HLN Meets: A Stylist Muse
We caught up with Amy Bailey, the graphics guru behind Newcastle-based branding and creative visual studio A Stylist Muse, to find out just how effective good branding can be
What is ‘good branding’?
Something that captures its audience. A business that represents its identity effectively through its branding speaks volumes to its consumers. More often than not, this then results in consumer loyalty and an increase in the business’ performance.
How much of a difference can the right branding make to the success of a business?
An incredible difference! The list of benefits that come from the right branding and design is endless. I like to refer to it as one of the core components to build your empire from.
Having the right branding means you’re communicating a unique identity effectively, something that’s memorable. In a saturated market, it ensures your business stands out from the crowd. This attracts your ‘dream clients’ – the people who understand your mission and support it, who are loyal to you and know your worth and will happily pay for your services and invest into them.
Not only will you see success when the funds in your bank start to rise (cha-chiiiing!), but you’ll also see your business develop in the growth of your following of consumers who support you and want to be part of your brand, now and in the future.
What are some of the logos and designs that really stand out to you?
I’m constantly being inspired by all sorts! But if I had to narrow it down to one brand, I’d say CELINE. I’m obsessed with how minimal and yet conceptual their entire identity is. Their photography and design looks so effortless, yet speaks such volumes. It’s a very powerful and recognisable brand, without seeming to try that hard.
I’m always inspired by modern typography. You can design a word-based logo (take CELINE or Coca-Cola) and, depending solely on the typography you choose, you can target a specific audience. I feel that typography is so underestimated in terms of the power it can have on a brand’s identity.
What attracted you to work in design and, specifically, branding?
I studied Fashion Retail and Enterprise at university. As part of the course, we studied branding, marketing, buying, styling and creative direction, looking into consumer buying habits and behaviours. We worked on loads of different briefs to create brands that sold particular products to particular customers, and so had to be controlled and executed in a particular way.
I think the amount of research I did to create customer profiles for this really developed my love for branding. Digging deep into a business and seeing what and who it stood for, all to create an identity which represented that, influenced its consumers and positively affected its performance is like one, big visual problem-solving puzzle!
But more than all that, being able to play a part in making someone’s dream a reality is such a win!
Tell us about the name of your business – why A Stylist Muse?
I’m a huge lover of the word ‘muse’ and its definition as ‘a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist’, as well as ‘to consider something thoughtfully’. I like to look at the project/business/brand as the ‘muse’ and the brand stylist/designer as the creative artist. I love researching every business I work with to discover how it’s going to be a muse to me and inspire my design.
So why not The Muse Stylist?
It was on my list. But through the developments and projects I had already worked on, I could clearly see my own style emerging. It’s very minimal and modern and, I like to think, timeless. I thrive when working with this particular design aesthetic, so I thought: why not go with it?! I have my own muse as a stylist for others – a particular style to my service which attracts clients who love what I do and how I do it – hence, A Stylist Muse.
What’s the secret to adding value and influence to a brand’s identity?
I believe there are five: professionalism, consistency, representation, consumers and individuality. Nail all five and you’re onto a winner!
Where do you find inspiration?
Mainly from the depths of Pinterest and free image stock sites, such as Unsplash and Pexels. I’ll spend a good day or two researching images for a brand’s muse board. I look at everything – art, interior design, landscapes, textures, architecture, and those are just a FEW examples! It’s good to think outside the box and venture away from what you’re specifically looking into. You can find your perfect colour palette for a candle brand, for example, by looking at images of Californian beaches, or your brand pattern for a craft beer by looking at African art.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m not a morning person and I value my coffee! (It has to be NESCAFÉ Gold Espresso). So I often have a slow morning with a coffee in bed while my puppy, Duke, snores beside me, and I do a bit social media work on Instagram or Pinterest. My work hours then vary between 9.30am – 6pm, depending on my workload. The day will often be split up with a lunch hour, cuddles with Duke, and a few household chores. I work from home so there’s a lot of self-discipline needed!
My workday essentials include my wireless headphones, along with plenty of coffee, my water bottle and my slippers! I like to listen to chilled beats and playlists that help my workflow.
After work, I make time to work out (if I haven’t earlier in the day), make tea and walk Duke with my fiancé. There’s not much else to do at the moment, but when we’re out of lockdown I’d have the odd night out meeting friends, either in Newcastle or for a catch up down the local!
What advice would you give to new business owners thinking about the ‘look’ of their venture?
Look at your brand strategy and your long-term plan. What’s your business mission? Who is it for? How do you want to voice it? Where are you based (online or in store)? Set down your strategy and your look will start to come. And if you’re still struggling to visualise your identity, reach out – that’s what us brand designers are here for.
But do your research on brand designers too, whether they’re an agency, freelancer or an independent studio. Do you like their style, their process and approach, and their personality? You’re putting your faith, trust and money in them to set the tone of your brand’s identity for the future – you want to be confident in your decision.
And what would you say to existing business owners to encourage them to think about re-branding?
Have a look at your brand and its performance and ask yourself if your business is being properly represented across those five points I mentioned earlier. Do you feel like your business isn’t living up to its maximum potential? Has your business excelled and outgrown the design that got you started? If your answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then it might be time to consider re-branding.
What’s one thing every business owner should consider when it comes to brand image?
Your audience. Who your audience is and how you want to be portrayed to them. You need to attract them specifically and they need to clearly see what your business is and be captured by it.