Designs on You

Next time, we’ll start applying your brand to packaging and signage in a way that suits your product and is flexible and cost effective.

However, before we leave brand basics altogether, I have a few tips about how to interact with your graphic designer to get the best brand you can.

Designers all have a different way of working. Some start by sketching ideas, others spend time researching before they put pen to paper, and others are meticulous about getting to know their client before they even start. I have to admit that I fall somewhere between all of these methods, depending on the client I’m working with.

What will help you though, is giving some serious thought to what you want before you talk to your designer. Have you figured out the words that sum you up? They will go a long way towards firming up your brief and giving the designer some direction. Have you made sure that your business name is right for you and that you have secured the domain name? It would be a shame to spend money on the best logo ever only to find that you can’t use the name you’ve chosen. Have you given some thought to the style of brand you want? Do you just want words, or pictures or both? If you don’t know, it often gives the designer a free reign to come up with solutions you may not have dreamed of, so it’s often a positive thing, but if you have a style in mind, make sure you can articulate it.

Of course, you may know EXACTLY what you want, from the typography and colours right through to the precise line of image. This is great. Don’t forget though, that graphic designers (while they are incredibly talented people!) can’t read your mind. Sketch it, collect images and present as much information as you can.

Mood boards are a staple tool for me. When meeting a client for the first time, I show them a selection of images so I can get a feel for their style. It then helps me to collate a set of inspiring visuals relevant to a brand and I often work with the client to get this right before starting. If you can collect your own images, colours and fonts together from magazines, books and the magic emporium of inspiration that is Pinterest, then you have an advantage and your designer can head off in the right direction.

To illustrate how useful this can be, I have made a mood board. This is the one I would put together if I was branding Canberra. The city is changing. It’s developing into a cool centre with boutique shops, innovative eateries and (officially!) the best coffee in the world. I would therefore use the words: URBAN, CONTEMPORARY, EXCITING & IMAGINITIVE. Here are the images that I feel translate these words into visuals. Try it – it’s one of my favourite things to do with a spare hour.

Finally, when you’re presented with the designer’s options, PLEASE make sure you are happy with what they’ve done before you pay the bill. No one wants to be dissatisfied with their branding – it’s a recipe for disaster if you aren’t secure in what you’re presenting to the world. Designers should be able to interpret your needs first time, but this doesn’t always happen. If you don’t like what they’ve created, articulate it and tell them what it is you don’t like and why. It’s easier for us to get it right the second time if the criticism is constructive.

Good luck! I hope you get the brand you’ve always wanted.


Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Handmade Style, the newsletter and the online magazine. When she's not hanging out with the lovely Handmade team, she runs Callie & Co Design, a Canberra graphic design studio that crafts brands for small businesses. Her favourite things about Canberra are the seasons (especially Autumn), the big sky, the coffee and the great events.


  • 28 & 29JULY 2018
  • 20 & 21OCTOBER 2018
  • 7*, 8 & 9DECEMBER 2018
  • *FRIDAY5PM - 9PM
  • SAT & SUN10AM - 4PM


0402 247 532