04 September 2017

Over & Out

You might have noticed that we have not blogged for quite a while, and that's because we have been reviewing things. Reviewing our branding, our website, our social presence, and more to the point our time.

After many years of enjoying blogging, we have come to the conclusion that it's time to close this door. Although an enjoyable thing to do, we just cannot dedicate the time to it any longer, alongside our work load. And as Jay put it when I couldn't quite find the words, it has begun to feel like it 'It's all up in our space' - for want of a better and um, less gangster term.

A huge thank you to all that have followed our posts over the years. We will be leaving the blog right where it is for you to dip back into at any point, but all future updates will be done via our Facebook page - so come and connect with us: https://www.facebook.com/leaffdesign. See you there!

24 April 2017

'McGowan' Branding

A couple of weeks ago saw the launch of the new branding for the very lovely cake artist, Sharon McGowan. She has been established for some time, yet her brand hadn't developed in the same direction or at the same rate as her business had, leaving her high-end service with a very mismatched, low-end visual.

The project was super fun to work on, with all of it's glamour and femininity. We covered a full re-brand, with printed materials (such as promotional cards), and a brand new custom-made website. You can find visuals to all of this below, and by visiting her website www.mcgowanweddingcakes.co.uk.

24 October 2016


Does social media get you down? Well it does us. That's a bold confession isn't it?!

I usually spend Monday mornings organising our social schedule for the week, which we have put into place to avoid the dementor-like effect of social platforms like Twitter, which seem to suck the energy right out of me before the week has really begun.

'How to get more likes on Facebook', and 'How to improve your stats on Twitter' are the kinds of tweets that stress me out, which are of course all surrounded by the glossy tweets of others' social successes. It makes for pretty onerous reading, which only inspires the hashtag #mondaydemotivation.

Although we are all for learning and bettering everything we do (we really can see the value in social platforms), we are also very short on time, and I know very well where these articles lead - they are like cans of worms. So yes, we know how brilliant social media can be for business, but no, we cannot be consumed by it.

So here are my top 4 ways to control your social media, so that it doesn't control you.

1. Buy 'Show Your Work!' by Austin Kleon. The man is a genius, and is all about the importance
    of your work over the importance of wasting time socialising during your working day.
    It really takes the pressure off and helps to focus the mind.

2. Hook up to Buffer. It means that you can implement your social marketing schedule, for all
    of your social platforms, for the whole week ahead - saves so much time. And it is free.
    I do ours on a Monday morning - this includes updates about our latest blog post, old blog
    posts, and what we are working on that week etc. I get them all scheduled up for the week
    ahead and then I can just forget it all and focus on our work.

3. Allocate a very short 15 minute time-slot each morning, to sit down and interact with your
    connections. This includes sharing content that you enjoy / that your audience would enjoy,
    showing your interest in things that you like from others etc. I find Twitter lists excellent for
    organising contacts into categories that are relevant to our marketing plan, to ensure that our
    time is spent well (and quickly) on the tweets that are most relevant. It is so useful to have
    these micro newsfeeds to sift through, rather than the huge main one.

4. Blog when you can, but make it consistent. We used to blog once a week, (which is what the
    internet tells us is the least frequency you should do) but it became just too much when trying
    to get the most important things done too (ie. working on actual projects). We have just
    switched that to once a fortnight to ease the burden, and it has turned things around for us.
    Not only do we have more time, but our post content is much better for it. It works around us,
    not the other way around.

Do you have a system in place to help you with your social interactions? We would love to hear what other ideas you guys use.

Image source - Dementor (unknown)


10 October 2016


When we sit down to a briefing, it's always so fruitful to do a walk-through of the client / business journey of interaction.

We have clients who come to us with a list of the materials that they think they need, and a tonne of budget worries concerning the cost of their production. We also have clients who come to us utterly exhausted from juggling their work load and their process - time to dedicate to consultations / packaging products etc on top of their projects is hard to find. This is where the journey mapping really helps, because we can identify not only what materials would work most efficiently for both their brand and their budget, but also what materials would save them time. It really helps to clear the client's head on where their money should be focused, where their time can be saved, and provides a clear direction for the project outcomes.

To create a 'walk through' of your own, all you need is a big piece of paper, a pen, and the following guide (download here).

At the end of this journey, you should clearly see where your branding is coming into contact with your clients, and how you can improve it to give a stronger, more consistent brand experience. This will simultaneously work harder for your business, and save you time and money.


27 September 2016

Church branding first draft

We first shared the progress of the church project last month (catch up here) when we were delving into first ideas, having nailed down the mood board and colour psychology. Since then, we have pulled together the first draft of the branding, which we are excited to share with you here.

The logo needed to be a careful balance between old and new, and it needed to be as confident and future facing as the project itself. We didn't want to lose the heritage of the building, and the fact that it will always be a church, but the re-ordering is about making this more about community than religion. This is an ambitious project, with all eyes firmly on the future - both in the sense of the use of the building, but also in terms of who will be keeping it standing for years to come, which are primarily the young families within the village.

The both abstract and subtle hint of the heritage, with the clean modern font and optimistic use of colour make this a distinctive and confident first draft of the logo. From here, we are already having ideas about trying out texture and even pattern.

This ambitious and warm palette was lead by the Autumn character of this brand, and inspired by the colours of the church year. While the strong red evokes determination, passion and reassurance, the blue both soothes and calms, bringing a sense of reflection and communication. The green is all about the restorative, abundant and self-sufficient nature of the project, while the yellow instills optimism, confidence, and emotional strength, which is vital for a community space. The pop of gold - which would be used in the hot foiling process for printed material - brings that wise, compassionate and giving vibe, which is in beautiful contrast to the rich purple, and it's visionary, truthful and spiritual traits. This strong palette is balanced by the neutrals of the browns, and their stable, reliable, honest attributes. The fonts are a mix of modern serifs, which give that traditional feel, and a contrasting hand written accent, which is approachable and warm.

Inspired by the existing architecture of the church building, and influenced by the Autumn personality, the surface patterns and brand elements are a mix of intricate pattern, slightly wobbly illustration, interesting image treatment and natural texture. We are excited to see how these surface patterns might engage more with the brand elements.

Rolled out over potential printed material, we can see how the whole brand works together. It will be great to see how the branding develops from here, and how it will work with any material that is decided upon. We will continue to share these developments with you as we go along.

Note: The images used in the printed material are placeholders, and not our own images. Sources unknown.

05 September 2016

Your brand character and you

In our last two posts we asked Which seasonal personality is your brand? and we discussed Colour psychology for your business. Here, we move on to talk about how your brand character and your own, are two separate things, and how to distinguish between them.

Someone with a personal character that is organised, calm and aspirational, might own a business creating work that is highly creative, expressive and bright. So for example, to use brand colours that were calm, muted and clean, to express that 'summer' personality would not at all reflect their work, which would be much more about a light, bright palette, in that 'spring' vibe.

I think that the key thing here, is to remember that your brand first and foremost needs to communicate the personality of the product or the service that you offer. That's not to say that your values as a person aren't important to your brand however - I think that they are - it's that old saying that 'people buy from people', and I think that it adds a vital and unique quality to a business. But we don't want to put too much of that across - strip back and strip back some more, and stay on-point, or else you'll confuse selling your product / service with selling yourself.

Visually, your brand should be one definite season, with perhaps undertones of another if appropriate. For example, a high-end creative whose work is exciting and bright, would be mainly a spring personality, with an edge of winter, to really get across their expertise. This edge of winter wouldn't have to be communicated with colour, but with font, texture, illustration style or surface pattern that represents that season - all of which make up a well styled brand.

Non-visually, your brand needs to carry that personality through your processes, communication and multi-channel marketing, and this is where your values can seem to overlap your brand character. A spring personality for instance is open, inclusive and reliable - your own personality may resonate with these values and characteristics or may not, but either way, to keep your branding strong and consistent you will have to be sure to communicate these characteristics through your processes.

Photo sources - craft tags Eat Drink Chic, desk space Polagram.

22 August 2016

Church branding with an autumn personality

One of our current projects includes branding for a local church, which is undergoing some pretty major re-ordering. It is a unique project, and a very exciting one to be a part of. Here, we share what has gone into the process of developing the branding so far...

After creating an initial mood-board, to visualise the direction of the creative work, we delved into detailed research and colour psychology. The initial mood-board included a selection of colours, fonts, logo inspiration, key wording, pattern and texture ideas.

The key focus for the re-ordering is to create a community space where people feel supported by and connected to each other. The restoration and long-term plan is for the building to be a warm, innovative, sociable and forward-thinking space, evoking a calm, passionate and restorative vibe. With these key attributes in mind, this as a truly Autumn personality with a little touch of Spring.

As we defined in our last post on colour psychology, the Autumn personality is ambitious, unique and passionate. Colours are earthy, bright and warm, with powerful depth and strength. After exploring palette inspiration, we worked up a palette of shades that reflected these strong attributes, while being a little sympathetic to the sociable, and open traits of Spring.

With camera in hand, we set about some detailed photography of the church, to search out possible inspiration for surface pattern / brand icons. There was an abundance of pattern and texture to be found. The nature of the Autumn personality lends itself to the natural textures of the wood and stone, and hand illustration too - all of which we explored. Fonts are strong, chunky and confident, and modern serifs evoke that traditional feel, while hand-rendered fonts support that inclusive, open feel.

Logo ideas flowed from all research and inspiration that we had gathered. It is all about trying everything, and keeping on going, and going some more. Seemingly weak ideas can spark gems, and seeming gems are pushed too far, to inspire new ones, or to give clarification to the original spark. It is a free experience - it has to be limitless, shameless, and relentless in order to find the strong, confident, definite solution that we are seeking.

We will post more about this project in due course, but for now, we hope that this has been a fun insight into our processes for any of you who are unfamiliar, curious or inspired by how the design process works, behind the scenes.
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