September 9, 2021
If you’re someone who wants to learn how to create a visual brand and social media presence that doesn’t suck?
Today’s podcast guest is literally about to blow your mind. The literal QUEEN of aesthetics and beautiful design, Bri Summers of Brighten Made is on the show today! Brighten Made is a branding and web design studio that empowers lifestyle and wellness brands to brighten the world. Bri built Brighten Made from the ground up during her evenings and weekends after feeling unfulfilled working in the corporate world. Bri is inspired by the beach, anything boho, bold patterns and textiles, natural light, artistic interiors, vintage photographs, traveling, and sunsets.
Today Bri dropped tip after tip for you on how to nail your design when it comes to your branding, your website, your graphic design, and your Instagram. Seriously, this episode is full. We chat about everything from curating your IG feed and how to come up with a strategy that will help your visual grid stand out and POP, all the way to the biggest design mistakes you might be making on your website and graphics, how to build your own brand from scratch when first getting started, how to get into the graphic design world, and SO much more.
We covered so much ground in this episode I guarantee there’s something here for you. Are you ready to uplevel your visual and design game and stand out from the competition?
Bri is a branding and web designer, who owns a small design studio called Brighten Made. Growing up arts and crafts was her favorite activity as a kid and she knew early on that she wanted to do something creative with her career. At first, she was interested in interior design as a kid, but then at the age of 12 she went to a photoshoot for a home decor magazine and she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
After graduating college with a degree in graphic design, Bri landed a job at the same place she job-shadowed at. She was working what she thought was her dream job. Bri was working at Better Homes and Garden Magazine with Meredith Corporation. A couple of weeks into it she realized it was not what she had signed up for. She went to school to be creative, why she wanted to design, and felt like she was doing everything but that.
About 6 months in, she met a friend who was also working there, both hating their jobs, and decided to start a design company together. Fly Over Design Co. was created and its main focus was wedding stationery and events. After doing that for a while Bri realized that this wasn’t going to allow her to quit her job. Her main goal was to be her own boss and not work for someone else.
From that, she decided to start another design company, Brighten Made. Shortly after starting that she was able to leave her full-time job and leave the other design company. Solely focus on Brighten and that is where she is at today!
Ever since Bri was little she wanted to be an interior designer and was dead set on it. Then in college, we went to a counselor who reads personalities and helps you decide what you would be good at in life. That counselor told Bri she wouldn’t be good at interior design because she will not like to please other people. If you follow Bri you know she has a very specific style and realized she would have a hard time designing someone’s house, not in her ascetic. Graphic design is broader. The interior design was a little too specific. In graphic design, there is so much that you can do with it.
At first, she never thought she would be a branding studio but now doesn’t see how it could be anything else.
It starts with defining your style. A lot of times when you are first starting out in your business you don’t really know what your style is. You’re kind of trying to be everything to everyone. Trying to mix a bunch of styles together, which is fine. Everyone should experiment in the beginning, but eventually, you need to hone in on your style that is natural and authentic to you.
If you are constantly forcing yourself to do a certain ascetic because it is trendy or cool, it won’t work. With that, keep a consistent color scheme. This is easy with any other industry than branding designers because your job is to showcase different work, but work that looks consistent but not too similar. You have to start with your color palette but at the same time, you can mix in off-brand colors but do it in a very intentional way.
For Bri she doesn’t really use the color green very often however, she has a really awesome project she wanted to show off. She will intentionally have a green post but then a couple of posts later that include an image or graphic with touches of green in it so it ties it all together. If you have one random color in your feed that doesn’t match anything else going on, it is going to look really off. It’s a great way to tie in the colors together without feeling super constricted that you can only use three colors.
If you do have something you want to share that is off-brand. Ascetics matter but Instagram and social media are moving in a direction where it matters less and less. If you still obsess over this stuff you can always include other images or other graphics in a carousel where the first image is very branded and cohesive and the rest doesn’t matter as much.
A great way to get more engagement is to use the carousel feature, people love it. Show more color versions of that same graphic or quote. Make it in five different colors, because then people can pick their favorite color and share it to their story. It feels personal to them because they feel like they are invited in on this design experience.
Any sort of quote that you feel like people are really going to interact with those always do well too. People always want to share inspiring things.
People always feel like they have to design their brand themselves, which is an option but people don’t realize there are tons of great premade logo options out there. It could save you a lot of time, headache and probably will look better than what you would design.
If you want to design your own brand, number one. Less is always more. Everyone tries to always complicate things and add in fifteen million different elements and colors. Keep it simple.
If you’re looking for free fonts, Google fonts have a bunch of great free fonts. If you have a subscription to Adobe creative pod they also have a bunch of free fonts.
Overall start simple and you can always dive deeper into your brand and get more specific with your brand style. It’s always better to start a little broader because you may not know what your niche or audience is. Better to keep it general and then you can slowly hone in on that style.
There is this thing called tension points. When you have elements overlapping you want to fully overlap it or not at all.
Same thing with composition. Tension points can happen if something is super close to the edge or really close to something else.
Also thinking too about hierarchy in proportions. Everyone’s main thing is to make everything ginormous and big, but it’s hard to digest information when everything is at level 10. It is a lot more appealing to have different proportions. Think about the thing that is most important that you want people to read or see first. Then make that the biggest and then work down from there. Where is the next part that you want them to take them? Think about your sizing and not everything has to be on the same scale.
Odd numbers are visually more appealing. Clusters of three look so much better than a cluster of two. When you are thinking about different text boxes, use odd numbers. It creates more visual interest and more balance.
Stop using random fonts, colors, and elements that you got off of a template on Canva. If it is not a part of your branding, don’t use random things.
Canva is great, it has all these premade templates ready to go for you, but it also has a bunch of random elements in that template that you should not be used because they don’t match your brand. If you are changing your graphic every single time you post or share, it is confusing. No one can remember you.
Don’t change your branding every three seconds because you are bored or see some new trend. Your branding should last you three to five years, if not longer. The only reason you should change your brand is if it’s not speaking to the right people anymore.
Make it smaller. It is probably too big. Probably too close to the edge. Negative space is a beautiful thing. Get it away from the edge of the composition.
Beginners: If you don’t know much about design, Showit is a great option for people who don’t want to touch code. If you don’t trust yourself Square Space is a safer option in the senes that you cant’ fully mess it up because there is a grid.
Advanced: Shopify is great for e-commerce brands/product shops. If it is content-heavy, blog type of business then WordPress.
Stay true to who you are. When Bri first started Brighten Made she was really excited to work with other female entrepreneurs. She remembers designing her first website, creating a tagline, and using a lot of pinks. Her mom told her it was sexist and should use more neutral colors to appeal to more people. So she changed it to more neutral colors so anyone would like it. In turn, as she developed her style and leaned into her truer self she realized that wasn’t Bri or her style. What makes your business what it is, is because you lean into what your ascetic is and what you are drawn to.
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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