How to Create a Cohesive Brand Pt. 1

Ana Douglas branding tips

I get a lot of questions about how I plan my Instagram feed and keep all my pictures cohesive. There is NO easy answer and I still struggle daily—I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve put into my archives simply because it doesn’t fit “my look”—but I’ve reached a point now where I’m confident about my brand, and the elements that make it up.

It’s taken almost 2 years to get here. It’s certainly changed numerous times along the way but ultimately the elements of “my brand” have always been what inspires me: colours, textures, emotions—the list is endless! Now I’m not saying pick every colour, texture and emotion in the book, but pick the ones that inspire you at the time and find ways to tie them together in a cohesive way.

I’m a visual learner—I don’t get something until I see it in front of me. But when I see it, I just know. As far as where inspiration comes from, there are so many sources these days: Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, fashion and even design but my favourite source has always been a bit more organic. Specifically, the natural textures, florals and shades you’d find in a tropical sunset.

Here are colour palette examples that are inspired by elements in nature. I love all the blue/grey shades of the water, which makes the pale pink pop. Likewise, the pale pink in the second example complements the faded green in the cacti and is a supporting element to the bolder pink and dark grey colours found throughout the image.

Ana Douglas branding tips

Ana Douglas branding tips

It wasn’t always like this. I used to love bold prints and patterns, and was drawn to the colour red (gasp!). But as my brand evolved, so did my inspiration. And now that I’ve landed on my inspiration sources I’ve found my aesthetics naturally gravitating towards those colours and patterns. Of course, it didn’t all line up perfectly. But I consulted a graphic designer to help put together a cohesive palette with clear primary colours and supportive yet cohesive secondary ones.

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Don’t worry, you don’t need to consult a graphic/branding expert to do this yourself. There are many free tools out there that will help you get started, the biggest being Pinterest! Pinterest and Pinterest Boards are a great way to search for inspiration and simultaneously collect everything in one place. My Branding Board was a jumping off point with my graphic designer—if you haven’t already started one, I can’t recommend it enough.

So far my biggest takeaway is while it’s tempting to pick everything, choose your pieces in moderation. Pick patterns, textures, layers and colours that not only complement each other but provide balance. Using a bold Serif font? Layer it with a lighter colour. Incorporating strong iconography into your brand? Pair it with softer undertones.

This is part 1 in a 2-part series. My next post will go through how to pair a colour palette with fonts and logos. In the meantime, my challenge to YOU is to start looking for inspiration inspiration: collect pictures, colours and textures that bring you joy.

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