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Episode #071

How to Build a Brand Kit for Your Conservation Photography Project with Kika Tuff of Impact Media Lab


UPDATED: May 23, 2023


Make your conservation photography project instantly recognizable and build community around it by using the power of identity and branding. Here's how (and when) to create a brand kit – including a logo, colors, fonts and more – for your visual storytelling project.


When it came time to actually build the brand for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, I turn to one of the most talented businesses in our industry.

Impact Media Lab is a company that builds brand strategy and websites, and even the visuals from film and photography for scientists and science labs and also us conservation visual storytellers. They are just absolutely amazing at what they do, and they are headed up by Kika Tuff, the owner head genius. I asked Kika if they'd be willing to create the logo and the brand kit for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, and I was over the moon when she said yes.

It was a really amazing process. It was fun, challenging, energizing and inspiring to see the types of options that they came up with for me to choose from as we went along through this process.

But it leads to a bigger question: What is a brand kit? And why are logos and colors important? Why are these things so important not just for a business, but also for visual storytelling projects?

So I asked Kika to come back onto the podcast and talk about what it means to build a brand kit for a project. What goes into it? What does the process look like? What are some of the things that we need to think about or consider?

She walks us through building a brand kit and the things that we think about when it comes to a project. And she also dives in a little bit about how you know when a project is ready to be its own entity and to have its own brand that stands apart from your brand as a conservation visual storyteller.

There's so much inside this episode that's incredibly helpful for when it comes to creating your own brand for a conservation visual storytelling project that you care so much about.


You'll Learn:

  • What a brand kit is, and all the things it can include
  • The surprising power of a logo, and all the ways you can use it to build identity and buzz around your project
  • How to know if, or when, your project needs its own brand kit
  • The difference between your brand as a visual storyteller, and your project's brand
  • The process of working with a designer to build a logo and brand kit
  • Listen until the end for a very, very special treat from Kika – a goodie just for listeners!


Resources Mentioned

Episode 071: How to Build a Brand Kit for Your Conservation Photography Project with Kika Tuff of Impact Media Lab

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/71

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
Oh, my goodness! It's actually here. It's here! Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy is finally out in the world. It's gone from this thing inside my head to an actual entity out there for you, ready for you to be part of it. I just, I can't even believe it. It's been so many months of thinking about it and developing it and really building it from the ground up. And I'm just overjoyed and kind of amazed that it's actually a reality now. Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy is here. But it is not something that I built by myself, oh, no, no. There are several people involved, whether it was in supporting me, or it's the other instructors who are creating courses, or it's the folks who actually built the whole design of our logos and our course badges, and that's who's here with us today.

0:00:56.9 JH: When it came time to actually build the look, the brand for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, I turn to one of the most talented businesses in our industry. Impact Media Lab is a company that builds brand strategy and websites, and even the visuals from film and photography for scientists and science labs and also, us, Conservation Visual Storytellers, as well. They are just absolutely amazing at what they do. So I turn to Kika Tuff, the owner of Impact Media Lab, and a former guest on this podcast, and asked her if they would be willing to create the logo and the brand kit for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy. And she said yes. So we worked together over several months to actually come up with the look of this company. And I'm absolutely in love with our logo, the big logo that represents Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, but also, each badge for each course. So every workshop that we give, every program that we have, every online course that we have, each one has its own badge, and they developed each of those as well.

0:02:12.0 JH: Now, it was a really amazing process. It was fun, and it was challenging in my own kind of way, and it was really energizing and inspiring to see the types of options that they came up with for me to choose from as we went along through this process. And the result was so just... I was so happy with it that I asked Kika to come aboard the podcast and talk about: What is a brand kit and a logo? And why are these things important? And you know, having a logo, and not just a logo, but an entire brand kit, the colors, the fonts, the other things that go within your brand that help express who you are, is a pretty big deal, but not just as a business entity. It actually is really important also for visual storytelling projects.

0:03:03.0 JH: For instance, Urban Coyote Initiative had an entire brand kit. We had a beautiful logo that my friend and designer, Natalia Martinez of The Labs & Co. Designed for me. That had its own color scheme and font scheme, and the way that we used everything to have a cohesive look for a visual storytelling project. Watershed Sentinels, I'm in the process of developing a brand kit for that as well, and that is a long-term visual storytelling project. So it's really something that can be incredibly useful and powerful for us conservation visual storytellers when we have a project that needs to be its own entity. It needs to be its own thing that stands alone, has its own voice, vibe, look, feel. And when you're ready for that, when your project is something that needs to have its own entity, well, that's when you bring in a brand strategist like the folks at Impact Media Lab.

0:04:00.7 JH: So I asked Kika Tuff, owner and founder, to come back onto the podcast and talk about what it means to build a brand kit for a project. What goes into it? What does the process look like? What are some of the things that we need to think about or consider? So she's here with us today to walk us through building a brand kit and the things that we think about when it comes to a project. And she also dives in a little bit about how you know when a project is ready to be its own entity and to have its own brand that stands apart from your brand as a conservation visual storyteller. There's so much inside this episode that's gonna be incredibly helpful for you when it comes to creating your own brand for a conservation visual storytelling project that you want to have out in the world. Let's dive in.


0:04:56.0 JH: Welcome to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. I'm your host, Jaymi Heimbuch, and if you are a visual storyteller with a love for all things wild, then you're in the right place. From conservation to creativity, from business to marketing, and everything in between, this podcast is for you, the conservation visual storyteller who is ready to make an impact. Let's dive in.


0:05:26.9 JH: Kika, thank you so much for coming back again to Impact: The Conservation Photography Podcast. I am so excited that you are back for another interview.

0:05:36.9 Kika Tuff: Thank you, I am so excited to be here.

0:05:40.3 JH: Well, we've been working side by side for a couple of months at the beginning of the year because you and your team are the masterminds behind all of the brand new branding and logos of the brand new Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy. And working with you guys was just, it was pure joy, really.

0:06:03.9 KT: Thank you, I feel the exact same way.


0:06:07.2 JH: Well, I wanted to bring you on to talk about a lot of the process that we went through because I think that, especially when it comes to larger projects like businesses, for sure, it seems really obvious that you need a logo and branding, but projects, visual, storytelling projects need this stuff as well. And going through the whole process of creating a branding kit and logos and all of the bells and whistles, it can feel daunting, but it's also a ton of fun. And so I wanted to bring you on to sort of walk everyone through what that process is like.

0:06:41.5 KT: Yeah, great, thank you.

0:06:43.7 JH: So Kika, for those listeners who aren't really sure what branding means, especially if it's for a visual storytelling project, can you just kind of give us, in a nutshell, what is a brand for a project?

0:07:00.0 KT: Yeah, well, I would say the concept of a brand... I mean, I have textbooks written about the concept of what a brand is, so this is my opinion, and in the context of what it means for a visual storytelling project or a communication project, anyway. I think a brand is really about capturing the essential elements of the project in a way as if the project was a person. So you know, what... How did the project get born? What is the project really committed to? Why is the project important? What is the voice of the project? And then a lot of the work we do is taking those elements and turning them into a visual identity. So how do we use visual elements like colors or shapes or compositions or typeface to send all of those messages to the audience? So if the project is really... In the case of the CVSA, I think it was a perfect example that the project is really committed to the natural world and the wonder of nature. And that is so fundamental to the work of visual storytellers, that that became the driving element of the visual identity was, how do we bring that wonder for the natural world, and then kind of that academic feeling to that? And it's all about kind of layering these elements to give a full picture of what a project is about.

0:08:47.8 JH: Yeah, going back to that first conversation that we had where you were like, "Okay, so Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, what is it all... Like, what is this? What is it all about? What's the vibe?" And it was really interesting to go through that and say, "Well, we're, I want people to, as soon as they see us, they trust us that we're gonna give them a really amazing education, but we're gonna do it in a really fun way. We don't take ourselves too seriously. All of the information is gonna be top-notch, but also, you're gonna have fun. And it is about, like the driving force is nature and respect for that. So what does that look like?" And then all of that seemed to just come out through the visuals, through the logos and the brand that you guys designed. So you're right, it does feel kind of like a person. CVSA is a person, to me. It is an entity with its own voice and personality and, yeah, great, that's a really great way to describe a brand for a project.

0:09:45.8 KT: Thank you. And I think one challenge that we face as brand creators is figuring out where our personal brand ends and the project brand begins. And I actually think building a logo and really thinking through the brand of a project sometimes gives you that clarity of knowing like: Where does your work as a photographer end, and this project begin? Because there's often so much overlap. And I know for me, personally, as a photographer, but then also as a business owner, it can be very difficult to tease out where the brands end and where they overlap. And so I think going through a formal process like this really helps. Like: Where does Jaymi Heimbuch photography end, and the CVSA brand begin? Well, giving it a logo and the voice all its own and its own suite of visual identity features really helps. So that when you are stepping into the different personas on social media or in the language of your contracts or emails, it's really helpful, sometimes, to be able to say, "Okay, I am in this persona as this brand, and the logo and the colors and the fonts really just kind of reinforce that."

0:11:03.2 JH: Yeah, you know, I never would have thought about it quite like that until you just said that, but you... While you were talking, my mind was bouncing around, to, you know, I've had a brand and a logo and color, a whole kit and everything for Urban Coyote Initiative. Another one for my tour business, Oregon Coast Photo Tours that was up and running. Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy has its own thing. My photography business has its own thing. And it's true, by them having their own visual identity, I do have a different way of writing out emails or approaching people. I use different language. And I kind of like enter different parts of my own personality that are reflective of the personality of that brand, and the visuals really help to build those barriers around that. I would not have thought about it until you just said that.

0:11:54.1 KT: Yeah. Well, and it's been at the forefront of my brain lately because we work so much with scientists in developing personal brands or brands for their lab group, where we have this client and she's so drawn to like, "I want my brand to be playful. Like I want my science to be playful. I wanna have this playful element. Like me, as a person, I'm not like silly, I'm not playful. But is it okay to cultivate a brand that is playful, even if that's not my personal... That's not my personality?" And we actually got to kind of coach her through like, "Well, that's the fun of having a brand, right? You can... " I don't consider myself like a particularly playful person, but the brand for Impact Media Lab is really playful, and it's fun to put that on, and it's kind of role play, in a lot of ways. Like that's who the company is, that's not... Even if that's not necessarily who I am. And I don't know, it can, having... [chuckle] And we will be talking about having your brand guide when you sit down, having these things that can inspire you to maintain that voice in your communications is so helpful because I have to be like, "Okay, who am I communicating as right now? And what would that look like? And how do we build that experience that's true to the brand?" And so...

0:13:22.9 JH: Yeah. Well, so we're gonna get in also to who the "we" is of Impact Media Lab because it was not you designing the visuals; it was other phenomenal team members, but you are the guide of making all of this happen. When it comes to the actual logo of a project, why is having a logo... We talked a little bit about the visuals as a whole, but why is that logo such an essential thing to nail down for a long-term visual storytelling project? So, for instance, Watershed Sentinels, my long-term photography project, does not yet have a logo. Why is it gonna be important for me to sit down and build a logo for this long-term project?

0:14:09.1 KT: Yeah, a lot of people feel like logo and brand are synonymous, but logo is the kind of strongest visual piece of any brand, I think. And when it's time to sit down and design a logo like that, I think, even in the act itself, on a personal level, gives you that kind of commitment to the project, and it gives the project a lot of validity emotionally, psychologically. But then also, when you start to talk about the project with others and talk about the project with funders or news outlets, having a logo really, I think, suggests that you're serious about it, and that you're committed to it for the long term.

0:15:06.9 KT: And then once you made the decision to create a logo, you create a logo that you love, the uses for a logo are infinite. It can become the flagship piece of your email signature. It can go on every contract, every formal document. It can go in informal documents. It drives the profile on social media. It's the first thing they see and it's the thing they see every time you post. You can start to take it out of the digital space and into the real world when you put it on coffee mugs and pins and t-shirts. For me, putting a logo on schwag has opened up a whole new world to running online contests. Finally, I have something I can easily give away. I can put my logo on stuff and then drive attention and run little competitions where we give away logo-based stuff. That's really cool. And yeah, then you can use that in fundraising efforts or it's a really nice way to say thank you to volunteers. So even once you have the logo to take it into the non-digital space. Now, you just can put it on anything you want, and it's an easy way to say thank you or, "Come follow me," or, "Join this cool thing that I'm working on." I feel like it just has infinite potential.

0:16:44.8 KT: And then when you are out there in the world, very much like, I think every photographer knows that you have to attribute your name to images so that there is that breadcrumb trail that leads back to you online, you know? There has to be some way for someone to connect all of the disparate pieces of work that you've done. And a logo is a really easy way for that to work for a project for you, personally, when they see that in the corner, much like your watermark. That just becomes a way for people to immediately know that it's you and not somebody else, and then it becomes easier to build a portfolio and track your work and to just get noticed. If someone sees your logo and they really love it, they may look up what that's about and who it's connected to. And then people are actually discovering you through the logo alone, which I think is always really fun. So it does a lot of work for you, actually.

0:17:51.2 JH: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think just thinking about Urban Coyote Initiative and our use of the logo, it really was a really big part of our fundraising because we took the time to work with a designer to build a logo that was, in and of itself, a piece of art, and it was beautiful and said so much about what we were trying to accomplish. The logo was the silhouette of a coyote that inside of it had a sunset cityscape that then transitioned into a forest. And so it was really saying a lot about that combination of thriving in urban and wild community, and what does it mean for humans to blend back into the wild, and here's this creature that helps us to do that. There was a lot built into it as a piece of art. And because of that, we were able to put it on everything inside of a print shop, and that print shop on our website helped to fund a lot of the administrative overhead of running the project at all.

0:18:56.7 JH: And it could have been, should we have chased that kind of revenue stream down, it could have really helped us to fundraise for field work or for certain aspects of the project that we wanted to go chase down for stories or who knows what? But yeah, that logo was a really big deal for that long-term photography project. So I'm basically nodding yes, I couldn't agree with you more that having a logo for a visual storytelling project, yeah, it does a lot of work for you. It's not just a ego thing, it's not just a vanity thing, it is really a work horse item in a brand kit. What is a brand kit, Kika?

0:19:39.2 KT: Oh my. What is a brand kit. I would say, for me... I build really simple brand kits for people. So it's really essential things like a color palette, a suite of fonts that you use regularly and some directions on how to use them. And then a logo and that... That's a pretty complete branded kit for me and the type of people I work with. It could go on... You can add custom icons. You can have maybe some description about the way you take photos, the angles that you use, that can all be part of your brand kit. Any signature thing that you are gonna conscientiously do when using your brand, when speaking in the voice of your brand, can be part of that kit.

0:20:42.3 KT: So it could be particular words. It could be... I think a lot about swear words. Are swear words, like, "Is this in our brand kit?" I mean, that's part of who we are and I think, yes. So certain swear words are in the brand kit and certain swear words are out. And it's kind of whatever fits in that little bucket of the things that make your voice and project unique.

0:21:14.4 JH: Wonderful, yeah, inside of the Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy brand kit that you helped build for us, that your team help build for us, we have our main logo. So the logo that represents CVSA. Each of the courses, the online courses, each of the in-person workshops, each of the programs we run have their own badge, that also is that same vibe. So our brand kit includes each of the course badges. Our brand kit includes the color palette and the fonts. And as I was building the website for the academy, I had that PDF file up in front of me in a tab at all times. And I was constantly referencing the color palette for how I wanted to use it across the website and inside of the student group, which is now called the Quad.

0:22:00.0 JH: Because every Academy has a quad where students gather. We use that to build out each of the study halls for each of the courses. And so the course has... So, for example, Morgan Hines Film-making course, her badge is the cormorant, the double crested cormorant. That is the species that she is super passionate about, and so that became her course badge. So when you go into the Quad and you look for your study hall for conservation film-making 101, you will see the cormorant and that badge. And so everything that you as a student in that course, whenever you see that cormorant, you know it involves you.

0:22:36.1 JH: And I love that that brand kit is something that not only the person running the project or the thing can reference, but then it becomes something that anyone involved in any way starts to kind of absorb as part of their psyche and part of the way that they use things and navigate things visually throughout the project.

0:22:56.9 KT: Yeah, and I love that there is the very logistical use like, "Okay, I... " Whenever, I'm on a website or listening to a talk or navigating social media, I need to know that I'm in the right place. So every time I see my course badge, my cormorant badge, then I know I'm in the right place. And that's like a very logistical use... Yeah, and then there's all those other layers where... We talked about when you wear that badge in the real world and what happens if you bump into somebody else that has that badge. It is this instant connection on such a different level, and it says so much about who you are and what you care about and the community that you're a part of.

0:23:46.4 KT: And so even having a course badge that suddenly you see in other places in the world, it's like it's such a... It transcends so many things that we think of about a brand. It's a community thing. So yeah, I love that they have kind of... It's very real. Like, "Oh, tell me where I am." Which project am I looking at right now? But then also this kind of next level experience that can happen.

0:24:16.7 JH: Yeah. You know you're part of a tribe...

0:24:18.4 KT: Exactly.

0:24:19.8 JH: You know you're with others just like you and... Yeah, that means a lot. Well, I wanna dig into the brand making process with you because it was so much fun working alongside you and Bailey and Alice. And your team at Impact Media Lab guides clients through the process from, "I know I need a brand and a logo, now what?" Into, "Oh my God, I have this amazing thing that I cannot wait to show the world." Like, I was... As you were showing me updates, I was texting loved ones being like, "Look at... Look at... Look at... Loot at... " It was so exciting to get this thing that represented all of the emotions and thoughts and philosophies and everything about what I wanted to build and put out in the world and what we were building together.

0:25:08.0 JH: And to visually see that represented was amazing. And so for our listeners who have a long-term project or even a short-term project that needs to be its own entity, needs to be its own thing inside of their work and they want to build a brand around that... I'd love to talk about my experience in working with you and in general, the experience of working with a designer to build that. Are you game?

0:25:33.1 KT: Yeah, I'm ready. And I agree too, that I should just pause right now and say, for anyone who's seen the logo, and is going to see the logo, all credit goes to our illustrator Bailey. She is amazing, and we are a team of three, me, Alice, and Bailey, and we tackle everything collaboratively together. So any time I say I, I really mean we. And it's this three woman core of the business.

0:26:05.3 JH: Yes. Tell us a little bit about your... Impact Media Lab's process for bringing someone in. 'Cause you mentioned a while back that you coach people through the process of building their brand. What is the process like as soon as someone raises their hand and says, "My project needs a look." It needs an entity. Where do we go from here?

0:26:26.4 KT: Yeah. Well, I would say the beauty of branding is that the process is truly a journey and it looks different for everybody. So we've got this formula of steps that we go through, but I almost think we could talk through yours specifically...

0:26:47.9 JH: Sure.

0:26:47.9 KT: Kind of where you started and what we picked up on that we were really excited about.

0:26:52.9 JH: Oh, let's do it, because I... If I can have an excuse to legitimately talk about everything that was the creation of CVSA, I'm gonna take up that opportunity. So yes, let's use me as the example, 'cause it was so fun.

0:27:05.7 KT: Okay. Perfect. 'Cause I remember... We always start with what we call a launch call. So it's our entire design team, me Bailey and Alice coming together with the client, Jaymi, for the very first time to hear in your own words what the project is about. We get to ask you questions like, why does it matter? Who are you? How much of you should be present in the brand? What is the personality of the brand? And we get to really dive into that. But I remember on our first call the first... One of the first things we did was go to Pinterest and look at other academy logos and icons for courses. And talking through why what you were seeing didn't resonate for you. Didn't capture the values of nature and wonder and community. And...

0:28:05.4 JH: Yeah.

0:28:06.4 KT: I remember, like, that's too cartoon... I remember a lot of like, "That's too cartoony." We are serious storytellers doing hard work. So it couldn't be too cartoony. That didn't honor the work being done in the space and it didn't honor the community that you were gathering for these things. And so there was... But also, at the same time, we could talk about some of those first designs where we really pushed this like IV League Academy almost to a comical amount. Like a Hogwarts, Harry Potter Hogwarts level Gryffindor icon, and why that was too far.

0:28:49.1 JH: Yeah. It was interesting though, because now the logo is very much like a graphic novel comic book illustration. All... The logo and the course badges are all illustrations that are very bright and colorful and vivid. And yet there's something about them that makes me really happy, that doesn't go to that cartoony route. So there was a lot of you guys picking up very subtle nuances to what I was trying to say by going through and looking at examples. Because I didn't want something that looked dorky or like a Gumby cartoon or Mickey Mouse Disney Cartoon... Like something that was just so far that way, yet, illustration and vivid color and things that didn't have to be super realistic were totally where we were headed.

0:29:41.1 JH: Now, there was a breakthrough moment in that discussion, in that launch discussion. And we were going through stuff and I was like, "I hate this one." And you were like, "Okay, so you know, give us a scale of how much you like this one?" And I was like, "There's something wrong with it, and I can't put my finger on it." And finally, you said, "What about things that are like national parks badges?" And you started to show me some vintage national parks badges, and you just hit the nail on the head. There was something... I would never have gone that route. I would never have discovered that for myself. I'm not a design-minded person at all. And as soon as you showed me that and started to visualize, I was like, "Oh, this... This is it. This is what I want." This is where we go. And it was sort of quote unquote cartoony, but it's not cartoony. And you figured out exactly what I wanted and where my head was at without me really having words for it.

0:30:34.3 KT: Yeah. Oh my God, I love... I totally remembered this moment. And I even think one step back from that when it was all the things you hated or didn't love... I mean, I think this is part of what makes a logo special and badges special. We were seeing a lot of stuff where it's like, "Oh, it's a stack of books." It's a... The film-making course is gonna have a film camera, which is just so overdone. And we talked about, "Well, what do we wanna really emphasize?" Do we wanna emphasize the what. The fact that it'll be a film camera. Or do we wanna emphasize the why, which is that it all comes back to valuing nature and wanting to fight for nature and having tools to achieve that mission. And that was for me at least the moment where it turned to like, "We don't need some icon of... Like stack of books to say that it's an academy."

0:31:39.1 KT: If we could couch something in a shield shape, that's academy enough. And what matters is what goes inside and that has to be based in nature and that kind of... That twist of thinking about what makes the place... The project really special and unique and different from every other academy that's out there or online learning. That was where the breakthrough came from. And I feel like this is true always with logos. It's just when we start to get down to what makes this special that's what needs to be the heart of the logo. You as a photographer, you don't need to have a camera in the logo. The camera is not what makes you special. It's about what you're photographing. What you're telling a story about.

0:32:30.0 KT: And... When you can start to hone in on that, it's like, "Awh." And then you bring it into the visual space, and... It's like seeing your heart presented in graphic form. And it's just like... Where all the magic happens. And the thing that makes logo design so fun.

0:32:49.3 JH: Yeah... Yeah. Okay, so launch call, you get into that nitty-gritty with a client. Or with us, we really got into that nitty-gritty. And finally after... I think it was only a half hour or so of digging through ideas and talking about that... I brought a sheet of paper that had my vision and mission and core values for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, and I told you about the tone. That idea that we talked about before, where it's like, we want everyone to know that the information they're getting is the best information out there, but they're also gonna have fun learning it. That we don't take ourselves too seriously, and that it's joyful, and it's not that tired old academia, it's joyful.

0:33:30.2 JH: And then you walked us into the path of these vintage badge ideas, and now we had this direction. After that call, and you're like, "Okay, well, we've got this direction." Then what happened? What happened over in the Impact Media Lab, side of things, while I was sitting there joyfully, eagerly awaiting the next round?

0:33:52.1 KT: Yeah, it's the two weeks of anticipation.

0:33:57.6 JH: Yes.

0:33:58.2 KT: Yeah, 'cause we get two weeks to put together our first round of ideas. In that first round, we do try and present many different directions to see what resonates with the client. I have done a lot of research online that says like you should start honing in right away. But for us personally, we like to still feel stuff out in that first draft and see what feels right. So I remember... I could go back and count... We put together, I don't know, 40 or something. The list that you saw would have been a pared down list of what we had going internally, which is just like... Feels like thousands of ideas of what this could look like. And so then internally, we take those two weeks to try and narrow it down. But they're still all over the place in the first round. Some are very simple. Some are very complex.

0:35:05.5 JH: Yeah, when you guys did... So on my side of things, after two weeks, you sent over a PDF document that had, I think it was 18 or 20, somewhere in that range.

0:35:15.8 KT: Okay.

0:35:15.8 JH: Different options, and it was... First of all, that was way more than I was expecting. I don't know what I was expecting. I just wasn't expecting that level of scale and variety. And it was really interesting to see them and to realize I instantly gravitated towards four of them. Four or five of them. And then from there, I was like, "Okay, but I definitely really like most... Everything about two or three of them." But I like these elements of these other ones. But it was really neat to know that you guys had thought about this big, wide range of how this could go and that it gave me the... As the client, as someone who's trying to understand where this is going, the ability to almost pick and choose a little bit out of favorites and then provide feedback to you.

0:36:03.8 JH: So we got to walk through this huge variety and then I created a Loom video because that's so much easier than trying to write out in text. And so I had the PDF in front of me, and I created a Loom video where I said, "Okay, I'm gravitating toward this one and this one because of these things." And here's what I don't like about this one, over here and why I don't want it, but I like this element of this other thing. So even if I mainly like option A, B and D, I like how C does this. And so I created this... I think it was probably 10 minutes long. It was...

0:36:37.9 KT: It was perfect.

0:36:39.7 JH: It was long. And sent that off to you, and then what happens at that point?

0:36:44.5 KT: We all watched the video and had another conversation about what everybody was feeling and thinking and resonating. And then Bailey goes off to her magical space. And then the next round comes in and we kind of talk through what's there and if we need more or less or which options should go to Jaymi. But yeah, I think after that first big launch call, the process is so iterative. So it's kind of like a little more feedback and collaboration, just... Even if it doesn't change the logo that much or the big look and feel for the audience, it's really fun and it's what makes you love your logo so much because it's from your heart and you chose all of these things in there...

0:37:37.3 KT: When we were trying to pick the color for the frame, and it turned into like, "Well, it should maybe be gradient." And they're kind of all these small touches that you brought in to us... The ideas, and the... I often think there are always solutions to a problem. And that's what's so fun about it, I think... So I just kind of love that. After that, it's just back and forth and back and forth. And what do you love and what do you feel and what do you not feel about the design. And it was just so fun.

0:38:17.7 JH: So there was one thing, so we went through that revision process and finalized this logo, and the same thing happened with each of the course badges as well, and you guys delivered to me this ultimate set of beauty that I got to go ahead and roll out as the academy visuals. But there was something really important that you guys provided that surprised me and made me so happy because I didn't know how badly I needed that, I would never have thought to have asked it. But you gave a completely white version and a completely black version of each of the logos and badges, so that they could be used in ways that the color version just does not work. Why is that so important to have those options, those monochrome options?

0:39:08.3 KT: Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of that is still rooted in the ancient days of print, where like, "Oh, I need to put my logo in this pamphlet, and they can only afford," and this is true for conservation groups. They wanna put our logo on the flyer, they don't have very much money, so we know they're gonna print in black and white only, and so we need to have a design option that works in black only and white only. We know so-and-so is gonna use the logo on the website, and it's gonna go in a dark space, so they need a white version, or it's gonna go in a white space so they need the dark version. I think, yeah, increasingly, for a digital audience at least, the monochromatic, the all-black version doesn't matter quite so much. But that used to be super important when people were printing things out on paper and color ink is really expensive. So we provide it in case somebody's gonna print this thing on a printer.

0:40:15.8 JH: I'm so grateful for it because it is something that I've already used for printing. Because of course, one of the first things I do is order a sweatshirt and all these random things, and the color logo works on some colors for fabrics or on water bottles, but not on others. And so I got to play with that, which was really fun. But also on the website, just in building out the sales pages for the digital courses and the workshops, having separator bars that introduce the next section. And it's this dark blue, and I get to use the white logo on top of that, as this really beautiful, vivid reminder that you're in the right space, reminder of visual reminder and trigger of what it is that you're looking at, but it's very subtle and small, and it's not as repetitive as it would be if you used the color logo again and again and again. And so it almost becomes like an icon rather than the logo or the badge again, and I really loved that. So I wanted to ask you about that specifically to point out like, "Hey, this might be something you ask your designer about if you're building a logo and a brand kit."

0:41:21.6 KT: Yeah, definitely. And actually, now that you mentioned that, it's true, because we always, we so often use color to draw attention to particular words or buttons on a website, so if you're using your full color version of the logo, it ends up competing for attention with other more important things. So you're right. It really is nice to have a subtle version of the logo.

0:41:44.2 JH: So we built this amazingness for Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, and it was, from my end anyway, a really smooth and beautiful process, working with your team, with you and Bailey and Alice was just wonderful because you allowed me the space to be like, "Oh, I just, I don't like this, can we just change this one thing?" And I was very conscious of time and how much time you were investing in it, and so I was really hesitant to ask for changes. And you guys were always so gracious, where I was like, "Can you just bring this part down just a tiny little bit and this, what about right here?" And these little subtle changes. And I know that for me, it was really important to build up the courage to be like, you're paying designers to do something, they want you to be happy with your product, so ask for what you want. And then on the flip side, there's probably clients who are extremely demanding or picky or particular. If you were gonna have an ideal client who is the best possible client to work with inside of this process, what would that client do or what would they provide to you that would make your job so easy?

0:43:06.4 KT: That's a great question, 'cause you were pretty much the ideal client, I think.

0:43:15.1 JH: Oh, I like hearing that.


0:43:17.7 KT: Yeah, I can't think of anything. It was so fun, and I think what makes our job really fun is when the client knows their vision, like you understood what made the Visual Storytellers Academy special, and that was fun for us 'cause we had something really compelling to build on. You were flexible in your vision. I think sometimes, I think it's perfectly fine if people have seen a logo and they felt like it was right for them and they just want another version of a logo they've seen before. That totally works too, but I think our ideal client is when you know yourself and you know your mission, but you're flexible to be inspired and excited and surprised, I think it's the ideal client.

0:44:22.1 JH: That's really great to know. I think you're right. I feel like it takes a lot of trust too. I've known you for years and I've watched, I've only known Bailey for, I don't know, maybe a year if that, in following her work, but the work that I followed, consistently impresses me. So I came into working with you with a huge amount of trust, knowing that I was hiring you and your team for your expertise and your brilliance inside of this. And so it made it very easy for me to say, "Here's everything that is, this thing that I'm making. Okay, you guys be experts now and just do what it is that you're gonna do." I think that it's also difficult when you're coming into this collaboration with something that you feel really passionate about and maybe that trust isn't there, maybe it's someone who's never worked with you before, never worked with designers before, and are really, a little bit, I guess, rigid is maybe the word that I'm looking for, are kind of rigid in what they want to achieve. And I think that if there's one thing I could say, if we're gonna say, "Oh, Jaymi, you did a good job." I think that it was because I allowed myself to trust you and your process and just say, "They're gonna figure it out and I'm gonna be happy with whatever it is, I know that I'm gonna be happy with whatever it is that they bring back."

0:45:43.6 KT: Yeah, well, and we had another experience with a conservation photographer, Andrew.

0:45:51.5 JH: Oh, Andrew!

0:45:54.0 KT: Yeah, Andrew. He came with a suite of animal-focused logos that he really liked, but in talking to him in his daytime life, he oversees the production of Japanese animation. And he doesn't live in Japan currently, but he has spent a lot of time living in Japan, and Japan is really important to him and inspirational to him. And even in the design of his logo, we were able to take the species he was really excited about, and kind of recreate this Japanese ink-painting effect, and some of the identifiers of Japanese... Some of the art work. And I don't know, it just again, was sort of this fusing of someone who had a really clear sense of what makes them special and a loose sense of what they wanted in the logo. He knew it was an otter, that we were able to kind of build on that and bring it all together. And it was just so fun and collaborative, and Bailey did such an amazing job. If you've seen his logo, it was also just lovely and fun.

0:47:07.8 JH: Yeah, and I think I wanna mention too, what makes Bailey such a powerful artist in this realm in doing branding. Because so often we think of artist as like, "Oh, this is my style, this is this one thing I do really well. This is the way that all my stuff looks," and Bailey's stuff is all over the dang place, like what she... Everything is good, and it's really different. You guys have rolled out a new website, and all of the artwork in it is graffiti inspired with these bold, big colors. And then here's my thing, that's kind of comic book, graphic novel-inspired and vintage parks badge type of artwork inspired. And here's this other thing that is Japanese artwork inspired. And I've seen another logo from a scientist that you've worked with, that I adore, it reminds me of the new hipster version of 19th century medical drawings. And it's just like all of these elements that are... She's just so good at being what the client most needs as an artist, if that makes sense.

0:48:19.0 KT: Yeah. Oh my God, yes.

0:48:21.6 JH: I hope Bailey is listening to this episode and just turning red, but she's amazing. Bailey, you're amazing.

0:48:28.8 KT: Yeah, check her out on Instagram. Yeah, someone, a client we were working with directed us to her Instagram account, directed me to her Instagram account. And I just sort of saw it and thought, "Oh my God, what if we could use her for science? She's so amazing." And the universe just perfectly aligned and she was looking to leave her agency and try something new. And I just feel like I did something right in a past life that it all lined up the way it did, it was better than I ever dreamed. So we're very lucky.

0:49:08.7 JH: That's really awesome. Definitely. Well, Impact Media Lab is as a whole, I think that you have done a brilliant job creating this resource for scientists, for conservation visual storytellers. I know you've helped build websites, you've helped with logo creation, you've helped with so many people that I know that have been lucky enough to work with you, and I think anyone in this realm, if they choose you as the person who builds their brand, whether it is for a visual storytelling project or for a science lab or for their own brand as a visual storyteller, they're very lucky to get to work with you.

0:49:48.8 KT: Thank you, Jaymi. I'm turning red over here.


0:49:55.8 JH: Well, before we wrap up, I'm curious if you have thoughts on how someone knows when a project, a visual storytelling project needs to be its own brand, needs to be its own entity. So, for instance, on my website, I have these conservation projects that I've worked on, and over the years, some of them, they're just these smaller projects that I'm chipping away at and no biggy, but then some of them are, they turn into something, they turn into its own thing. How does a photographer or a filmmaker sort of know or identify when a project really needs to be its own entity, its own brand?

0:50:39.4 KT: Yeah, that is such a great... That's the million-dollar question, 'cause I think everything about storytelling is this process of developing your antennae, and your antennae are sensitive to story. And so when your antennae, when you feel it, I don't know a better way to describe it. And even the antennae analogy is actually from Lulu Miller, who's a Radio Lab podcaster or maybe a podcast producer. But yeah, she has this beautiful discussion about we are always trying to cultivate our antennae so that they tell us when something is really compelling and has legs to stand on its own. Your whole journey as a storyteller is figuring out what stories have legs and which stories don't. And when your antennae go off and you feel like this is really hitting on something, something important, something I feel, something that has legs and has a life to live, that's when it's time to think through like, "What is my plan for this story?" Is it gonna get its own account, is it, am I gonna start fundraising too? Am I bringing on a team to tackle the subject? What is the plan for this story? It's time to think through a brand at the first stage, I would say, because it will dictate everything about how the project takes shape. It will determine which platforms make sense, whether it's an individual project or a team project, all of that gets designed in the process of designing the brand.

0:52:28.1 KT: So it's like whenever you have that little feeling that this story is really impactful, it's time to think through the brand and the strategy and the plan for it, and that's a great time to bring in a logo and a visual voice, and all the things you'll need down the road.

0:52:47.7 JH: Well said. I think that that's, I really appreciate the fact that you answered with more of a go with your gut, you know it when you see it, rather than, "Well, if it has these eight indicators, then this is when you move forward." Because it's really true. Sometimes you might have a project that you're working on for a long time, but it's not a project that needs its own space outside of the umbrella that is you as a storyteller, as a visual storyteller. And sometimes you're working on a project that does need to have its own space outside of your umbrella as a visual storyteller, that needs to stand on its own. It has legs, and you just... I love that you said when your antennae go off and tell you that that's the case, then you need to begin. Is there anything, any words of wisdom for someone who's thinking, "I have this project. It is a visual storytelling project, it's a film project or a long-term photography project or something that I want it to be its own entity." What's your words of advice for giving that project its own persona?

0:53:56.6 KT: I think if you can work with someone who could facilitate the discovery process for you, that is ideal, the forms that we've built to guide our clients, that ask you just questions like, "Okay, pick three adjectives to describe the personality of the project?" We have cobbled together those questions from the internet and from our friends. And so even there are resources you could find that... Just look for brand discovery worksheets or some way of structuring your thinking around the development of a brand, because there are some really helpful questions like, "What is the personality of the project?" That you may not think through, come up with on your own. So there are lots of free resources you can use to just help you structure your thinking and build some really solid ideas for why the work matters, what it's gonna look like visually, what the voice and tone, and personality is like, assemble all of those ideas in one central document, do a little bit of research into color theory and see what kinds of colors would reinforce those messages and personality traits, and then the extension of that would be someone to help you illustrate it or create it in a really clean way. But yeah, we hear all the time that the thinking that goes into the design of the brand is so much more valuable than the product you walk away with.

0:55:48.3 KT: This one document that says, "My colors are hex code A, B, C, D and E," like the whole thinking behind the brand is really the part that matters the most. Because if your blue is three shades different, your audience might not know that, but that decision is really important to you and it really empowers you in the communication about the project, so. Yeah, it's a really empowering process, that's what's so great about it, that's what makes it so valuable, far more than the artwork that comes out on the other side, I think. So it's worth doing for any project.

0:56:34.0 JH: I think that's why it is so important to work with a guide, and it's why I really advocate, even if you don't have a lot of money to spend, it is worth spending money on working with a talented designer or design team, because it is... That team is going to come up with questions or remind you of important factors that you wouldn't know to navigate on your own. Or even if you know to navigate them, you may not know how. And so that design team is just such an essential partner in this whole process. And Kika, you, Bailey, Alice, Impact Media Lab has been truly essential in bringing Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy into fruition. And I am so grateful that I invested in working with a brilliant team. Now, for any of the listeners who are excited about working with such a brilliant design team and working with you at Impact Media Lab, you've set up a special promo for our listeners. Tell us about what that promo is?

0:57:41.3 KT: So for any listeners to the podcast, you can get our standard logo and branding package for 20% off, if you just shoot me an email and mention that you heard us on this podcast.

0:58:02.1 JH: Thank you so much for that extraordinary gift, Kika. And thank you so much for bringing just the talents that you and Bailey and Alice have to the world. You are constantly churning out beautiful things that help us to elevate science and get it out into the world in these fun, creative, brilliant ways. And I appreciate you.

0:58:23.3 KT: Thank you so much, Jaymi, you too.


0:58:29.6 JH: Before we wrap up, I would love to ask you to do one quick thing: Subscribe to this podcast. As a subscriber, you'll not only know when each week's episode goes live, but you'll also get insider goodies, like bonus episodes. You might miss them unless you're subscribed, and I don't want you to miss out on a thing. So please tap that subscribe button and I will talk to you next week.


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