I love to help new entrepreneurs start their business venture with branding and webdesign as well as overall brainstorming. Starting with just an idea and a blank sheet of paper which quickly fills up when you think and talk more about the business is such an exciting step in every entrepreneurial life I think. And I love and feel honored that I can be part of this step for a few fellow entrepreneurs.
That was the same with Annika from VAP Consulting as she came to me and told me she had a new business idea for which she already had a name and a logo and she had also started a website but it lacked the professional look. So she was looking for some help with her website and some marketing material.
The business idea was great and I immediately felt excited about it as it was such a good time to start this side of her business. The UAE had decided to implement VAT (value added tax) as of January 2018. So Annika, being an accountant, took the chance and decided to start her own company to help other entrepreneurs with VAT, accounting and other financial services. And I thought the name was even better: VAP Consulting. It relates to her initials but obviously also makes your brain think about VAT.
We sat together and I started asking her a lot of questions about the services she wanted to offer, her competition, her goals and of course her target customer. I told her that we need to create a brand with her existing logo and then design her website. However while talking about her business idea, she told me her target audience would be female entrepreneurs. And we decided that the logo she already had was not targeting woman but was actually a very masculine and may be a little too mainstream.
Annika realized she had to go back and really think about her target customer and the image she wanted to achieve with her brand. We tried to change the colors to her existing logo but were not really convinced. Eventually she decided she wanted to start from scratch and go through my whole branding and web design process.
Step 1 - Research
I start all my projects with an extensive questionnaire that my clients need to fill in for their brand and for their website. I also ask them to collect images on pinterest that reflect their desired brand. From those images I can see which colors my clients are drawn to and if they will fit with the business.
When I looked at Annika’s pinterest board I could immediately see a trend for blues and browns in term of colors as well as a very professional look.
Annika also realized that her target client is not only women but men and women alike who own a business and need help with accounting but can’t afford to hire an accountant or get services from a big accounting firm.
I also asked her to write down 10 adjectives that best describe her brand and she came up with the following: Valuable, Affordable, Professional, Necessary, Easy, Practical, Relationship building, Dynamic, Out of the Box and Flexible.
Phase 2 - Inspiration
I took her inspiration board on Pinterest to look for similarities, the look and feel of her brand, which colors would fit and any other elements that I could adapt for her brand. From there I created this moodboard:
The blues, gold and brown tones reflect professionalism, calmness, trustworthyness.
This moodboard ensured that Annika and I were on the same page and I kept it by my side for my whole design process for the concept phase, for any collateral items and also for the website in order to make sure we had a cohesive look that always reflects the same image.
Phase 3 - Logo concepts
I designed two complete logo concepts for Annika to really understand what can be done with her logo and brand. The colors were very clear and we both had basically agreed on them from the moodboard. The first one was classic and played with the V and the A. And the second concept was a little more modern and may be younger. Both concepts are timeless but do not have the classic consultancy look. They appeal to women and men alike but a little bit more to the big female entrepreneurs market that she is targeting.
Annika chose the first concept immediately. And I can’t deny that I was very happy about her choice.
Phase 4 - Brand Style Guide
I took the chosen logo concept to finalize her color pallette and the design of the primary and secondary logo as well as her submark.
I also created a pattern and some small icons for her to use for any collateral items. And we choose photographs to be used on her flyers, all reflecting the brands image and incorporating her brand colors. I put all this information as well as font recommendations in one guide for Annika. She can use this in the future for reference when preparing marketing material, presentations but also briefing her staff about her brand in order to keep the consistency in her brand.
This is just an extract of this guide.
Phase 4 - Collateral items
Although a design some collateral items like the business cards while I do the initial logo concept, I always go back and sit down on all collateral items after the branding process is finished.
For VAP Consulting I designed business cards, a letterhead, a template for presentations as well as four flyers (which I won’t show here as they have not been used for advertising yet). I also helped Annika design her Facebook ads.
Phase 5 - Webdesign
And finally it was time to design her Website on Squarespace.
By determining the logo including variations, the colors, fonts and patterns beforehand it makes the webdesign process so much easier. And it was so nice to see her logo, color palette, chosen images and her brand really come to life. In her pinterest board Annika had pinned an image of two chairs which reflected the aspect of the entrepreneur not being alone anymore with accounting and VAT. Annika found a similar image which we used for her homepage and it gives such an inviting atmosphere already.
The rest of the website had to be simple to use, informative and professional. Annika just wanted to give a quick overview of her offered services, answer some frequently asked questions as well as show how she can be contacted. It was also important that she would be able to update her site herself which is so easy with Squarespace.
We were both very happy with the final result! Click here to see the final result yourself.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. And if you have any questions, please send me an email!
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