One of my favorite things to do is help people through the branding process when they’re starting from scratch. So when a former colleague of mine approached me with a business idea she was getting ready to launch, I was all in for the chance to help her develop the foundations for a brand that would serve as a strong starting point.
Since I’ve struggled to find the time to transition my portfolio to the Collective Reach site, I thought I’d introduce this project as a case study, both to show off the end product and to give you a glimpse into my process.
My client, Lorraine Debose, is a Cleveland native with more than 12 years working as an attorney in Cuyahoga County’s justice system. Through this lens, she developed a desire to help local children and parents gain life skills and legal education to help them not just to avoid undesired encounters with the legal system, but to truly thrive in life.
When Lorraine came to me, she had a name for her business, a general concept for what she wanted to teach, and a profoundly inspiring why behind it all, rooted in her own life experiences and the complex realities she saw people navigating every day. It was up to me to guide her through the process of nurturing those ideas into a solid organizational identity.
The branding process
Starting from scratch with a business brand can feel like an expansive task: How do you go about defining the boundaries of your organization’s identity while everything feels a little fuzzy?
Even if your programs or offerings evolve (which they should, and inevitably will), a brand with integrity will remain a consistent throughline as you grow.
Just like building a house, you start with the foundations.
In this case, that meant developing Joyful Learning Company’s core identity.
(If you need a refresher on the elements that make up a brand, you can find it here.)
Through my Big Picture branding process, we started with a kickoff meeting, after which Lorraine did some homework to explore the fundamentals: the big “why,” her most important client and the attitudes and words that felt authentic, both to Lorraine personally and to the people she hoped to serve.
From this, I helped her craft a mission statement, vision statement and core values statements for the JLC.
I also helped her define her target audiences using brand personas, as well as craft a biographical statement that threaded the needle between establishing credibility through personal experience and oversharing.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the messaging we developed:
Once we had the core identity and brand messaging in place, it was much easier to develop visual branding that aligned with that identity.
Lorraine loved the vibrancy, youthfulness and joy she found in images with crayons or crayon-like drawings, gardens
Using this inspiration, I started by building a mood board then presenting three different preliminary design concepts. Lorraine chose her favorite and we moved through a few rounds of design refinements to perfect her brand’s visual identity, starting with the logo.
Here’s the main logo:
And a few of the many variations (for horizontal, one-color, reverse, etc. applications):
The logo development process informed the color scheme and typefaces for the JLC’s brand. I also pulled some elements from the logo to serve as icons/stylistic elements.
At the end of the project, in addition to the individual elements, Lorraine received a comprehensive Brand Identity Guide (aka style guide) that summarizes every aspect of her brand.
It serves as a reference guide for her as she continues to roll out her programs, and she can also share it with anyone else who might work with her brand to maintain consistency.
The client’s perspective
Lorraine was nice enough to share some feedback on why she chose to hire someone to help her develop her brand identity, and how she felt about the process. Here’s a quick Q&A:
R: Why was it important for you to kick off the Joyful Learning Company with a pretty fully fleshed out brand?
L: It was important to have it fleshed out because I knew what I wanted to do in theory but the branding process forced me to flush my ideas into practical wording, mission, values, etc. It also helped me find my target audiences.
What led you to seek out help in developing your brand vs. just creating it yourself?
I sought out help, not because I could not do it but because I wanted it done right. I wanted to stick to a schedule. I have seen your work product before and knew that it would be wonderful and authentically reflect me.
Did anything surprise you about the process–the thought or work that went into it, particular elements or deliverables that were produced, anything else?
It surprised me how easy and seamless it was, even with my busy schedule. You kept me on task and thought of everything.
What’s next for the Joyful Learning Company?
It’s still a work in progress. I have to complete more presentations and market.
A big thanks to Lorraine for allowing me to share her project and the work behind it. If you’d like to follow along as the Joyful Learning Company grows, you can find Lorraine on Instagram and Twitter. She is now in the process of beginning to offer workshops and presentations to parents and students in and around Cleveland.
I hope you found this glimpse into my branding process helpful. Whether you’re starting from scratch or repairing a brand that doesn’t work for you anymore, it doesn’t have to be a painful process. And if you need help, get in touch!