How to Color Patterns in Illustrator

(How to Color Patterns in Illustrator: Guest post by Sew Heidi.
We’ve been working on colour this month, so I thought this would be a fitting one to finish with! Heidi always writes such great posts, and this is no exception. Enjoy.)

I’ve watched many designers fight through the process of recoloring seamless repeating patterns. They’ll drag the pattern out of the swatch panel, edit it, and then drag it back in. Are you guilty of recoloring patterns this way? If so, you’re not alone – but I will help you break this bad habit, and show you a much quicker, easier and more intuitive way to do this. Ready? Let’s go!

What You’ll Need:

Note: This tutorial also applies to recoloring artwork / objects that are not or do not contain repeating patterns, but the example below will be done with a pattern.

Step 1: Access Illustrator’s Live Color Feature

Select an instance of your pattern in your file and choose Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork (1) or click on the color wheel icon (2) in your control bar.
illustrator_color_patterns_step1

Step 2 (for versions AI CC 2015 and newer – if you’re on AI CC 2014 and earlier, skip to Step 3): Reset Colors

In the CC 2015 update, Adobe released a new Live Color feature that automatically recolors the artwork based on recently used colors. I personally dislike this new feature and haven’t been able to find a way to turn it off (perhaps you will like it in which case you’re in luck!).  If upon launching Live Color, your artwork automatically changes colors, you may want to reset to the original colors. Do this by clicking the eye dropper icon (1) towards the upper right to “Get colors from selected art”.
illustrator_color_patterns_step2

Once you click this, the original colors will be restored.
illustrator_color_patterns_step2-1

Step 3: Using the Live Color Interface

Upon launching Live Color, you will see 2 lists of colors: Current Colors (1) in the left column and New Colors (2) in the right column. The Current column contains the colors that your artwork is currently made up of, and the New column contains the colors that you will be changing your artwork to.
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-3

Step 4: Swapping Colors

If you want to swap color positions, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping colors over each other in the New column. In the below example, I’ve taken the middle caramel color and dragged it onto the dark brown color in the top position (1).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-1.1You can see now that the color positions in the pattern have been swapped (2) and the New column reflects the new color positions (3).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-1.2

Step 5: Merging / Overwriting Colors

If you have too many colors in your artwork and you want to merge them, you can drag the colors from the Current column into the New column (1).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-2.1
You will now see in your artwork (2) and in the New column (3) that the caramel color has over written the dark brown color.
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-2.2

Step 6: Choosing Brand New Colors

You may want to completely change the colors of your artwork, which is easy to do! Double click on the color in the New column that you want to change (1). This will launch the Color Picker (2) where you can select any color you want. If you want to choose a specific color from your Color Swatches, click Color Swatches (3).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-3.1Your Color Swatches are now loaded (4) (which may just be the default AI swatches unless you’ve defined custom swatches). Note: only solid color swatches will load here, you will not see pattern or gradient swatches. If you want to switch back to the Color Picker, click Color Models (5).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-3.2Once you’ve selected new colors for some or all of the color positions, your artwork should show the recolored results (6) and the New column should reflect the new colors you’ve chosen (7).
illustrator_color_patterns_step3-3.3

Step 7: Randomly Change Color Order

This is one of my favorite features in Live Color as it will often give you color results that you may not have thought of on your own. With only 3 colors, the results aren’t super exciting, but if your artwork has more colors, you can click this button many times to quickly get a ton of different color options. Simply click the “Randomly change color order” button (1) to watch the colors change in the artwork.
illustrator_color_patterns_step7
Below you can see 2 different colorways (2 & 3) I’ve quickly created using this button.
illustrator_color_patterns_step7-1

Step 8: Accepting the New Colors

Once your artwork is recolored and you’re ready to accept the changes, you are almost ready to hit the OK button. Before you do this however, make sure that the check box for Recolor Art in the bottom left corner IS checked (1). If this is not checked, the artwork will not actually be recolored and you will lose all your changes. Once you have double checked that this box is checked, you can hit OK (2)!
illustrator_color_patterns_step8
Once you’ve hit OK, have a look at your swatches panel. You will now notice, you have the original swatch plus the newly colored swatch (3). Every time you create a new colorway of your pattern using Live Color, it will automatically create a new swatch instance for you – so cool!
illustrator_color_patterns_step8-2

Not Just for Patterns!

Remember, the Live Color feature is not just for patterns! You can use it to recolor any artwork in Illustrator whether it’s solid blocks of color or solid blocks of color and patterns. It also will recolor both strokes and fills. Simply select the artwork, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork and swap, overwrite or choose completely new colors. Be mindful that when using Live Color for artwork other than patterns, you may want to create a copy of the artwork first (1). Unlike how AI creates a new pattern swatch of your new colorway, it will not automatically create a new instance of your artwork.
illustrator_color_patterns_not_just_for_patterns

And Last But Not Least, the Live Color Disclaimer: There is No Undo!

I get asked all the time and see designers trying to do it all the time: cmd/ctrl + Z while in Live Color. Unfortunately there is no “Edit > Undo” within Live Color. This is true both while you are inside the interface and after you’ve hit “OK”. If you are in the Live Color interface and define a new color using the Color Picker, then accidentally overwrite it, there’s no way to get it back.  Additionally, if you hit OK and then want to jump back one step into the Live Color interface to modify some of your changes, there is no way to do this. Choosing Edit > Undo will simply change your pattern back to the original colors.

This disclaimer aside, Live Color is by far the fastest, easiest and most efficient ways to color patterns and other artwork in Illustrator. Give it a try and I promise, you’ll never go back to your old ways!

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Heidi B describes herself as the “Fashion Tech Evangelista”, and has been working with and teaching Illustrator for more than 15 years. If you get the impression she knows her stuff, you’d be right – and she’s got some pretty cool tutorials on her website to prove it. You can find her at SewHeidi.com.

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 2)

perfect colour 2

 

What was your favourite colour as a kid? Mine was always yellow – I couldn’t finish colouring in a picture unless it had some yellow in it somewhere; it always just looked dull. These days, I’m much more open to all the colour combinations; each palette has its own particular mood to convey (but notice I’ve still got yellow in my branding, haha).

Carrying on from last week’s post (here), we continue looking at the multitude of ways you can use to come up with the perfect palette for YOUR brand.

You can make your own palette from scratch in various ways. As noted in the last post,  ColourLovers.com is a great place to go and play with colour. They’ve got a great online community there too, so you can share the palettes you’ve made, AS WELL AS apply them to patterns … also made by you! (and others. Go on, it’s totally addictive.)

HTMLcolorcodes.com  is a modern take on colour pickers, and it’s a bit geeky if that’s your thing. It provides you with the ability to make up you own palettes from scratch, and gives you auto options to choose more colours by changing the criteria (e.g. complementary, triadic, tetradic, etc), so I do feel it comes from a designer’s perspective, and assumes that you already have some knowledge of colour. Having said that, it does include some very nice tools, colour charts, and tutorials on using colour within HTML, CSS, and SCSS.

 

Extracting colour from a photo

One of my very favourite methods of getting a great palette is to find an image that really, really nails who and what your brand is. (It doesn’t matter if it’s not your image – you’re just using it for inspiration, and this exercise is a totally private one.) When you extract the colours from an image like that, it should be pretty darn close to the perfect palette for you. For example, if your biz personality is bright and fun, and you’ve got an image of a fairground on a sunny day, chances are you’ll find the colours that you need right there.

If it’s already a digital image, great. If not, get it onto your screen somehow. Next, go to any one of the many colour picker sites online – such as pictaculous.com, cssdrive.com, Lokesh Dhakar’s color-thief or palettefx.com. However, my fave picker is Adobe’s, at color.adobe.com and you’ll see why in a minute. (ALL of these generators will provide you with at least the hex-code of your colour – this is the 6-digit identifying number (denoted by the hash key #) so that you’ll always get EXACTLY the same colour every time you use it.)

Start by loading up your photo (on color.adobe, the link to load is at the bottom of the page), and let the generator do its thing. Now in Adobe, the big advantage is that once you’ve loaded up the image, it will show you the points it’s used for sampling – and you can move them around to tweak your palette. Alternatively, you can change the ‘mood’ from the drop-down menu on the left. Once you’re happy, you can either save it (if you’re an Adobe member), or click on the little colour-wheel icon on the right and it will take you to the colour wheel, where you can tweak some more, or just find the hex codes for the colours you’ve got. Easy peasy!

 

colourpicker1

using the adobe colour picker

 

colourpicker3

using the adobe colour picker

 

Some basic colour theory

There is OOOODLES of stuff about the theory of colour out there, and really, you don’t need to know anything beyond the basics.

The technical terms you will find most helpful are these –

* Hue is pure colour, and includes all the colours in the spectrum (red, green, blue, etc).

* Value is to do with how dark and light it is – from almost white to almost black.

* Saturation is to do with how pure the colour is – it runs in a scale from the purest colour, through to almost entirely grey. (Consider also, that each hue has a different value – red is much darker than yellow, and that is why when you change the saturation on each of those colours, a different grey value will result.)

 

 

 

 

yellow saturationred saturation

 

 

Start with the colour wheel, you The most basic method of choosing colours is to start by looking at the hue i.e. pure colour), and the relationships that you can form around the colour wheel.

 

colourwheel 500px

 

One method of choosing colour is to use balance. Pick two colours directly opposite, you’ve got balance. Make a symmetrical triangle, and you’ve got balance. Make a square or rectangle, and you’ve got balance. Tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ll still have balance.

 

Another method is to choose colours next to each other on the wheel – because they’ve got a hue in common, they’ll look good together. Again, tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ve got yourself a useful palette.

analogous

 

As noted, there are TONS of ways you can come up with colour; it entirely depends on your brand and what mood you want to convey, that fits your business personality.

 

A last word on choosing colours for branding.

A very important thing to remember when you’re choosing colours for your palette is that these colours will be used for all sorts of things – text, backgrounds, borders on images, highlights, buttons….. and so much more. SO you’ll need to make sure it’s a useful palette. Ensure you include at least one dark colour, and one light colour, and that there is enough contrast between the different combinations.

OK, have fun!

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Oh, and p.s., I would LOVE you to tell me what your fave colour was as a kid, and if it’s still your fave now. Do you use it in your biz brand? Or would you consider it for your brand? Leave me a comment below, and tell me what your biz is, too! 

 

Colour-junkie Julie x

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 1)

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand

the perfect colour

 

I’ve loved colour forever. I used to spend hours dressing up my barbie dolls in fabulous costumes imagined out of scraps from my mother’s sewing. I wouldn’t make up stories for the dolls; of them going shopping, or being school teachers, or of being whisked away to a fabulous ball by a handsome stranger. No; I would simply sit there and try pattern against pattern, colour against colour. For hours.

Which all just goes to give you an idea of how crippled I was when I was trying to choose colours for my site. OMG, what the hell do I choose? I love …. everything….  .

More on me later.

 

You know, colour is just about THE biggest identifying feature people see when they first look at something, and can be a major consideration when they purchase something (acid green two piece suit, anyone?). And although I’m not suggesting that people won’t visit your site/read your blog because it’s not their favourite shade of blue, it’s still a pretty important factor in conveying the right mood – one that is not only expressive of your brand’s values and attitudes, but more importantly, one that’s in line with your audience’s expectations.

 

The Meanings of Colours

Now before I go too much further, I want to talk a bit about the meanings of colours. I would like to emphasise that colours have a wide range of meanings which vary from culture to culture and also with context, so don’t get bogged down in them. For instance, in Western cultures, red sometimes means danger, but in other contexts it is associated with Christmas. In China, it often symbolises good fortune and happiness, while in other cultures red is the symbol of mourning.

Here’s some very broad generalisations that may be used when it comes to branding (but don’t take them as gospel).

Blues and darker colours are often perceived at trustworthy and solid (think banks).

Blues and greens are seen as calming, especially pastel hues of mint and aqua.

Greens and browns are seen as earthy and natural.

Red especially, but also orange and yellow are often thought of as active colours.

Tertiary colours such as magenta (red-violet) and lime (yellow-green) are usually thought of as more youthful, fun colours.

I’ll stop there, because as I said these are broad generalisations, and in each case it also depends on how vivid the colour is, how light or dark it is, and what other colours it’s used with. (I’ll go over a bit of colour-combining basics for websites in the next post too.)

 

Stop crippling yourself and start choosing

How do YOU feel about colour? Same as me – like you’re stuck when it comes to choosing colours for your brand, because everything looks wonderful? Or, you find a great palette and love the colours, but it’s just not pinpointing the mood you’re looking for? Or, maybe you think you have very little confidence with colour, and just feel plain scared?

You know, it really doesn’t matter why you have difficulties choosing colour – the end result is the same; and that is that you can’t settle on anything. Fortunately, there’s a solution (or even two or three).

 

Work with your business personality

It helps if you have a clear vision of the mood/personality of your brand (so you know what mood you’re going to project). If you don’t, than have a stab at this – write a list of half a dozen words or more personality traits that you would like your brand to express. (Better still, read this article in order to get a grip on your business personality.) You can start with masculine or feminine, young or mature, then get a bit more specific with descriptors such as dreamy, modern, dramatic, or sentimental.

Next, keep those words in mind and go searching through places like ColourLovers.com or Design Seeds, and try and match your mood words to the colour palette you’ve chosen. These places have thousands of pre-made palettes that you can use for anything you want. Each palette lists the hex codes for each colour, so you can recreate them for yourself.

I especially like the Design Seeds palettes – although Jessica tends to create palettes based around gentle images of flowers, nature, and weathered textures, she has a great eye for extracting the colour essence out of a picture. (Each image is linked to the original post if you’d like to find out colour codes).

 

design seeds - flora hues

design seeds – flora hues

 

design seeds - color heaven

design seeds – color heaven

 

design seeds - color set

design seeds – color set

 

I know not everyone is as skilled as Jessica! Don’t fret – there are other ways you can find your own palette too; I’ll get to them in the next post.

So for now, I want you to go exploring. If you’ve found a palette you LOVE and want to show it off, leave a link in the comments. If you’d like suggestions for your website/blog/shop, leave a link and we can all have a look and make suggestions!

Oh, and my blog’s palette? Yes, this blog’s been through a few renovations and reincarnations. Fortunately, I’ve finally settled on something. Hells, it’s a rainbow of sorts – I just can’t help myself.

 

tractorgirl proportional palette

 

J x

 

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{edit: You can read Part 2 on choosing the perfect colours here.}

Looking for your ideal customer? Here’s where to find them

looking for your ideal customer

 

OK, so you’ve got a fabulous product that you’re head and heels totally in love with and you can’t stop talking about it.

But you know, there’s one thing missing. HAVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED YOUR CUSTOMER?

When you aim for everything you hit nothing, so they say. If you try to appeal to everyone, then you’re appealing to no one.

The only real way to have a product that sells is for it to solve a problem for your customer, fill a need, or make them feel great about themselves. (And you can figure out who they are here.) Ask yourself what does your product or service help them with (for instance, if you’re a fine art photographer, your product helps them with their interior design; or if you sell baby clothes, you make them feel great by having a well-dressed baby). You absolutely need to get inside your potential customer’s head and figure out what it is that they’re wanting. And to do this, you need to be as specific as possible about who they are. (Yes, there is definitely trial and error and a certain amount of guesswork in this. But the more you do business with them, the more you’ll find out about them, so just keep going.) And when you know who they are and what they want, you can start to speak their language, and ask them the questions they’re asking themselves.

Because when you speak the same language, when you have the same world view as them, you automatically make an emotional connection and that’s the key to turning them into paying customers. You’ve built up rapport and trust. And when you deliver what they want, they’re so thrilled with what you do that they not only become return customers, but they spread the word about how fantastic you are. 

Ba-BAM! Business explosion! Right?

Hmmm yes well it’s all very good in theory, but WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU FIND THOSE DAMN CUSTOMERS? You can have THE best product in the world – one that’s going to end global poverty, keep the oceans free from waste, and make small children excited about keeping their rooms tidy – but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point?

You need to get out there and find those customers.

SO here are my top seven tips for searching out and connecting with your tribe.

  1. Facebook groups – Listen, as much as you hear all the time that FB “isn’t worth the effort” because they limit and fuss around with what everybody gets to see in their feed, I absolutely believe that it’s still worth getting in there and using it – for all sorts of different reasons. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use it!How FB decides what goes into people’s feeds is based on a number of factors, pretty much centred around how active the group/page is.  So if you’re in there posting every day, AND your people are commenting and liking on your posts, then your posts will be shown to more and more people. The trick is to make your posts engaging for your people – ask them about themselves (because people love talking about themselves); ask provocative questions (only if they’re relevant); entertain them with a (relevant) beautiful or amusing image.The bonus is that by asking questions, you find out heaps more about the folk who DO like your page! Use that knowledge to fine-tune your ideal customer profile.”But I only have a tiny FB following” you moan! Well I say, have you invited all of your FB friends to like your page? Your family? Asked your close friends if they mind sharing your page with their friends? Posted links to your FB page on your website? On other social media? Round ’em up, get them engaged, post shareable content, and you are well on your way to growing your following.

    JOIN OTHER FB GROUPS. Have you engaged in other groups to let them know who you are and what you’re doing? It doesn’t have to be all icky push and salesy (and it’s better if you aren’t) – many business groups have set days where you encouraged to share what you do and what you’re offering (for instance #PromoThursday), and sometimes people straight-out ask for particular services in these groups too – so make sure you’re around and can put your hand up! Search some hashtags to find relevant conversations about what you’re doing – this will not only allow you to see what people are asking for in your niche (so you can help tailor your services), but you can also find other groups to join. Win-win!

  2. Twitter and Instagram. Use the same strategy with your other social media –  Follow others AND ENGAGE WITH THEM, offer up good content, and use the hashtags – they’re a great search tool for finding other conversations that are happening in your niche.
  3. Pinterest – is not really ‘social’ media in the same sense that the other three biggies are. If you use it, think about how often you actually engage with the people you follow – hardly ever, right? It’s primarily a search tool for finding stuff you’re interested in (especially pretty stuff). BUT, it’s still a rich source of information about your potential customers – use the search tool to see what others are pinning, and particularly what has been pinned from your website – this will give you the best ideas about what your customers actually DO love the most (so you can keep doing more of it. You can find yourself by using www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com – and seeing what pops up.
  4. Use search engines. Google your business’s keywords and see what other conversations you can find from potential customers. You might find a great forum, or another fantastic website with a heap of interesting comments. Depending on what you find, you can join in the discussion and help out with excellent advice – people will love you for it.
  5. Guest blog about your area of expertise on a site you admire. Reach for the stars – go the Huffington Post if you dare!  If you’re not quite there yet, simply look around at the sites that you love reading and approach them for guest posting opportunities. Some don’t accept guest posts and that’s OK, but many do. Once you’ve found a site you’d like to try, make sure you do 5 minutes research and find out the name of the person you need to be writing to. I DON’T open emails that start with “Hello blogowner”, and rarely open ones that start with “Hi there”. But if it’s got “Hi Julie”, I’ll read it.Keep your proposal short and sweet – start with why you love their blog, what area of expertise you have, and a couple of suggestions for topics that are closely aligned with THEIR audience.  You might like to include a couple of links to your best articles. Be beautiful, be polite and say thank you for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them. And follow up – if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, contact them again with a short, polite reminder, because hey, sometimes things get put aside and forgotten! We’re all human.
  6. Reach out to other people in your niche for a collaboration. Find others with complementary skills/products – what can you do to collaborate? How can you benefit both audiences with a super valuable offer? Join forces, brainstorm, get it out there and you’ve doubled your audience! Magic.
  7. Start up a mailing list. Probably THE best strategy ever for connecting with your customers. You know that if they sign up to your list, they’re already interested in what you do. So make sure you have plenty of opportunities for them to do so – on your website sidebar, on your “About” page, and on your “Contact” page.And reward them for it. Most people don’t bother signing up to a list that merely promises “regular updates” (unless of course you’re Seth Godin). If you’re selling products, you could offer to put them in a draw for a prize each month, or you could write a short e-book on your area of expertise. If you’re a jeweller for instance you could offer your best tips and tricks on looking after jewellery, and/or how to look after it while travelling. If you’re a portrait photographer, you could offer a round-up of your best tips on how to prepare for a shoot – what to wear, makeup, choosing a location, how lighting can effect the mood of your shoot, etc. If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple matter of offering an intro or brief version of one of your paid courses.

 

So that’s it! There are LOTS of different ways of searching out and connecting with those beautiful customers; you’ve just got to put in the time.

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BACK TO YOU! Have you found some innovative ways to connect with your customers? What’s your best customer-connection story? I’d love to hear! Pop a comment in the box below, share your biz name and how you’ve connected, and you never know – you might just connect with some other great people here too!

Julie x

Who is your ideal customer? How to figure them out with mood boards

who is your ideal customer

 

Who IS your ideal customer, and why do you need to know?

Because if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then in reality, you’re actually appealing to no one. You’re boring.

“Next…”

And because if your website conveys a vibrant, fun and youthful business personality, then that’s no good if your ideal customer is the mature, conservative bank manager type (OK maybe I’m being a bit mean to bank managers… I’m sure some of them dye their hair purple and listen to experimental electronica).

The point is, it’s vitally important to know who you’re selling to so you can gear the mood of your business personality towards them.

One method of getting to grips with your customer is to use a mood board (have you used one for your business personality as well? You should – just keep these boards separate – you’ll see why in a minute).

Now, I know there are lots of people who have a bit of a haphazard attempt at putting together a mood board for their biz via Pinterest and the like. However, it’s not just “whatever you like” – it needs to be more strategic and there is definitely a method to using mood boards in order to extract the information you need. That’s because you’re coming at it from two points of view – what you want your business to look like, and who your IDEAL CUSTOMER is. It’s like those Venn diagrams you learnt about in high school (you know, the ones where two circles overlap) – the area in which these two groups of things overlap is the sweet spot you should be aiming for. If you’ve got the right business for YOU, those two circles should have a pretty big overlap.

It’s most important to focus on your ideal customer, and what you want your business to look like will grow fairly naturally out of that – because you’re picking the pictures, right!? My best tip is to do this via Pinterest, because it’s so easy to find pics that suit. Better still, when you’re using Pinterest you can research things that are harder to investigate from the comfort of your own armchair (unless you’re a complete magazine/TV junkie…).

If you know exactly who your ideal customer is that’s great, but if you’re a bit fuzzy on them, that’s OK; you will probably know a little bit about them anyway.

Get a sheet of paper, and title it “My ideal customer”. Start with the basic demographics – stuff like gender, marital status and family situation, income level, education, and culture/race (if it’s important – for some products it can be).

Next, it’s time for a bit of educated guesswork about some other aspects of your customer’s likes and dislikes, and so you need to get into their head a bit more. Really, take a guess – because as we said at the start you need to appeal to someone. And as your business grows and you get to see more of your customers, then the more you will refine your ideal customer and figure out how to appeal to them. So have a think about these questions, and write down your answers.

1. What are their goals and aspirations?

2. What do they read? Magazines? Blogs? Books? You can list broad genres, but also get specific and list titles.

3. Where do they hang out – in real life, and online? There are some great infographics out there that match demographics to the different types of social media they use – for instance Facebook users tend to be a bit older because they like the chat as well as the pictures, Instagram tends to be a younger crowd; it’s more visual and faster.

4. What’s an average day like for them?

5. (And this comes back to the all-important connection between your product and your ideal customer!) What problem do they have that your product solves, and what do they hope to experience when they use your product?

 

OK! Still will me? Good.

 

Get on over to Pinterest.

Ask yourself, what magazines does your “IDEAL CUSTOMER” like to read? Are they likely to read Better Homes and Gardens? Or Frankie? Or the Renegade Collective? Or Country Living? Concentrating on these style magazines is great, because each of them has a very distinct aesthetic and focus, and you can get a very strong vision of what kind of lifestyle your customer is aspiring too and what they like to surround themselves with. You can soon figure out whether they are likely to live in an apartment in the city, or a comfy family home in the suburbs.

In Pinterest, search your magazine title, and pin a bunch of images from what comes up. Pin lots. What interior decoration images are there? What colours come up – are they muted and soft, or lots of neutrals with pops of bright colour? How does the style make you feel? For instance, Better Homes and Gardens is very comfy and family home oriented, while Frankie is younger and a retro feel with lots of ditsy floral prints in soft colours.

Work your way through the images you’ve chosen and try and pick out the common things you see – colours, patterns, textures, and how those images make you feel – heroic? glamorous? cosy?

Now go back to your “Ideal Customer” page, and go through those answers again. Is there anything that doesn’t fit? Cross it out. Is there anything you’ve missed? Add it in. Is there some new insight into their aspirations? Write some more.

Write it down. It’s your reference sheet, for whenever you come up with a new product idea, or a new marketing idea, or someone approaches you for a collaboration, or…    Then ask your ideal customer if it’s something they’d be interested in. If not, put the idea aside and move onto something that will be more to their liking.

And yay, look at those Pinterest boards again and you’ve got some great colour palettes to work with for your own branding as well!

 

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG - look at those colours!

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG – look at those colours 🙂

 

A last word from the wonderfully astute Tara Gentile.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome. People buy because it makes them feel awesome. - Tara Gentile Click To Tweet

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Got any questions about your ideal customer?  If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. the launch of The Clarity Sessions – One on One Brand Coaching is only TWO DAYS AWAY! Get in on the ground floor and get a huge early bird discount on this service, by jumping on the mailing list below! {And there’s a free consultation as well} )

 

How to define your business personality (with case studies)

 

brand personality - jg

 

In the last post, I talked about defining your business personality with words. It’s fun, did you have a go? How many words did you come up with? If you’re anything like me, I can find an enormous list of words that fit aspects of what I do. I’m so complicated LOL! (I’m the same with colour – it’s so hard to limit myself to just a few). But with your business, you need to be clear-sighted and cull those words down quite a bit, to get to the essence of who and what you are (6-10 words is great).

To explain how that business personality is expressed visually, I thought it would be useful to look at a few great shopfronts and websites. As I said last post, Business Personality and Business Identity work hand in hand. With the visual stuff we’re getting more into the area of Business Identity here – the colours, fonts, imagery etc that you use in your branding, but the point is that it should be very expressive of your business personality.

 

THE COLLECTIVE.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, The Collective is part magazine and part inspiration for business-minded creatives. It’s the brain-child of Lisa Messenger (and if you’ve never heard her story, you should – it’s a gob-smacker).

The Collective labels itself as “game changers | thought leaders | rule breakers | style makers”. It’s aimed at 35-ish creative folk who are intending to go places, completely on their own terms. It’s glossy, romantic and big. So, it uses lots of stylish, large-format vista-type images,  with a bold, hand-painted script font. It’s lots of black and white too, which further emphasises strength. Black and white is uncompromising.

brand personality 3

 

 

MEET ME AT MIKES

Meet Me At Mikes is a blog about life, crafting, and a whole bunch more, written by Pip Lincoln who is the author of several books on crafting, and writer for a number of other well-known places such as Kidspot and Frankie Magazine. It’s completely colourful, cosy, homey and happy. I love this header! Its collection of bright, clear colours are wonderfully cheery, its shapes are simple and clean. Using a variety of colours in this way conveys inventiveness and a vibrant interest in living, and there is always tons of colour throughout her blog. The scattering of blocks on the end only add to the whole playful effect. Her imagery is filled with retro, cute, and lots of closeups of homespun textures. It’s like she’s inviting you into her home.

brand personality - meetmeatmikes

 

 

THE DARLING TREE

The Darling Tree is an entirely different kettle of fish. Jo Klima founded The Darling Tree as a shopfront for her design services (which she still offers), but has more recently extended into surface design and products printed with her patterns. She has shifted from a quite feminine, gentle style, to one that is more expressive of her spiritual journey, and focuses on a vibrant palette of purples, pinks, and aquas, in a variety of bold, painterly patterns (her site loads a different pattern in the same palette every time you refresh). Like The Collective, Jo chooses a bold, handwritten font to be expressive of individuality and strength. The whole suggests artistic expressiveness, femaleness, strength and daring.

brand personality 4

 

 

THE PAPER MAMA

Chelsey Andrews is the force behind The Paper Mama, which focuses on DIY crafts, personal style, and food. As well as her own blog she writes about DIY and craft for companies like HP Create and Better Homes and Gardens.

Her style is definitely very feminine, with tons of flowers. Her colours are warm, rich, with some lovely soft textures in both the aqua background and the handpainted header. They are also not overly bright and a bit muted, giving a sense of the old-fashioned. The handpainted header and the not-quite-straight hand drawn chain circling her photo all evokes that  retro homey, DIY attitude, with the big blooms making it full and sensuous and very girly.

brand personality 5

 

 

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Now, if you’ve got an Etsy shop or similar, it can be a whole lot harder to convey your sense of brand personality, because so much of the screen space is taken up with Etsy’s set format. While it can be harder, it is not impossible as these shops show inventive ways to use their header space.

 

POAST

Within Etsy, you’re mostly limited to your shop banner to convey your brand, unless people choose to scroll down. But POAST (who I featured a little while ago here) still manages to create a space that is cool, modern, and very definitely Scandinavian. The Etsy banner space is quite long and not very high, so you need to use an image that uses horizontal space well. Laurie has used a misty image of the mountain forest to great effect, choosing one that has virtually no colour to complement her mostly white ceramic style. The shop name is in a clean and modern san serif font with the horizontal removed from the A, making it both distinctive and classic at the same time. It is also smack bang in the centre, giving a sense of balance and maturity.

brand personality 6

 

 

THEATERCLOUDS

Many people choose to use an image of some of their work for their header, and if it’s done with care, this can be a great idea as it can instantly capture your mood and colours. Theater Clouds  (who I wrote about here) has evoked the whimsy and serenity of her work with an image of tiny sailboats. The image is beautifully lit (as is all her work), has a lovely horizontal flow to it, and is warm and inviting with the use of soft red in the boats and text.

brand personality 9

 

WIRED BY BUD

A bit more “blokey” by the very nature of using hulking buffalo as his subject matter, Wired By Bud has created a scene specifically for use as a header. It’s kind of humorous and fun, and shows off what he can do. His shop name is in a strong, classic font that contrasts well with the wire shapes. The only thing I would tweak is the quality of his banner image, as I find it fuzzy and grainy and that’s distracting.

I know Etsy does compress images so you might not get it perfect, but if you are having any similar problems, try uploading your images as the highest quality .jpeg, or even a .png file.

brand personality 8

 

 

JEANETTE ZEIS

Of course, you don’t have to incorporate any of your work into your banner, or even any images. Ceramicist Jeanette Zeis relies on an extremely simple, hand drawn banner of her name. Why this works is that it strongly echoes her ceramic style –  there is evidence of the hand-made in its uneven lines and edges, it is soft yet strong, with a touch of the classic in the wreath of leaves, reminiscent of ancient Greek crowns. Overall it looks open and gentle, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

brand personality 10

 

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Got any questions about ANYTHING in this post?   If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. I’m just about to launch into Brand Coaching for you! With Questionnaires, Skype sessions and a whole heap more. If you’d like to be in on the ground floor AND get a substantial discount on this service, get on the mailing list below!)