How To Build A Brand (And Why You Might)
By Caitlin Rogers
What isn’t a brand these days?
In an online sense, your page has to have similar tendencies for your audience to feel like you are “trustworthy” and they know what to expect. If you are a creative online, it is best to make your portfolio branded to help showcase to potential clients that you do in fact “have an eye for detail”. Because sometimes no, the work can’t just speak for itself. We need proof. Even the mom and pops have to have something put together and cohesive online otherwise consumers might consider them a “scam” if their website or even Instagram page isn’t slightly branded.
That’s just online. Let’s look at storytelling.
In storytelling, the story characters have to also interact with a brand. Even just slight branding, to the audience, the world created truly feels lived in. Consider Pixar’s “Inside Out”; TripleDent Gum. The brand has a name, logo, colors, and a tune. It seems like a lot to create for such a small portion of storytelling, but these tiny details make for great world building. The audience understands from their own walk of life, that there is their own brand that they too get the jingle stuck in their head.
But branding doesn’t have to take on an active role in storytelling. When consuming written, animated, or filmed storytelling, sometimes just the brief mention or showcasing of [ the brand ] helps a setting feel real. When reading a comic, there will be storefronts in the back of some panels. But of course, that store, cafe, or diner that the characters walk into or visit frequently will have; a logo, layout, colors, uniform that the workers wear, etc. Loads of branding. And somewhere in your storytelling, it is great to have the information to the side somewhere for future reference. (To the creators that are just feral and keep it all in a Google Doc, I salute you. If you are just chaos and keep it in your mind, you are a force. Truly.)
So between great visual, audio, written storytelling and presentation as a creator, how do you make a brand? How do you give a facelift to a brand that already exists? (In example, you the creator?)
Welcome to Curiosity’s Corner. We help you at least think to get started. If you know, you know. Sometimes getting started is the largest hurdle we have to jump through. And at least you can have examples from a creative professional, then a PDF for you to download & work on alongside yourself. To feed that curiosity itch.
We don’t have to go far at least for this Creative professional; as I have made brands from the ground up and given brands facelifts.
Sticking with facelifts, have you noticed this one’s over the course of the year? Slowly but surely, WildStar has been getting updates. While the evolution of this brand in particular will change over the course of a couple of years as the brand grows, let’s focus on what has been done that can be applied to writing and or drawing your next story.
When creating a brand, you want to focus on a few things:
Art Direction (Art Style)
I won’t say what order you need to make these in, but whatever order makes sense for you to start is always a good one.
How involved is this brand going to be in your story? How involved do you want your own branding to be with your portfolio & portfolio presentation? Will text / font / typefaces be involved with this particular brand you are creating?
These questions are to help you get started with understanding ‘How much and to what depth?’ you want the brand you are working on.
If it’s for a brief paragraph for a short novella, you may want to only focus on colors, a somewhat put together logo you can briefly describe, and then atmosphere (and to describe that, you will need a target audience for this world). But if we are talking about concept artwork or visual development, it’ll be best to go more in depth; create a working logo, have color hex codes ready, if there will be a kind of uniform what will that look like? Explore apron or shirt variations.
When I create a brand from scratch, I start with the name. Usually, the name becomes the type becomes the logo becomes the look becomes the brand’s story. It’s even how we begin journeys with one another; who are you? What is your name?
From there, I’m able to build the foundations and make a brand for people or characters to want to be a part of. “But Caitlin,” said no one. “I just want to draw & be a comic book artist, not become a brand designer. Why else would I need this?”
I still have some other reasons why you might want to consider being curious and checking out what we have here in this corner:
Branding also counts as visual development or concept art. If you expand and truly explore different variations of [the thing], then you’re thinking of packaging and a cohesive look. So it’s also good to show that eye for detail we know you have.
Understanding color psychology can help with aiding your story. As either foreshadowing or deliberate deception.
It expands the industry markets you can hopscotch to, like say when comic freelance is low, and you’re waiting on that publisher’s check to deposit. You can go editorial for a while until publishing pays you.
So, here is where those examples I mentioned come in.
Attached here is WildStar Press’ Spring 2023 Guidelines.
(That I am okay with being seen externally. Oh right, and Akira is ok with it too I guess.) While many pages from this standpoint were left out, it goes over the points made above. But in a far more detailed and thorough way. Who knows, maybe you will make a brand that needs this much thought and exploration into it.
Also attached is Curiosity’s Catch Sheets. It has the basis of what we went over here; along with pages where you can also fill in the spaces with the brand you are trying to create. Closing the gap for those who need the extra accommodations to even think to get started. Or even for those who like to have a premade list. Have fun!
As always goodbye for now, and until another day,