Behind my rebrand
In the past year, I have been working on a rebrand for my business. This has all been brought to a culmination with the launch of my new website at the beginning of October and prior to that it has been slowly transforming my other social presences.
A lot of work goes into a rebrand or at least it should. I’ve had a lot of great feedback from people about my new look and also a lot of people who didn’t really understand. I really like talking about the why behind decisions and thought I would write a blog post about it.
After my second little boy was born in October 2016, I made a very bold move to take a full year maternity leave. It wasn’t taken lightly and there were a few tears. Sometimes, we are divided inside. I remember juggling work with my first and I just didn’t want to do that again. I also learned how quickly the years fly by. My heart felt ready for a break too, even though I had just completed my most successful year in business. In my heart, I felt the need for a break and I believe the tears came because I was afraid that what I really was doing was taking a break, forever. But I really felt God calling me to step back and I don’t regret it for a moment. My husband, as always, put everything into perspective and told me ‘it’s just a maternity leave’. Which is true, but for a small business where I am the only worker, it’s also a lot more than that. Essentially, my business closed for a year.
That year gave me some space think about what I loved and what I was passionate about. After about 6 months I realised it wasn’t forever. God still had plans for this business and in His perfect timing (as always) reignited my passion and enthusiasm for my business and set me off in the direction of a rebrand.
There were two reasons for the rebrand— one was to distinguish myself from other stationers and the other was to help me get my own head screwed on straight about who I am, what I offer and what are my strengths. Those overlap, but I mean to say it was just as much for myself as the public.
In true Phylecia fashion, I needed to do it all myself. The rebrand, the design, the website. The only thing I invested in was my photography, which I will also discuss in another post.
So I bought Fiona Humberstone’s two books, How to Style Your Brand and Brand Brilliance. They were both so, so good and I’m thankful that she’s shared her wisdom in those books. My husband and I had a few good sessions going through her questionnaires. It was really great. It really unearthed a lot about myself and also highlighted strengths that I didn’t realise were strengths. It also made me question everything, had my head spinning in 100 different directions and at some points I didn’t know who I was or what I was offering. But in the end after putting real time, effort and thought, I started forming an image of what Phylecia Sutherland was to be.
For 8 years, I had done completely bespoke invitations. This means several things- every job looked completely different, which is great, but a brand is lost in that! I didn’t have a “look”. I also have always been a letterpress printer. When I started, no one knew what letterpress was. I had to push people to see the beauty. There were only a few other stationers offering it and that’s because they were printers too. But the popularity caught on and every stationer started offering it (and why not? it’s gorgeous!) and then the one thing that may have set me apart no longer did. So I needed something that set me apart from other stationers and the one thing that boiled down to was…me. Nobody else can be Phylecia Sutherland. Nobody has my combination of personality, talents and heart. Others have their own unique combination of personality, talent, what they offer and what’s in their heart.
I thought through my brand from the colours, the style of photography, my tone of voice and even my design aesthetic. After months of pouring over it and refining it, what you see on this website and my Instagram is my brand baby born into the world.
What I Learned
Obviously, I learned a lot about my business and a lot about my own goals and heart for my business that hadn’t really been unearthed. Years have passed with me being reactionary to business and new clients and new ideas, but it was time to be intentional. Intentional in what I design, intentional in who I design for, intentional in my voice and intentional in my imagery.
As a creative, the hardest part of this is that, visually, I think a lot of different things are beautiful. Sure, I like hot pink neon letterpress, I like super bold and moody colours, sometimes I love minimalism and other times I love the look of old cluttered antique shop. So having to define by brand in one way aesthetically was really difficult and I think it will continue to be difficult. But I have to be brutal. I may not share every single job or product I produce unless it is “on brand” and this is where I’m thankful for outsiders (i.e. my husband) who will just tell me straight what is and is not right. Sure, my brand will evolve as result of a culmination of myself, trends and clientele evolving, shifting and changing but for now I feel home.
The aim of my brand is to show that I am a passionate and thoughtful human, who loves the process and emotion behind wedding stationery. I like the tactile and how hands-on all my work can be from illustrating, calligraphy to hand printing on my vintage printing presses. I like deeper connections with my clients and take time to get to know them and understand them. I’m uncompromising on quality and highly value craftsmanship. Most of all, I love to share a little bit of beauty with the world and hope that every invitation that leaves my studio is cherished for years to come.