New York City

I visited New York City (Manhattan) for the first time in my life last week. It was absolutely incredible in so many ways, and I was astounded by how many amazingly well-branded and well-designed places I saw, from restaurants to store fronts to... skyskrapers! It was truly a designer's dream vacation.

Here are some of my favorite photos that I took while exploring the city :)

I used my iPhone 7 Plus to take all these photos. Pretty stoked with the camera on that phone if you are considering it!

Times Square

Times Square

A little sneak peek into The Met. I'll have to visit the MoMA next time :( 

A little sneak peek into The Met. I'll have to visit the MoMA next time :( 

We stayed in the beautiful Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, right on the corner of Washington Square Park. 

We stayed in the beautiful Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, right on the corner of Washington Square Park. 

This gem, the Washington Square Hotel was just a block from our Air BNB in Greenwich village. I'm a sucker for gold doors. (Well gold anything for that matter.)

This gem, the Washington Square Hotel was just a block from our Air BNB in Greenwich village. I'm a sucker for gold doors. (Well gold anything for that matter.)

I loved how cute these dogs were waiting outside for their owners. Love the color of this building, and I love the simple and elegant Juice Generation logo & signage of course...

I loved how cute these dogs were waiting outside for their owners. Love the color of this building, and I love the simple and elegant Juice Generation logo & signage of course...

This amazing ballerina balloon titled 'Seated Ballerina' by super famous contemporary artist Jeff Koons is as huge as she looks! She sits outside Rockefeller Center. 

This amazing ballerina balloon titled 'Seated Ballerina' by super famous contemporary artist Jeff Koons is as huge as she looks! She sits outside Rockefeller Center. 

Awesome wall graphics by JoJo's Philosophy in Greenwich Village

Awesome wall graphics by JoJo's Philosophy in Greenwich Village

A trip to New York wouldn't be complete without a visit to Carrie Bradshaw's apartment at 66 Perry Street. My Mom and I also did the Sex & The City bus tour; I'm a die hard fan. 

A trip to New York wouldn't be complete without a visit to Carrie Bradshaw's apartment at 66 Perry Street. My Mom and I also did the Sex & The City bus tour; I'm a die hard fan. 

The view from the rooftop bar at the Hudson Hotel was to die for. It was about 90 degrees but with no humidity it felt absolutely perfect at sunset. 

The view from the rooftop bar at the Hudson Hotel was to die for. It was about 90 degrees but with no humidity it felt absolutely perfect at sunset. 

I LOVE the logo and signage for Suprema Provisions, I saw a few of these throughout the city.

I LOVE the logo and signage for Suprema Provisions, I saw a few of these throughout the city.

We went to stand up comedy 3 nights! The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village is famous for hosting comedians such as Seinfeld, Chris Rock & Louis C.K. just to name a few.

We went to stand up comedy 3 nights! The Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village is famous for hosting comedians such as Seinfeld, Chris Rock & Louis C.K. just to name a few.

Tacombi was awesome all around. My Dad and I grabbed a beer and a street taco here one afternoon. Obsessed with the branding, all the graphic design and also the interior design & decor! 

Tacombi was awesome all around. My Dad and I grabbed a beer and a street taco here one afternoon. Obsessed with the branding, all the graphic design and also the interior design & decor! 

Also Tacombi
We had a beer at The White Horse Tavern, allegedly the second oldest bar in New York City. 

We had a beer at The White Horse Tavern, allegedly the second oldest bar in New York City. 

I am BEYOND obsessed with The Happiest Hour's branding and really bummed I didn't get a chance to actually go inside. (We walked by it on a walking tour and I fell in love with their window signage.) I did get a chance to snoop their Instagram though and I will for sure be going back for some tiki drinks on my next trip to New York! 

I am BEYOND obsessed with The Happiest Hour's branding and really bummed I didn't get a chance to actually go inside. (We walked by it on a walking tour and I fell in love with their window signage.) I did get a chance to snoop their Instagram though and I will for sure be going back for some tiki drinks on my next trip to New York! 

IMG_1326.JPG
I love the way the buildings reflect rainbow colors off of each other at sunset. 

I love the way the buildings reflect rainbow colors off of each other at sunset. 

It was pretty gray the last day we were in Greenwich Village. Such a magical neighborhood!

It was pretty gray the last day we were in Greenwich Village. Such a magical neighborhood!

I never got a chance to eat at By Chloe, but the place sure is adorable! And BUSY every time I walked by. 

I never got a chance to eat at By Chloe, but the place sure is adorable! And BUSY every time I walked by. 

I want this in my house. Nice work Goa Taco! 

I want this in my house. Nice work Goa Taco

Understanding branding

Branding is a buzzword, y’all. It’s like the Helvetica of interwebz right now and as easy as it is to throw around and slap it on everything – do we even know what it means?

what branding isn't...

The way my brain works, it’s easier for me to understand what something isn’t first. Branding isn’t “just a logo.” Branding isn’t “just a website.” Branding isn’t “JUST _________ (fill in the blank with any one word).” I can say that anything you put in the blank is wrong, because branding is way more than a simple one-word answer.

Let’s talk about how branding isn’t just your logo. Do you know how many companies I follow on Instagram? I don’t, but for purposes of this post, let’s say I follow 100 companies. It can be anything from one-woman companies who sell hand-lettered stationery to corporate companies who sell a million dollars worth of apparel a day. Do you know how many times I see any company’s LOGOS while scrolling through Instagram? 0. Like, literally, zilch.

Do you know what I do see? Stylized photographs that are consistent in their mood and colors, or someone’s desk with all their tools laid out, or someone’s hand wearing really awesome rings holding a big coffee cup. Whatever I see – it influences how I feel about that company and what I think their values are and who their ideal customer is (and if I am that customer or not).

Over time I learn about this company, I perceive things about them and I still probably couldn’t tell you what their logo is. Now, eventually, I’ll decide I want to buy something and I think, oh I bet so-and-so offers that, and I’ll head to their website and I will think, “WOW! This looks exactly like what I imagined in would, based off their Instagram feed. Oh, that’s their logo? That’s awesome, it’s so fitting. They have a really well designed and considered brand identity.”

Had their Instagram feed been just daily posts of their logo, would I even be following them? No. Branding is more than your logo. Your logo is an element of your branding, but just an element.

what branding is...

That definition of brand identity is “how a company wants to be perceived by others.” I am slightly conflicted with this definition, because the word “wants.” I’ll explain it like this: a brand identity is created and used in an attempt to control how a company is perceived by others – how a company is actually perceived by others depends on whether the brand identity is working or not.

how it works

If Nike says “our brand identity wants to make people perceive us as a motivated fitness brand” but then all their photos have slightly overweight people watching Netflix, and their tweets say things like “yesterday you said tomorrow, but it’s kind of rainy out so, like, whatevz” then their branding would be very unsuccessful. There’s a difference between what the company “wants” and what is actually happening.

One way to help control what is actually happening is to have a cohesive brand. The definition of cohesive says “well integrated; unified.”  That’s what needs to be just sitting, simmering, in the back of your head at all time when you are out making, creating, posting, whatever-ing as your company. Is this well-integrated? Is this unified? If it’s not... then don’t put it out there.

In our Nike example, if someone was to look at the tweet before posting and say “hey, does having an excuse for not working out fit into our message? Does it make people perceive us a motivated fitness company?” the answer would be a big, fat (pun intended) NO. So they wouldn’t post it. And their brand would be better for it.

For Gretchen Kamp Design, my identity does not include my awkward life tweets of things that happen on the daily. So, despite how funny I find them, I refrain from tweeting to my business account about how the grocery store put dog food and wine right next to each other for my convenience. Just like whoever runs Nike’s twitter might be totally terrible at running and like trip and fall every time they run – do they tweet about that? No! They tweet things like “Weather conditions can’t stop your run” and “You’ve only just begun.”

what branding includes

When I create a brand identity for a client, it includes visual elements – a logo, a stationery suite, color palettes, etc. But, more importantly, it includes analyzing and understanding the company, their purpose, their target client, and how they want to be perceived. MORE importantly than that, it includes helping the client to see the importance of knowing these things about their company.

It would be cool, and somewhat profitable (Maybe? I have no idea) to churn out logos for $200 a pop and spend about half an hour thinking about it. But would that help my client see success in the future? Would my client have a greater understanding of who they are, what they do, and who they serve? Would they be able to create content that pulls their target customer in and makes them more profit? Maybe! Maybe they would. But probably not. Probably they wouldn’t stand out in the crowd as a company that is worth buying from. Probably they wouldn’t connect with future customers in a way that builds loyalty or trust.

the main point

Branding isn’t your logo. Branding is everything you are putting out into the world in regards to your company, and works to build recognition, loyalty, and trust.

Visually, it does include the logo. But, it also includes how you tweet, and what your sidebar graphics look like on your blog, and whether or not your images have a lot white space in them, and so on. Outside of visuals it includes understanding what your mission is, where you want your company to go, and who you serve. Most importantly, it all ties together in a cohesive and memorable way.

Answering those questions confidently can take time and introspection and, for me, a lot of talking it through with others. But once you “get it,” understanding how you should use social media, and what your logo should look like, and what colors fulfill those goals is “the easy part.” Okay, false, the “easier” part. If you want more help answering those questions then shoot me an email. :) 

Article by Kaitlyn

The worst branding advice I've ever heard

Over the years I’ve heard and seen quite a bit within the branding industry. There are a few things that really stick out like a sore thumb—and you’ve probably experienced them all. I still cringe when I see a logo or marketing piece made with Comic Sans font… trust me, no matter what your industry is, you can do better. And don’t get me started about music or videos that automatically load on a website. You want music? Fine. Just let me hit the play button on my own, ok?

The worst advice I’ve ever heard is…

But with all the faux pas and ill-advised choices out there, there is one piece of advice that I’ve seen given time and time again and it’s positively the worst:

You don’t need a good (or expensive, or fancy) brand design.
Just make a logo in Word (or buy a cheap one off Etsy) and change it later.

STOP! Don’t spread that nasty lie around!

Trust me when I say changing your entire image later is so much harder, and can cost you clients and money. Don’t just take my word for it though, and if you’ve already started down this dark and dreary path – you’re not alone.

In 2009, Tropicana Orange Juice went for a full on rebrand. It was an epic failure. People were confused, they disliked the new branding. In fact, many thought it was a generic orange juice brand and not their trusted Tropicana. The new brand didn’t even last one month before they went back to their original packaging. You can imagine just how much money it cost them to pull the new packaging and replace it with the old!

So what can you do if you haven’t branded yourself yet?

Well that’s simple enough—stop and really think about where you want your business to go and how it should grow. Odds are you have a business plan, even if it’s one goal written on a napkin. When you close your eyes and visualize that dream, do you envision something totally different than that quick fix you’re going for? If so, you should stop and think—how much will it cost you to replace it later? Probably more than getting that perfect brand design now, especially when you have physical products.

Wait! I’ve already gone for the quick fix… now what?

This is a little bit more tricky, but not impossible! Take your business plan, envision your future, and develop a brand that fits your true style. Whether that means hiring a professional or simply working through the preliminary steps on your own, you should first create a plan for your brand. Once you have that plan laid out, you need to create a way to launch your new branding and style that will not only keep your past clients but invite new ones to you!

Okay, but is it really bad to DIY this step?

Not always. However, the more time you take to plan and coordinate your branding, and the earlier you take those steps, the easier it is for you to attract the right clientele, keep a professional look, and build a sturdy foundation to your business. A professional brand stylist will not only be able to help create a strong plan for you, but also make sure that it visually appeals to your ideal clients. Just remember you should work with a professional that understands and can visually convey YOUR distinct style. If you like what you see on my website, I hope you’ll check out my portfolio and read more about me and my services.

Article by Laura J.

Queensborough Cocktail Lounge

Queensborough Cocktail Lounge is scheduled to open in San Diego's Gaslamp District at the beginning of July, 2017.

the concept

San Diego County has become an emerging city in the craft cocktail and beer movement in the U.S. and it continues to grow. Every major “Mixed” District (business and residential) near downtown San Diego has a staple neighborhood craft cocktail establishment except on 5th Avenue in the heart of the Gaslamp District.

"QUEENSBOROUGH WILL BE A NEIGHBORHOOD BAR AND RESTAURANT PAYING HOMAGE TO THE NEW YORK CITY COCKTAIL CLUBS OF OLD WITH ENGAGING FOOD AND BEVERAGE OFFERINGS FEATURING AN INVITING, UNPRETENTIOUS, RELAXING SPOT FOR LOCALS AND TOURISTS-ALIKE. AN ABBREVIATED YET ARTISANAL FOOD MENU FEATURING SMALL BISTRO-STYLE SANDWICHES AND SHARE PLATES. A BEVERAGE MENU FOCUSING ON CRAFT, LOCAL AND SEASONAL: AMAZING SAN DIEGO BREWS, A SHOWCASE OF BROWN SPIRITS, AND SPECIALTY COCKTAILS FOCUSING ON SEASONAL RENDITIONS OF THE CLASSICS."

To sum up the concept in one sentence, Queensborough is “the Gaslamp’s elevated cocktail club that is known equally for its amazing service, inviting atmosphere, drinks, and great food”. It is very much a place where every table will be imbibing and enjoying themselves.

step one: mood board

Mood Board for Queensborough Cocktail Lounge

step two: logo concepts

step 3: the final brand & styling

queens_brand.jpg

step four: temporary signage

My client wanted to wrap the windows during construction. Here is what I came up with. The style is art deco, which will compliment the remodeled interior design very nicely. The building is old and the interior features lots of wood, old tiles, and brass. 

step five: cocktail waitress uniform

My client asked me to help choose the uniforms for the Queensborough cocktail waitresses. I found the following five dresses at American Apparel. It's important to have a variety of dress styles that will look flattering and classy on various body types. I also made sure to include a long sleeve option in case the bar is sometimes cold. 

Rewarding Schools

A new client, Amber T. found me on Google and hired me to design a logo, color palette, and supplemental fonts for her start-up. Rewarding Schools is a rewards program that incentivizes families via a mobile app to 1) practice healthy habits that lead to success in school, and 2) engage in school programs and activities. I knew the challenge of the project would be to design something that balances a fun and corporate feel.

step one: mood board

After having clients fill out my official Gretchen Kamp Design Logo Questionnaire, my first step when designing any new brand identity is to put together a mood board. Pinterest is a great resource for this. I typically will create a private board and then invite my client to share as a collaborator, meaning they are also able to add images to the board. (Amber has great taste and found most of these awesome images that I ended up using!) Once we had a substantial amount of imagery, I put together the mood board, which will serve as a guideline for the brand. As a general rule of thumb, if something clashes with the mood board, it won't work well with the brand. 

Here is the mood board I designed for Rewarding Schools:

Mood Board for Rewarding Schools

Mood Board for Rewarding Schools

step two: logo concepts & refinement

We didn't have a specific direction in mind when we started this project, which made it a challenging one. In her questionnaire, Amber expressed wanting her logo to feel brilliant, cool, interesting, fun, and trustworthy. Amber and I both liked the idea of including some sort of imagery that denoted a reward or prize. A star ended up being the perfect solution for this. The other challenge of this project was to design something that feels appropriate for education, but also feels fun and makes kids and parents alike want to be involved in the program. 

Rewarding Schools Logo Concepts

step three: color palette

Since my Basic Logo Package does not include a full color palette, Amber chose to make it an add-on. (I am always happy to customize my branding packages or add items a-la-carte, like in this case.) Color is one of the most fun and important parts of designing brand identity. A logo can feel one way in one color palette, and totally different in another color. I love the balance of deep teal and bright yellow we chose for this logo. It has a Midcentury Modern feeling to it. 

Rewarding Schools Color Palettes

step four: supplemental typefaces (aka fonts)

Arch Brow Studio

This is my first blog post ever! Yayyy!

I'm working on a full re-brand & brand identity package for Arch Brow Studio in Lacey, Washington. This is my first client in Washington, and it's always very fun and exciting to work with clients in different cities. 

The owner Falisha contacted me at the end of Feburary. Her eyebrow business grew faster than she anticipated. (I love seeing other #GIRLBOSSES slaying like that!! GO GIRL!) She had a logo which she made herself a few years ago... on her phone. Not bad in my opinion! But she reached out to me because she wanted to take her business's brand identity to the next level. Falisha said her current website is too dark (lots of black) and she knew she wanted a color palette featuring blush, light pastel rose colors, hints of gold / sparkle, soft warm grays, and black accents.


this is the original arch branding / "before" look: 

Current brand identity for Arch that we will be totally revamping

Current brand identity for Arch that we will be totally revamping


step one: mood board

After having clients fill out my official Logo Design Questionnaire, my first step when designing any new brand identity is to put together a mood board. Pinterest is a great resource for this. I typically will create a private board and then invite my client to share as a collaborator, meaning they are also able to add images to the board. Once we have a substantial amount of imagery, I put together the mood board, which will serve as a guideline for the brand. As a general rule of thumb, if something clashes with the mood board, it won't work well with the brand. 

Here is the mood board I designed for Arch:

Obsessed with this one. Love the blush mixed with black, white, and grays. 

Obsessed with this one. Love the blush mixed with black, white, and grays. 


step two: logo development & refinement

Falisha knew she wanted to incorporate a handwritten script into her logo somehow. I'm not a calligrapher, although I did take a class once at Pigment here in San Diego... and it was HARD! Fortunately there are lots of BEAUTIFUL calligraphy-style and handwritten fonts available online. Some are free and others you have to pay for. (Some of my favorite resources for fonts are creativemarket.com and dafont.com, although DaFont is kind of like shopping at a thrift store. You have to rummage through a lot of terrible $H!T to find gold.) 

Drumroll please... here is the first round of logos!

Arch Logo Options

After some tweaks, the Arch logo has been finalized! This is always one of my favorite parts of the branding process. Time to pop some champagne! :)

Here is the final logo and variations. Variations are important because sometimes you will need a version of your logo that fits in a square space (such as Instagram or Facebook profile pic.) However, horizontal logos usually look the best at the top of a website.

Arch Logo

step three: color palette

Choosing the color palette is one of the most crucial parts of designing a brand identity. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well that's how I feel about color palettes! The same logo could look completely different in one color from another, and tell a totally different story. 

Fortunately, Falisha had a pretty good idea of what she wanted, so for this project it just comes down to picking the specific palette. Oh how I loooove these blush and golds!!! I can't even...

Arch Color Palettes

step four: patterns

Patterns are important for creating brand consistency. While color does this to an extent, using a few special brand patterns will ensure the brand message is carried through from print collateral to a website, even to an interior space. These are the options I selected for Falisha. Patterns like this are available for purchase on iStockPhoto.com

Falisha wasn't crazy about the patterns I chose, except the bottom left. Here are some more patterns I showed her. So I went back on iStock and looked for some more. 

Falisha loved number one and three from this round. Those were my favorites too. So awesome!


step five: supplemental typefaces (aka fonts) 

Now it's time to choose brand fonts. You never want to use the logo fonts within the same brand, for the simple reason that then it just looks like you chose one font for everything, and the logo doesn't feel special anymore. And you don't want that!

I typically have my clients choose one Serif font and one Sans serif font. If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but you want to, click here. If the fonts they choose don't pair well together, I will suggest an alternative option. 

Falisha choose Brandon Grotesque as her Sans serif, and Playfair Display as her serif. Two of my favs! She has great taste. :) 


step six: brand board

Ta da!!! Brand board is complete. This is basically a mini version of the style guide. A nice visual display of what Arch is all about.