidence in potential clients, but will set her apart from the competition.
"Looking polished and professional will not only help instil confidence in potential clients, but will set her apart from the competition."
Brand & Identity Discovery
Rachel and I started by meeting for our Brand & Identity Discovery session. This allowed us both to really get to know each other; I learned about her passion and the nature of her business, and she was introduced to the design process and how it would serve her and her business.
The Discovery session covered what her business vision and values are, her key attributes, as well as examining her competition and market positioning. This establishes the business' personality, its heart and soul - what we aspire her brand to be.
Next, we studied her ideal client - their demographic, psychographic and behaviour profiles. The better we know who we want to reach, the better we can work out a plan for how to reach them most effectively.
Finally, the discussion covered sharing ideas for the visual identity; what colours and imagery did Rachel love? What is meaningful to her and how would she like that expressed in her business' brand? For her the seaside had always been a place of peace and retreat - and that's a feeling she wanted her client to have when they came to her for counselling. That provided a spring board or start discussing imagery and iconography which could be used.
It's important at this stage to keep the audience in mind; you don't want to create a brand that only mimics your personality but has no draw to clients and customers. For a brand to succeed, balance must be found. Vision has to remain fixed on the audience - appealing to them first and foremost, whilst still authentically communicating the heart of the business.
Gathering inspiration & initial ideas.
Together Rachel and I created a Pinterest mood-board where we could share and discuss ideas. This was particularly useful for me to get a sense of Rachel's design tastes and preferences.
At the same time I used Unsplash (a fantastic resource to discover free high quality stock photos) to start shaping her brand's image styling.
From these ideas I developed a couple of design directions we could pursue and added in a couple of initial sketches which played with some ideas.
I discussed these with her again to make sure she was kept in the loop and she felt the project was heading in a direction she approved of.
Stylescapes - polishing and organising ideas
To move from the collage of ideas that made a mood-board to an organised visual identity, a stylescape can be used. This usually includes a logo concept as well as some branding assets such as icons, fonts, colours and images.
For Rachel's visual identity I presented two stylescape which had very similar ideas but with variation in the tone and personality.
This concept has a more refined modern style, with clean sweeping lines and a modern serif font with a lovely diagonal stress giving the over all look one of refined elegance.
This concept executed the same ideas but with a more rustic, country feel. It has a slightly more homely feeling which works well with images of nature, the seaside and pathways.
Finalising the visual identity
I encouraged Rachel to take the time to carefully examine the ideas and share & discuss them with trusted friends and family. Talking over ideas is so useful; it allows you to process your feelings and also gain insight as to why you do or don't like different ideas. For a designer that's incredibly helpful because we can create with purpose and insight when you give us constructive self-aware feedback.
Rachel chose the first concept (which was my favourite too! Yay!) which meant the next step for me was to finalise the core brand identity assets:
Designing Assets - Print & Digital
Once we had a solid identity foundation laid, we could start producing all the collateral needed for Rachel to successfully run and advertise her business. As a counsellor, this was quite a big list - not only would she need the basics (business cards, letterheads, compliment slips) but also invoices, receipts, contracts and privacy policies.
As for her digital presences, she decided to focus on her presence on Facebook as that is where she already had establish some interaction with her community. I created an instagram mock up for her as a bonus - so that when she decided to expand her social media, she would be ready to run with it!
A lot of Rachel's contact happens online and she often sends contracts, policies and invoices over email. Because of this, I decided to create her documents on Google Suite - using Google docs so that she can edit and share all of her documents with ease.
The final part of our design project was to revamp Rachel's website to match with her brand new visual identity.
We worked out the client journey - what would a potential client be looking for? What questions would they need answered before making contact? What assurances can we give them to make them confident Rachel is the right counsellor for them? Designing websites is so much about the experience it provides psychologically, not just making them look gorgeous - though that's not to be neglected of course!
The website also includes some additional touches - making an online form for Rachel's client feedback, so she can just send them the link rather than emailing documents, or a special pop up box in regard to how session are still available during the Covid-19 lockdown.
It was important for me that Rachel felt confident in being able to take on her website; how to edit and update different aspects, so that factored into my design - to keep things clean, tidy and manageable.
Many of the design elements were repurposed in a variety of ways to become the decorative elements for the site whilst not being repetitive. The goal being to creating an enriching omnichannel experience, consistent with the rest of Rachel's customer touchpoints.