Hi there! If you’re not for the first time here, you can see that we have a fresh new look for our blog. After half a year of blogging, we were able to have an idea about what works for us and what we need to change. We want to share our experience about our rebranding process and we will have 2 parts: in this article, we’ll write about the visual changes for our new branding and in the second part you’ll read more about the improvements we made to the logic of our blog.
Why did we feel we need a rebranding?
Well, for us, it all started with the purpose of this blog. One of our biggest resolutions for this year is to blog more consistently and efficiently and to open a little online shop with digital products. When we started our blog we wanted to share only WordPress tips for bloggers and website owners and to explain simple design principles that anyone could apply.
We felt we evolved a lot since then and we wanted to share more from our personal experience of starting a blog from scratch, while still working full-time. Because it may seem very glamorous, but it’s a lot of work behind the scenes, especially when you have so many ideas and so little time to implement them. We also know that most of you are curious about how it’s like to work with your partner and how we share the tasks, so we want to write about that also.
Contrary of what everyone said, we did not make lists of our perfect audience, demographics statics, or other things like that. Yep, we’re interested in who visits our blog, but we didn’t want to create content for numbers, but for people. We know that will be 2 types of persons that will be interested in our content: those who are looking for simple tutorials about WordPress, how to use a website, design inspiration, etc and those who are interested in how it’s like to create a blog from scratch, how to start with social media, how the things are going for other beginners, how it’s like to have a side hustle, etc. And we’ll write about all that, not as experts, but as sincere people who want to share their experience and to encourage others to work for their dreams.
Wearing different hats
Last, but not least, we wanted to offer us a full, proper branding experience. During this process we had multiple hats, we were developers, designers, marketers, and clients and we went through all the stages, trying not to rush the things. We built our custom WordPress theme because we wanted something unique and very customizable but we weren’t 100% happy with the options we had in the market. Learning Illustrator and many other things about logo variations, style guides, branding accents, and all this stuff, was definitely a big plus for us. We enjoyed this entire process of creating a new branding, but we know there are many of you who don’t know where to start, so we want to share our experience as clients and to explain the reasons behind our decisions.
Research, research again & decide what to keep
We took a few days just for the research part. We saved a few other blogs as references and we created a private Pinterest board to save there all the images that inspired us for our brand. This was my favorite part because I had a few days just for pinning beautiful images and playing with fonts and colors. I wanted to go through this part with an open mind because I wanted to discover what really inspires me and gives me the feeling I want for our blog. After that, we decided what elements we should keep from our old branding — the logo, the primary font, Montserrat, and some of the blog post categories.
It was the first time we went through a proper branding process, so not only that we are very happy with the final look, but we’ve grown a lot as developers and designers. We will share with you the steps we went through, the lessons we’ve learned from them, and how we ended up with this beautiful layout.
1. Mood board
We created 2 mood boards with the photos we saved in our secret Pinterest board. We were careful to have typography and color references because a branding mood board should give you a feeling of what your design will look like and all the next steps are based on this one.
2. Color palette
We created our color palette based on the mood board above and we knew we made a good decision because we already used similar shades on our Instagram pictures. We loved our color scheme, but when we started to add the colors to our blog design, we realized that they didn’t work so well together in a real layout. At the beginning, we chose only vibrant colors, without thinking of the necessity of having some lighter shades also. We recommend you to ask your designer to make a teaser where you could see how your colors will work together in some design elements like menu, footer, buttons, or design templates for your blog and social media.
A good branding color palette should have:
- black (or almost black) & white: for background and text colors
- one or two very light colors (light pink and gray-blue in our case): mostly for backgrounds for templates
- one or two accent colors (salmon pink & dark emerald green): for accents, links, hovers, and backgrounds & text color for templates
Our biggest challenge was to create a minimal, feminine color scheme, without looking too girlish. Finding the right shades of pink took time and we adjusted them when we saw how they integrated into our blog design. Also, try to see your color palette on different screens because the shades can differ so much.
We chose to keep Montserrat as our primary font, but we changed the other two ones. We did a lot of research for finding what works best for our blog and because we use our custom WordPress theme it was very easy to customize the fonts and to see the changes in real-time. Like with the colors, you have to try different combinations of your types to see if they work beautifully together. You should use the same fonts in your logo also, so try to have this in mind when you’re looking for new typography elements.
Now we use 3 fonts on our blog:
- primary font: Montserrat, sans-serif
- secondary font: Amiri, serif — before we used two sans-serif fonts, and we felt we need to have a serif type for our blog and templates
- accent font: Northwell — this is my first bought font and I love it; we started to use it a few month ago on our Instagram pictures, but we weren’t sure if we want to continue to use it because we saw it everywhere lately. We tried lots of script fonts on Creative Market to see if we could find a better match, but our favorite was still Northwell. So we decided to use it and to accept the fact that it’s ok to see it on other blogs also.
4. Logo & variations
We knew we wanted to keep the logo because we love it and it’s really representing us. But we wanted to have some variations also. We’re in love with our submark and the story behind it is that we tried to make the swallow escape from the circle because we all should be as free as the birds are. That’s what we’re trying to do and we want to encourage you to do the same, by providing you useful resources to start a blog or a website.
The story behind the swallow from our logo
We wanted to start something our own because we felt we need more freedom. Freedom to do things we like, to travel the world, to decide what to learn, what projects to work for, and to do work that really matters. Having a full-time job is totally different from what we want in life and we were lucky enough to realize that in our first year as employees. In that period, I bought myself a ring with a little swallow and afterward I saw this symbol everywhere. Slowly, I started to associate it with the feeling that I can be as free as they are and I can create a meaningful life for myself.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. — Albert Camus
So when it was the time to think about a name and a logo for this blog, we knew for sure that the swallow symbol should be present because it represents our biggest value: the freedom. After that, we found the perfect name to associate with our little bird: Creative Summer. We really loved it because our favorite season is summer and we associate it with holidays, long walks, and a lot of birds flying and reminding us that we are free to do the same, it’s just all up to us.
5. Latest design elements
In this step, we created only a new pin it button and new covers for Facebook, Twitter, and newsletter, but you may need other elements like favicon, custom icons, or buttons.
6. Blog design
We created a custom WordPress theme for our blog and it was the best decision ever. We didn’t want to use the Genesis framework anymore because it didn’t bring us any value. It was just one more reason to be careful when updating not to conflict with our blog settings.
We chose to have this out-framed bordered layout for our blog pages because we realized that the border was an element from our mood board and from out latest Instagram pictures that we haven’t used yet. We wanted an editorial look for our blog section, so we created it. But at the same time, we were careful to choose an impactful design that is functional and focuses more on our content. And of course, it’s 100% mobile-friendly.
7. Blog & social media templates
Creating a cohesive branding through all the platforms it’s not hard if you choose to use some pre-made blog and social media templates. We created a few different variations that have the same style and use our typography and colors. They are saved in Photoshop and when we’ll have to create a new picture, we’ll just need to change the text and to find a lovely photo from Unsplash.
We did that before also, but we didn’t respect our templates, we changed the font sizes and we had different darker layouts above our pictures, so they didn’t have the same style. We will still keep some of the old templates on Pinterest, but we’ve already started to upload the new ones also.
This experience made us evolve a lot and learn new things as designers and developers. But the most important thing is that now we have a beautiful, cohesive branding and website that truly expresses our story and it’s created by us from scratch. We took our time and we gave ourselves some sincere answers about what we want to do next. And even if we’re scared about all the things we want to do in the near future, we’re more scared when we imagine not doing them.
That was the first part of our rebranding process. We wanted to write separately about the design and the functional changes because branding is so much more than some nice colors and a beautiful logo. It’s about creating a meaningful design that tells a story and focuses on what really matters.
So if you’re looking to have a fresh new look for your website this year, we hope our experience and our mistakes will help you a little. We wanted to be very transparent because we know that building a website and a brand can be tough. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, we created a simple branding checklist to help you not to forget the essential steps of this process, including both visual & functional parts. You can download it below and use it whenever you’ll feel like it’s time for new beginnings.