When your business name is your personal name, visual branding can be a bit tricky.

Unless you happen to have a name like Angel or Scooter where there’s some obvious symbolism available, or your name directly ties into your profession (your last name is Baker and you are in fact a baker), designing your logo can feel a bit open-ended. You have to rely on stylistic cues and some sort of representation of what you do more than the name itself. This can be intimidating, as you want to walk the line between have a unique logo without cliche symbolism, while still accurately capturing the essence of your business.

Even if you specify your field of work in your logo’s wording, I’m guessing there are still a lot of visual ways you can narrow in on exactly what your business does within that field. In today’s Brand Nuance challenge, I’m going to show how using just your name and a simple word to describe what you do can still be transformative in how you represent your business.

Challenge Parameters:

  1. Each logo must use the exact same name: Janelle Smithson.*
  2. Each logo must include the word ‘Photography’
    without any extra descriptive words or taglines.
  3. Each logo must be in just plain black and white.
    This experiment would quickly devolve into a time suck if I had to get into color comparisons, too.
  4. Each logo should help convey the type of photography done.

See what I’ve done here:

janelle-1This Janelle Smithson is a photojournalist for news outlets covering world events.
She is not afraid to be dropped into war zones and other high-risk situations.

janelle-2This logo option would be for Janelle Smithson the wedding photographer,
helping couples capture everything from the engagement to the big day itself.

janelle-3Here we see Janelle Smithson as a fine art photographer who specializes in landscapes and artistic nudes.
She’s got a modern, minimalist sensibility.

janelle-4And this is the Janelle Smithson that does family portraits and specializes in working with newborns.

You’ll notice I didn’t just stick a camera icon in each of them and call it a day. In the first logo, the O of her last name got changed to a representation of a camera viewfinder that also doubles as a target/scope to convey her usual subject matter. In the second logo, the focus was on capturing a romantic, feminine feel, using the S as both part of her name but also a shape that can stand on its own. In the fine art logo, the simple line work can convey both a landscape and the curves of a body. Even in the last logo. where I did use a representation of a camera, it’s altered to also include the shape of a pacifier to specify what type of photography she does. Each of these logos has the exact same wording, but I think you’ll agree they represent 4 very different photographers.

Takeaway tip: You don’t have to be literal in the representation of your profession. Sometimes that will work, and sometimes it won’t. And if you happen to be in a profession that isn’t easily captured by a symbol (say, for instance, design) then you’ll have to get creative in how you still get your point across.

What do you think? Did I capture each Janelle’s business?

*I thought Janelle Smithson seemed more interesting than just Jane Smith, if I’m making up a name.

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