Keen to take your business to the next level? Time for some branding brilliance – and we know just the local graphics studio…
When a brand is the story and its design is the storytelling, we meet Leoni D’Arcy: the ‘author’ behind Newcastle-based graphic design studio, D’Arcy Design Co. And we’re pretty sure she’s got a few bestsellers up her sleeve…
What’s D’Arcy Design Co. all about?
D’Arcy Design Co. is a female-led design studio offering branding and graphic design services. Love and attention to detail goes into everything we create and we strive to help business owners bring their vision for their brand to life. At D’Arcy Design Co., we offer a branding experience which is organic to you and your brand story, to help you connect with your ideal customer and stand proud of your business.
You’ve said that ‘brand is the story, design is the storytelling’. How much of a difference can effective storytelling make to the success of a business?
The difference between a good brand and an incredible brand! Consumers buy into emotions, stories and magic – not products and services. So telling a story through branding creates connections with potential customers and enhances the likelihood that they will purchase from your business.
A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that 64% of consumers cite ‘shared values’ as the primary reason that they have a relationship with a brand. These stats demonstrate the power of creating those connections with customers through storytelling. Essentially, brands that tell more of their story will sell more of their services.
What made you first decide to start the business, back in 2019?
In the Summer of 2019, I graduated from Northumbria University after studying Graphic Design, and I began designing bits and bobs for family and friends. After completing a few ‘favours’, word of mouth meant that I started to get enquiries from local businesses. They’d seen my work via their friends on Facebook, or through recommendations passed on from my family to their friends. My passion for designing then became a paid thing and my business was born!
Ever since, my business has grown from a part-time passion on the side into a full-time career, as of April 2021. Using my skills to bring someone else’s dream business or career to life is incredibly rewarding and one of the main reasons why I love what I do so much. One small business helping another!
Creating authentic branding is at the core of D’Arcy Design Co. How do you make sure the designs you create are as authentic as possible for your clients?
‘Authenticity starts in the heart’ – Brian D’Angelo.
This quote is something we stand by as a brand. And so, to achieve authenticity in every brand project we complete, we dive right into the heart of the business we’re working with. We do this through in-depth brand strategy sessions before any designing takes place – analysing every aspect of the business, from their brand values and personality, right through to identifying their target audience and competitor analysis. We don’t just ask what they do – we ask more valuable questions like why they do it. It’s knowing these details that ensures the branding truly represents their business and tells their brand story.
Can you talk us through your process?
After onboarding a client, we have a three-stage process: brand vision, brand design and brand in action. Splitting our process into these three stages has transformed our client experience, as clients feel they’re involved throughout the process and have an opportunity to give feedback at each stage. We believe in a collaborative process and so, this way, there are more chances for sharing ideas and feedback to ensure the designs are absolutely perfect.
Brand Vision – this is the first stage of the process, where we complete brand strategy, either from an in-depth questionnaire filled out by the client or a strategy call, where we discuss the questions openly. From this information, we produce a strategy and vision document, detailing the brand strategy and finishing with two concept mood board options. The mood boards allow for us to establish a ‘vibe’ and colour palette before the branding is developed, to ensure we set off in the right direction.
Mood Board Mock up
Brand Design – this stage is where we develop the brand identity – which includes everything from the logo suite to brand patterns and image direction. Combining the strategy, brand inspiration, mood board and colour palette established in stage one, we then develop the logo suite – a primary logo, secondary logo, sub-mark logo and brand marks, carefully curating an identity which represents their brand story, appeals to their target audience and outshines their competitors. Once complete, we put together a presentation showcasing the designs, as well as mock-ups of how they can be applied in the real world.
Brand in Action – this is the stage where we apply the branding to any business collateral the client has chosen to have, and the vision for the business really comes to life. This can include anything from business cards to social media designs, such as highlight covers. Branded collateral ensures the business is professional across all touchpoints.
D’Arcy Design Co. specialise by providing full design packages for your clients, rather than simple logo design. Why have you decided to work in this way?
I believe in ‘branding’ over ‘logo design’, which are quite often confused as being the same thing. These services, however, are very different and provide very different value for the client. Although I started out by offering single logo designs for my clients, I began to feel that I was doing my clients a disservice by offering this, as a full brand identity does so much more for a business than one logo design.
Singular logo designs do not give the business consistency, an expert look or visibility, whereas a logo suite offers these key features and more. No matter how big or small, all businesses in the long run will benefit in many ways from a branding package over a singular logo design.
You have different packages available (including bespoke packages) – can you talk us through what they all are and who would be best suited to each?
I have packages to suit businesses at varying stages – whether they’re start-ups or fully established businesses looking to rebrand. I’ve tried to create a service which is accessible to anyone who loves my work and wants to work with me.
The ‘Brand Basics’ package is suitable for start-ups who are looking for a professional identity to get up and running, or for creative businesses who simply need the tools to create branded assets with ease. This package includes brand strategy and a full brand identity pack, including brand guidelines.
The ‘Signature’ and ‘Premium’ packages include everything from the ‘Brand Basics’ package, along with additional brand asset designs of varying quantities. These packages are for businesses who want to appear professional across multiple platforms and touchpoints.
The biggest package, the ‘Ultimate’ package, is for fully established businesses or those who value the importance of consistency across all platforms in the business. Including everything listed in the previous package, the Ultimate package also has the addition of web design for a fully custom and comprehensive brand experience for the customer.
Recently, I also launched my Semi-Custom Brand Kits, which have a lower price tag – opening up my services to those with a tight timeline or smaller budget and are unable to invest in a fully custom branding experience. These kits are pre-made with specific industries and audiences in mind and are only available to purchase once – meaning once the business has purchased the kit, it’s still custom to their business. Business details are required at the checkout in order to personalise the kit and it’s then delivered directly to the purchaser’s email within one week, so has a much faster turnaround than a custom package.
You built your website yourself, teaching yourself coding along the way! Are you always on the lookout for ways to improve your skillset?
Absolutely! I truly believe that there is always more to learn as a designer and as a business owner in general, and I’m always looking for ways to better my client experience. Whether that’s through learning about new platforms to create a seamless process, or learning a new technical skill to offer more services for my clients, I’m always on board to learn.
Teaching myself coding as I built my own website has not only grown my skillset, but it has also grown my business in so many ways, as it has enabled me to offer a coding service to my clients while also allowing me to reach a wider audience on my own website. Although scary at first, learning new skills and stepping out of comfort zones will always lead to growth.
If we don’t find you designing, you’re likely to be strolling along the coast with a coffee. Where’s your coffee pitstop of choice?
To say I’m coffee-obsessed is an understatement! A coffee shop brand is definitely on my dream client list. My go-to order is a latte with a dash of caramel syrup, and I love it both hot or iced for those warmer days. You can’t go wrong with Starbucks or Costa, but if I could only have one specific coffee for the rest of my life, it would have to be an Iced Caramel Latte from The Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton. If you don’t know about that place already, get to know it!
What do you love most about your work?
Bringing someone else’s business dreams to life and watching their business flourish. Helping others to be able to do what they love every day, by doing what I love, is an incredible experience. And connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs has created some lasting friendships for me. Seeing your designs out in the world is also pretty surreal!
And what does the future look like for D’Arcy Design Co.?
My vision for D’Arcy Design Co.’s future revolves around growth and expansion. I would love nothing more than to have my own studio space somewhere and expand from a one-woman band into a full team of creatives. One thing I do miss about working as part of a team is sharing my work with others and bouncing ideas around, so I would love to create a fun and creative space for other people to do what they love every day too.
Expanding into a team would also allow D’Arcy Design Co. to work with more businesses and offer more specialised services too, including marketing and social media management. Thanks to the wonderful and continued support of my clients, I’d say the future for D’Arcy Design Co. is looking long and bright!