I haven’t shared much of my personal work here on this blog, so I thought I’d start off by tracking the development of my own personal brand. My professional image has finally reached a point where I’m happy with it, but it certainly didn’t start out that way. Don’t consider this post a walkthrough of my design process so much as a field guide for other designers and students who aren’t sure what direction to take themselves in.
When I was a design student in my senior year, one of our final projects was designing leave-behinds and personal identities for ourselves – at which I failed spectacularly. Like a lot of students, I was nowhere near confident enough with myself or my skills to even know what area of design I wanted to go into, much less present myself in a way that made it look like I was any good at it.
These are the first business cards I ever designed for myself:
They’re not bad, but I didn’t put any thought into them. I just sat down one day, made myself a half-assed logo, and put my contact information together in what I hoped was an aesthetically pleasing manner. More importantly, I didn’t have this logo or color scheme present anywhere else in any of my printed material. Nothing was consistent, a deadly pitfall for a young designer trying to market himself in a highly competitive field. My online presence was limited to a Behance portfolio and a Linkedin account, and the focus of those profiles was scattered at best.
It was a little while after I graduated from college, and found the career landscape wasn’t quite what I expected, that I decided I needed to focus a little more on building my brand and learning some actual web development skills. It took some time, and I had to scrap my design and start over from scratch at one point, but I eventually came up with a consistent brand that I was actually happy with. This is obvious to any seasoned designers, but I was freshly graduated and kind of stupid, so I’ll go ahead and outline one simple rule for a project like this – sketch out EVERYTHING before you start taking things digital. Once your designs are digital, it’s easy to get overly attached to them and fail to realize that the overall idea is flawed.
I ultimately chose an image of a stag as my personal logo, for several reasons. It’s a powerful image with a long history, and while it definitely has strongly masculine connotations, it conveys a sense of the rustic. I started out with a version that was decidedly on the rustic and hand-made end of the spectrum (I even originally intended on having a hand stamp for all of my business cards), but I decided that, since I planned on working on mostly digital projects and apps/websites, I needed to bring it more into the digital age. I considered doing away with the stag altogether, but I wanted to fuse the digital with the rustic, rather than overshadow one with the other.
I’m glad I was able to keep the natural and rustic element of the stag in the overall design, and while I was initially hesitant about the orange color scheme, I really like it as an accent color. It feels like an identity that’s a far better portrayal of myself as a designer. Feel free to share your thoughts on the design!