There's something special about working with a client for several years and seeing their business progress. I'd worked with Whitney before, but we decided her branding could use some tweaking.
We started by establishing the desired look and feel of the brand. We wanted to communicate the fine art quality of her photographs while also embodying the friendly and down-to-earth relationship she values with her clients.
Typography was particularly important, as we knew that the logo would be more of a wordmark than a graphic. Icons and minimalist logos seem to serve a lot of big companies and products very well, but I felt they emphasized a kind of technical correctness and repeatability that didn't capture the individual approach Whitney takes with her work.
Calligraphy, on the other hand, seems to take us back to simpler times, when everyone wrote deeply poetic love letters to each other. We decided a script font would be ideal for showing how friendly and caring Whitney was with her clients, without devaluing her work or making the logo look frilly.
For our primary body text, we chose an old-style serif to tap into the quality and permanence of Whitney's work. By connecting with a more antique look, we also sought to reinforce the value of old methods, to help reframe the use of medium-format film from an antiquated technology to one that is more elegant and emotional than its digital “successor.”
When coming up with the look and feel of the new branding, we didn't just keep our ideas about what the brand should signify in our head; we found ways to express them in concrete form, with words and images that embodied them.
This can seem a bit frivolous from the outside, but when it comes down to actually applying the branding to new materials, I find it pays off in many ways. Branding work seems to get underestimated as a way to create mere visual repetition and consistency, when there's a lot of very real value in having your principles and values expressed in a way that constantly reminds you why you're doing what you're doing.
In Whitney's case, the branding we developed helped us focus on whether we were communicating her values as best as possible, even when designing what might otherwise be mundane documents, such as photo release forms and liability documents.
The process also made us think not only about how we were designing things, but what we were designing. We realized that one thing Whitney had always wanted to do to connect with clients was talk to them about her process, without overwhelming them with the technical aspects of her work. Again, we had our branding to guide us in how we could provide information on the photography process without seeming pretentious, but while also communicating the value of the work Whitney does.
We ended up designing a series of booklets which would help clients explore the photography process. Whitney wanted to let her clients know how much she valued them and cared personally about their photos and their experience, but didn't want to make the booklets seem like required reading, so we decided to them to clients alongside other gifts, as a thanks for booking her services.
Whitney's website was another facet of her brand that she wanted to polish, and one that was becoming increasingly important thanks to more and more traffic. Her old site wasn't responsive, which was our main concern, and it was also a bit slow to load, despite its ruthless image compression, so we decided to overhaul the back end of the site&as&well.
While Wordpress can be a great content management system, I find it's often much more complex that it needs to be for a lot of applications, to the point where I don't feel as close to the site's code as I want to, with changes having to be hacked together to fit the architecture, rather than the other way around. With this in mind, I dug up a site assembly script I'd written previously, and adapted it to handle the construction of Whitney's&site.
I built a system for managing photos and their metadata, as alternate text for the images was essential in communicating their content to search engines. Because the assembly process happens in a local environment, all that gets synced to live servers is static HTML, stylesheets, and other site assets. This makes everything a bit speedier in practice, and also avoids live client-server interactions that can expose the site to unwanted&modification.
We also took the technical overhaul as an opportunity to refresh the site's appearance, making it as straightforward, classy, and reserved as possible. We wanted to let the photos shine, with a subtle communication of Whitney's values and guiding principles in&the&background.next project →← previous