The reason I love small business so much is the personal touch. With my business roots in Etsy and the handmade world, I have long been drawn to hand details. Adding things that are not digital or computer rendered but rather something of an imperfectly perfect character, hand created or low-fi.
Corporate companies lack this character because they are big, they are not going to connect with us on that personal level that small business connects with us on.
People are drawn to small business because they can connect with the creator or owner. It is more personal and hands on.
In the early days of Etsy, it was expected that when you bought something you would get a little-handwritten thank you note, and the packaging had some kind of personal or creative touch. It added to the experience of buying from a maker directly.
This principle can be applied to your visual branding. So that your audience feels that one-on-one connection, and the joy of working with and buying from a small business.
By weaving in little personal touches and your own personality into your look and style.
It can really set you apart and make your visuals more memorable and personable.
So here are a few ideas of how you could add a more personal unique touch to your visual branding and graphics.
Creating Brand Patterns
Patterns are a fun way to add personality to your brand and create a sense of fun and playfulness. Patterns can become very recognisable, so they are a great way to brand and leave a memorable impression.
Patterns don’t have to be overly fancy or complex. Think about the vibe of your business and your audience. If you have a playful feel, something simple, big and colourful could be very effective. If your brand is more delicate or refined, you may want something a little more intricate or detailed.
You can use patterns instead of photos or background images on promo and social media graphics, they could brighten up a quote graphic or a promo call to action.They can be used to brighten up parts of your website, or can really make an impression on print material. Think the back of your business card, the inside of your packaging on some tape or a sticker.
A lot of the time we rely on photography and graphics to convey our business messages visually. Adding some illustrations here and there can add a more personal touch. This could be hiring someone to illustrate a picture of you or significant objects to your brand. Or it could be more simple things that you can use to just add a small personal touch, like a flower, heart or symbol that is hand drawn rather than a digital graphic.
Be sure to use an illustration style that suits your brand. It could be something soft and delicate or a more digital bright and edgy illustration.
Illustrations can be very effective to communicate more complex things to your customers or clients. Such as showing them how to do or use something. Rather than explaining it all in words, some simple illustrations can quickly get the message across, and make it more easy to follow and understand. You can get really creative and inject a lot of your brand personality into it. It could be funny, quirky or playful. Be creative!
You can even add simple doddles to your graphics, like hand drawn arrows, hand circle or underline all key point or call to action, little doddles of stars, hearts or other small things. If you can’t draw or afford to hire an illustrator, there are still fun little ways you can add illustrated elements to your brand graphics.
Scanning paper, ephemera and scraps.
Using ‘real’ things rather than just digital graphics and images, can make your brand feel less digital, and humanise it more. This could textured papers, washi tape, vintage images, tags, paper clips, stamps, packaging, leaves, buttons, pressed flowers, fabric or torn paper.
You can scan your own, photograph it or buy scanned graphics. And it doesn’t mean your brand has to look like a scrap book, just little touches of found and scanned items can add a personal touch.
If you scan your own, be sure to consider copyright, and don’t use anything that could infringe copyright.
Similar to the scanned objects, scanning, photographing or buying textures, can add a lot of dynamic to your designs. Taking them from flat colour graphics and adding that texture and feel.
Textures could include papers, surfaces (tables, wood, concrete, marble, walls), paint or watercolour, urban texture, natural textures, fabrics, metals, stone, textiles and more.
Think about textures that would suit your brand and how you could incorporate them into your graphics. You could do fun things with textured typography, use it in backgrounds, create texture borders and frames.
Hand lettering and handwriting.
There are many beautiful fonts out there, but if you want to add a unique touch to the typography in your graphics, the occasional hand letter or handwriting can be really powerful and memorable.
If you have a special event or program, custom typography and hand lettering can be a fun way to create promotional graphics and make it unique. Especially as it is an opportunity to stray a little from your primary brand fonts.
A smaller way of adding hand typography to your brand is with simple handwriting. It could be your signature at the end of a blog post or your handwriting for a tagline or to draw attention to a call to action. Just adding that little touch of ‘you’ into the design. Making it more personal and real.
I hope this may have inspired some ideas for adding touches of personality to your visual branding and graphics. Get creative and have fun with it.