I wanted to share how I've built A Jar of Pickle's brand and "look" over the years, and my journey to get to a 50-something (hooray!) cohesive card line. It was a long and winding journey, but very worthwhile.
When I first began selling cards I designed in college, they were random, assorted graphics I made on Illustrator that I'd pair with a font I'd like. Here were some of them below.
(My avocado drawing was recently adopted and repurposed for my new avo-cuddle valentine's card! And I'm still very proud of my Oski killing the Stanford tree card. I have it printed in my office and some of the students comment on it when they see it ;)
I paired each card with an envelope I'd painstakingly cut out of a brown paper bag, lined with washi tape. Each envelope took like 25 minutes to make. Then I'd go to Kinko's to print every time I got an order. I wasn't selling enough to hold inventory and I didn't think of A Jar of Pickles as something I was actively trying to grow.
But to my surprise, I began selling more and more cards (mainly my lobster card), so the labor-intensive envelope idea had to go and I had to think about what kind of envelopes I'd pair with my cards and how that would develop what I was doing with A Jar of Pickles. My cards then looked like this:
I'm actually still very fond of this look: the simple, black on kraft look. I could see this looking really nice letterpressed or black foil pressed (oooh, new card line idea?!). But I still struggled with creating a brand line with this clean lines, free-fonts look. And I missed color.
At this point, A Jar of Pickles began blossoming, I thought (super) hard and long about what I wanted A Jar of Pickles to represent. I wrote down a couple of key words (laugh, cute, color, simple) I wanted to have in my line, and I played around with what a cohesive look to the brand could look like. Here was one of my iterations of said line:
(My pizza card will make a comeback via redesign sometime soon. Hopefully this year :) Actually now that I'm thinking about it I should have released it for Valentine's..)
Here is when I began playing around with my handwriting, and thinking of unique ways to display very common puns and sayings. I also adopted what is now A Jar of Pickle's staple Kraft envelopes. I liked the look; I thought it would sell well and it looked pretty cohesive- but it didn't really embody "me". I am loud and talkative, but the clothes I wear and accessories I use are never so bold and colorful. It didn't really reflect the "simple" I had wanted.
So, I went super minimal and this is what I came up with: my first cards for the new and improved A Jar of Pickles line.
Some of my doodles while I was developing the "look". I was probably hungry:
It honestly took me hours and hours of obsessing, brainstorming, redesigning, giving up on this tiny business completely (just kidding... ok maybe once when I was being dramatic) but it was totally worth it. I am 100% completely proud of my brand and line and the "look" it has.
I think when developing a product line, it's really important to think of the why (I want to be a medium for people to send love and appreciation and other good feelings) and how (by creating a physical product for the recipient to feel good receiving), and very helpful to write down a list of concepts/ideas/feelings/adjectives that will describe what you're selling and representing (mind mapping!).
Now that I have a cohesive brand look, I am thinking of ways to expand the line. My goals is to come out with at least 12 new card designs this year (I'm done with 6! Hooray! Here are the first two), but I'm also wondering how to expand- I've thought about letterpressing, foiling, different sized cards, calendars, mugs.. where will A Jar of Pickles go from here? Stay tuned ;)
Edit 6/27/16: helpful read on what "brand" means: Why Is Branding Still Like Molding Fog?