Personal branding for designers

The hardest thing to do for many designers — or maybe just me — is to design for themselves. Trained to be chameleons, we adjust our styles to an audience, environment, or moment in time. Choosing just one can feel restrictive or limiting. Any simple visual concept seems inadequate at capturing the depth of a human personality. 

Right up there with designing a visual identity, is writing about yourself. Sometimes it's not just about possessing the skills to do something. Overcoming self doubt and fear to commit to a position or opinion can become paralyzing.

On top of that, designers who code have an extra layer to consider. The choice of platform, framework and theme can tell a prospective employer a lot.

When it comes to personal projects, I fall victim to a perfectionist/procrastinator loop of thinking. I like to think about my work and make strategic decisions. Sometimes this leads to procrastination and delaying the point of decision-making. I also hold very high expectations that are sometimes skewed from what the average person would expect. So unless I have a deadline to meet, it's hard to call anything "done".

I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and here's where I've landed:

you don't need a logo.

Your portfolio of work should show your skill and taste level better than a single logo. If you are running a business, you may need a logo to help communicate your services or brand your products. But if you are pursuing employment as a designer, your logo is just visual decoration for your resume.

I have felt guilty about not having a logo. But I've been working for over 15 years without one, which proves my point. While I enjoy creating logos, I don't envision myself at a branding agency in the future. Instead, I am focused more on designing systems.

writing is important.

The best way to communicate who you are is through the written and spoken word. A pretty portfolio doesn't tell a person much. It's the story behind the project that matters. It's critical to be able to articulation your contribution as a part of a project team. And to explain why you made specific design choices.

I manage writers and designers, which is kind of unique. I struggle with my inner critic when writing. Is my meaning clear? Are the words concise? Is my "voice" too boring? Does what I write have any value? What do I have to contribute that someone else hasn't written better? What are my writer friends going to think? But… I've decided that sharing my experiences is a part of my growth, which means writing. And perhaps public speaking (yikes!).

Done is better than perfect.

I suspect a lot of web professionals suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome. The truth is, there is too much to learn about design and development. No one is an expert in every aspect of the field. And that's okay. It's why we work in teams. But the pressure remains. The expectation is set for a visually appealing site, built with rock-solid code.

For the past few years, I've felt guilty about my neglected Wordpress site. I've built custom themes and sites for clients, so it's not a matter of not knowing how to use Wordpress. In some ways, Wordpress is too flexible. All the options became an obstacle to achieving what I want to do, which is create content. So I began looking for a simpler solution with more constraints and ease of use. Squarespace seemed like a good answer to my need. But I still hesitated, because it felt like taking the easy way out.

Today, I decided to just go for it. I'm going to launch with my simple templated site, and start filling it content.

No logo. No custom theme. Just me.