Branding Your Business

Since opening the doors of Forget Me Not Design, I’ve been doing my best to focus my energy and attention on album design. I felt in the past that I’ve been the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. I’ll try something…say knitting. I’ll make a few hats and scarves and then stop. I can see the possibility of making tons of hats. Hats that are different shapes and colors, for women, men, babies. I start designing the label that I would sew into the inside back and the dangling tags that would be on recycled craft paper, long and skinny and eye catching. Fastened with a tiny safety pin, the kind that you love to have because you never know when it might come in handy.

I could spin and create a dozen businesses, and have, in my head. I wanted this time to be different. I wanted to focus with FMN. I believe that a person reaches a certain level of mastery over an art or a trade after 10 years of dedication. That it takes that long to become truly established at something. Not that everything falls into that category, and even now as I write that I don’t know if I believe it really. There’s that part of my brain that knows that anything is possible, so why can’t someone become great at something in say 2 years? But just think what they could be doing in 10 years!

Since focusing my energy and attention to album design I’ve been loving what I’m doing, what I’m creating. I love working with photographers and even more so with brides. I love providing a service that gives someone a tangible, beautiful book filled with memories of possibly the happiest day of their lives. I love taking my 15 years of graphic design experience and photographic eye to create books that will become heirlooms for families across generations.

Not too long ago, a friend and photographer, Brooke Buchanan, came to me to design her sample albums. She has been a photographer for quite some time and does beautiful work, but hadn’t taken the committed leap of owning her own business. When she came to me, she knew the importance of building her brand so that she was a whole package, but had no idea where to go to find someone who could translate who she was onto paper. Through our conversation, she shared that she loved my graphic design work and asked about the possibility of my designing her identity.

I realized through that conversation, that even though I wanted to focus my attention solely on album design, there was a large part of me that was a graphic designer and loved creating identities for people. In fact, years ago I had a business in Mill Valley, CA and that’s what I did. I branded a number of companies, created a label line for a set of skin products, and even created hand made wedding invitations for two members of the Grateful Dead. (I never even shared with them that I had been to 40 of their concerts! I kick myself now at the thought of that.)

Once the process began, I spoke in depth with Brooke about what she was wanting in terms of design. It became clear that she had no idea. That was kind of cool for me and I told her that through the process we were about to embark on, we would discover, together, who she was on paper. I asked her to tear out anything from magazines that she was attracted to. To create a color palette that I could work with. To visit websites and find one’s she liked and to figure out why she liked them. To collect business cards she loved.

What she did was amazing. She emailed me two boards that she created and they were awesome. Take a look!


From these boards and some conversations, we created her logo. She had wanted to possibly use the double “B’s” from her name in the logo but wasn’t attached to that. I found a way to integrate those “B’s” in an organic way which was an important part of Brooke. I created a business card and thank you card (that doesn’t say thank you 😉 that were letterpressed. A friend and old business partner from Gap Inc. started a letterpress business, Olive-Route, in Berkeley a few years back and does BEAUTIFUL work. If you’ve seen my business cards, she did those. Via, I love you! She has amazing attention to detail and I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my designs. The letterhead, labels and envelopes were printed at W.I.G.T. in Mill Valley. Again, amazing printers. They are who I did all of my jobs with when I was designing years ago and it’s really a pleasure to be working with Barry and Eva again. We also did dvd’s that she had printed through Diskmakers. I haven’t seen them yet but Brooke says they’re awesome.

Matt and I were attending a seminar two nights ago, the Free To Succeed tour, (which was awesome) with David Jay and Jasmine Star and I found out that day that Brooke was going as well. The timing was kismet. I picked up all of the printed material that day and was able to deliver it to her that night at the seminar. It was a validating moment for us both when Jasmine Star was speaking about the importance of branding your company. Brooke felt like she was taking the right steps for her business and was thrilled with her identity, confident to step out into the world and hand her card to potential clients. And me, I felt amazing. I loved that I had given her something. Something tangible that visibly boosted her confidence. It was a great moment for us both.

* Thanks Brooke for the opportunity to work with you and to design something so personal and significant to your business.

So, from all of that, I have broadened my focus a bit. I’ve realized that I can choose to design jobs that I want to design. I don’t need to take them all. I can be a bit picky and design something other than an album when I’m called to it.

I like that feeling.




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Salma