Corrina Gordon-Barnes of You Inspire Me is an engaging, funny and fiercely talented coach whose home on the internet is a sparkling hub for difference-maker entrepreneurs. Of course, Corrina herself isn’t fierce. She’s almost transcendentally iridescent (but also very, very grounded, which is a tricky trick to pull off. She does it with aplomb).
You Inspire Me has had a vibrant rebrand courtesy of the fabulous Flourish team, and to match the rainbow freshness of her new site, Corrina needed a way to illuminate her blog posts and engage her community with new images. Now this is getting slightly meta, because Corrina is my coach. She’s also my ideal client. You can read about how we uncovered this work-as-play focus over on this blog post on www.youinspireme.co.uk.
A look behind the scenes
When I work with a new client, I spend a lot of time researching and understanding their business, audience, values, voice and vibe. My ideal clients tend to be people whose work I already love and follow (or would if I had come across them) and Corrina is no exception. I’ve been following You Inspire Me for a couple of years already, and have a great connection with the material and community.
Discovering what’s at the heart of the business.
I send out a pdf to new clients to capture the essence of their brand as a playful-but-serious activity to get focus and insight into what the brand is all about. I’ll then get online and soak up the atmosphere, key messages and style influences. I asked Corrina to answer some questions about what kind of superhero she is:
Q. Describe your Superhero outfit (brainstorm words or write a sentence)
“It’s clean, I take care of it. It’s soft but strong; beautiful and warm and reliable. Think: cozy dressing gown meets glam red carpet.”
Q. Describe the inimitable atmosphere that swirls around you (is it powerful? Mysterious? Strong? Intimate?)
“Energized – it vibrates and pulses with good wholesome aliveness. It’s clear, fresh air – Alpine. Very safe and trustworthy.”
Q. What do you ride? (A black unicorn? A Ferrari? A magic carpet? What does it look like?)
“It’s a futuristic, toy-town mobile. Steady pace, pure white with rainbow colours (see my brand colour palette!). Clean, clear, knows where it’s going and it’s gorgeous to ride in it – VERY comfortable and fit for purpose. Well-engineered.”
Q. How do you make your entrance? (Quietly, so suddenly you’re just standing there? Or do you arrive with a bang?)
“The mobile is soundless so suddenly there’s a change in energy, confusion gets cleared, noise gets quietened. Love has arrived and it’s going to clear things up and uplift the energy. Oh, and there’s DEFINITELY some music playing in my super-mobile – probably Pink, ‘If God Were A DJ’ ;)”
Q. And finally, how do you sound? We’re touching on voice here. What’s your natural vibe? Are you casual and profane? Sweet and profound? A show-rather-than teller? A lyrical poet?
“Really enjoyable to listen to. A clear tinkle of a voice. A sparkling melody, warm and fresh. Life feels simple and harmonious when you hear this voice.”
These answers give me more insight into the type of aesthetic we’re looking to create. It’s wholesome (but strong), rainbow coloured and clear (but not Care Bear), and it vibrates with love and energy.
Corrina also tells me that her brand archetype is Innocent, with a supporting Alchemist and Explorer. Colour-palette-wise, we’re in Autumn with a Spring twist (and we’ve already got a beautiful rainbow-striped palette to start from.)
Getting started on visuals
When I’m preparing visuals for a client, I pay attention to signature concepts. Two that Corrina regularly talks about are the ideal fit (niche as a love match between a provider whose unique talents are the perfect match for a client’s need) and the concept of the golden megaphone, or peer-based cheerleader who will spread the word about your work. So, these could be great foundations for images. In this case, the blog post I’m illustrating is about claiming the kind of work that comes so naturally to you it’s like play, yet it’s the perfect fit for somebody else’s need.
I brainstorm the images that start to flow through my mind. Jigsaw pieces. Butterfly hunts. Catching a beautiful butterfly among cabbage moths. Joyful hand-holding. Spreading a message with a megaphone. Stating the obvious.
I’ve already got the colour palette, and I’m developing ideas about concept, but what about visual style?
Corrina’s brand values and superhero profile tell me that the visuals need to be quite clean and light, no black or dirty tones. I’m struck by how Le Petit Prince is a perfect fit for the Innocent/Explorer archetype, so I base some initial imagery on the illustrations from this (one of my favourite books, too).
I use a combination of marker pens, watercolour and soft pastels to create original drawings and paintings. I then cut, scan and assemble in Photoshop to create layered images. I overlay some typography to create depth and hone the message. I also make sure to isolate key elements like the golden megaphone and jigsaw pair so Corrina can use them separately or in other contexts. It’s like building up a library of visual elements to draw from.
I send across the drafts to Corrina, who gives me an enthusiastic thumbs up. I then compile the polished jpegs, package them up with a couple of thumbnail and social media-ised versions, and send them off, ready to illuminate her blog post.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Enjoyed this? Have a look at more of my work over at my portfolio.