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Establishing Your Graphic Design Brand: Tips for Standing Out

Branding is crucial for graphic designers. In an increasingly crowded market, you need a strong brand identity that grabs attention and conveys why clients should choose you. This in-depth guide covers proven strategies for establishing a memorable, polished and professional personal graphic design brand that makes you stand out.

Crafting Your Design Brand Personality and Tone

Start by defining your brand personality and tone. Consider these factors:

Areas of Specialization

Are you an illustrator, UI/UX designer, logo pro, lettering artist or jack-of-all-trades? Your niche focus shapes brand personality.

Style of Design Work

Is your style playful, serious, elegant, retro, girly, modern, artistic? Your portfolio style informs branding.

Target Audiences

If targeting youth, adopt a lively, casual tone. For corporations, aim for polished and professional personality. Match tone to clients.

Price Point

Luxury brands justify premium pricing through elevated polish and prestige. Budget brands convey value and accessibility.

Personal Interests and Values

What you’re passionate about — dogs, travel, ecology, music, fashion — bring natural personality. But choose selectively.

Geography

Highlight your locale if it contributes character, like a Pacific Northwest nature vibe or New England heritage.

Determine the qualities and tone you want associated with your brand based on areas of focus, style, clients and expertise. This personality shines through in all branding touchpoints.

Choosing Your Graphic Design Business Name

The right business name goes far in establishing brand identity. Consider:

Indicative Names

Communicate your offerings like The Logo Lounge, Social Media Architects, Iconic Web Designs, The Lettering Studio.

Descriptive Names

Share your style or niche like Minimalist Ink, Handcrafted Design Co., Vintage Folk Arts.

Experience-Focused Names

Convey the benefits you provide like Brand Storytellers, Design Innovators, Creative Collaborators.

Clever, Catchy Names

Create a unique and memorable name like Yellow Yak, Magpie Studio, Hello Sunshine Designs. Risk losing clarity of services.

Location-Based Names

Use your city, street or area as name like Austin Creative Agency, Fairview Designs, Oak Street Studio. Ties to local community.

Your Own Name

Using your first and last name or initials builds personal connection, but limits flexibility for growth.

A few great test names are:

  • Iconic Logo Designs
  • Modern Graphic Solutions
  • Creative California Design Studio
  • Park Avenue Design Group
  • Oak Street Lettering

Prioritize names with SEO-friendly keywords that convey your offerings clearly. Establish branding using one consistent professional business name across platforms.

Your logo is core to your brand identity. Make sure it:

Sums Up Your Brand Personality

A sleek modern low-poly mark for a tech company, hand-drawn logo for an artsy brand, elegant script logo for luxury products.

Reflects Your Design Aesthetic

Show who you are – use illustrative, minimalist, retro, abstract, playful style aligned with your work.

Uses Recognizable Imagery

Consider incorporating identifiable images like animals, flowers, landscapes. Memorable and meaningful.

Pops Through Bold Shapes and Colors

Contrast colors that stand out. Distinct geometric, organic or abstract shapes cut through visual noise.

Looks Professional yet Unique

Strive for a polished logo not generic clip art. But also make it creatively distinctive. Find the right balance.

Adapts Well to Varied Uses

Test logo at different sizes, on dark and light backgrounds, and in grayscale. Ensure legibility.

Avoids Overcomplication

Do not pack too many disparate elements and styles. Keep logo simple and cohesive for retention.

Great logos encapsulate brand personality and design aesthetic quickly and powerfully. They become visual shorthand for your services and sensibility.

Curating an Impactful Design Portfolio

Your portfolio showcases your talents in action. Make sure it:

Demonstrates Specific Skills and Expertise

Feature projects tailored to skills you want to be hired for like logo design, social media graphics, packaging, etc.

Displays Only Your Best Work

Be selective. Showcase only most polished work truly reflective of current abilities. Quality over quantity.

Is Easy to Navigate

Organize cleanly into clear sections, categories and recommended highlight reels. Let work shine.

Balances Varied Projects

Demonstrate range with diverse industries, styles, mediums and formats like logos, fonts, websites, books, app UIs, illustrations, posters and more.

Presents Work Attractively

Beautifully lit, crisp photos of print work. Video clips showing digital work in action on screens. Professionally shot mockup images.

Provides Project Summaries

Brief explanatory text provides context like purpose, audience, creative solutions. Helps visitors deeply understand work.

Loads Quickly

Compress images. Optimize site speed. Fast load times keep visitors engaged.

Links to Live Sites

Add links to live sites and designs in use. Proof they are active professional work.

Shows Only Your Own Work

Never claim team work or client work as fully your own. Disclose your role accurately.

An exceptional portfolio should inspire, dazzle, inform and build confidence in your talents. Evaluate and update yours regularly.

Writing a Powerful Designer Bio

Your bio is often the first introduction to you. Make it count:

Open With Areas of Expertise

“John Doe is an award-winning brand identity designer and artist…” give context upfront.

Share Professional Background

“With 8 years experience at Studio X and an MFA from University Y, Jane brings immense expertise in print design…” Demonstrate qualifications.

Highlight Style and Specialties

“Mary’s illustrations masterfully blend whimsy and emotion…” Clarify your strengths and passion areas.

Note Major Clients and Projects

“John has led logo redesigns for Fortune 500 companies including…” Drop prestigious names.

Describe Awards and Recognition

“Mary’s work has been featured in Communications Arts and Graphis…” Boast credentials.

Add Personality and Interests

“When not designing, Jane enjoys hiking and volunteering at the animal shelter.” Humanize you.

Close With a Call to Action

“Hire John today to bring world-class branding to your business.” End with a specific request.

An excellent bio packs in qualifications, entices with style, and urges hiring you. Keep it succinct yet compelling. Include on your site, social media and portfolios.

Building a Strong Graphic Design Website

Your website is your 24/7 sales hub. Ensure yours:

Loads Quickly

Optimize images, compress files, remove unnecessary plugins. High-performance speed keeps visitors.

Shows Off Your Best Work

Feature portfolio highlights on the homepage. Link to full portfolio.

Explains Your Services

List offerings like logo design, web design, branding kits, social media templates. Include pricing and process.

Displays Client Testimonials

Social proof like rave client reviews builds trust and credibility instantly.

Makes Contacting You Easy

Prominently share email address, contact forms, and calendar booking links. Remove friction to hire you.

Highlights Your Specialties

Reinforce unique expertise like hand-lettering, typography, icon creation, Procreate illustration.

Establishes Thought Leadership

Share design articles, case studies, tutorials, and resources that provide value and position you as an expert guide.

Integrates With Email List

Offer lead magnets in exchange for emails you can market to. Coordinate messaging across platforms.

Regularly update your website and use it as the hub connecting all your brand touchpoints and channels. Drive all traffic there.

Using Social Media to Promote Yourself as a Designer

Leverage select social platforms that work for creatives:

Instagram

Post portfolio visuals, works in progress, inspiration. Highly visual nature perfect for designers. Engage with followers.

Behance

Build an online portfolio on the top creative platform. Get discovered by art directors and clients searching for talent.

Pinterest

Curate boards showcasing design inspiration and your work. Link to your site. Can drive referral traffic.

Twitter

Share your work, insights and inspiration. Engage with others in the design community. Leverage trending hashtags like #DesignTipTuesday.

YouTube

Post tutorials, case studies and speed art videos to demonstrate skills and creative process. Adds a personal touch.

LinkedIn

Establish yourself as an industry professional. Share articles and portfolio work samples. Connect with potential clients.

Promote your best portfolio pieces across top social platforms where creatives congregate. Provide value and personality.

Crafting Client-Centric Sales Copy

Write sales-driven copy focused on potential clients. For example:

Headline

“Unforgettable Logo Design Services for Ambitious Brands”

Subheadline

“Master brand identity designer with over 15 years experience helping businesses launch and thrive.”

Opening Paragraph

“Building a powerful brand starts with a strong visual identity. But finding a logo designer up to the task is challenging. Most options lack the skill and vision to create a logo that truly captures your brand essence.”

Business Benefits

“My human-centered logo design process distills the heart and soul of your business into an iconic mark. I become fully immersed in your story and offerings. My custom illustrations breathe life into abstract concepts. And I handle every aspect of perfecting not just a great logo, but complementing brand assets to complete your unique identity.”

Call to Action

“If you’re ready to launch your business with an award-worthy logo and brand system that sparks lasting customer connection, let’s talk.”

Write convincingly about why clients should hire you specifically. Use relatable language focused on their needs.

Promotional Ideas for Designers

Actively market yourself:

Printed Business Cards and Stationery

Invest in professionally printed business cards, letterhead, thank you cards, stickers and postcards that showcase your visual style. Hand these out freely. Send follow up notes and thank yous after meetings and interviews.

Give Free Talks and Workshops

Offer pro bono talks at schools, coworking spaces, libraries and community centers teaching graphic design basics. Provides exposure and establishes you as an expert.

Guest Post on Blogs

Pitch graphic design blogs to contribute posts with tips relevant to their audience. Often includes a bio and link back to your site.

Sponsor community events by designing posters and collateral in exchange for brand mentions and displayed signage with your logo and name throughout the event.

Network Relentlessly

Attend conferences, join professional associations, hit up networking events. Share business cards and chat about your services. Follow up after with everyone you meet.

Send Email Campaigns

Send email newsletters, case studies, design tips and promos to website subscribers and clients. Keeps you top of mind.

Run Retargeting Ads

Remarket to site visitors across the web via platforms like Google and Facebook Ads. Keep your brand visible.

Actively seek out partnerships, speaking gigs, networking, and advertising that gets your brand name circulating. Raise awareness consistently.

Designing Collateral to Showcase Your Services

Create professional collateral like:

Brand Style Guide

Showcase colors, fonts, graphic elements and rules that comprise your branding. Provides helpful examples for clients.

Case Studies

Detail your process and thinking behind successful client projects. Demonstrate expertise. Include testimonials.

Fact Sheet

One-page document summarizing services, past clients and achievements. Quickly introduces you.

Brand Sheet

One-pager focused specifically on articulating your brand promise, personality, specialties and why you’re the best.

Capabilities Slides

A slide presentation overviewing all your offerings, process and client results. Send in proposals and presentations.

Annual Report

Detail key metrics like client wins, growth, milestones, plans and successes over the past year. Shows momentum.

Newsletter Examples

Share sample newsletters detailing helpful lessons and insights for your audience. Build credibility.

Professional collateral materials back up your expertise claims and gives prospective clients abundant reasons to hire you.

Pricing Your Graphic Design Services

Set rates that communicate the value you offer:

Research Competitors

See what designers with similar skills, services and experience charge in your area on sites like Dribbble Jobs. Price competitively.

Calculate Your Costs

Determine your hourly costs accounting for software, supplies, administrative needs and taxes. Price to cover costs and earn a profit. Include project vs hourly pricing.

Consider Client Budget

For smaller businesses, lower rates may be necessary. For large firms, higher premium pricing may be viable.

Bundle Services

Offer bundled packages around projects like branding that include several services like logo design, business cards, brand guide at a bundled price. Provides value.

Tier Options

Provide Good, Better, Best packages with increasing prices based on degree of complexity, customization and usage rights. Offers flexibility.

Charge Rush Fees

Add rush fees for unrealistic deadlines you accommodate. Penalize last minute requests.

Limit Discounts

Rather than offer across-the-board discounts, provide discounts only for specific circumstances like nonprofits or annual contracts for a discounted rate.

Professional level pricing establishes you as an experienced expert. But remain flexible according to client budgets and projects.

Managing Client Expectations

Prevent client disputes by:

Detailed Proposals

Specify project parameters, expected timeline, number of included revisions and branding rights. Get signoff.

Collecting Deposits/Milestone Payments

Require upfront deposit before starting work and collect additional payments upon milestone completion vs one payment. Reduces risk of nonpayment if unhappy with final product.

Contracts and Work Orders

Use design contracts spelling out terms, timeline, fees, revision policy and other expectations. Legally binding.

Consistent Communication

Overcommunication prevents surprises. Provide frequent progress reports. Show work in progress.

Digital Approvals

At each stage, have client digitally approve work so no confusion on signoff. Maintain clear paper trail.

Setting Boundaries

Be clear on policies about rush fees, changes, and additional charges incurred if requests outside of contract like excessive revisions. Just say no if outside scope.

Proactively addressing potential areas of disconnect through contracts, approvals, milestones and open communication results in smoother client engagements.

Achieving Work/Life Balance as a Designer

Work/life balance is notoriously difficult for creatives. Stick to these principles:

Treat It Like a Job

Work set hours with weekends off. Avoid burnout from overwork. Calendar in time off. Take regular vacations.

Set Boundaries

Do not work evenings and weekends except in the rarest circumstances. Avoid off-hour calls or emails encroaching on personal time. Be unavailable.

Managerush periods

When an unusually tight deadline arises, ask yourself if you truly have capacity for it. Improve planning and don’t overload yourself reactively. Bring on freelance help for spikes if needed.

Take Breaks

Ensure you take short breaks to recharge during the day. Get outside. Stay connected to non-work parts of life.

Automate and Delegate

Offload administrative tasks through automation like scheduling apps and delegate tasks like prepping files, sourcing assets and invoicing to assistants. Focus on high-value priorities only.

Do Not Multitask

Stay focused on one task at a time instead of inefficient multitasking. You will get more done with full concentration on each activity.

Set Availability Expectations

Be clear with clients on when and how quickly you respond to inquiries. Underpromise and overdeliver to avoid constant disruption.

By valuing your personal time, staying focused, and leveraging help, you can sustain a manageable balance and avoid burnout.

Expanding Your Graphic Design Business

Steady growth keeps your business thriving long-term. Strategically target:

Higher Value Clients

Graduate from smaller clients to larger firms and budgets. Expand capabilities to meet their needs like motion graphics. Raise rates accordingly.

Passive Income Streams

Offer products like fonts, templates, online courses and merchandise in addition to client services. Create assets that earn passively over time.

Additional Services

Expand offerings like adding web design or video production. But only add services closely aligned to current expertise so quality remains consistent.

Junior Designers

Bring on junior designers to delegate simpler tasks to so you can focus on high-level creative direction and strategy for clients.

Affiliate Partnerships

Partner with relevant brands and designers to cross-promote each others’ services and products. Set up referral programs.

Speaking and Publishing

Establish expertise by speaking at industry conferences, corporate events and publishing books and articles. Position yourself as a thought leader.

Retain Existing Clients

Deliver exceptional service and proactively offer additional services to current clients. Meeting their needs helps secure ongoing business.

Growing strategically by providing more value, teaming up with other experts, establishing thought leadership and leveraging passive income sets you up for long-term success on your terms.

Staying Inspired as a Graphic Designer

Graphic design requires constant creativity. Recharge with:

Creative Hobbies

Engage in completely unrelated creative hobbies like pottery, sewing, painting or photography. Different stimuli sparks new connections.

Continued Learning

Take classes, online courses, workshops and seminars on design topics and related skills like business marketing, copywriting etc. Expanding capabilities prevents stagnation.

Get Outdoors

Spend time in nature hiking, exercising and exploring. Physical activity and new scenery refreshes.

Change Up Your Workspace

Experiment with different work

Change Up Your Workspace

Experiment with different work environments like coffee shops or co-working spaces. A new energy and different surroundings can reboot inspiration and productivity.

Follow Trends Selectively

Peruse trend reports, but put your own spin on trends rather than purely mimicking the latest fads. Use trends as jumping off points for creative exploration.

Collaborate with Others

Brainstorm, co-design and swap feedback with fellow designers both formally and informally. Fresh perspectives prevent insular thinking.

Seek Critique

Ask colleagues and mentors to review your portfolio and provide constructive criticism. Listen carefully with an open mind. Iterating based on external feedback raises skills.

Expand Your Music Taste

Listen to new genres of music while designing to motivate and energize. Upbeat electronic, jazz, classical and foreign music make good design companions.

Work on Paper

When stumped digitally, revert to pencil and paper sketching, mind mapping, doodling, wireframing and visually brainstorming. The physicality helps overcome blocks.

Travel

Immerse yourself in inspiring locations and cultural experiences. Bring a sketchbook to visually capture intriguing sights. Local museums also offer design inspiration.

Take Mental Health Days

Allow “off” days to recharge without working or feeling guilty about it. Reflect, meditate and focus inward. Come back renewed.

Curate Inspiration Collections

Maintain ongoing digital inspiration folders, notebooks and Pinterest boards you can reference to reignite creative sparks.

By proactively building in creative habits and stimulation beyond client work, you will sustain passion for design over the long-term and continue evolving your craft and capabilities.

Conclusion

Establishing a strong personal brand allows graphic designers to attract ideal clients and win more business. Begin by defining your brand personality and tone based on areas of expertise, style and target clients. Choose a distinctive brand name and logo that captures your sensibility. Curate an exceptional portfolio and articulate your story through social media, website copy and collateral. Promote yourself actively through speaking, partnerships and advertising. Set client expectations properly through contracts and communication. Focus on achieving work/life balance to avoid burnout. And keep growing your offerings while staying inspired. By investing effort in your personal branding and business, you build value and trust that allows established designers to command premium rates and enjoy a fulfilling, sustainable career.

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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