Brand by Primo - my portfolio!

Well, I’ve finally finished my branding and marketing studio website. Any feedback would be amazingly appreciated.

Letterbox style, really simple with some CTAs and some quick lookups on my projects. Not every project was made with Sparkle because of needs / clients necessities, but we’ll find a way while we sail with the tool.

Cheers!

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hey, thanks for the feedback - idk why you would remove the comment. It’s a great point.

Yea, i’m not a graphic designer. Never meant to be - neither I sell this kind of service. Branding goes way beyond an appearance, contrary to what the world itself says or how we perceive it. A brand is beyond of what it looks, but it’s in the roots of the business and it’s communication.

What we see (or the visual system of a brand) is nothing but a tool for remembrance, something that must be discussed and defined together with the business owners. My website is bland, yes, and it doesn’t have the latest trend in graphic design. It communicates my brand, which is me, a professional with a reasonable amount of experience (with a 9 billion dollar brand), studying and perfecting really small entrepeneurs in a third world country (some of them doesn’t even have internet, or even a desktop PC - can’t really imagine that, right?)

My website wasn’t meant to think i’m selling an expansive service, but rather, how unusual services from small entrepeneurs can be digital and communicate with whoever they want to, wherever they are. They need guidance and a small digital step, so they can start making their own decisions towards this path.

Graphic design stuff is made with a third part who’s expert on this field. Also, my logo is my signature :confused:

Thanks for the feedback - really!

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I removed it because on second reading, I wondered if I was being a bit ‘full-on’ and heavy-handed. As you evidently have taken it the way it was intended, I will paster it here again, to give context:


With the assumption that brutal honesty is usually more helpful than feint praise, I am afraid you may not like what I have to say.

I am talking here of design and communication. The first thing I see is that the hierarchy and typography are pretty poor throughout, with the hierarchy even changing between breakpoints, which is very counter-productive. In most cases, I am not led through the information. My eye was jumping between two or three places on the page.

In addition your logo is very weak and says different things to your site design. There is a bit of a mismatch in messages going on here.

Looking through your portfolio pieces, in many cases, images fight with typography rather than support it.

From what I can see, your background appears to be more in the marketing side of brand strategies rather than the design and generation of a brand identity.

Ordinarily, I would not be so blunt and critical, except that you are selling a professional service to brand other companies and organisations. A service which is highly dependent on good design.

I had a look at the sites in your portfolio (which was fairly tedious to navigate waiting for each one to arrive before being able to click on it) and to be honest they all look like they have been made with a choice of two templates.

If your job is to brand others, surely that is all about communicating their own, unique message, culture and identity. There was nothing unique about any of it. Nothing that gave me a sense of who those companies are, beyond what they could do themselves with a good template.

As I say, I am not saying this to be cruel or hurtful, but as you asked for a critique, I’d rather help you move forward and grow by pointing out the weaknesses as I see them.

If you were an amateur in any other field or a new startup, my comments would be a little less direct (though my comments about the aesthetics and design of the site would stand). The site is clean and uncluttered, which is a good thing. However because you are offering services that require a high degree of design, if your own site (and past work) doesn’t demonstrate this, and moreover is fairly weak in this area, it is likely to adversely affect you.

On to more practical, issues. I first viewed your site on a portrait ipad and was presented with a very narrow mobile view. In landscape it populated the space better, but I think you need to add another breakpoint.

My advice would be to work with a qualified and experienced brand designer if you don’t have the skills yourself.

Hope this helps rather than disheartens

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Reinststed that above now.

And design is not about appearance. If it is, you are doing it wrong. It is fundamentally about communication and story-telling. It is – or rather, should be about visually communicating someone’s unique message. It is not about pretty. It is aesthetic, but it is, above all else, about problem-solving.

Unfortunately, the market is flooded by a huge amount of unqualified Charlatans, bolstered by crowd-source websites that make them think they are professional designers because they ‘design’ a logo for someone for $50. This undermines design. It undermines brand identity. It is a race to the bottom. A logo on its own is meaningless. It is an adornment and not part of a coherent and cohesive visual language. It has meant that the whole area of visual communication has been devalued as merely prettification. A full brand identity takes a huge amount of invested time with a client to ascertain their vision and their goals. Their brand. A designer’s job is to communicate this in a unified, clear and exacting way. It is not about whacking a pretty logo in the corner.

There is so much more to it than that. There are libraries full of academic research about perception of visual information, colour theory, etc, etc. It is about arranging information in such a way that is, firstly, about ease of communication and secondly about creating and communicating the emotional capital of a company, organisation, or person. It should never use the latest trend, unless you are dealing specifically with a brand that is all about trend, a brand whose intrinsic message needs to be about current trends (definitely the minority of businesses). For 99% it is about communicating a very specific identity to a specific group of people.

That’s where, as someone with 25+ years experience of communicating other people’s messages, I would beg to differ – unless you wish to communicate bland and unfocussed, which I am guessing you don’t.

Again, it doesn’t say this. There is nothing that specifically says approachable, affordable (a huge consideration for any startup, for whom a full-scale branding exercise is a frighteningly expensive prospect. Overall, it says, well, nothing really. There is very little personality in there (apart from your photo and signature). This would be fine if you were in a business where neutrality were important. You are not. You need to be communicating a sense of trustworthy expertise. It needs to say that you are able to hold their hand throughout a process they have no idea about, but are savvy enough to know they need it. But, moreover you need to understand the role of visual communication in the process. It is most definitely not an afterthought, as you seem to imply. It is intrinsic to any brand strategy. Otherwise, why would large companies spend so much money making sure that what they do, everything they say, looks and sounds the same across all media. It is hugely important to speak with a consistent voice, both visually and lexically.

Indeed… and it cannot be split up from what you do. It is an intrinsic part of any brand strategy. No point having the best brand strategy in the world if what visitors take away is the wrong emotional message, without even getting into hierarchy of information and the practical messages. Typically, people make emotional assumptions about anything anything within three seconds. If those emotional assumptions are incorrect, you have a long, hard job to change them. Ultimately, people make buying decisions emotionally as much as they do practically. Typographic tone of voice cannot be underestimated in its power to do exactly that.

I get the feeling that you have fallen into the camp that thinks design is about pretty. If so, you have been talking to the wrong designers.

I assumed so. I do understand this as a mechanism for implying the personal touch (even if a bit over-used). However, allied with the cross behind the B, this has the opposite effect to what I imagine you would want. A cross like this subliminally has negative connotations, cancel / wrong, etc. Even if not directly, it will be part of what people will take away with them. Also, it styling, using your signature to create the personal and personable approach, is out of step with the message you are putting across with the rest of the site. The one thing I do know about branding is that above all, you need to be consistent in both your visual language and your message, Any deviation and it is the worst thing you can do in terms of creating and building brand trust and loyalty.

Just glad you took it the way it was intended.

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Hey, thanks - this is invaluable advice. What you have in experience is what I have myself of life, so i’ll take any advice totally light-hearted. Sorry if i’ve spoken as if I know everything - English is my third language and i’m not very precise on it (yet).

I totally understand that design isn’t about appearance, and that’s why I insist in specifying ‘graphic’ design or ‘visual system’ whenever I write about visuals. It’s a important part on branding, for sure, but I’m talking way out of the branding funnel here. My business targets doesn’t even have a business model planned - let alone think about what colors would represent their psychological motivations or aspirations, or even what is their store trend. They just do stuff to survive, stuff that gives them food on the table. They can’t even define what problems they have - yet they do help a lot of people only by surviving. Like a cascade, really. My first move is to understand their entire business. Some is about handmade stuff, others are about teaching stuff - some of these doesn’t even sell things or generate monetary value. Some of them I can’t really help at all without restructuring - and I believe this is the opportunity for charlatans and the sort.

I’m sorry I can’t get into a more detailed discussion with you because of the language barrier. It’s a really steep process, one that as you’ve stated, have libraries of studies and stipulations and processes to go through. I’d tag it as brand clarity, if there’s any tag for this whatsoever - and that’s why I’ve choosen the X. We always perceive it as a negative marker, a “do not” signal. I see it as a conjunction of two paths - mine and theirs - and whenever the two paths crosses, there’s treasure in the middle. May be somewhat romantic, but that’s what I believe and strive for. Also it may need a little more of refinement, for sure, but I do like the “painted” aspect of it… reminds me of handmade efforts.

The website have a CTA, but it’s not my main point of leads. Some of them can’t even reach me thru there - and that’s totally fine. I may redo the influx of information and rearrange some of the stuff, even perhaps add some other pages with more visual info, but i’m kind in the blank here. It’s always so hard to talk about yourself in any way, and I am struggling with that as you may have noticed. I didn’t got the opportunity to go to a fancy design uni (they’re really expensive here) - rather been learning from books and have some specializations courses here and there, just like I’m doing with my English.

Ultimately, I do this to help and give back to my community (we may be poor but we’re united), with the little bit I’ve managed to acquire through the years. It’s not too much, but it’s something in a (hopeful) nice direction. After all, we’re all on this together, right?

Thank you for the points and the concepts. I’d love to hear any suggestion on what you think there should have some changes (if you can and would like to), but either way, thank you again.

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Definitely no need to apologise for your English. It is far better than my Portuguese (which is zero). I have only two languages – English and Italian. My written Italian is nowhere near as good as your written English.

I agree, it would be good to go into this even deeper (over a beer) if we could. It is always inspiring and uplifting to learn from other people’s experience, especially when those experiences are probably very different.

As to what further help I could be, without sitting down and talking to you in depth, I am not too sure, in terms of building a visual identity. (Feel free to PM me though If you think I can be of any help, as we are going off topic here somewhat – apologies Duncan). In terms of brand-building, you obviously think in the right way, with the explanation of your logo. Even though I may think the result risks negative associations, your path for getting there has reasoning and is not just an arbitrary visual. I like your thought process. I just think you need think about the outcome differently. Two paths that meet and create something larger than the sum of its parts, etc. Finding the treasure. etc, Dig a little deeper, visually, along that route.

Also I’d say is apply this thinking to your website. You need to speak to your customer base. Focus on them and use a tone of voice they would expect to hear. It is not about you. It is about them and how what you do and benefit them. If you are trying to appeal to local artisans, then a ubiquitous, clean, detached. corporate tone of voice is probably not the way to go. You say you like the painterly aspect of the logo. Why? because it is human-scale, real, approachable. You need this to be the language of your website itself, to my mind.

Although our direct experience likely differs considerably, one thing I can relate to is working within your community to help make a difference. I spent years working in London for bigger clients. Eventually, I left the city and now prefer to work with smaller, ethically- and environmentally-minded clients. People for whom what we all do should not be simply about growth and consumption, Doing things in the right way to build a sustainable future. Branding is often seen – at least in terms of visual identity – as the domain of large organisations. Instead, in the last 10 years my work has shown that actually the work I do benefits smaller companies equally – if not more so, as they fight to stake their claims in an already busy marketplace.

Good luck and keep at it.

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Wow some really great points and understandings! :slight_smile:

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I want a feedback from you @sprout!! www.soygrafico.com please :smiley:

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Are you sure?!!!

If you thought the last critique was a bit harsh…

The following all depends what you want to the site to do for you. If it is intended to be a design portfolio site, then read on. If it is just a bit of personal fun, then ignore what I have to say – which, of course, you can anyway!

OK. First off. I’d say you are using far too many gimmicky effects. Just because you can have photos animate and slide in, doesn’t mean you have to. If there is a solid reason to do something, do it. If not, then don’t. You should use image slide-ins to help direct the eye where you want it to be. I am never a fan of gimmick for the sake of it. Slide-ins done well, it can add to the experience, but done gratuitously they just serve to cheapen.

As I say, I have assumed your site is intended to serve as a portfolio and to introduce your services and skills. If so, then why am I seeing your breakfast, your dog, your son (I assume), a snail, etc. I can only guess you are trying to tell the world about who you are as a person. Potential clients care less about what you ate for breakfast than they do about how you can help them achieve their goals.

I don’t mind the big, friendly ‘hola’, but it would work better if you didn’t try and squeeze a logo into the O and just had clear, type. It is all a bit too obvious and predictable as it stands and, if I am honest, not particularly successfully done. The lettering of the logo leaves a lot to be desired and needs work to tidy it up and make it more legible. Again, there is a fair bit of typographic gimmickry going on.

This all means you have to scroll down to even get to anything like relevant content. Then when you do…

The emojis and a taco bouncing in. Just don’t! They really make it look more like a social media site, than the site of a serious graphic designer.

Typographically, this site is lacking. Very poor hierarchy. Little focus. My eyes are drawn all over the place. The largest piece of type on there says that you like to watch YouTube? What is that about? By this point, as a potential client, I’d be unlikely to read further. If I did, the next thing I read is that you are not creative and that you’d rather spend your time being recreational.

I’d be long gone.

If however, I was particularly bored and had ten minutes to kill and I o read further down that body of text and find that, ‘No soy el mejor pero tampoco intento serlo. Soy lo que toca ser. ’ You are not the best, and you are not even trying to be the best. You are what you need to be. Unless my translation of that is way off the mark, that reads to me as though you will do only what’s needed and no more.

It all comes across as very apathetic.

Next: Don’t use English for the sake of it, because somehow it makes you look more cosmopolitan or global. If you really want to appeal to an English-speaking market, create a second, translated site in English. Moreover – and this is a huge one – if you are going to use English. Never, never do so without getting it checked by a mother-tongue speaker, or a professional translator. Your English makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If any English speaker reads it, it just makes you look ridiculous.

Now, given that this site is supposed to be to promote you as a graphic designer – I think – you make it very difficult for anyone to find your portfolio pieces. Eventually I found a page with some meaningless logos on. No context. No explanation of the problem solved. No sense of how you fulfilled a brief. Design as adornment. Then I get to 2 little dancer icons. Why?!

After that some random, poorly presented images of what I assume is some of your work.

You do make a point on the first page of saying that you have worked with some fairly big organisations. However, I see absolutely no evidence of any work you have produced for them, unless they made you sign an NDA. If so, then I am guessing they wouldn’t take kindly to their logos being used either.

And again, another picture of your dog. Absolutely meaningless. Keep things like this for your personal Facebook page.

If I were a potential client, I definitely would have had too may alarm bells ringing to put my work your way, I am afraid.

If you are a trained graphic designer (your CV says you have a degree?), then you should know already that it is all about communicating an intended message to an intended audience. I think you need to rethink what you are trying to say and to whom – unless, you want potential clients to assume you are designer who doesn’t try too hard, can’t be bothered presenting work in any sort of considered way and care more about your dog and your breakfast than problem-solving for them. Currently the site looks more like, indulgent, self-referencing social media than a serious portfolio site. You need to resolve clarity of message.

Bet you are sorry you asked now!

As I said to Primo on his critique, none of this is intended to be hurtful or malicious. It is intended to show up problems I see with your site. I am afraid, as it stands, it is one of the most un-focussed sites I’ve seen in a long time.

Finally, as I said, feel free to ignore all of the above. It is only my opinion.

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Phew @soygrafico you asked!

But I do agree with a lot of what @sprout has said. What I could add is please let your site breath! Negative space will allow the user to eyeball your content better… good luck! :slight_smile:

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@sprout from the bottom of my ego destroyed heart THANK YOU! I appreciate all your words, and all the time you spend on your opinion. Really! You’re right on all of it! I can no disagree with you. I’ve just copy your comment and use it as a START FROM SCRATCH on the 4.0 version of my site. :smiley:
By the way, where I can follow you outside the community? I guess you have very interesting things around the web :smiley:

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I seem to have been working really hard to offend people these last couple of days. So far I have got away with it. Glad you found it more useful than offensive.

As to my own online presence. I have none! Ironically, I don’t even have my own site. I have simply been too busy to get around to it. I have been trying to find time to do my own site for the last 10+ years. I guess that’s not a bad thing, as it means I have enough work. One of these days…

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I can do your website. Im good at it! haha
Nowadays is very difficult to found and absolute honest no filter answer about anything. So for me it’s *gold your opinion. *Gold made of lava that burn my ego.
Hey, you should be on the brand-new community! https://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/

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@primo. Good points above. If you could do one thing. The green color on the button on your first page. That colour is out of place for me. How about something that’s a bit more earthy and understated.
Nicely done though.
Thanks for posting!
-W

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Wala!! Leído y releído, me voy a arriesgar. Yo también quiero la crítica constructiva de @sprout. De antemano, gracias, espero con la mente abierta y :crossed_fingers:

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Mis disculpas, esto tendrá que ser en inglés.

I should start charging money for this!!

Right; I looked first on an iPad and then on an iMac.

On the Desktop version, the first thing that came up was a splash screen that says “Gracias for la visit’. Get rid of this. It is so out of style with the rest of the site and looks trial and childish. I can’t say strongly enough how much this spoils what is effectively a fairly nice site.

So, I clicked that away and I am presented with some absolutely beautiful photography. Really beautiful. Well seen. Well taken. Well produced. Nice.

Overall the site has a pretty good feel but I think you have over-complicated it though, especially compared to your work. I looked at some of your portfolio pieces and again, you have some really very good work. For example the Lisbon Chill out Tour is clean. It has a good balance between text and photography. Enough white space to allow things to breathe. A nice example of editorial design.

[There’s that ‘Gracias‘ pop-up again. It is actually irritating now. That is not something you want to do to visitors. Negative responses have much more weight than positive ones and can change someone’s experience.]

The website seems to have fallen into the same trap as many do, in that it has too much going on. I wonder why you haven’t applied the same aesthetic to the website as you do your work. In your work, you seem to have an innate understanding of balance and white space. There is an elegance to it – especially in your photography. The website, by comparison is incredibly busy.

You need your website to have the same feel as your work. That way, people will really get a sense of who you are and what you do.

Your drill-down portfolio pages are more the feel you want for the whole site. For example the page for the REPOSTERÍA book is lovely. Typographically it supports the images and leads you to them. This is what you need it to do throughout the site. The repostería book is very nicely designed, by the way. Is that all your photography? Really nice. Well-executed typography too.

[Pop-up again, though]

By contrast, the main page feels like everything is thrown at you, all at once. Just too much. The animated type is unnecessary – especially the ‘We are’ part.

I will go through, point-by-point, the things I think need fixing on the main page:

From the top:

  1. The semi-transparent graphic over the photographs is unnecessary and actually pretty ugly. It has been blown up and is blurred / pixellated. It adds nothing and actually takes away from the beautiful photography. They speak for themselves. If you want something to lead down, a simple, fine key line would do the job better.

  2. I think I would make the menu hamburger less rounded and more square (maybe a slight radius, perhaps to soften slightly, in line with the feel of your work)

  3. Your logo, I am afraid is a bit of a train-wreck, typographically. Surprising, given how well you handle editorial type. Doesn’t need ‘we are’. Overall the logo has a very different feel to the work you produce. It looks amateur and your work definitely is not amateur.

  4. I think the main text should be on the left and the Steve Jobs quote on the right (and smaller) – if it is needed at all. I am not sure it is. Speak for yourself.

  5. Contact Us. This needs to be at the bottom and definitely does not need the HUGE image of the keyboard. Why is that bigger tan your work?

  6. The sentence and the icon for contacting you is cumbersome and ungainly

  7. You need a return between the “Everyone has a story…’ text and he heading. Currently, they are on the same line and it looks like a mistake.

  8. I think you could take the titles off the thumbnails and just have clickable images of your work. The images speak for themselves. All the information can be on the drill down page, once the image has been clicked. It will make it cleaner and more engaging.

  9. More generally; I am not sure the type family you have used is the most legible for online use. However, it does reflect your work, so in that, it is a good choice. I get a sense of who you are as a designer.

  10. I think you need to be a bit clearer about what you actually do. Initially, I thought you were just the photographer – especially with the name, Pinhole. Only when I got to the second para of About Us did I find out. This needs to be more explicit. Perhaps a short, introductory paragraph before the About Us section.

  11. On the iPad, there are some issues with headings running on to a second line. Actually, I think, generally, you could reduce the size of the headings quite a bit anyway. They are too dominant, without good reason for the huge size – and again, at odds with the flavour of the work you do. Type hierarchy is much more sensitively handled in your printed publications than it is on the site. Headings should not be more dominant than the work.

Finally, Again, as with soygrafico this part-use of English. Why? It really seems to be a thing. I lived in Italy for some time and it is a real phenomenon there too, to use ‘bits’ of English – usually pretty badly. Yours, at least, is pretty well done. You even used a plural-possessive apostrophe correctly, which many English speakers have trouble understanding.

Personally, I loathe bits of English. It is almost like some sort of trendy fad. I have never understood why Brits deserve the honour of our language being trendy. (personally, I’m still ashamed of Brexit), especially as Latin languages are far more beautiful anyway. Either English, or Spanish, unless there is good reason to use English (Steve Jobs quote, for example – even then, there’s nothing wrong with translating it.)

I think, overall it is a nice site, but it is just too over-done and almost overshadows the work (and not in a good way). The point of a portfolio site is to show off your work.

It should be treated, in this case, a bit like editorial typography should be treated, to support the clear communication of the text you are reading.

In the words of Adrain Frutiger. ‘If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape.’ Your website should be the same. It should not hinder the presentation of your work.

Trust in the same aesthetic you use for your printed publications.

Hope this helps.

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Mil millones de gracias!!!

No importa que sea en inglés, para eso está google traductor!! Yo voy a responder en español, que google también lo sabe traducir.

Por todo esto que dices y por alguna cosa más, no soy diseñadora web, soy diseñadora editorial, pero intentando aprender y al menos tener una presentación de mi trabajo decente.
Has corroborado alguna cosa que yo ya pensaba y me has hecho pensar en otras, sin lugar a dudas voy a poner en práctica muchos de los puntos que me has escrito.

Ha sido un placer leerte @sprout.

Ya no solo deberías cobrar por esto, sino que como mínimo, te mereces café+licor+postre. No sé a qué te dedicas, pero si en algún sitio hay tutoriales tuyos, dime donde están, que voy de cabeza y sin arnés!!!

Un abrazo y otro mil millones de gracias!! :upside_down_face: (sin dudarlo, esto es lo primero que va a desaparecer de la web) :woman_facepalming:

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Thank you.

I spend a lot of my time designing books and much of the rest of it with brand design. My passion, though is typography and type design. I have four typefaces that are in various states of completion that one day I will finish, but they are so time consuming to do, finding time to finish them is almost impossible. Over the years I have done all sorts, from design for the music industry (CD covers and associated marketing collateral – for both rock / pop and classical artists) to web design, editorial, design for the automotive industry, etc, etc. Most of my work is print with about 20% web. But the same principles apply to whatever medium you use to deliver information.

I don’t have time to do my own website, the chances of me putting tutorials together is almost zero!

That’s what makes it all fun.

Good luck

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