Using Patterns to Boost Your Branding

With most brand identities, you’ll find the standard combination of primary logo, alternate logo, submark, color palette, and on-brand fonts. (Wondering what the heck a primary logo and submark are? Read this post first!) All of those elements work together to lay the foundation of a strong visual for your brand, but why stop there? 

Why not take it your brand to the next level and give it an even more unique look?

A super simple way to do this is by incorporating patterns! Today, I’m going to do a brief overview on why patterns are a huge bonus for your branding and how you can incorporate them into your brand collateral.


Give your branding and design pieces an extra special touch with patterns! Read more at the Gillian Tracey Design blog.


Why Patterns?

If you have a beautiful logo and color palette, you may be wondering why do I need patterns?

1 | They add interest to design, both digital and print.

Use them on everything from your business cards, newsletter header, and Facebook cover image. Patterns create interest, texture, balance, and an extra special touch that flat colors just can’t give you.


2 | Unique flair to help your branding stand out even more from the competition.

A pattern, particularly one that is custom-made for your business will add an extra special touch guaranteed to help you stand out from others in your niche. Patterns are one of the easiest ways to add an extra dose of personality and pizazz to your design pieces.


3 | Supports brand message.

Color is important in communicating tone and mood, but patterns are even more effective in taking it up a notch. The patterns you choose for your branding are great at supporting the brand message and personality of your business. Going for a preppy, clean look? Choose a classic stripe. Want something more vintage and edgy? Opt for something art deco and geometric. Or perhaps you want a pattern that helps show what kind of work you do. For example, if you’re an interior designer you could use a pattern that is comprised of different pieces of furniture. 


4 | Reinforces branding through consistency and recognizable elements.

Oftentimes patterns will incorporate an element from a logo, submark, or some other design element of your branding. This helps builds consistency, which is always a good thing! By using a pattern that’s unique to your business, it helps create more brand recognition.


5 | Gives you versatility and variety. 

When you work with a limited brand identity, it can be a challenge to make things look distinct. It can get repetitive and boring. Patterns are a simple fix to branding boredom! They’ll give you an extra tool to use for creating interest in your designs while still keeping within your branding family.


How do I incorporate patterns?

A common design mistake I see is that people don’t know how to use pattern within their designs, so they avoid using it altogether. Patterns can be intimidating! When you’re accustomed to only working with flat colors, learning to incorporate patterns effectively can take a bit of practice. Once you play around with some options and get the hang of how to incorporate them into your designs, you’re not going to want to stop.

Depending on what kind of pattern you’re working with will determine how you’ll incorporate it into your design. The key things to remember when designing with pattern are these: is it balanced, is it legible, is it adding or detracting to the design? 


Is it balanced?

Since patterns carry more visual weight than a flat color, you need to keep that in mind when you’re designing. Don’t use a pattern that is too bright or distracting when you want the focus to be on your text. Instead, opt for a pattern that is more subtle and acts as a texture. 


Is it legible?

If you’re using patterns and text together, one thing to be certain of is the legibility and function of your design. Don’t overlay text on a busy, multi-colored pattern; instead, use a more simple, understated pattern. You don’t want to discourage someone from reading something because it’s too busy and hard to discern.


It is adding to or detracting from the design?

It’s definitely possible to add too many things to a design. Sometimes a pattern is great for filling in some negative space and adding some much-needed visual interest. At other times it may be unnecessary and end up making the design look cluttered. Once you’ve finished designing, take a step back and look objectively. Oftentimes good design means paring down, not adding in #allthethings!


Pattern tip: When you’re working with branded patterns, it’s a good idea to have several color variations (all within your branded color palette, of course!) to give you the most flexibility and variety possible. This should also include a plain white option. If you want a subtle pattern in your background, white is a perfect option to use. You can overlay it on any of your branded colors and change the opacity to suit the project and desired look you’re going for. 


15 Ideas for incorporating pattern into your designs:

  1. use it on one side of your business cards
  2. use it as a background for shareable social media graphics
  3. create a clipping mask to set your pattern within specific shapes or text within your design
  4. make branded graphics using your patterns to share on social media
  5. incorporate them into your blog post templates
  6. use them on your product packaging
  7. get a custom stamp made 
  8. add interest to your email newsletter template
  9. order custom envelope liners for your business stationary
  10. add a fun element to buttons on your website
  11. design cover images for social media using your patterns
  12. stickers to add a fun touch to packaging
  13. overlay on photos and graphics on your website
  14. tie your branding into e-books or other content upgrades/printables
  15. use on slides for presentations/webinars

These are just a few ways you could incorporate patterns, and there are so many more creative options to explore! I hope this post encourages you to start incorporating some patterns into your branding, website, and collateral.

6 Things to Research Before Hiring a Designer

What’s the first thought that pops in your head when you’re considering hiring a designer? Are you excited to have a professional bring your vision to life? Maybe you feel anxious about making a big investment and handing the reins over to someone else (afterall, your business is your baby!)? Or maybe you're uncertain because you’ve never worked with a designer or you’ve had a negative experience in the past?

Friend, I get it. At the moment I haven’t starting outsourcing any parts of my business, but the thought of bringing someone onboard makes me nervous! What if they don’t get my brand? What if it all goes terribly wrong? What if they don’t understand my goals and vision? If I feel this way about bringing someone into my business, then I’m sure you may have reservations, too.

However, there’s a reason why outsourcing is a healthy, necessary step for each business to take at some point: doing #allthethings isn’t sustainable and there are people out there who are trustworthy experts. You just need to know how to find them! In today’s post, I want to give some insight on how you can find the perfect design expert for your project.

Side note: Design is a very broad industry, and today’s post can apply to just about any kind of designer. However, in most cases I’ll be addressing these situations in terms of a branding or web designer.

Without further ado, here are six things you should research and know about before hiring a designer:

Things to Research Before Hiring a Designer - Gillian Tracey Design blog


1 | What services do they offer?

First and foremost, before you hire a designer you should know what kind design work you need done, and then find a designer whose service offerings match your need. Services will usually be clearly outlined on a designer’s site and are sometimes listed in packages. Do they have a package that fits your project needs? If not, do they offer custom quotes? These are both good things to consider and look into. 

Here’s an example of finding a designer whose services match your project: If you’re in need of a brand identity and a website, it would be ideal to find a designer who offers both of those services so you know the vision and design style will stay consistent across the board. In the case of hiring a web designer, make sure you find someone who can work on the platform you’re using for your site (or if you're starting from scratch, figure out which platform you want to use first). Some web designers can work on multiple types of platforms, while others specialize in just one kind (like Squarespace, WordPress, Showit 5, etc.). 


2 | Do they have a clearcut process?

Once you’ve found a designer who offers the kinds of services you need to hire out for, now it’s time to dig a little deeper. Process is a big indicator of the designer’s organization, experience, and ability to keep projects on schedule. 

There’s not one perfect process either—each designer has their own unique approach that’s been honed and refined over time to make sure each project runs smoothly and efficiently while still delivering top-notch results. If a designer you’re interested in hiring doesn’t have their process outlined on their site, just reach out and ask them! The key is to make sure they have a structured process outline so you can be prepared and informed every step of the way.


3 | Does their design style align with your vision?

Even if you’re enlisting the help of a designer to bring your vision to life, I’m sure you have an idea of what kind of style you like, what aesthetic pairs well with your brand, etc. Feeling confident that your designer can deliver the kind of style you’re seeking is important. Many designers are able to tailor their style each project, while others have a speciality and stick to it. Take a look at their portfolio to get a feel for their style and what the connecting thread is in their work (perhaps all their projects have a minimalistic look, or maybe their projects have some kind of hand-lettering incorporated). 

While their style should be evident, each project should be unique from each other. You don’t want your project to be one of many similar-looking design pieces out there. So, when looking through portfolios, do all of their projects look the same and blend together? Or do they look like a nice collection full of one-of-kind pieces?


4 | How do they handle payments?

Since design is usually a big business investment, it’s important to know exactly how money will be handled during your project. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Do you have payment plans or is the full fee due upfront?
  • Do you require a deposit? 
  • If so, how much is the deposit? And is it refundable? (Designers will typically require a 25-50% nonrefundable deposit to secure a spot in their design queue, much like a venue requires a nonrefundable deposit to book an event.)
  • How to you accept payments? (Credit card, Paypal, mailed check, etc.)


5 | What deliverables do you receive?

Know upfront exactly what files you’re going to receive at the end of the project so you can know for sure you’ll be getting everything you need. Just as each designer’s process is different, each designer handles deliverables differently. Some designers may only deliver a jpeg of your logo, while others will offer you several different file types (jpeg, png, eps) that will give you the flexibility you need from a brand identity. In addition to knowing file types you’ll be receiving, ask the designer who will have copyrights to the designs once the project is complete since this varies as well.


6 | Do they offer continuing services?

If you think you may need additional design help once your initial project is complete, ask if your designer would be available for continued support. Some designers offer retainers or site maintenance packages that guarantee you a set amount of hours each month. These additional services makes it easier than ever to get brand collateral with your new branding, graphics designed for your social media, or content upgrades created for your blog, as well as hassle-free updates to your site as needed. 

Once you’ve researched these six things, also be sure to take a look at testimonials on the designer’s site. Testimonials are a great way to learn more about a designer’s credibility and whether or not they’d be a good fit for your project. Usually they’ll have little nuggets of insight about why each business owner enjoyed working with that particular designer. For example, the client may say that they loved how organized the designer was, which shows the designer most likely has a good, solid process and kept the project on track.

I hope these six questions help you find the perfect designer for your project and make you feel more comfortable about bringing people into your business to help you out! 

If you have any other questions about branding, tips for hiring a designer, or if you want to work together on a project, click the button below to get in touch!

Or, If you want to read more about traits of a great designer, here’s a post all about that!