At the start of each client project I put together a moodboard so my clients and I can visually brainstorm together. I love pulling inspirational images from all over the place to help tell the story we are setting out to create. Colors, patterns, textures, landscapes, typography...they all have an important role to play in the design matchup. This phase in the design process helps to develop a strong direction from the beginning.
When I was first approached by the ladies from #StandForLIFE, I was admittedly a bit hesitant to take on a new job in the midst of a busy work season. Yet I quickly became endeared to the team - partly because they nicknamed me the “design ninja” and also because I felt they truly appreciated the value of what I could bring to the table design wise. I was inspired by their mission and values and through the process of working with this team, my eyes were opened - both personally and professionally.
#StandForLIFE began as a social media movement and gained momentum quickly. Their branding mainly consisted of Instagram photos combined with the LIFE filter they created, along with their logo. When the team approached me, I had the opportunity to help shape and widen the visual direction of their brand, which was so exciting. What’s unique about this nonprofit is that it was started by a team of female photographers who felt called to respond after the secretive Planned Parenthood videos went live in 2015. They wanted to respond in a way that honored all parties involved and celebrated the value of life, rather than arguing for a side or platform.
The first project I worked on for SFL was a pamphlet brochure for their donor base. I started my design process by browsing some of the team member’s photography websites to get a feel for their aesthetic and color preferences. Because they were promoting LIFE, it was important to me to bring in some color and utilize white space. Initially I brought in a light green and soft yet vibrant blue in addition to the gray and white color scheme from the social media “LIFE” filter. My goal was to create materials that looked inviting and full of life. Abortion can be a heavy topic, yet the SFL team has created a safe platform for women to tell their stories and celebrate the life God created in a beautiful and tactful way. I wanted to design materials that reflected the heart behind this mission as I helped to create the direction of their visual branding.
When I finished the project and presented the materials to one of the founders, I was surprised by her response. Jess tearfully thanked me for capturing who they are through my design. It was great to know that we shared the same vision on how to carry this brand forward.
The experience of getting to do what I love while promoting and working alongside such a passionate and creative group of women was such a fun experience for me, one that is still such an honor and joy. I love telling visual stories, especially real life stories from women choosing to share bravely in hopes of preserving and promoting the value of life.
After we had a few projects under our belt, and the responses were positive, the SFL team asked if I would design their new website. Although I knew this was would be a pretty big undertaking due to the nature of creating a completely custom site, I jumped at the opportunity.
Most of the interaction between the team and their target audience happens through social media, so we wanted to create a website that highlighted and facilitated each channel effectively. The homepage features their Instagram feed and each time a visitor clicks a photo, the website generates all the stories with the same tags. Because we didn’t use a website template, we were able to completely customize the layout and content of the pages in a way that best tells the #StandForLIFE brand story and messaging.
I’ve since created more promotional materials for SFL and each time I read another story I’m convinced what these women are standing for matters. Looking back on this past year, I love how cohesive, sophisticated and approachable their marketing collateral has become. To me, what we have been able to create together in SFL's visual branding ties in the importance of the stories and value of life in a professional yet personal way.
It’s been an honor to work with such an amazing team of ladies. Check out the new #StandForLIFE website, browse their Instagram feed, and be inspired to see change happen.
Connect with and follow #StandForLIFE
Imagine you are in line at Starbucks. You order your favorite drink and sit down to have coffee with a friend. Now I’m not a mind reader but I can pretty much nail exactly what you just imagined. Green accents everywhere. A clean and yummy pastry case. That distinct Starbucks coffee smell. Music playing that is also for sale by the register...no matter where you live we all imagined the same thing just then. Why? Because Starbuck’s branding is top notch no matter where you go around the world. It is the same.
This strong brand identity is a significant part of what makes Starbucks such a successful company.
Branding your business can be tricky and today I am going to address three mistakes that small businesses often make when it comes to branding their business.
1. Confusing your logo for a brand.
This is something I frequently run into with my clients. They assume that just because they have developed their logo then they have created a brand. It is true that a logo is part of a brand but it is only a part.
A logo is an icon or symbol used to identify a brand but a strong brand is so much more than that. Great branding creates the overall image of a company. What do other people think, feel or expect from your business? Your brand is who you are, what your business stands for, the mission, intention, ideal client, message and personality of your company as a whole. These are all aspects of a strong brand that shouldn’t be neglected.
2. Doing it all yourself.
One challenge many small businesses face is the cost of branding their business. While the expense of paying a professional to handle your branding may seem unnecessary
to many small businesses, it saves money in the long run.
Delegating out various parts of the branding process to different team members leads to unclear branding. Ultimately this translates to a weak brand message that looks unprofessional and ultimately communicates to your potential client that your standard of quality and consistency is unpredictable.
Spend the money on the front end and develop a brand that brings people in and converts
to sales. Your brand is an investment worth making.
3. Lack of consistency
New ideas are more fun and exciting than repeating the same thing again. I totally get that. Innovation is important in a successful business, but if you aren’t careful you will lose customers every time you shift gears as a business.You have to stay consistant.
As a small business, your customers need to know that every time they come back to you they will receive what they are expecting. Maybe that is an over-the-top customer service experience, a great product, or quality work they can rely on. The consistency in what you offer your customers and how often you offer it to them will grow your repeat business, and keep new customers coming.
Jenn is a Waco-based entrepreneur who had a majorly successful Kick Starter launch and founded Sacred Ordinary Days. This past January she released her first day planner and is now working on the next two. After working with her on her visual branding, I knew that I wanted to share some of her experience with you guys. Thankfully Jenn agreed and I really think you will love what she has to say.
So Jenn, I do have to say, in the last two years, you have launched your new brand, created a new product and you started a podcast. How would you even describe what it is that you do? Who is Jenn Giles Kemper?
I can't believe it's been two years! I think that just goes to show how incredible your work is-- it lasts and lasts. I've done logos and branding for businesses before and I was tired of it or had outgrown it in less than two years. The work that we did together for the Jenn Giles Kemper branding still feels spot on!
When we first worked together, I was a solo entrepreneur working at home from my front bedroom-turned-office. Now I lead a small team, which includes my husband, Grant. The two of us work in our downtown Waco studio and my right-hand woman, Hayley Johnson, works remotely from Fort Worth. Sacred Ordinary Days is the business that grew out of my one-on-one coaching, consulting, and spiritual direction work. At Sacred Ordinary Days, we create modern resources for Christian spiritual formation. Our tools are rooted in ancient practices, but translated with a clean aesthetic and accessible language. We draw from the liturgical calendar, the lectionary, the daily office, and many contemplative spiritual practices.
Thus far, between all the projects you have on your plate, and the ones that have been checked off the list, what part of this journey has been your favorite?
Our liturgical day planner is still the thing that I am most proud to have created. That's at the heart of everything we do! We're currently making some small changes and improvements for the Academic Edition, which will be available for pre-sale at sacredordinarydays.com as of May 2! We'll make several more improvements when we release the 2017 Liturgical Edition this fall. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to tweak and improve our products based on the feedback of our tribe members who are using the planner so many different ways!
Ok, but there is another part of this journey that has been wonderfully challenging and cool and educational. Since the beginning, I wanted to find a meaningful way to engage in this conversation about leaning into the church calendar. I started the Sacred Ordinary Days podcast alongside my friend and colleague, Lacy Clark Ellman of asacredjourney.net. From the beginning, our goal has been to meet our listeners where they are and, essentially, host a conversation about how the liturgical calendar relates to us today and how we incorporate in into our lives. Podcasting is brand new to us, but as they say, experience has been the best teacher.
That is great! So many things to look forward to! Although you created the “Sacred Ordinary Days” planner, your days are far less than ordinary. What do your days normally look like in the world of ministry, entrepreneurship, and marriage?
First, how cool is it that I get to be both a minister and an entrepreneur through Sacred Ordinary Days? I pinch myself weekly. I'm so grateful to have found/created this work. These days my husband, Grant, and I head in to our office at Anthem Studios around nine in the morning. He's been working with our business full-time for a month and a half. It's a big change from aerospace engineering, for sure, but we're really enjoying working together and having more flexibility in our schedules. We communicate with Hayley, our designer and creative director, throughout the day via Slack, Asana, and Skype. We're in the process of hiring a few more folks, so lately we've been focused on streamlining our workflow.
Our tasks vary quite a bit day to day, and while I love the excitement and variety, I find myself looking forward to a bit more routine as our team grows and I can be in charge of less. Some days I'm recording a podcast episode or writing a script for our next video shoot. Others days I’m writing our employee handbook and figuring out how to actually build the kind of business that I desire to lead, (we’ve been working out all the details-- from work schedules to health care to pay and everything in between). The relationships with our "tribe" (our customers, supporters, people in our corner) have been such a key component. We know exactly who we're creating with and for. We talk and listen daily in our facebook group and on social media using #sacredordinarydays. I'm loving instagram and have been SO grateful for quick conversations on twitter. Seeing people share our initial launch was amazing! You could almost see different circles and networks lighting up on a map of the internet. It was very humbling to see so many strangers be generous!
Yep! Sounds like the life of a successful entrepreneur. What makes you come alive in work, ministry and marriage?
I'm an extrovert and love collaborating, so working with people whom I thoroughly respect and enjoy is a dream come true. I love the days that have a mix of creating something, refining something based on collaboration with our people, and interacting with our tribe. The idea of Sacred Ordinary Days was born out of a need that I saw in my own life, and having others connect with that need and respond enthusiastically to our solution is crazy encouraging.
The desire for life-giving relationships seems to bleed over into every area of my life. I enjoy the process of curating a hospitable home to open our home to friends and family. Grant and I share a love of cooking and eating good food, especially when we can share those meals around a full table.
Tell us what one or two things about this last year that surprised you the most. Good, bad, whatever...
The biggest surprise was the moment that my calculated-risk-taking/fiscally conservative/needs-along-term-plan husband looked up from his spreadsheets and flowcharts (yes, literally) and said "I'm ready to quit my job and join Sacred Ordinary Days full-time." Even though we'd been working towards that idea, saving and planning for it to be possible, it was still a BIG moment. I think we both expected it to be at least another 6-12 months, but things fell into place quickly and he was ready!
Oh, also there was this one time when we launched our first planner on Kickstarter and reached our minimum funding goal less than two days in. Watching such a positive response to a project that was months and months in the making was absolutely indescribable.
Since we are now well into 2016 (crazy), since launching the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner this past November, what lays ahead for you?
Our long-term vision for Sacred Ordinary Days is that a new collection will release each year, with two main launch periods (one at the beginning of the year for our Liturgical Edition and one halfway through the year for our Academic Edition). We’re also working on a Weekly Planner to complement the Daily Planner we’ve already created. Other plans for 2016 include developing a Mini-Season for the podcast (coming this summer) and writing a book proposal!
Haha wow, book proposal + JGK = thriving.
How about some advice for anyone with a big dream. What are some helpful first steps to see that dream move towards a reality?
Love this question! Invest your time energy, and money (wisely, but generously) to learn what you need to learn. If you don't have much time or money, start with a book. As you have a little more, reinvest to take some courses. And, continue to do that! The other big thing is investing in real relationships. Invest in people that you love & that love you well. Invest in relationships that could become that, too. Your spouse, your family, friends, employees and contractors. Spend time with talented creators and doers who are also kind, good humans...you know?
Keep up with Jenn and her team!
I stumbled across this great article by Mary Stribley on composition as a designer. Im sharing just a bit here to wet your appetite...
" You could have the most beautiful graphic elements in the world, but if your composition isn’t up to scratch, all of that goes out the window.
So, it’s safe to say that composition is pretty important. So, what exactly is a composition? Well, in very simple terms, it’s the part where all the separate elements come together to form a whole. When all of your type, your images, your graphics and colors, come together to form one cohesive design.
A successful composition means that you have arranged, distributed, aligned and compiled your design in a way that not only looks good but is also highly functional and effective. So, let’s run over a few tips, tricks and techniques that will have you mastering composition in no time. "
1. Find Your Focus :: Just like we were all told in school, having focus is a very important thing. A key element to any good composition is a strong focal point, as it helps your viewers’ eyes naturally settle on the important pieces of your design first.
2. Direct the Eye With Leading Lines :: Just like you point at something when you want people to look at it, by positioning certain lines and shapes in certain ways you can control the viewpoint of your design, aka where viewers’ eyes go when they see your design.
3. Scale and Hierarchy :: Scale and visual hierarchy are some of those creative fundamentals that can really make or break your designs, so it’s important to have a good hold on them to maintain a successful composition.
4. Balance Out Your Elements :: Balance is a pretty important thing in many regards, and your designs are absolutely no exception. But how do we strike that perfect balance within our designs? Well, let’s run over two common types of balance and how to master it.
5. Use Elements That Complement Each Other :: You’ve heard of complementary colors, but what about complementary design elements? One key element to a successful and effective composition is taking the time to carefully and purposefully select each element of your design so that each part complements the whole.
To read the full details of her 10 rules of composition CLICK HERE !
How often do you think about developing yourself as a person? Your attributes, skill-sets, character, leadership abilities, etc?
Many times, unless we are enrolled in some course or seminar, it is too common to not intentionally pursue growth, but rather just to let things happen as they come.
This is a fun chart, Taken from John Maxwell's Plan for Personal Growth, that allows you to rank where you are on different habits that either lead to intentional growth or not.
The goal would be to identify a couple of "opportunities" you have, and then really try to practice the intentional growth side of that habit these next few weeks.
I hope you download this wallpaper graphic, and allow yourself to be reminded of the truth.