At the core of coBranding is our team. We are a very tight-knit, passionate group of people, and we find it extremely important to truly connect with our clients. Being a company that believes firmly in developing strong relationships, we figured it would be cool to really introduce all of our team members to you! So, without further ado, here is the first of a series of blog posts in which we interview the members of the coBranding family.
Today we’re introducing you to our founder and creative director, Rachel. With a decade of experience and education in the design world, she’s incredibly passionate about branding, as well as wellness. Rachel also has an excellent head for business development, always pushing the envelope and setting new goals.
In addition to being a great designer and business owner, Rachel is a musician and has been playing music since she took her first steps. She plays seven different instruments and has performed on the same bill as Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi, and more. She answered a few different questions for us to share a little more about what she does and what is important to her!
What first got you into the world of graphic design and why did you choose it?
From a very young age, I was dead set on studying digital media at Bergen Tech where my dad taught. I was always very creative and musically inclined, and the culture of that school really made me feel at home there. My dad’s major was the closest thing to a music program they had. When it was time for me to apply, I was ultimately unable to study in the digital media program because of the fact that my dad was the teacher. The most creative option after that was commercial art, but you needed a portfolio to apply. So I taught myself how to draw, put a bunch of work together, and somehow got accepted!
While it was originally a second choice so that I could attend the school I wanted, I actually ended up using the skills from those classes to market my own music as well as create things for friends and family. I started working freelance to help pay for my college degree and it really became a little zen corner of my mind where I could just get in the zone and be artistic. Long story short, graphic design became my happy place. Eventually, I realized that as much as I loved music and management (both different chapters of my career adventure), my heart was firmly set on trying to find a way to help people through my artistic and design skills, and just like that, coBranding was born!
What makes a good graphic designer?
To be an impactful and effective brand designer, the biggest thing to me is genuinely caring about the people you work with. If you really care about the work you’re doing and the people you’re working with, your passion will always drive great design! A client’s brand is such an intimate part of their identity, and so it is vital to be personally invested. In addition, it’s really important to stay open minded, extremely communicative, and detail oriented.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I am so lucky to know a community of phenomenal designers, all of whom really inspire me. However, the truth is that being a human being living in this world, we are always surrounded by design. Food labels, billboards, street signs -- pretty much everything we see can be considered as design. It is impossible for me to go a full day without being inspired by something I see, whether it’s typography on a menu at a restaurant, a website for a product I’m buying, or a design on a t-shirt.
How have the advances in online resources changed the world of graphic design today?
The increase in online resources are kind of a double edged sword. It’s great that more and more programs have made being creative more accessible. It’s become a massive career market and a very viable living for creatively-minded people. However when people who are not in the design field get a hold of these resources, they tend to underestimate the importance of the nuances of design, try to build a DIY brand themselves, and ultimately can actually harm the strength and success of their business long term.
How do you approach the creative process?
It’s been an ongoing evolution derived from years of trial and error. For me personally, it’s about developing enough insight into what we’re trying to accomplish and communicate for the client, as well as who we’re communicating to. You have to keep your mind open and embrace trial and error. In fact, it’s a little like shopping for clothes. Something that looks great on the hanger might not fit you quite right. It’s also really helpful to have another pair of eyes sometimes! If you have a friend or coworker whose opinion you trust, ask for their honest feedback.
How do you incorporate feedback into your designs?
Feedback is everything!! Another incredibly important part of being a designer is being open to feedback. Remember that it is not a personal attack, and it’s often really valuable insight to help your design be more effective. The core of a successful design is that it has to work for the person you’re designing for, so if your client isn’t quite vibing with it yet, it’s super important to help them identify why and to make changes accordingly.
What do you do if a client doesn’t agree with your design recommendations?
The design process is all about communicating productively and identifying different perspectives. Identify a compromise if you can, but at the end of the day it’s your client’s business and you have to be respectful of that. However, we don’t want to set them up to fail. As long as their preferences can be executed effectively, I’m happy, even if the direction isn’t quite what I would have personally preferred.
What is a project in your portfolio that you’re most proud of?
Coach Khaya. She was one of my first big clients and her brand evolved a lot as she did as a coach. I also evolved tremendously as a designer throughout that process. Every project has its own personality and reasons why I’m proud of it, though. I’m always proud of everything our team does.
Why did you find it so important to start your own company rather than working with another established business?
First and foremost, this rose out of necessity. I was in a time of my life where I was getting further disillusioned by the ‘corporate world’, I knew this was what I wanted to do, and I already had freelance clients. Eventually though, it became more about company culture and creating a good work environment for others. It almost became a social experiment for me - seeing if I could make a profitable company while putting the people first and making sure everyone who worked for me was happy. We live in a culture where most businesses are profit over people, and after working in that sort of environment and feeling powerless to make a difference in people’s lives, it feels incredibly empowering for me to build something that prioritizes the complete opposite.
What’s your favorite part of the design process?
I love love love typography. I’m a massive font nerd. I really love trying to identify obscure fonts out in “the wild”. My boyfriend has gotten so used to me excitedly shouting out font names from street signs on road trips over the years, that he’s actually started to do it too.
I also really love seeing everything come together in the final mock up at the end of the process. Seeing the brand as a whole and how everything works across platforms, from logo to business cards to website to social media, is such a compelling and satisfying moment.
What is a day in the life of a small business owner like?
A lot of the time it’s really great. I get to do what I love with people I care about. There are always hard days with lots of difficult decisions and moments of high stress, but there’s always some sort of payoff at the end of it (even if it’s not financial). For me, it’s always worth the fulfillment and gratification, and it feels really good to be able to actually address people’s problems rather than just repeating some company jargon and saying “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do.”
If you weren’t doing design, what would you be doing?
Probably performing or teaching music!
What do you do to unwind?
Spend time with family and friends, games (of the board and video varieties), doodling, playing music, reading comic books more than real books (unless they’re business books). I also make spreadsheets to make sense of my brain, eat pasta like it’s going out of style, and snuggle my four legged kiddos. <3
How do you measure success?
I think the definition of success is different for everyone, and each individual person needs to accomplish their own unique definition of the word. For me, success is being able to make a comfortable living doing what I love, feeling fulfilled by it each day, and having loved ones to share it with.