How I Redesigned My Brand Without Losing My Damn Mind
“I’m making a promise to myself that this is the last time” - me
It’s such an awesome feeling to get back into writing and get back to my love, my baby: Hued. 2018 started off with a bang; a new life and a new routine were thrusted upon me, and I’m just now feeling like I’m getting back into the swing of things.
As my style begins to grow and evolve, I always get this itch to redesign my website and redo everything. Not only does that take a lot of time for me (hello perfectionism) but it takes a bit from me emotionally.
Going through the downwards spiral of: am I ruining my site, does this look like everyone else's, why do I do this every few months, people aren’t even going to recognize Hued if I keep doing this, and all of that jazz.
I chose to work within the mindset that Hued and Ashleigh are two separate beings that share the same brain and creativity, but I don’t want the work I do with Hued to define who I am.
However, I can’t keep the two separate. For my brand to be authentic and for it really to connect with the people like I want it too, I think my personality and my style should be a driving force.
So why did I “rebrand”?
I didn’t necessarily rebrand, I moreso tweaked and enhanced my brand and my vision. I needed clarity. I was ready to shed my old skin and develop my brand’s identity. I am my biggest, and worst, critic so I took the time to sit down and make damn sure that I was happy with every single design choice.
I want the rest of the year to be focused on providing valuable content and making it easier for people to find and connect with me, but if I keep redesigning this damn website, that will never get done.
We all know those people that whenever they get anxious or have a lot on their mind, they clean their entire house or rearrange all of their furniture.I think that’s me to a degree: when I’m going through a shift or phase in my personal life, it reflects in my designs for Hued.
That’s great and all, I’m evolving, but sooner or later that’s going to get confusing for the audience that I do have. It’s like I’m changing my hair color every month: it’s cute, but girl your hair is going to fall out!
A more defined creative and style direction:
If you were to ever ask me to describe my personal style (i.e. my style of dress, the type of aesthetic that I like,etc.) I can tell you immediately what it is: casual, comfortable, neutral or solid colors (mostly), teetering on the edge of masculine and feminine, with dainty details and accessories.
If you were to ask me about the style or vision that I had for Hued a few months ago, I for damn sure couldn’t tell you. I was too busy worrying about what everyone else was doing. I was so concerned with making sure that my website was similar to what others in my industry were doing regardless of whether that was even the strategic thing to do for my business or whether or not I even liked it.
The photos that I chose had no real direction, I was using my colors all whilly nilly with no cohesion, I kept changing fonts, I just didn’t have any sort of cohesion or systems in place for my own work. Not really practicing what I preach here on the blog.
I was trying to be go along with what other designers were doing, because I thought: hey they’re getting clients and things are working for them, that’s what I should do!
Wrong. Especially when it comes to style and creative vision. I kept pushing against that box that I put myself in that I didn’t even see that I was stifling myself creatively.
So to hell with that. I sat down and made sure that I got super clear on the types of clients that I want to work with, studied and stalked a few of them that fit that mold to a tee, and used that as a springboard.
And I couldn’t be happier.
(Man, designing for yourself can be hard as shit.)
I remember when I first started and I was doing research on colors and I read that women weren’t attracted to the color brown. I’m not going to lie, that actually hurt my feelings.
I loved the earthy colors, deep yellows, mustards, deep golds, etc. and it hurt to think that I should stray away from those colors if I wanted to “attract” female clients. I mean you should see me in a mustard yellow shirt, my skin just glows, it’s fantastic.
After some soul-searching, and some more objective market research, I realized the most authentic thing that I can do for my style, my brand, my audience, and the people I want to work with, is find a scheme that incorporated my favorite colors and colors I think would attract my ideal audience:
Additional Graphic Elements:
I wanted more elements to use, instead of my logo, in certain areas of my website, graphics, ebooks, etc. and I wanted to play off of the idea of different hues of my new color palette. I wanted these elements to be small, very simple and clean, and in about 2-3 colors.
I knew I couldn’t tweak my branding and the overall creative vision of Hued without updating the graphics even just a little bit. I’m usually very picture heavy when it comes to my graphics, so I wanted to add some templates that were more text-based and with a lot of white space. I plan to experiment with typography a lot this year, so I’m super excited to see what this year has in store in the typography department.
What’s the Same:
The thought of redesigning my logo literally made me sweat in a non-exciting way so I scraped that idea immediately. Designing for myself is so damn hard, that I don’t want to redo everything. Plus, I’ve plastered this logo everywhere and it still very much fits in with this new direction so there’s no need to fix it.
Content and Voice:
My graphics and visuals are different, but I’m still the goofy, cursing, and sensitive black girl from the South. I can’t change that, and that will always be a part of Hued. What I will be working on, however, is getting more of my readers (I’m looking at you girl) into my “southern” charm. This means opening up more with all of the emotional and mental labor that goes into running a service-based business. It’s not for everybody.
My Process for this project:
My process for any project starts at the same way, and depending on the way these initial steps take me, will guide where I go next.
Because I was doing this for myself and I gave more than enough time to get comfortable and let things flow, it took longer than most of my projects do.
Whenever I encountered a change I wanted to make or something I wanted to add, I HAD TO answer these questions in order for the change to be implemented:
Does this visually fit my new style? (i.e. if I were to put this photo in my new moodboard, would this fit in?)
What is the purpose of this element/change?
Does this change truly have to happen?
Is this change easily repeatable? (I’ll explain more)
I asked myself these questions for everything: new photos, layout changes, color changes, etc.
My process, in a nutshell:
I wanted to rewrite pretty much all of my content on my most important pages: home, about and services. I took my time writing this content because I wanted it to be as authentic, informative, and concise as possible.
I’m very photo driven when it comes to my designs, so I knew that I wanted to find some photos that were the visual direction and mood that I wanted to go down before I got to work.
I put some of the photos together for a very simple moodboard that I printed out and keep on my wall as I was working on the site.
Once the visuals were nailed down, I went to town working out layouts and trying new things. I made sure to keep in mind 3 things: can this easily be done in Squarespace without any extra code, is this piece/element/whatever truly necessary, and is this page as clean and to the point as possible? My answers to the last two questions are very important and keep me in check with all my little experiments!
Once I’m done with the layouts, adding image, colors, etc. I put in my content. (Btw I do this in a program called Sketch. I only start working in Squarespace when I’ve finalized everything). This is where I can see if I need more content, what looks better where, etc.
I hopped over into Squarespace and got to work. Here is where I make the final tweaks and make any adjustments for mobile that are needed.
I pull out my iPhone and iPad to double check for any more mobile problems and check all my links.
That’s pretty much it! I was able to completely redesign my website in about a day (I got sidetracked with cleaning the house, so it could have been faster lol)
I hope this gives some insight into a rough overview of how I design websites and the behind the scenes of this Hued rebrand. She’s my baby and I promise to not to fuss over her so much for a while.