Creating the visual language and art direction for my latest class

3 years ago I had an idea to share all the valuable lessons I’d learnt across my career. To build a business model that didn’t revolve around helping just big clients with money but to build my own product that could help and reach many people. My kind of people. A problem that was close to my heart and that is teaching design to the next gen, and how to forge a great career in the digital design industry. Helping and mentoring other designers with whatever knowledge I’ve acquired over the last 10-12 years. It seemed like something worth doing, like the people who have helped me along the way.

With a bit of “fuck you” money I’d saved up at that time.

I thought fuck it now or never. I’ll give it a go and created my first design course The Process Masterclass and then the UX Design Masterclass.

With nearly a 1000 students later and 2 core products The Process Masterclass and The UX Design Masterclass it was time for the trifecta - Marketing for designers. The third in the trilogy and approaching 3 years...how fitting.

Why these 3 topics? Because these are the 3 key areas that have helped me get to where I am today. Which has helped businesses generate $10’s of millions of dollars in added value and revenue, have designed products that have reached millions and have personally generated hundreds of thousands of dollars with my own products and an ethical business model- but more important than these vanity metrics is how I did it. By having fun and doing something I was passionate about loved, and enjoyed. And that was 'designing'

And so these 3 classes are a reflection of that journey.

Three areas which I think are key to developing a sound design career on your terms. Whether you want to run a creative business yourself (like myself currently), whether you want to excel as a designer in an organisation(like myself in the past) or just get paid 6 figures or more. These 3 topics covers that gamut. The design process a look at UI/UX, product design, design thinking, and finally marketing & how to market these services ethically.

Marketing for designers will officially premiere about 2 months from now.

I could easily just nest all of these course under 1 site with one design and look.

Why do I create new ones from scratch? Seems like more work than needed. But it’s because I’m a designer. I like making and tinkering things. It’s not about the quick buck or making more money, it’s about making something good, bespoke, hand-crafted and something that I cared about.

There are many times I thought about quitting and just sticking to freelance I’d probably make a lot more money in the short term. But then the emails, success stories, slack chats and thank yous come in. And it’s like right that’s why you decided to go this route. Plus I like the idea of making money in my sleep which provides more freedom to hang with my children and family once the bulk of the work is over.

Ok that was a slight ramble. But contextualising a story is important :)

And so I wanted to share with you - how I create the visual identity and art direction for new products/classes I create.

I always start with the brand mark. Something simple - I stare at the words Marketing for Designers which is what I decided to name the class. Simple and to the point. From that name and letters I think of a simple and interesting motif that can be applied.

After noodling around in my notepad with tonnes of failed ideas and shapes. I stack the M on top of a D. Kind of like the obelus more commonly known as the divide symbol ÷

Then I digitise that and bring that mark and idea into sketch.

From here I try different typefaces that have the look and feel I’m after. In my head I was already after a thin sans serif with various font weights. And then I land on Heebo. Boom it’s what I’m after. I have a typography.com cloud subscription so could’ve used something from there but this Google Font worked wonderfully.

Side note: There's a great tool I use to see all fonts on a system with the same letters. It's called https://wordmark.it/

From there I expand onto a colour palette. I wanted to have one accent colour as well as a complimentary visual element that was interesting. I played with shapes and then ended up with purple and a gradient version.

Transitioning from here I start creating the site concepts and landing pages. The typography for me always dictates the other elements.

I work with circular elements that overlap. And with the later concepts I felt that illustrations could really lift the feel and message of the layouts. I find some great customisable and open source ones.

After tweaking I build out the keynote slide designs which purposely have a slightly different feel to the site, but share a common typographic language.

In the end these are the artifacts I ended up with:

marketing-for-designers-art-direction.png

And from there I built the current beta site - www.marketingfordesigners.co. And that’s a condensed overview of how I put it all together. No magic potions, no secret sauce, just a simple and systematic way of doing things. Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look.