Looking to improve your graphic design skills? We talked to skilled brand designer and content creator Design by Ayelet to get her top tips for taking your designs to the next level.
Design by Ayelet is a talented brand designer, illustrator, and product packaging pro specializing in fun, bold, and vibrant designs. She’s passionate about working with small businesses worldwide to help bring their brands to life.
A self-taught designer with a passion for all things pink, Ayelet decided to start posting her brand designs on Instagram back in 2021 and has since amassed over 100K followers. The quirky designer is beloved for creating kick-ass illustrations, bubbly branding, and sharing handy design tips with her community.
We sat down with Ayelet to learn how she got into brand design and pick her brain on the top design tips, tricks, and hacks she thinks ALL designers should know.
How did you get into design, and what inspired you to post on Instagram?
I started doing online design courses while working small jobs after high school. I never felt like university was right for me, and I knew I had the discipline to learn independently. I studied UI and digital illustration, and then in 2019, I got a job at a start-up.
However, in 2021 I decided to try brand design – it was so out of the blue, but boy, that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! During the first few months, I put all my efforts into growing my skills and posting as much as possible. I got my first client four months later, and the rest is history! Every single day since has been a learning experience, and I’ve loved every second of it.
The biggest challenge for me was posting consistently. I felt like I never had enough content, which resulted in lower-quality posts. I let the stress of posting constantly get to me. For anyone reading this, just know that practice and persistence are (and will always be) the best way forward, and to plan and prep your content as much as possible to stay ahead.
How did you get into branding and packaging design?
I started as a digital illustrator, which I enjoyed, but I always felt like something was missing. I would finish an illustration, and that was it – job done. It always felt unfulfilling. Brand and packaging design was everything I was looking for!
I love the creative freedom, meaningful designs, and satisfaction of creating a whole brand identity to help a business thrive. You can add so much to the designs; each part can be full of meaning, story, and symbolism. You can create a whole ‘way of life’ for a business that is so special – I feel like I’ve found my calling.
How do you build a brand identity from start to finish?
I always start with a brand strategy – it’s a must for getting a good understanding of the field and what’s best for the business that you’re working with. Research the client’s market and competitors to understand the business’s goals. I also go over creative direction, which means narrowing down a style through mood boards. Once we’ve decided on a direction, I start designing!
When it comes to creating an identity, the first thing I do is find some great fonts (which Envato Elements is an incredible resource for), and then I get to work on the logo. I always start with logos because you can learn much about how the business will look, feel, and sound from its logo. Then I move on to the rest of the visual identity essentials (everything apart from stationery, packaging, social media assets, etc.). Once the client has signed off on that, I move on to all the extras and prepare them for their exciting new look.
What’s your best advice for working with design clients?
Here are a few quick tips when it comes to working with clients:
1. Go Above and Beyond
Once a client’s branding kit is complete, I always make bonus logo variations and fun branding assets and throw in some free GIFs. Now, I’m not saying you should spend loads of extra unnecessary hours on a project, but do as much as possible to make your clients happy. This will benefit you in the long run as you receive glowing reviews and enhance your reputation.
2. Get to Know Your Clients
Spend time upfront getting to know your client and understanding what they want. Before starting any design work, your vision should be crystal clear. This will allow you to quickly and easily create something you love, have fewer revisions, and wrap up your projects faster.
3. Present Your Work Professionally
Always present your work as professionally as possible, and explain your thought process. This will help sell your vision, create a deeper emotional connection with the client, and allow them to understand what you’ve done and why it’s best for their visual identity and business.
What are the key things to consider when designing a killer logo?
- When designing a logo, ensure your fonts have commercial licensing.
- Remember is why your client hired you – they want customized, professional, and premium results, so make sure you’ve put time, thought, and effort into their logo. Anyone can just type out the business name in a pretty font, but you, as the designer, must add value. Customize it, give it a story, and give it meaning.
- Grab a piece of paper before you start, write down keywords about the brand, visual identity, and tone of voice, and sketch some rough ideas. Creating something on paper can spark inspiration and is a quicker way of expressing ideas.
- Always start in black and white. If you start designing in color, it’s much easier to get distracted and hung up on the color palette. Settle on the fundamentals first.
Here’s how I create all my logos:
- Choose a font that makes sense for the business and market.
- Customize it by adding elements that symbolize parts of the business, brand, and brand story.
- Once I have something I’m happy with, I add color!
Pro tip: when presenting your logos to clients, always explain the thought process behind the design and colors (including why you chose them and any insights on color psychology).
What’s your advice for designers who want to grow their network and client base?
These days, it’s all about social media. It’s so important to connect and engage with your community. Make time to review comments, reply to messages, follow others, and interact with your audience.
People buy from people, so showing up the most authentically and genuinely you can for your audience (whether that’s clients or other designers) will establish trust and help your business grow. When it comes to increasing your client base and networking, it’s essential to stay in touch with your clients, follow what they’re doing, and reach out to them where it makes sense.
How do you stay creative, focused, and productive as a designer?
My best advice is to stay organized – BUT I don’t believe this looks the same for everyone. Organization, focus, and productivity are very personal, and I think it’s important to put in the time to work out a system that motivates you. Finding a system and creating habits that serve you and keep you moving forward is key.
How do you create social media videos that are aesthetic, fun, and educational?
I think it’s all about keeping up with trends, having an aesthetic set-up (more on that below), and asking yourself, ‘What would I want to watch right now?’. If there’s anything you’re wondering about or have just learned how to do, chances are other people would be interested in the content too. It’s always a good idea to share your knowledge because that will help you build authority. I also recommend doing a voiceover to get more of your personality across in your videos.
Now let’s talk aesthetics! It’s easy to make your ‘set’ look more engaging. I recommend some cool, colorful lights (they don’t have to be expensive) and some art or props.
What are your tips for using Stories to boost engagement and personalize your content?
I share as much of my life as possible, and my Stories have helped me connect with my audience. Initially, I wasted so much time not posting anything personal, which meant people couldn’t get to know me. This ultimately resulted in a lot less engagement and interaction because, frankly, I wasn’t interesting or entertaining.
Being personal and sharing your life will increase your engagement and interaction because the fact of the matter is, that’s what people love to see! Sharing your work is great, but people love connecting on a more human level – don’t underestimate that. I’ve built up a genuine rapport with the people who watch and follow my Stories, as the format offers a powerful way to show potential clients who you are as a person.
What are the main tools and programs you can’t live without?
Number one is Envato Elements (obviously!)! It’s a great resource for all the things I need. I love scrolling through the fonts and being able to download any of them without worrying about licensing; it’s such a relief. I also love that I never have to worry about sourcing a good mockup or how much it’ll cost me because Elements genuinely has it all.
Number two is Notion – the secret to my organization and success. Notion is the number one content management tool, and I couldn’t live without it.
Number three is the Adobe Suite. It’s no secret that Adobe is the king of the design world, and its design tools are unbelievably amazing. I mainly use Illustrator, Indesign, Express, and Photoshop, but I’m also excited about their upcoming AI programs.
And last but certainly not least, Instagram! Instagram is the reason I have my own business and get to live my dream life, so I am forever grateful.
What are your top design tips, tricks, or hacks? Tell us your secrets!
- Stay Organized
Ensure you do all you can to stay organized with your designs, files, clients, socials, business, and finances. Having a sound system is crucial (which is why I love Notion); otherwise, everything will unravel and become a mess. Bonus tip: back up your files at least twice!
- Track Your Process
When designing, keep track of your process and how you got from A to B. For example, when you make a logo, keep track of the fonts before outlining your letters, or when you’re making a shape, keep a version of what it was like before you outlined your stroke or expanded it. I can’t tell you how many times this tip has saved my life!
- Do a Colorblindness Check
This step is so important because a percentage of the population has difficulty distinguishing between specific colors. Adobe Illustrator makes this step easy – go to VIEW -> PROOF SET UP -> COLOR BLINDNESS.
- Print Your Designs
Print out your packaging designs BEFORE you send them to your client to print. Check that everything is as you expected it to be and that all your text is legible. It doesn’t have to be the best print job ever, just enough so you can rule out any major issues.
- Take Advantage of Paragraph Styles in InDesign
These can be such a lifesaver when working on a big presentation. In general, Indesign is such a powerful tool for compiling presentations. I mean, it’s literally what it’s made for!