Isla & Saige: Finding Our Perfect Design Studio For Our Branding

Branding book with all brands info and branding styles

Hey girl, first let me apologize for the oversight. So a lot has happened since I last posted! It’s been a hectic week! Suzanne and I have made some big moves towards launching Isla & Saige! We have worked on everything from finding a designer to do our branding to finalizing the pieces for our first collection! We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s dive in!

We've had "finding a designer or design studio for our branding" on our to-do list for quite some time now, and I must say, it feels absolutely amazing to finally check it off! Are you someone who thrives with checklists like I do? For me, nothing beats the feeling of being productive, and having checklists is a game-changer. Sometimes, I even add little tasks to my checklist at the end of the day, like drinking more water, just to give myself that extra boost of productivity. Can anyone relate to this habit or is it just me? Anyway, are you ready to dive into our process of finding the perfect designer for our dream branding project?

Our Branding Vision

A quote graphic about branding and strategy


Let me start by sharing our exciting vision with you. If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned how our brand draws inspiration from the coastal lifestyle that we absolutely adore! Our vision goes beyond just being a brand - we want Isla & Saige to encapsulate the very essence of the lifestyle that Isla & Saige girls live. In line with this, it's important that our branding reflects this lifestyle in every aspect. This ranges from the carefully chosen colors, to the tone of our voice, and the content we produce. Speaking of visuals, such as logos, color palettes, and typography, we imagine a stunning combination of deep navy shades, the serene blues of hydrangeas, and the vastness of the sea. Our goal is to incorporate luxurious fonts and elegant logos that instantly scream "Isla & Saige" as soon as they are seen. Ultimately, we want our visuals to evoke a sense of nostalgia, timelessness, and the carefree vibes of summer.

Use Social Media as a search engine

When it comes to searching for anything, I have a tried-and-true technique that I swear by: skip Google and head straight to social media. I dedicated hours to meticulously combing through Instagram and Pinterest, treating them like search engines in my quest to find potential designers. Social media is a goldmine because it gives you direct access to the designers' portfolios, allowing you to quickly gauge whether their style resonates with you. While I appreciate both platforms for their search capabilities, I personally found myself spending more time on Pinterest. It provided a convenient way to narrow down the specific style of work we were seeking by using specific keywords and finding similar projects. From the outset, one crucial factor that we prioritized was finding a small business design studio. Supporting fellow small businesses holds great importance for us, and based on what I had seen, the work of smaller designers aligned more closely with our aesthetic than that of a large design studio.

Working in a budget

One crucial aspect to consider when hiring a brand designer is the potentially hefty price tag. If you opt to work with a big design studio, be prepared to shell out upwards of $10K, and even smaller companies we researched turned out to be quite pricey. There were a few designers whose work caught my eye and left me in awe, but unfortunately, their rates were far beyond what our budget allowed for this project. Having a limited budget undoubtedly presented some challenges in finding the right designer, but it wasn't an impossible task. We were determined to find a designer we genuinely loved and get things right the first time around. While we were willing to go slightly over budget for the perfect fit, it remained crucial for us to stay as close to our allocated budget as possible. And that’s what we did.

Finding the perfect Branding studio

After dedicating countless hours to scouring Pinterest in search of the perfect branding designer, we managed to narrow down our list to potential candidates. Out of the six branding designers I emailed, we decided to hop on calls with only three, as that turned out to be all it took to find the one. The first designer we spoke with instantly captured our hearts. She displayed remarkable thoroughness and invested a lot of time into our conversation. Her thought-provoking questions made us dig even deeper into our branding and the goals we had set for it. I'll be honest with you, when we initially considered getting our branding done for Isla & Saige, we thought we were solely seeking logo designs, fonts, and colors. However, our conversation with the first designer shed light on the fact that branding encompasses so much more. It encompasses how we communicate with our audience (brand voice and messaging), how we manage our social media, and our overall brand identity, among other elements. This designer pushed us to contemplate how our vision for our brand seamlessly translates into our branding efforts. Although we were eager to commit to working with her after our call, we wanted to honor our commitment to thoroughly explore all options and not rush into a decision.

During the next call we had, something immediately felt off for us. Nevertheless, the designer was incredibly kind, and the experience helped us become more aware of what we didn't want. When we compared the portfolios of both designers, we found ourselves slightly more drawn to the work of the second designer. However, the phone call with her proved to be challenging. While she was pleasant, the entire conversation felt like a sales pitch, and she didn't take the time to truly understand us or our brand. After ending our call with the second designer, we leaned towards choosing the first individual we spoke with. However, there was still one more meeting left on our schedule.

The final designer we had a conversation with happened to be someone I had been following on Instagram and Pinterest for quite some time. I had developed a love for her style and work, so I was thrilled about the opportunity to talk with her. Crazy enough a few weeks prior to us reaching out, this designer had actually followed us on Instagram as well. So going into the call, I was feeling pretty optimistic. However, after interacting with the first two designers, Suzanne and I weren't certain if anyone could surpass the initial impression we had. As we engaged in conversation, we quickly fell head over heels! We immensely appreciated her work, and she demonstrated great attention to detail. Yet, what truly captivated us was how well she matched our energy and shared passion for the ocean and the east coast. During this call, we also learned that this designer was based in the U.K. Walking away from the meeting, we felt like this designer genuinely understood our vision and had the ability to bring our brand to life. Despite our enthusiasm, we didn't want to rush into a decision. So, we took some time to reflect, pray, and carefully consider our options before finalizing our choice of who to work with.

Mood board for a nostalgic coastal branding with a luxury style

After each call, the three branding designers we spoke with sent over proposals and additional work that hadn't been included in their public portfolios. While we remained fond of the first designer, we felt that her work didn't entirely capture the aesthetic we envisioned. However, when we received the proposal from the last designer, it was as if everything fell seamlessly into place. The unseen work she presented was stunningly beautiful and precisely aligned with the look we were aiming for. Furthermore, her pricing fit perfectly within our budget. It was so exciting for us that we had discovered not only the perfect creative match, but also a designer who understood our vision.

Once we made the decision to work with the third designer for our branding, the founder of the studio sent over an invoice and contract for us to review and sign before securing our spot. It was an exciting moment, knowing we had found the right partner for our project. However, there were some challenges in the process of securing our spot.

Making it official

First and foremost, I want to emphasize the importance of reading and understanding any contract before signing it. We were fortunate to have learned from another designer who had encountered issues due to bad advice, and her experience served as a valuable lesson. In our case, our concern revolved around the payment process. Since the design studio we are going to work with is based in the U.K., we had to carefully consider the best method for making payments.

The founder/designer we were in contact with offered some recommendations based on what previous clients had done. However, we had to learn the hard way that it's essential to conduct thorough research. Initially, we thought it would be convenient to make our deposit via wire transfer. Unfortunately, this decision proved to be a major headache. Our bank informed us that the only way to send the deposit through wire transfer was directly through them, and each transfer incurred a mandatory fee. This not only frustrated us, but we also discovered the need to exercise caution when sending wire transfers, as intercepted emails could result in changes to the sending address. If such an incident occurred, recovering the lost money would be not be possible. The whole experience was quite stressful, and it led us to reconsider working with someone overseas.

In light of these concerns, we reached out to our designer to discuss our apprehensions. Fortunately, during that same week, the studio introduced a new and more secure payment method specifically designed for overseas clients. This development was a great relief for us, as it reassured us of their commitment to providing a safe and convenient payment process.

Fantastic news! We have successfully sealed the deal with the design studio by signing the contract and securing our spot with a deposit. As a result, we are now fully prepared to kickstart the development of our dream branding in September. I am eagerly looking forward to involving you in this incredible journey, as well as sharing the progress with everyone else. Above all, I am bursting with excitement at the prospect of unveiling the final branding to you when we finally launch it.