DIY Website | Branding For Interior Designers

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

Time for a Geek Break. Can you guess why? ;]

It’s hard to believe, but I started this website in April 2012. I purchased a couple of templates. Quite frankly, there is nothing left of the H2 blog, but the faint lines you see and the other is an add-on called Pro Photo. It’s pretty cool for us Do-it-yourselfers, but programmers HATE it with a purple passion. The idea is that it’s  supposed to be a great content management system [meaning you don’t need a programmer to make changes] that non-geeks can do [relatively easily] but it’s not supposed to be messed with. [customized by a REAL Geek who knows CSS programming] That’s why pros hate it. I get that.

For several months, I have been milling around in my mind, some website changes. Well… I guess the cat’s already outta the bag, since those of you who know my blog can plainly see that there have been quite a few changes— starting with a brand new LOGO! One great thing about a wordpress content management system is that you can make an entirely new website, or website look for yourself without all the mess and chaos of the BIG REVEAL. Think of it this way. It’s like going for a facelift. You’re still you… just a tighter, more [hopefully] fresher you.

Alright, here’s the thing–for me. Everyone and her uncle is using a LAUREL wreath somewhere in their logo. Right? Dang it all— Why does someone named Barbara get to use a laurel wreath? just sayin’. And, if they’re not using a laurel wreath, they are using some sort of a Greek Key pattern. grrr… I have been using MY haha! Greek Key pattern since the late 80’s. Now, it’s become so hackneyed it’s a total cliche. And we can’t have that, because…

the reason why people use these symbols is that they think that it’s good for their

B R A N D I N G

branding-iron

Hey, just be glad I didn’t put up the pic of the cow being tortured! :/

For me, just hearing the word ‘BRANDING’ is in and of itself a kind of an irritating torture. One day, I might give my whole list of grating words and phrases that make my blood pressure go up every time I hear them. The word BRANDING is bounced around so casually, here, there— well, EVERYWHERE.

  • what’s your brand?[it helps if you use a nasal A as in GRAAANITE]
  • pay close attention to your branding [okay, if you say so.]
  • your blog and website need to convey your brand. [oh dear.]
  • branding this and branding that.

I heard this word at the blogging conference about a zillion times, but no one really broke it down as to its real meaning. It begins to sound like it’s something they’re supposed to say because people who are experts in the area of social media and marketing for interior designers know that it’s the buzzword du jour.

Branding

No wonder we’re all on overload!
But, what does it really mean?

”According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or a combination of them that is designed to identify the goods or services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors. Technically speaking then, whenever a marketer creates a new name, symbol or logo, etc for a new product, he or she has created a brand.”

Quite frankly, I think it’s all gotten quite out of hand and as in the info-graphic above made much more complicated than it needs to be. Of course, social media hasn’t helped, or has it? Maybe some of each.

To me, branding for interior designers is simply presenting yourself and/or your product/service in a unique way, so that you’re attracting the kinds of people who will look at your stuff and go… yeah… I want THAT! And I want it from you, Laurel… cause you, Laurel are the shizz and I like your approach to the biz and there IZ only one YOU! :]

da doo, da, duh, doooooo… thank you Big Bird! 😀

sung by little bird. please watch this short 2 minute video. We all need a little pep talk now and then! haha. yes, nuts! Takes me right back to when my kids were little. He makes a good point, though, as always.

We are all UNIQUE and our uniqueness is what sets us apart whether it’s in running a successful business or any other worthwhile endeavor. But, for some of us, perhaps its difficult to get in touch with. I truly believe that no one can really do that for you, but you.

I mean, I continually see all sorts of web people who are selling “branding items” for your blog. I dunno, if 10,000 people are using the same identifying markers, then it doesn’t really make them unique, now does it?

I am not saying that there’s anything wrong with hiring someone to help you with your website and blog, or using the same cute social media buttons that everyone else is using, but I see so many websites/blogs that start to look all the same, same, same.

That is one reason why I like doing my own graphic design. I DON’T want it to look TOO slick. I LIKE doing BIG PHOTOS and having my site be wider than I’ve been told because it may not fit on everyone’s screen. TS. [it fits on all of my screens and I have four of them!] Because THAT is not my brand. My brand, is casual but still classic. It is rooted firmly in the traditional, but is also modern. Just a tad left from center. Inventive, Fun,Youthful, but Grown-Up, at the same time. Cool. [I hope!] And there is also an element of sometimes going a little bit against the status quo. It’s alright to do that. That’s what makes you memorable. Each snow flake is unique [they say] but when there are a million trillion zillion of them all stuck together, do you notice that? Therefore, be brave. Do something because it’s what you love, not because someone you love told you it’s cool. And that includes anything I say. If it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work for you.

BTW, I HAVE had help and LOT OF IT, by the absolutely fabulouso Eileen Lonergan and cannot sing her praises or recommend her highly enough. I started working with her a year ago at a time that I was so overwhelmed with all of this stuff, that I told her— PLEASE, Eileen, just fix it. And she did. After a time, I caught on to the SEO and made the changes that she recommended and everything she said was right on and paid off.

And yes, it’s really easy. I am a former LUDDITE. Really. I’m the worst. I rarely ever read any instructions. Very rarely. I really don’t have the patience or the attention span. It’s a good test. So, if I can do it, you can too!

As you can see, I have a new logo in my header. What do you think? I really like it, but who knows? It might change again. That is what is so much fun! I think it needs a border or something.

What did I use for fonts?

My logo is in Garamond. I have looked at them all. I knew that I wanted a serif font. One problem with Garamond is that because of some of its delicacy, it can get a bit ragged, but despite that, I still love it. For my old site, I used Palatino, but I actually prefer Garamond.  For the script, I don’t remember. Hold on… I’ll find it for you. Vladamir Script. It’s a freebie with windows. And get this… YOUR fonts show up in picmonkey. And then if you don’t have what you need, they have a whole slew of ’em. I imagine that you could also download your own font if you’re a font junkie.

For the rest, now don’t laugh, but it’s boring old Times Roman? Why? Because Times Roman is the White Dove [paint color] of fonts. It’s an old stand-by and for good reason. It’s highly legible and it’s bitchin’ [as my roommate from 30 years ago used to say] in italics. [See???] I don’t like the way that Garamond or Palatino look in italics. Times in italics looks trad and modern at the same time. And besides, Serena and Lily uses Times. [I looked at their source code.]

I know… that’s fancy-shmancy lingo. You can do this too.

  • click on TOOLS
  • highlight WEB DEVELOPER
  • scroll over to  PAGE SOURCE.

click on it. good times! :]

I know… it’s all GEEK  to me. [lame, I know]

Alright then… HOW did I do all of this? Photoshop or Gimp or something like that?

No.

PicMonkey.

Oh man, these folks are bloody geniuses! Brilliant program. Picmonkey is Photoshop for “smart, [cheap], dummies.” :] It is very intuitive, fun and the possibilities are infinite. They have their own set of graphics, but you can also upload your own. Anything. Alright, some of theirs are very weird and/or waaaay too precious for us sophisticated artists, however, there’s something for everyone. And then… there are tons of special effects. You can darken or dim, create overlays and layers, opaque, translucent. Change the color. Get set, because I am going to be adding some effects to some of my images. And then the best part, you can upload them onto your puter in three different resolutions from low to high. I always use high because you can always reduce the file later on. And you can do “mood” [inspiration] boards – EASILY.

Alright. Are you still with me? Here is some more useful information and I am happy to give it out.

WHAT IS THE ONE BIG MISTAKE LOTS OF PEOPLE MAKE ON THEIR WEBSITE/BLOGS?

It’s a mistake that I see all the time. I know because I also made this mistake.

You need to have your website, portfolio and blog ALL IN ONE PLACE. One place. ONE WEBSITE that has it all. One static header. One. Not, two or three different URLs. [for blog, website, shop, whatevs…] One. And, ideally, it should all be on wordpress, because then, you can do as much customization as you care to learn— all by yourself. And you want to make changes because GOOGS love it when you have an active vibrant website with lots of peeps checking you out.

Why do you need only ONE? That is a very good question and here is the answer, in two parts.
  • If you have more than one website, you are one going to lead people away from your site to look at other stuff and they may not come back. You want them to hang out!
  • And… this one is one I did not realize, but especially if you have an old website, just sitting there, that you’re not really using— Get this. You are going to be in competition with YOURSELF. Goog’s crawler is very, very busy… going to this site and indexing this and that and this and that… He comes to Laurel Bern’s site. hmmm… Laurel has this old site which I really liked and wait. She has this other site now too. hmmm… dumb cow… hmmm… By now, the crawler has moved on. He doesn’t know what on earth to do with Laurel’s two websites and doesn’t have time either. He’s confused and because of that, you are going to get a little google slap and get knocked out of your rightful high ranking.

A year ago, I had FOUR google+ accounts. Two blogs. Two websites. OYE! Vut a mess! But Eileen straightened me out. One website. One google+ account [well, it’s really two. you need a personal and a google places account for your biz].

Back to interior design branding.
HOW DO YOU DESIGN A LOGO FOR YOURSELF?

This is how I did it. First, I came up with the Laurel Home. I knew that I needed that and I already knew that I wanted it in Garamond. Then, I knew that I wanted a script font for the bottom section. I estimated the gray and then you can fade in and out. Oh my. What fun! Later, I went and grabbed the “HEX CODE” [#six digit and/or letter sequence that makes a particular color]. How did I find the hex code? I googled it. :]

[As an aside, Googs is really in the cyber-dogbox right now. They’ve gotten just a tad too big for their dictatorial britches and I’m not the only one who thinks so.]

I liked the way it looked, and I loved that the L A U R E L  H O M E was bigger, but lighter. Quietly assertive? But then… I just wanted to add something else.

 

My original logo from 1996 looked like this.

LetterHead2

 

I found the image from a used book I found at the Rizzoli Book Store in Greenwich Village. It was from an architectural rendering of an 18th century building somewhere in Europe. Even then, I loved the juxtaposition of the more ornate scroll [with laurel leaves] against the more modern font and treatment of it by spreading out the letters. [palatino, but I had to crop it out because in order to get the logo in the same warm tone it was in, the lettering was looking mighty teal and it was really black]

I considered resurrecting it, however, when I looked on picmonkey, I found, not a wreath, but a bough of laurel leaves. I started experimenting with it until I got the effect I liked. I also uploaded from the interwebs onto picmonkey, other laurel images, but none of them looked nearly as good as what I originally came up with on picmonkey.

OH! and for the premium version, it’s a whopping $33 a year!

As I see it, our BRANDS are US. Branding for interiors is  what we stand for; what we’re all about and communicating that message to others that we want to attract in a way that they can easily understand and appreciate.

I am not saying that you have to create your own logo, however, if you’re already a designer, who is better to come up with something that is the essence of you, than you? At the very least, maybe give it a whirl, because I think in so doing, even if you decide to have a pro finish it off, you can give them a great jumping off point.

Something that will be uniquely you!

xo,

laurel

 

 

ps: I almost forgot. Please check out the sidebar. I made the follow on pinterest button on picmonkey! All by my little selfie. And it works. Unlike my subscribe button. Hmmm… now that, I can’t fix. Gotta call Eileen! More to come!

And later this week, back to Atlanta I go— To Americas Mart! Tho ekthited!

pps: And I would be remiss without another shoutout to the most fabulous interior designer-turned-web-geek-extraordinaire Alycia Wicker. Alycia is one sassy, brassy, badassy and also as sweet as cherry pie. I WANT absolutely everything that she’s selling. She suckers me in every time. LOL. But, it’s not just fluff. No, she gives out TONS of the most incredible info for FREE [my fave word in the English language] :]  Even if you’re not an interior designer, everything she says can be applied to ANY business! If you need more help, she’s also available for that. Both Eileen and Alycia have very reasonable fees and never make you feel like a dumbshit. Everything I have written about here, I learned from them both!

Thank you again to Eileen for cleaning up my mess and to Alycia for encouraging me and everyone to write in their true unique voice. And for both for the great service you provide. There are a lot of people doing webwork/branding/marketing, but these are two of the best.

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • melissa abide griffith - January 5, 2017 - 10:14 AM

    My friend recommended this article to me, and I am so glad she did. Very helpful, but more importantly, gave me confidence! Thank you!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 5, 2017 - 10:40 AM

      Hi Melissa,

      I had forgotten about this post. I need to look at it again. Glad it was helpful! And yes, I did this site without hiring anyone. That’s for the stuff you see. The stuff you don’t see– I did and do get help with and unless it’s a hobby blog, recommend highly or it will never go anywhere.ReplyCancel