I met Anna in 2012 at Caroline Tran's Propel Workshop in Pasadena, but it wasn't until early this year that we started working together. Anna submitted three lovely photos to our Color Palette Contest, and ended up winning a free hour of design. From there, I helped her create a few items for a client thank-you package, then joined in one of her contests as a sponsor. Keeping in touch mostly via Facebook, I soon learned that Anna was looking to elevate her brand and increase marketing efforts in 2014. This, of course, piqued my interest and I reached out to her immediately...
Branding a new business is a lot of work. Re-branding an existing business is often MORE work. Now, add a "creative" on both ends and you have yourself a real challenge. ;) Lucky for me, Anna was ready and willing to dive in, and I'm so excited to share her new look!
What can we help you with?Minor logo tweak, color palette, typography, and pattern - plus packaging. More specifically, final photo delivery packaging. I'm considering wooden boxes this year.
What do you like about your logo? What don't you like about it?My biggest problem with the logo is that it looks like "AN" if you don't know that it's "AW." Otherwise, I like that it's unique, recognizable, and elegant.
What colors are you drawn to?Quiet but pretty. Not toooo feminine, but pastels leaning toward gray [and] colors of dusk. In the past, I've used teal - like a Tiffany blue. I think that puts me in a sea of other people using the same color, though.[hr]
Transforming Anna's logo was easier said than done, but we did it! After about six rounds of editing, we settled on a lambs-ear-colored mark :: a softer, more legible version that retained the appeal of the original.
For Anna's signature pattern, we went with a hand-painted watercolor diamond in peachy-pink. It's fun and whimsical, yet clean and composed.
How would you describe your photography style?I describe my photography style as "fine art meets photojournalism." I love to combine a soft, beautiful, and understated aesthetic with a documentary approach to capturing candid moments and emotions.
What do you love most about your job?Being a photographer has granted me extraordinary access to a whole range of stories that I would not have been able to share in otherwise. It's very much a part of who I am and how I experience the world.
What's the most difficult part about your job?The most difficult part of my job is the daily hustle of being a small business owner. The bulk of my work is unglamorously spent behind a computer screen, and I am often just trying to book more clients. Even a wonderfully successful year or an amazing magazine feature are never guarantees of future success, so I'm perpetually working to improve on all fronts. This kind of uncertainty is definitely not for everyone, but I embrace it as part of the adventure of self employment. I also love the continual growth and being able to look back on all the tangible changes I've undergone in my past seven years of business.
In what ways did you want to change your existing branding and/or packaging?I wanted to elevate my brand overall and to move toward a more custom, boutique experience for my clients. I wanted for my collateral to look very clean and better reflect the soft, quiet style of my photography. For my packaging, I wanted to do something much more put-together and deliberate instead of my existing DIY, eclectic approach to delivering client discs. I had seen Nikki's work creating packaging suites for other events and companies, so I knew this would be the perfect project for her.
Anna put together a Pinterest Board to show me the direction she wanted to take with her custom packaging. It was filled with engraved wooden boxes, elegant paper fill, and luxurious ribbons. From there, I designed, sourced, and crafted a complete sample that was shipped to her upon completion.
Anna's packaging suite includes:
A custom engraved maple and birch box (with a hidden compartment for prints)
Fine white paper shred
A wooden USB
A branded gift tag
A branded mini thank you note
A hand-stamped lavender sachet (which makes the box smell wonderful!)
Color-coordinated trimmings of silk and velvet ribbon
Lastly...any advice for small business owners looking to start the design process?
My biggest piece of advice would be to find a balance between being specific about what you want vs. letting go so your designer can do what they do best. I think this is a tension that comes out for anyone who works with creative professionals, but it's easily magnified when it's two creative professionals working with each other. For Nikki and me, the hardest part of the design process was starting with my logo. Because I didn't want to alter my existing logo too much, we ended up locked in a few rounds of very detailed edits on the exact shape of the new logo. I do love what we ended up with, but it's easy to lose sight of the creative process when all you're doing is dictating the exact measurements and having the designer create the files.
After that, we took a step back and the packaging portion of our design process was definitely more fun and felt more productive too. I gave Nikki some parameters and guidelines, but she ultimately ran with the ideas and created a full packaging suite that I got to see in its finished form as an actual sample box. I absolutely love the final results!
Thank you, Anna, for your honesty, patience, and dedication to the design process. We look forward to seeing your business grow!
Anna Wu is a San-Francisco-based photographer available for worldwide travel. For more info, please visit her website at annawu.com.