My guess is yes (I know I have!) and from the shop owner’s perspective, that wasn’t an accident. Instead, that was strategic branding at work.
Last year I had the opportunity to create the brand strategy & branding for doodle & jack, which is a Rochester-based baby boutique specializing in handmade clothing & accessories. Our overarching goal, of course, was to grow the business by creating a brand that felt irresistable. Whether you were a potential new customer walking by their new storefront in town or stumbled upon their website; or whether you had already been shopping there, we wanted the brand strategy to give doodle & jack a blueprint for how to continue building a successful brand, and we wanted the visual branding to reinforce that strategy and their values.
And let me just say—I am SO thrilled with how it came out. Read on to get a behind the scenes peek at the Crafted by Carly brand strategy & branding process to see where we landed with this incredible brand!
First thing’s first: at the beginning of every branding project, the first thing I need to do is learn everything there is to know about the business at hand. I do this by sending an in-depth questionnaire to the client before our project starts, and then we kick things off with a Zoom call where we talk through everything, ask questions, and start to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other depending on what comes up.
For doodle & jack, their co-founder Danielle explained to me that she and her sister-in-law started the company when they each had their first baby because Danielle couldn’t find leggings that had a comfortable waistband for her daughter’s little buddha belly. She taught herself to sew to solve this problem, and after they perfected the leggings they continued creating new custom clothing: shorties, skirts, headbands, and more.
Right then & there I knew we had something special: these clothes are not only handmade with so much love, but they will also make completely custom sizes if your baby needs it. How cool!
During this kickoff call we talked about SO many other things that came up in the questionnaire too, including:
Once I learned everything there was to know about doodle & jack, it was time to move onto the brand strategy part of the project. I like to think of brand strategy as the blueprint of your brand: it keeps you on track so that you can be confident that you’re ALWAYS showing up on-brand, and not just in the visual way. In fact, brand strategy is about so much more than just the visuals.
When you strategically outline your vision & mission, core values, goals, differentiating factors, audience, the problems you’re solving, the benefits of your offer (& so much more), you’re able to stop spinning your wheels and make decisions in so many areas of your business that actually serve you so that you can grow with more confidence and ease.
When you have a brand strategy, it becomes easier to stay on brand so that you can successfully:
As a recap, the brand strategy that we put together for doodle & jack included the following:
As you might’ve noticed, the brand strategy doesn’t have that much to do with visual branding. It is, however, an essential piece of the decision-making process when we start to ask the question: So what should this branding LOOK like?
Which is why we use the brand strategy to guide the next phase of the process, which is creative direction. Creative direction is when we start to brainstorm and source inspiration about the visuals. We don’t actually create any visuals yet, because we want to make sure the client is on board with all of our ideas before getting into any of the time intensive work.
There are 3 key parts of the creative direction that help bridge the gap between the brand strategy & the visual branding:
The first is the brand positioning statement. Here’s what it was for doodle & jack:
Doodle & jack offers handmade and custom designed baby clothes & accessories for moms across the U.S. with little ones NB-4 years old. You stand apart through your passion for creating comfortable, custom clothing that’s timeless, modern, and high quality. You seek to provide baby clothing & accessories to your customers that stand apart from the rest. You promise that each pair of clothing is handmade with love with comfort top of mind. All of these things have been taken into consideration for your creative direction.
The second is a series of buzzwords that help guide the aesthetic direction. These are descriptive words that came up a lot throughout the strategy process, or maybe that I came up with after the fact that I think to embody the brand.
For doodle & jack, the words were: modern, playful, quality, unique, young, custom, neutral, natural, and handmade.
The last is the moodboard. This is exactly what the moodboard looks like in the Crafted by Carly Creative Direction presentation:
As you can see, some of the things I proposed for doodle & jack were…
After presenting the strategy & creative direction Danielle & I hopped on a Zoom call to talk through her feedback and any changes we wanted to make. In this case, there were really minimal changes! Everything in the strategy felt aligned, and the description of the moodboard elements felt spot on. The one thing we spoke about was how some of the ampersands in the moodboard were a bit too bubbly for the brand, so I made sure to keep that in mind when moving into the visual branding phase.
As you can see, there’s a TON of work that goes into the beginning of the project before we even get into design! And this is in part to make sure we’re set up for success, so that I have a clear view of what your business is all about, where you’re taking it in the future, and any visual ideas or preferences you may have.
Once I start the visual branding process, I am playing around with various elements in tandem — which means lots of messy design files and switching back and forth between font options, color palettes, logo layouts, and more.
For doodle & jack, I explored a few different font options that teetered the line between modern and a bit playful. I begin by taking screenshots of my favorites – this is so that I can see what they look like before having to purchase any font licenses. Here are a few that I was into for doodle & jack:
Once I had a good idea of what font was my favorite, I knew I wanted to play around with the layout of the letters to get at the playful component of the brand. As you’ll see… I did quite a bit exploring of ideas that DIDN’T work right away:
But ultimately, all these options served their purpose: to get a lot closer to the final logo, which just felt right. Between the spacing of the letters, the added handdrawn ampersand, and the fact that the “j” and the “l” were the same, just upside down(!), I knew we had a winner:
For the color palette, we kept things mostly neutral and earthy, but also added in some dusty pinks to nod at the creative, welcoming element of the brand:
And for the illustrations and patterns, everything was handdrawn – with lots of references to sewing. Some of the background elements include handdrawn sewing stitching to use as borders:
And the illustration style, which I personally loooove, uses a dashed line to nod at the fact that they sew all of their own products:
When I send through a branding presentation to a client, I give them a set of questions to help guide the feedback discussion. I always say that these questions shouldn’t LIMIT them… they should tell me any & all of their thoughts & feedback… but it does help pinpoint what they’re loving or not loving about different aspects of the brand.
The questions are:
Danielle and I hopped on a call, and in her case, there were a few small things. We tweaked some of the language on the taglines and the copy on the submarks, and she asked for a few more specific illustrations to add to the illustration library. Overall, this process is usually very smooth because of all the work we do upfront to make sure we’re creating something that is strategic and in line with the client’s vision!
Last but certainly not least, once everything was all approved, I sent Danielle doodle & jack’s Brand Guidelines. The Brand Guidelines are a 35+ page PDF outlining how to use the brand—from the logos, colors, fonts, and patterns. It’s a great document to share with anyone you have working on your brand, whether it’s a VA scheduling an email in Flodesk, a designer creating social media graphics, a printer printing signage for your store, or even a copywriter so that they can see the kind of visual branding their words will live amongst.
I hope this post helped to shed some light on the creative process and how we came to certain decisions! This brand was SUCH a fun one to work on.
Are you feeling like your brand is all over the place and are ready to revamp it so that you can feel professional and grow your business (like Danielle did)? Send me an email at hello@craftedbycarly or inquire about our services HERE!
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