Aeolidia blog

A resource for creative and design-based small businesses to improve their brand's presence online.

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Prismera: Modern Logo for a Jewelry Designer

Prismera logo by Aeolidia

It’s very satisfying to revisit the brand identity of a long-time client. In this case, it was especially rewarding, and you’ll see why.

Laura of Prismera Design had created her own logo the first time I worked with her on her website, and recently came to us for a professional, modern jewelry logo design that would make her business sparkle.

Too often, we see a disconnect between a business and the way it presents itself to the world. So much care and time and creativity is put into the product, but the logo is an afterthought: either cobbled together with limited design skills, or not fitting with the style of the product. It pains me when I see that the brand identity hasn’t gotten enough love and time, because customers are going to evaluate the business as a whole, subconsciously being put off by a poor logo, even when the product is impeccable.

Why Laura was ready for a professional logo

When Laura decided it was time for a new look, she gave us this thoughtful information about where she was at and where she wanted to go:

My current logo doesn’t feel like a logo, I just selected a font that I liked that was readable. I used to have a different logo that I created early on and abandoned it when I got tired of it, there was nothing really wrong necessarily, other than the fact that it didn’t really seem special.

As for the current “logo,” while I do like the fact that I can use this font anywhere and it IS readable, I also want something that is more memorable and distinctive. I am usually attracted to design trends, which could be an issue because I don’t want to have something that will get tired quickly.

Basically, I’d like a strong identity that people will take notice when they arrive on the site! For the first time ever!

logo-oldies

Coherent design will show that you’re trustworthy

Laura hit the nail on the head when she told us:

I didn’t have a strong sense of how I wanted my logo to work with my business to start with, so going with a new logo is less about a shift in perception and more about pulling myself together and putting my best foot forward.

I feel like because I don’t have a coherent look to my logo/site, it can be confusing for my customers to understand the type of company Prismera is. I find that my work resonates with the design community and want to create an overall feel of professionalism and a high standard for quality but also get across that this is a small, personable business.

The work I sell is higher end, so I want people to feel like they can trust my company- that it’s established and professional (which I think I achieved when I first hired you guys on to do my site!!) but I’d like to take it a step further with having a logo/colors put together. My packaging and marketing materials are all over the place because my logo isn’t distinctive and I think once that establishes a style, I can really work on the collateral.

This is so right! It’s a thrill to work with someone who understands how important presentation is when selling, and what a professional logo will do for her.

How we use a business’ story to craft their logo

When creating a logo, we always ask our client how she came up with the name of her company, in case it sparks some creative ideas for the logo. Here is Laura’s story:

Originally, the words were created from two words, prism and chimera, to describe the idea that this business was a fantasy or a dream that I’ve had, a world where I could create anything. And prism symbolized the multifaceted possibilities!

A modern jewelry logo that is strong, sturdy, and warm

Laura’s designer, Meg, got to work on some ideas, all of which were thrilling. Laura worked to pare them down (making the hilarious comment, “editing is sad”), and we ended up with a logo that is modern, strong, and sturdy, but still warm. Meg’s beautiful custom script dots the i with a prism, and includes patterns and icons for many branding and marketing uses.

The best thing about a well thought out logo is having something that adapts to many different situations. Laura can use her logo in black on white, white on black, there is a simpler version for smaller settings, and she can use just the gem/prism mark as a standalone.

 

Prismera logo by Aeolidia

 

The color scheme, collection of fonts, patterns, and icons, give Laura tools to use when designing her own packaging and promoting her business.

Prismera color scheme
Prismera iconsA change in direction

The most inspiring thing about this project was how our graphic design work gave Laura the confidence to make a big change that she’d been contemplating for a long time. Below is the story she told me about her new design direction:

I’m beyond excited about this next step – after contacting you for a rebrand, I started thinking about a more major shift with my business.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been creating jewelry that had really strong ties to my illustration background. But there has been something that was brewing in the back of my mind, a style that didn’t really fit what Prismera was all about at the time. So I quieted that voice and kept forward.

After contacting you about the rebrand, a friend of mine reminded me that this would be the perfect time to change direction. I realized she was completely right!

I was so inspired by the design direction that the Prismera rebrand was taking that I decided to base this first collection on one of the icons that Meg put together. Everything about the process is still the same – the pieces are still modern, delicate designs that start off as my own hand drawn images. They are still produced by various smiths and then come into my Berkeley based studio, where I complete the finished product.

I really appreciate logos that show a sense of history – I know that in the grand scheme of things, my company is fairly young but I am really proud of the breadth of work I’ve created these last 8 years and the different types of people that the work has connected with.

Laura's new, logo-inspired jewelry

Laura’s new, logo-inspired jewelry

Prismera jewelry packaging

The packaging Laura created based on Meg’s design foundation.

Advice on logo design:

I asked Laura for her feelings about the project, and she had two great tips for working with a logo designer:

I worked with Aeolidia on creating my website many years ago, and when the time came to do a rebrand, there really wasn’t any question about who I would turn to. I had been wanting to do a proper branding of the whole business for years but I knew that until I had a solid idea of what I wanted out of it, the end result wouldn’t be satisfying.

I want to use this opportunity to talk a little about how I went through this process because there’s definitely a trick to it. I believe there are two really important things to do when hiring someone to work on your branding. The first was understanding the message that I wanted to get across for Prismera. Knowing where you want to stand with your customers is paramount- Aeolidia is almost magic but even they can’t tell you what your business stands for.

The second was this: TRUST THE PROFESSIONALS. I won’t lie, there were moments during the design process where I doubted some of the decisions. But every time I took the sketches and had them polled by a larger group of online shoppers, the overwhelming response was that Meg knew what she was doing and I needed to let her!

Tackling the website refresh and designing the packaging materials afterwards was a breeze. The gorgeous icons made it easy to organize the site in a clear way and Aeolidia was quick to jump in with opinions when things didn’t seem quite right. It’s wonderful to be able to rely on their extra eyeballs. What else can I say – Aeolidia, you make me fall in love with you over and over again.

Hooray, thanks to Laura – dream client or what?

I would be absolutely honored to talk with you about your logo and brand identity. Have you been waiting for the right time to take the leap to getting your sh*t together? Maybe now is the time! Send me an email with a bit about where your business is at and what you’re looking to make out of it, and I will take some time to look over what you have and give you my honest opinion about how best to proceed.

Meet Aeolidia: Arianne Foulks

Arianne Foulks headshot

Hello, I’m Arianne Foulks! Here’s a bit about me, and then I will introduce you to our friendly design team. I am a reformed shy child and picky eater, and you can now find me teaching at creative events and digging into Thai curries. I started making websites for friends in 1997, and never lost interest in building online homes for fascinating people. I have a great boss (me!) and I’m unafraid to play hooky to head out on an adventure. Some day I’ll tell you about the time when, as a marine biology student, I was bitten by a baby elephant seal.

What do I do?

I’ve been working for myself for over a decade. I have only ever had one “real” job in my life, and its reality was dubious, even at the time. I originally did everything for Aeolidia, as most small business owners do: designed websites, developed websites, did customer support, accounting and money stuff, the works. Shoshanna (my best friend) and Chris (my best and only husband) joined my team, and we were often so busy that we had to turn away most of the project requests that we received.

We slowly added new workers to our team to accommodate new client work, and after a while (and after having two babies), I realized that I didn’t have enough solid blocks of time to devote to client work. We had added enough new people to our team and were working on enough projects that I found myself busier and busier, until I realized something had to give. I hired someone to “be me,” and since then have been building the business, marketing our work, strategizing and planning, and my most favorite task of all: making things work better for our clients and our team members on a regular basis.

How do I balance my work with my family life?

This changes all the time, of course, but I’ve found a rhythm that works for me, and that I can shift back towards when I find myself veering off course. It’s structured enough that I can get my most important work done, and loose enough that I can arbitrarily take days off to play with my young boys (4 and 6). I can tell I have my rhythm right when the house is clean-ish and I’m making progress on a good book.

I am very very lucky to have the World’s Best Dad (just about literally) who cares for my children every weekday from 11-5 (and does a sleepover night once a week – I’m most productive on a quiet morning, which can be scarce with young kids around). Our eldest will be in first grade this year, and I’m interested to see how productive I can be in another year, when they’re both in school.

One thing I enjoy about having kids and working from home is that they come home around dinner time every day, and I have to shut off my computer and join my family again. It has really helped me divide my work day up into “work” and “other,” whereas pre-kids I’d be half working, half othering at any given time, and I had no boundaries in place.

Business cards

What are the essential tools for my work day?

I like being able to move upstairs, downstairs, or out of town and still be able to get all of my work done. I’ve moved all of my files and work to the cloud, and I recently switched from a clunky old PC laptop to a MacBook Air – my smoothest computer transition ever, since all I had to do to get back on track was log in to Dropbox and sign in to Adobe Creative Cloud! I detail how to move your stuff to the cloud here, and my essential software & tools here.

What tip would I give others who are contemplating working from home?

Be a good boss to yourself! It’s ridiculous how hard we can be on ourselves when we’re our own boss. Would a beloved boss force you to stay up until 3am to complete a project, or keep you inside on the weekends? Make you work through lunch or eat lunch at your computer? Don’t burn yourself out! Learn to recognize what’s important, what’s not, what can be delegated, delayed, or let go of completely. It doesn’t all have to get done, and maybe you could get some help for what does need to be done.

Favorite thing about my working setup?

Having Chris’ company every day, and being able to jump up and go for a walk with him in the sunshine when the mood strikes and the weather allows. Really, the sun does shine from time to time here in Seattle! Also, the talent, dedication, and cheerful demeanor of the people I’ve surrounded myself with at Aeolidia. They are all so good at what they do and with how they treat our clients that our days are nearly problem-free with very little “management” effort on my part.

Favorite recent project, and why?

Of course the Aeolidia redesign! It has been so fun seeing it all come together, and with it all in place, there is nothing holding us back.

Meet the team!

Meet Aeolidia on Instagram

Meet the Aeolidia team! Learn who pretended to be a chef to secure a first job, who has a crush on Art Garfunkel, which one of us has a full sleeve of Beatles tattoos, and which one doesn’t like cake (hint: not me!). I will be sharing faces and fun facts on our Instagram account once a week for 20 weeks – there are a lot of us. :)

Meet Aeolidia on Instagram »

Branding Details for Posie, a Craft Business

Posie Gets Cozy Logo by Aeolidia

Branding a popular craft business

Alicia Paulson is owner of the popular handcrafted pattern shop, Posie, and author of the popular Posie Gets Cozy blog. Working with Alicia on the re-brand of her business and redesign of her shop was such a pleasure. Of course all businesses deserve a solid brand identity, but some businesses really, really deserve one. We’d love to share the process, to inspire other craft businesses!

A little introduction, from Alicia’s website:

These days, I take care of my baby girl, Amelia, and work from my home studio designing crafts, writing self-published patterns, and assembling original kits to help you make some of the things that I’ve designed. I love to take photos and write about stuff at my blog, Posie Gets Cozy. I also love to cook, knit, be in the woods, sit by the pool, fuss with the things in my house, and I am (still) learning to garden.

Looking back over the project and reading all Alicia had to say about Posie as we worked together, her business trajectory reminds me of mine. We have both been in business over a decade, and we have both got along (what felt like) just fine without a proper logo and brand identity. Both businesses are so busy with word of mouth that it didn’t feel like there was an urgent need to pay for professional design work, but once it was done, it felt so right, and it was hard to imagine the days before the beautiful brand.

I present to you: Posie! by Alicia Paulson.

Posie Gets Cozy Logo by Aeolidia

Before and after

Here’s a little peek at what the site looked like before we got in there:

Posie Gets Cozy before and after

A purposeful logo

With this redesign, Alicia moved away from the somewhat confusing “Rosy Little Things,” allowing “Posie” to stand on its own or be combined with her new, more specific tagline: “Patterns and Kits to Stitch by Alicia Paulson.”

Mariah absorbed all the detail and information Alicia shared with her about Posie and presented her initial ideas. Alicia came back with my favorite “logo reveal” reply ever:

1. Oh.
2. My.
3. GOSH.

You nailed it. I burst into tears when I opened the presentation. I didn’t know I had been holding my breath for several weeks. Everything is so beautiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

1) I like that it has a defined shape — I’m drawn to it as a container, so to speak, and not just a collection of elements.

2) I like that that shape is a circle. A circle is what I started Posie with, and I suddenly see now how this new logo can and maybe even should inherit a certain spirit of that original logo to connect it to the history of my company.

3) The flower sprays are GORGEOUS. The running-stitch loopy things that splay out are perfect. The DOTS that are sprinkled through are so pretty, and really lighten the feeling, truly making the logo feel fresh and effervescent. I have an idea about the big flowers themselves: What do you think about my redrawing them as actual wild roses — which look really similar to what’s here but would be a bit more rounded, kind of like apple blossoms? I think that would be a nice little nod to the lost “rosy little things,” which a lot of people who know the company will probably remember, and wonder about (for maybe a millisecond, but still).

4) I just love the bunny. Seeing it here in such an “official” way I realize that bunnies in general have kind of become my signature, actually. My daughter’s middle name (well, her second middle name, the one we ourselves got to choose [her birthmother picked her first two names]) is Beatrix. And somehow, since then, bunnies have just sort of filled our life, and been such a source of sweetness and light in it, as she has. And I love that the logo bunny is cross-stitched, because it says “embroidery” and it says “little innocent thing” and it says “simple.” And those are all things I want my brand to say. Not to mention that Maggie Rabbit herself has sold way better than anything else I’ve ever done. So — I really want to keep the bunny!

From there, Mariah refined and perfected, worked on a color scheme and associated fonts, and made some sweet little surprises for Alicia to tuck in her packaging. The bunny tattoos have been showing up on Instagram, and I adore them!

Posie Gets Cozy print design by Aeolidia

Posie Gets Cozy patterns by Aeolidia

A simple and sweet website

The website is soft and sweet, looks utterly professional and utterly “Posie,” and enhances the sense of wonder, charm, and trust that her customers feel.

Posie Gets Cozy website by Aeolidia

More stories about re-branding a business

Aren’t the rebranding stories inspiring? It is so much fun to see what a difference a good brand design makes to the entire presentation of a business. We have many more great stories like this, and if you sign up for our newsletter, I’ll deliver them directly to your inbox.

Brand New: Posie, Little Hip Squeaks, and Umba

My friendly web design studio, Aeolidia, is well-known for creating custom Shopify websites for creative businesses – handmakers, designers, and crafters of all types. It is always thrilling when a client comes to us who really understands what her business is all about and what the personality of her business is, but she hasn’t been able to translate that to a logo and solid brand identity. Then we get to start from the start and make it all make sense – usually to the joy and amazement of our client. No better feeling than learning and understanding the point of view of a brand and making it come to life in just the right way.

What does “branding” mean, anyway?

You can think of your brand as the personality of your business. What does your business offer your customer that no other business can? Your brand should speak directly to your target customer, making you THE only choice for them. There are hundreds of options when someone decides to buy a cup of coffee – why are so many people at Starbucks? Branding.

To create a brand for your business, you don’t start with the logo. You start by brainstorming what’s unique about what you do, and putting together a description of your business’ personality which highlights why a customer will want to choose you over others. Once you know what your business is about, you’ll have an effective starting point for making sure your products, your logo, your marketing materials, and your advertising all make sense with your brand identity.

Excerpted from Branding Your Company on our blog

Brand identity examples

Jessika asked me to share some brand identity examples from our studio, and today I have Posie, a shop selling handmade stuffed animal kits, Little Hip Squeaks, makers of adorable graphic children’s wear, and Umba, who empower artist entrepreneurs.

A delicate, cozy logo for Posie

Alicia writes the Posie Gets Cozy blog, and she designs original patterns for sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet, and other craft projects, and also manufactures kits to accompany her designs. She also sells a small, curated collection of her favorite supplies that are handpicked specifically to help customers make her projects.

She has been in business since 2000, doing it all herself, and the time finally came this year to work with professionals on a cohesive brand identity.

Posie Gets Cozy Logo by Aeolidia
Before we began, Alicia told us:

I want the logo to feel handmade. Since everything I do is handmade, I think it’s important that it feel sort of painterly and natural but still detailed — in an old-fashioned embroidery-pattern kind of way. I don’t want it to feel computerized. All of my embroidery patterns or sewing patterns, whether self-published or in my books, have been done by hand, by me, in black marker, and I will most likely always do them that way. So I want these drawings to have that simple, clean, black-outlined feel. But I also want the elements themselves to feel a little tangled, a little enchanted, and a bit wild. So I also envision having some elements that are not outlined but are more like circles of color that float a bit (I’m thinking about dandelion puffs and seed pods), and lead off.

It was such a delight to bring Alicia’s world perfectly to life! Mariah DeMarco on our team was her designer, and the brand identity includes some of Alicia’s own illustration work.

Learn more about how Alicia runs her business and how it’s grown on our blog.

Little Hip Squeaks’ graphic & handmade brand

It hasn’t been that long, but Little Hip Squeaks’ identity feels like an Aeolidia “classic” to me already!

Little Hip Squeaks believes that kids are fun, and their clothes should be, too! Our aesthetic is for of bright colors and bold prints, with modern babies, tots and kiddos in mind.

In the winter of 2010, Little Hip Squeaks was started at a kitchen table, in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Originally a side project for founder Amy Richardson, to keep her hands busy during pregnancy — sewing newborn hats for her not-yet-born son, and the new babies of good friends from thrifted t-shirts.

 

Little Hip Squeaks logo by Aeolidia

Amy came to us with these problems to solve:

The growth of our brand has been pretty major over the last 6 months—although I am a designer myself, I never seem to find the “it” this brand needs to have. Too busy with growing the biz, I can’t focus, or even think of what direction I’d like to take the logo and identity. We are a children’s brand, playful but luxury and sophisticated, so I don’t want to look childish, but I also want to be obviously a brand for children.

We are about to embark on the world of manufacturing, and have a lot of major internal changes for our company—we are also working with several major retailers, and feel that before I invest in tagging/branding I want to REALLY love our logo and brand.

Amy’s designer was Christine Castro Hughes on our team, and she shared,

You gave me great, clear direction: strong typography, curvy, modern, sophisticated, and playful but not childish. Something that appeals to hip, young, modern women.

I created four hand-drawn concepts, each with an accompanying monogram. In order to avoid getting cutesy, I kept the type clean with simple illustrative elements (including one sketch with olive branches, like you requested). I also tried to avoid anything too trendy, like the arrows that I agree are now seen everywhere. I think a logo that “holds back” a little will have a longer life span for you and continue to fit your brand as the seasons change and your business grows.

Learn more about Little Hip Squeaks and see more about this project on our blog.

Umba’s whimsical modern-vintage brand

Founder Lauren Thorp told us:

We started Umba (from a Swahili word meaning “to create”), as a way to better connect makers + consumers in a more dynamic way. As Umbassadors (our team of social-savvy sales reps) gather their network of friends & family in homes across the country at fun and social Trunk Shows, they’re able to effectively share the positive impact that buying handmade has on the makers’ lives.

Umba logo by Aeolidia

Lauren wanted something clean, but with character and unique elements. She was looking for something somewhat vintage, but modern, with a bit of whimsy. She told us that she was a fan of hand-lettering, and her designer, Christine, created this logo with a brush on paper, bringing it into Illustrator to create a vector logo that can be scaled to any size without losing quality.

How do you describe your brand?

If your brand was a person, could you describe her? Can you easily look at a product or design and know if it fits with your brand or does not? Is it time to get clear on what your brand stands for?

We have quite a handful of branding articles on our blog that will be helpful (with more info about the projects above), and I often send people to Why You Need to Start With the Logo when they’re not convinced that their brand identity is worth spending some time on.

I’d love to hear more about the words and images and principles that fit with your own brand in the comments.

(originally posted on Oh My! Handmade)

Exceed Expectations With Customer Gifts and Surprises

Making happy customers

Recently, my family went to a neighborhood pizza place, and rather than bring the usual cup of crayons and a coloring sheet to the table for our little boys, they plopped down a small toy box full of new goodies to explore: crayons, yes, but also a slinky, an interlocking bead puzzle, and some silly putty. We were impressed!

We are currently having a grand old time planning a fun, beautiful, and useful “welcome kit” for Aeolidia clients (more on that later!), as well as a thank you card and gift for when the project is over. It is a joy to be able to do something special for our clients, and it’s going to be such a wonderful way to set the perfect Aeolidia tone on each project we do.

Aeolidia gift idea

We know that the small businesses we work for consistently try to do that “something special” for their customers. Please read below to see how some of our favorite small businesses go the extra mile to put a smile on their customers’ faces. From hand-written notes to customer gifts, there are many ways to improve your customers’ experience with you.

Below are some great stories that people shared with me via our newsletter and on Facebook:

How to exceed your customers’ expectations

I love that you got such great service and activities for your kids. I have stickers with ‘smile’, ‘sparkle’ and ‘shine’ that I use to secure tissue paper wrapping. I have started to include a heart shaped lolly in with orders (I have a heart in my logo so it’s part of my branding). I’ve long included a handwritten thank you note and try to address the package with something like, ‘the Lovely Mrs xyz,’ all little things that make my clients smile.
-Viv Smith, PoppySparkles

 

Packaging is big with me, too. I try to include a pencil or two that I have had made up with quotes, everything from Harry Potter lines to a favorite song lyric, also a pencil with my website on it.
- Caroline Smalley, Push the Envelope

 

Ditto on the packaging … I also include another letterpress goodie for the purchaser to use to give to someone else (spreading more letterpress love!). I also send out a thank you card to each customer or workshop participant within a few days.
- Denise Newberry, CabinPress Studio

 

When we set a customer’s wedding stationery we often send them a couple of versions to choose from, which people appreciate so much. They know we are really paying attention to their stationery. For example, they may not realize that their super-long venue name (The Green Room Lounge in the Clinton Hill Explorer’s Club of North Hampshire, or something like that) might look better on two lines. Or that their favorite peach pink might clash with avocado green. It may take us a little longer, but we want our customers involved in the process!
-Kimi Weart, A Printable Press

 

Yes, I wrap my orders like little gifts, too. I use washi tape and colored tissue papers. I also include a handwritten note with each order, a business card, stickers and flyers.
- Missy Kulik, illustrator

 

I love reading how generous people are with their orders… packaging, special treats etc. Customer care is alive and well! I too love packaging orders like lovely gifts. I am frequently tagged on Instagram when customers post photos of their Easton Place lovelies and it really thrills me to no end. I also like including mini sets of stationery or petite cards with each order. Little surprises let the customer know how much their orders are appreciated.
- Patti Wunder, Easton Place Designs

 

At Frock Shop we wrap all purchases in our signature black and white polka dot paper (which everyone loves). We also have a candy dish at the counter with seasonal goodies and free old issues of magazines to take. We do fun monthly giveaways and I’ve also hand delivered orders in the neighborhood.
- Suzy Fairchild, Frock Shop

 

Well, Arianne, I am all about calligraphy, letterpress, and beautiful mail, so whenever I get an inquiry through my web site, if it seems like a good fit, I send them a tiny present in the mail (My form requests their address). It’s usually one of my letterpress cards for them to use, tucked inside a nice note. And of course, I make sure I do write their name / address in my cool calligraphy on the outside envelope. It’s not only an unexpected extra for them, but it’s sneaky – it’s also an example of my work that they can hold and use. Sometimes that extra step makes the difference
- Tara Bliven, Ephemera Press

What about you?

How do you exceed expectations with your business? A lot of these are packaging-related, and I’m interested to hear ideas for other areas of customer interaction. I’d love to hear more!