Branding for Surface Pattern Design

Now that you have decided you want to be a surface pattern designer, and you have learnt the basics of pattern creation, what is next?

Ideally you want to sell your pattern designs to clients – but how do you get started? This post is all about branding for surface pattern design and how this will help you find clients for your patterns.

Why do branding for surface pattern design? Can’t you just make patterns and promote them? Yes you could but think about those pattern designers or companies that you really admire – what is it about them that attracts you?

Guaranteed they have consistent and focussed branding, which makes them recognisable and also very clear about what they do.

You may find your branding changes as your work evolves and you can complete these exercises each year for example. Also confidence in your branding comes as your business grows, so don’t feel too worried if you don’t think your branding is perfect at the moment – the important thing is to give it a go!

Identify your ideal client

This is not an easy exercise but is essential if you want to have a cohesive brand that attracts the right clients. Basically you have to find a quiet spot, sit down and image exactly the person who would be your ideal client. You will find many ways to do this if you google ‘how to find my ideal client’ – do what feels most natural to you.

My ideal client is called ‘Coco’, she is in her 30s-40s, lives by the beach, and has a business producing ethical goods like swimwear and activewear. I’ve also written down her hobbies, what she wears, what her main challenges are, her aspirations and values. I think of Coco in EVERYTHING I do regarding my business (Coco, I hope you are reading this!).

Create a brand moodboard

This is a super fun activity where you visually capture the vibe you want for your brand. I love using Pinterest for this, and you can start by creating a board in Pinterest where you save any images that you feel will represent your brand. Here is my Girl and the Deep Blue Sea Pinterest board for an example.

You can also make a real-life moodboard, again using any images that scream ‘your brand’! This is the moodboard I created at the start of the year to show my brand direction for 2022.

photo of a moodboard that gives an example of branding for surface pattern design

If you are struggling to refine your image selection, try to narrow it down to just 9 or 10 images. Think about the motifs, colours, and mood of the images. Also think back to your ideal client and does this match with what they are interested in?

Make a brand style guide

Now to get down to the nitty gritty. You know who your ideal client is, and you have some gorgeous imagery that captures your brand image. This next step is to create consistency in everything you put out into the world – you will use this for your website, social media, business cards, anything where you are promoting your brand.

You need to create a document that includes

  • your logo
  • font/s you will use
  • brand colours – make sure you record the HEX codes
  • photo/s of yourself for use as icons on social media, print on demand sites, and your website
  • wording for your bio – you can just write dot points or a paragraph to start, whatever is easiest
  • your brand values – this can just be a few single words or full paragraphs. My values are fun, escapism, uniqueness, environmental and sustainable. Your brand values will help guide decisions about your business and how you express yourself to the world.

Look back at your moodboard and your ideal client and see if your style guide matches up. Remember the main goal with all of this is consistency!

Create social media templates

You want to make sure that all of your social media shows your logo and is consistent with your brand image.

It is very useful to create a few templates in Photoshop or whatever design program you prefer.

I personally have the following templates which I use all the time:

  • 4×5 template with my logo for Instagram posts
  • my logo as a PNG file saved on my phone so I can add it to Instagram stories (you just copy the photo from your camera roll and paste into the story)
  • a vertical and horizontal 4×3 template with my logo for blog post images

I keep my templates pretty simple with a white border and my logo in the bottom left corner, but you can play around with your logo, brand colours and mood to create some social media templates that are perfect for your brand.

Get yourself some mockups!

Mockups are a fantastic way to show potential clients what your designs could look like in real life – use the right mockups and they will just add to your overall brand image.

Go back again and consider your ideal client and most importantly which industry they work in – if you haven’t already chosen an industry to design for this is a great way to help you focus your pattern creation and know who your market is. If you are struggling with this step my best advice is to think about what you would really love to buy with your designs on it – is it a new bag, a quilt cover, or in my case a pair of swimming togs? There are literally so many industries you could sell your designs to, but at the start it is much easier to focus on one or two which will lead back to your overall brand image and ideal client.

Now, once you know this its time to find mockups! My favourite places for mockups are on Creative Market and Placeit. I have also made my own mockups by photographing a white object and turning it into a mockup in Photoshop – this tutorial by Every-Tuesday shows you how.

Just start with a handful of mockups that really suit your brand image and would make your ideal client sit up and take notice!

If you want to go a step further, you could buy some products with your designs on them and do a styled photo session – again choosing products that suit the market you want to target. Print on demand companies like Printful, Printify, Redbubble, Society6, and Spoonflower have a range of products you can get your designs on.

mockup photo of a woman wearing a bright swimming costume to show branding for surface pattern design
love this mockup from Placeit – suits my brand image perfectly!
a mockup I created myself using a piece of white fabric

I hope this has all made sense and given you the confidence to give branding for surface pattern design a go! Just remember your business and brand will always be a work in progress but hopefully this blog post will help make the process a bit easier – I’d love to know what you think and if this has been useful!

I'd love to know what you think!

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