Answering your Questions!
A few weeks ago I sent a one-question survey to ask me anything. What fonts do we use? How do we design icons? How old am I? (seriously, this was asked, ha!)
I’m 100% transparent and loved seeing your questions.
There were even a few questions I wasn’t expecting!
Before I dive in, there are two resources I recommend that answer almost all of these questions in depth!
Share-worthy Design — my complete swipeable system to running a friction-free red-carpet client experience. I open public enrollment next in September, but you can sneak in now at a discount if you sign-up on the SWD page.Lots of questions below are answered within SWD, and out of respect for students who’ve enrolled I can’t dig in deep. Trust me… it’s covered extensively within SWD if it relates to running a design studio!
Brand Self-Care — a week-long series that walks through creating a brand identity design from scratch.
Let’s dive in to some questions:
When selecting typefaces for a brand, is it best to select a font that has many variations (bold, italic, etc.)?
Short answer: yes!
Longer answer: If you find a typeface that aligns with the brand, but doesn’t have a lot of variations, it’s totally okay to use this typeface. That said — we’ve done this for a few clients and it can get tricky especially with long form content.
For accent type (like scripts, subheads, etc.) you don’t need as much versatility.
Should the logo typeface be different than the fonts used throughout the rest of the brand?
Oh man — you’ve opened up a juicy topic with this question! As with every opinion I share, I understand there are opposing thoughts.
It is recommended to use a different typeface for logo design than the rest of the brand identity. This is so that the logo stands out and doesn’t blend in with the marketing collateral.
That said, we “break” this rule all the time for clients. Especially if you manipulate a few of the letterforms within the logo, it will stand out. BUT — not every logotype needs letterform manipulation.
For example: with one of our clients we used an all caps logotype (with manipulated letterforms and weight), and used the same font with a different weight for her brand fonts. I feel like there is enough contrast between the logo and the type to make sure it doesn’t blend in, while also is very cohesive.
How do I overcome the fear of not being “hip” enough for potential clients? (age, gender, overall “cool” factor)
Listen — I’ve had these same fears! I’m definitely not “hip” or cool. I know those designers who are, and it’s just not me, ha!
I think the root of these fears lies in imposter syndrome. Thinking that other designers who are (insert cool factor here like younger, female, male, etc.) have a leg up on competition and somehow you can’t achieve it. I’ve experienced this myself, and what’s helped me most is to pinpoint when these thoughts creep into my head. Typically for me that’s on Instagram. So — I’ve limited my time on that platform!
Honestly I know that clients value designers who have quality work, a streamlined process, great communication and meet deadlines. Simple as that! Do those things and you will immediately have a leg up on the competition :).
If a potential client doesn’t think you’re “cool” enough, they likely aren’t the best fit anyways!
Do you have any ideas for naming my studio? Should I go with my own name (even if it’s hard to pronounce/spell) or a separate name?
I do have lots of tips! I wrote this post a few years ago about how to name your design studio and still stand by it. My last name is Starcevich, so I totally get why you’d want to use a different name if your name is a challenge 🙂
What is the difference between a submark and an illustrated icon?
Submark: A branded element. Think of it as an alternative to the logo. This could be a mark that includes a tagline, a more square mark to use for different layouts, or a legible mark that will be used if needed to scale small.
Illustrated icon: Not tied to the brand identity system. Ie: will not be used in place of a logo. An icon helps support text through adding a visual element. I like to use icons on web, social media, etc.
Can you help define the personalities for different typefaces? (ie: sans-serif is modern, serif is high-end)
This is a tough one to answer succinctly! Personally I don’t think you can generalize sans-serif = modern, and serif = high end, etc. It’s all in the application and how the type is set that helps convey the personality. The same font used in different brands can have completely different personalities. For example — Freight Display (a beautiful serif typeface) is used for this playful brand, and also for this luxury brand. Same font, different personalities.
Sorry I’m not much help here!
How do you design a website? With a developer, specific program, etc?
This depends on the client’s needs. Here’s a big picture overview of how I see the benefits of the top web design platforms:
Custom WordPress: For sites that need specific functionality. Higher design customization. Great for SEO. Not as user friendly to update. If you aren’t up for coding, this is when I would collaborate with a WordPress developer.
Squarespace: Great for easy updates. Limited design + functionality capabilities.
Shopify: Best for e-commerce. If the site doesn’t need big e-commerce capabilities, Shopify isn’t the best fit.
Showit: Drag and drop builder for WordPress. Beautiful customizable sites, but limited functionality. Doesn’t always work responsively (at least at the moment!) and can be a little clunky for clients to update.
How do you select a niche for your business?
5+ years into my design studio, and I’m still trying to answer this question :). Long story short, don’t feel like you need to niche! There… I said it. I know that it’s recommended to niche down, and I do see the benefit and have niched myself down over the years, but if you don’t have clarity yet, don’t force it! Gain experience working with clients, and naturally you will uncover who you enjoy serving most. Pay attention to which clients are the easiest to work with, come back for repeat work (if that’s something you want to encourage), don’t hesitate paying you and are timely.
Are there certain types of businesses that are more willing to invest in branding vs. doing it themselves?
In general I’ve found that businesses with a few years of experience are more willing to invest in design work. They have a lot of clarity in who their brand serves, and know the direction they are headed.
A lot of businesses just starting out are less likely to invest in branding up front.
That said — we work with brands who haven’t even launched yet all the time and have great experiences and they don’t have hesitations about their investment in branding.
How old are you?
How do you choose typefaces for branding?
I talk about this a bit in our Brand Self-Care series where I walk through each step of the branding process.
How do you respond to a client who wants to adjust your pricing packages for their budget by removing certain items included?
I have a swipe file for this in the Share-worthy Design course that I’ve personally used and got the client back on board with our pricing and booked our services!
I’ve never negotiated my pricing, and I don’t recommend you do either. It sets up the entire experience on the wrong note, and is a major red flag.
Who is your business coach?
I don’t have one at the moment, but I’ve worked with Nevica Vasquez in the past and she was great! The past couple years I’ve been investing in course + coaching programs (one per year) which has given me a lot of focus with educational material + resources to support the coaching.
I offer this to Share-worthy Design students exclusively as well as a way to support designers more directly than just through recorded videos + templates. It’s by far one of the most favorite parts of my business!
How do you work with other designers on client projects? (Do they sign a contract? Do they work directly with the client? Can they put the design in their portfolio? How much percentage do you pay your team? Etc.)
Broken record here, but I talk extensively about working with a team within Share-worthy Design. I’m 100% transparent and break down every question I’ve got over the years about working with designers on client projects.
It can get sticky with contracts, client communication, boundaries, portfolio, etc. BUT — I will say I cannot imagine not having my fantastic designers working with me and my clients. It’s enhanced the experience for our clients, and I just adore working with them! If you’re on the fence, just give it a shot for one client and see how it goes!
I’ve had SWD students I’ve coached transform their business through adding an illustrator, VA, designers, developers, etc. that’s only allowed them to up-level their portfolio and sky rocket their studio.
How do you manipulate letterforms for logo designs?
A — You don’t need to manipulate letterforms for every logo design :). I just feel like this needs to be said to give us designers a relief! I’ve seen lots of over designed logos with tons of manipulation, so I can’t help but mention that you don’t need to change letterforms always. Type designers are another beast who carefully create letterforms (sometimes years in the making) so I don’t take it lightly when we tweak letterforms! Okay… end soapbox ;).
B — I like to start with an existing typeface. Use shapes and pathfinder tool as much as you can. Duplicate bits of other letters in the font to help you create consistency. For instance: if you tweak a P, duplicate that P to create your R.
How do you export files for your clients?
Also covered in Share-worthy Design, along with our brand guideline template that includes the file type explanation for our clients. We send our clients eps, png and jpeg files.
How do you create icons in Illustrator?
Hard to answer this one through text! I like to use the shape tool as much as possible when creating geometric icons. For hand drawn icons you can scan it in from your notebook and use the Smooth tool in Illustrator after you Live Trace it.
Does your process shift when working with an individual vs. a business for branding?
The only shift I make is to make sure it’s clear who the point person is for a larger business. Otherwise our process is exactly the same. We work mostly with individuals, and occasionally a small business with multiple people.
What’s a good way to source gorgeous, unique imagery and graphics on a budget?
Tough. Question! The words “gorgeous,” “unique” and “budget” don’t usually go together. Especially the “unique” part.
Creative Market is a great starting place for templates. I’m not sure there are unique or customized images that are lower budget! You get what you pay for 😉
Where do you usually find/discover/download fonts?
I have my whole resource list for fonts, books, mockups, stock photos, etc. within Share-worthy Design. The What Font Chrome extension is a great tool to uncover what fonts sites are using.
How do you attract clients on Instagram vs. design peers?
Riiiight?!!? Us designers love to follow each other for inspiration! I’m not going to claim I’m an Instagram expert (I rarely post), and I do attract both clients and design peers.
It’s natural that every brand will attract it’s “competition” as followers. Whether you are a copywriter, retail shop, designer or otherwise. Focus on your clients, and don’t shift your marketing to designers, and you will continue to attract clients.
Partnerships or collaborations are another great way to market your business. Find someone in your target market and swap to promote each other. Easy peasy :).
How do you structure your video/phone discovery calls?
I have my entire outline for consult calls, an actual recording of a client presentation, and everything you need to create a friction-free red carpet client experience within Share-worthy Design. My consultation calls are really short. I get to know them, ask some specific questions that help guide the conversation, make me aware of any red flags, and lead into sales. I also briefly walk through my process.
If two different designers designed separately for the same brand, they would come up with two different solutions for the brand. I keep fearing I’m designing it “wrong” and another designer would have designed it “right.”
You aren’t getting it “wrong,” you’re unique and have a unique perspective! The beauty of design is that it isn’t formulaic. It’s unexpected. Unique. And creative. I love that multiple designers can design something completely different with the same design brief.
I remember this specifically in my university classes when we had critiques. Everyone lined up their logo designs for the same mock client, and each looked so different from the next.
Lean into those differences and you’ll uncover a unique perspective your clients will gravitate toward!
What application works best for the brand guideline? (Illustrator/InDesign) Do you include any messaging in this guide?
I have my extensive brand guideline template within Share-worthy Design that my students love and use for their clients! We use InDesign. If anything is over one page long, InDesign is what I’d recommend. It’s actually easier than you think! If you need a crash course with InDesign, I can’t recommend this free workshop enough from my friend Kelsey! (affiliate link — but I’ve taken the course and it’s fantastic.)
We don’t include messaging as our studio focuses on visual identity. If you offer strategy — go for it and add that to the guideline!
Do you work with trademarks with your clients?
Nope. Not a lawyer. Our clients are responsible for trademarking. If I have concerns about something, I will mention it and they never have once thought that was my responsibility to look into!
How do you price your brand packages?
I walk through pricing extensively, and even show how I priced a quote for an actual client within Share-worthy Design. I’ve gone back and forth on showing my prices on my site, vs. pulling them off. For the last few years I haven’t shown them on my site and I think it’s worked out best for our studio at the moment. It totally depends on your pricing and market in my opinion if you want to show your prices or not :).
Whew! That was a TON of questions, but hopefully you got some good insight into our studio :).
Enjoy this article and find it helpful? Pin this image on Pinterest so you’ll always have this info on hand!