When Susie of Susie Moreno Photography came to me, she knew it was time to invest in upgrading her brand. Although she had more than a decade of experience under her belt, her new business, which focused on weddings with an air of outdoorsy adventure, was only a couple of years old.
She was trying to grow her audience in a new town and felt tired of relying on premade branding packages and old marketing materials. Even though her logo and website looked ok, they didn’t really express her brand’s strengths or say anything about her honest approach to photography.
Because she had already been putting a lot of thought and work into defining her brand, my job was to help her get all that out onto paper and translate it into Brand Building Blocks that went deeper than just looking pretty.
Defining the Brand
Susie Moreno Photography is a small wedding photography business that captures the memories and emotions of one of life’s pinnacle moments in a beautiful and authentic way. She’s able to document each unique story with deep honesty by building a strong personal relationship with every single client. This allows her not only to create moving images, but to also become a memorable part of the wedding day.
Susie’s ideal client is the soon-to-be bride who is carefully planning each part of her wedding. She has a vision that she’s bringing to life. Because of that, she is choosing her vendors carefully and looking for the people who will help her share her story and joy with the people she loves.
This bride is outgoing, confident, and comfortable in her own skin. Her relationships are the most important thing in her life and she holds her family, friends, and soon-to-be husband very dear.
Her life is full and she loves it that way. She keeps busy with her career, social life, outdoorsy hobbies, and now, her wedding planning. Although she enjoys finding and meeting vendors, she’s a little overwhelmed and worried about finding the right photographer.
Susie wants her business to fit in with wedding vendors that focus on providing high-value and personal service. Developing strong client relationships is very important to them and they’re not afraid to show lots of personality and be themselves. They’re artistic, inspiring, fun, adventurous, and a little bit quirky.
She wants to stand apart from high-volume vendors because they tend to gloss over the personal details and treat their clients like they’re only a number. Susie Moreno Photography is all about building a real and significant relationship with each couple.
Susie wants to confidently raise their prices, start attracting only their ideal client, and build a strong reputation with both brides and wedding vendors in the Portland metro area.
The right Brand Building Blocks will help her move towards their bigger goals, too. That includes opening a studio space and adding destination weddings to her portfolio.
Choosing a Direction
The tone words we chose for Susie Moreno Photography are “romantic,” “adventurous,” “joyful,” and “authentic.” They summarize the brand’s skill in capturing genuine tender moments in beautiful Pacific Northwest landscapes.
Reviewing the Tone Boards together helped us get really really clear about Susie’s brand values. We realized that love, story, and a sense of connection are at the core of both the brand’s style and the ideal client’s personality. We used the most powerful images from the Tone Boards to create the Values Board.
Using the visual cues of Tone and Value Boards, I created four Style Boards to show Susie different directions we could take with her branding. They ranged from somber and traditional to bright and trendy interpretations of her brand.
Together, we decided to combine traditional romantic elements, like floral patterns and subdued colors, with some modern stuff, like bold typography and metal foil. This would strike the perfect balance between classic wedding and current styles, which is what her ideal client is looking for.
Designing the Brand Building Blocks
Once we were sure and on the same page about the general direction of the graphics, it was time for me to head into the studio and start drafting concepts.
Because wedding trends are constantly changing and her ideal client might be looking for something different a few years down the line, I decided to make Susie’s logo simple. This would allow her to keep her logo and build on its equity even if she decided to change up her colors and patterns in a few years.
A hand-lettered wordmark was the best solution. It could feel classic and contemporary at the same time and fit in with the wedding styles Susie’s ideal client was drawn to.
But no matter how many “hand-lettering” fonts I downloaded and tried out, nothing felt right. They all felt overly trendy. They looked like a million other wedding vendor logos. None of them felt real or authentic or honest. So I scrapped the thought of finding the perfect font and started drawing a completely custom logo instead.
I finalized a medium-weight script version with a slightly abstract “S,” knowing that even though it’s a little hard to read as an “S,” it adds personality and memorability. I left in a lot of the quirks and imperfections that happened naturally when I drew it on paper to keep the logo from losing its casual and personal tone. A subtle bronze texture gave it that last bit of wedding flare and tied things back to the gold foil that’s so in style without fully giving in to any trend.
Next up were the supporting elements. I started by creating a couple of alternate logos that Susie could use as watermarks or print as stickers for her client packets. I used the same hand-lettering to create a monogram that worked well in small sizes and against image backgrounds.
A floral pattern would balance out the more modern feel of the logo, but I didn’t want to create something that could only be used one way. I knew Susie would get the most value out of versatile supporting graphics. So I drew a set of ranunculus flowers that could be combined into a pattern, border, or used alone as accents.
For the color scheme, I went with two shades of red – burgundy and pink. They instantly added an air of romance without feeling over the top. These colors would also work really well with all the greens and blues prominent in her photography.
I added the bronze shade and stripe pattern to give her more variety. These textures could be used as accents to draw attention to important content or add a special touch here and there.
Last, I chose fonts that combined the modern and traditional theme I’d created with everything else. For titles and large text, the serif font is more on the traditional side, although it has some modern fashiony qualities. For headlines and large blocks of text, a friendly contemporary sans-serif helps balance the drama of the accent font.
Susie has dabbled in design and has a good eye for layout and composition, but I knew it would still be hard to know where to start with her new Brand Building Blocks. I created a few rough layouts to show her how everything could come together. These layouts served as a jumping off point for her website, business card, thank-you card, and more.
The Brand Clarity process helped Susie get her thoughts out and organized so she could finally take clearer intentional action and move closer to the goals she’d been working towards. The Brand Building Blocks I created gave her the tools and direction she needed to upgrade her branding and feel confident about raising her prices.
Because my business is so new, the amount I can invest into my brand is relatively small. It crossed my mind that I could “fake my branding” for a while longer, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted the face of my business to look better than just okay.
Lilly was someone I felt I could trust. She gave me personalized attention and extreme focus to really understand my business and goals before even drafting the first concept.
I felt secure in the direction she was headed, and that lifted so much weight off my shoulders. It was amazing!
Now, I feel like my business has a very professional appearance which helps raise my perceived value. Since we worked together, I’ve raised my prices and felt more comfortable in doing so because the branding just makes my business look more put together.
Susie Moreno Photography