Defining my own brand has been a challenge since the beginning. Being able to clearly articulate what “Cindy K. Cheung Writing & Design” is all about seems simple, but there’s a lot more to consider beneath the surface. Yes, I provide technical writing and graphics communication services, but what does that actually mean and what sets my brand apart from my peers?
When I first sat down to think about what I can offer to the world, I kept it simple and unedited: I can not only write your stuff, I can make it look nice, too. Then I further refined it to: Writing and art collide to create solutions to your technical writing, document design and layout, and graphics communication needs. It’s essentially melding together technical writing and graphic design to carve my own little specialty and/or niche. Some people may find putting together reports dull, but I find it to be a fun challenge organizing content into grids. I love grids. Did I mention I love grids?
So that was the starting point of my brand: a motto or ethos. The statement that will show how my branding relates to the bigger picture and what my business stands for.
I think a lot of freelancers can agree that creating and designing for our own brand is more challenging than creating and designing for a client. We have an inherent bias when it comes to our own “stuff”; it’s incredibly personal and we may not always have the most objective view. Plus, we can be more critical of our own work and never feel like it’s reached the point of “I am satisfied with this” – as if there is always something that needs to be fixed or improved.
Although I’m a one-person shop, I found it necessary to have my own brand guidelines as a means to define my visual identity. I believe having a brand guideline (or style guide) will allow me to achieve coherence in my business as I continue to journey through this grand adventure that is freelancing.
To start, I started with the following key elements:
- Front cover
- A brand motto/ethos
- A logo guide
- A colour/palette guide
- A typeface guide
- Collateral examples
- Back cover
This brand guideline will continue to be a living and breathing document, being refined and updated as I go along. I may even have a complete visual identity rehaul in a few years (who knows!), so keeping things simple at the beginning provides more freedom to add along the way.
I used stock images that leaned towards minimalism from Unsplash to complement the content. The front cover image is used on both my business card and on this site as I think it visually represents my brand (clean but warm; approachable and easy going).
Originally I designed this document in black & white to match my palette. I loved the clean and streamlined look. When I asked my husband for feedback (always good to get a fresh pair of eyes to critique), he suggested that some pops of colour would improve the look. Initially my reaction (internally) was, “hey now Engineer guy, what would you know about design?” (my inner voice is quite snarky which is why it remains an inner voice). In an effort to continue growing, I took his advice and replaced the images with the colour versions. And wouldn’t you know it… he was right. While I still like my original version, I think the colour version is just as good.