Artist and businesswomen…these words don’t often find themselves next to each other. Nor do the words visual and communication, but it’s these combinations of words, and worlds that Calvina Nguyen has beautifully combined to create Your Brand Spark. A visual brand strategy studio that helps small businesses look and feel their best. For August’s installment of our Beyond the Brand series, we chat with Calvina about how she merges these worlds, how copywriting and visual storytelling are a match made in heaven and, wait…what is ‘visual communication’ anyway?
Let’s find out.
Hi, my name is Calvina, and I’m a Visual Brand Strategist. I’ve been in the creative industry for more than 15 years. I first started my career in design agencies doing identity design, packaging, websites, brochures…you name it. Then, I reconnected with my love of photography and took off with owning my own photography business for more than ten years, documenting stories of families, weddings, and brand photography.
I’ve recently found my way back to my design roots while combining it with everything I know about photography and helping brands visually stand out. I want to deliver beautiful and professional work while also giving small businesses the knowledge to do it themselves.
Your Brand Spark was “birthed” during the pandemic, which significantly impacted my photography business. But to be quite honest, in the years leading up to the pandemic, I knew I needed to change my business, I just didn’t have the time to stop and figure it out. While the pandemic was so hard, I saw many blessings from it, Your Brand Spark being one of them.
I created Your Brand Spark to solve some of the biggest problems I saw small businesses face in recent years in regards to their marketing, especially since social media has changed how businesses market themselves today. Some of the challenges I noticed were:
The human brain is powerful, we process so much information within seconds. We also use different parts of our brain to process things like speech, reading and seeing. Using them all harmoniously is vital for the most powerful and effective communication.
Visual communication is the one that registers the quickest and communicates the most in a split second. “A picture speaks a thousand words” is a common phrase for a good reason.
For brands, it’s essential to have your messaging in place. With social media and quick scrolling, the most significant advantage for a brand is having the ability to stop someone scrolling in their tracks so that they will stop and read the message. Visual communication is critical to evoke curiosity, trust, and confidence in a split second before people have had the chance to read or hear anything. This is not just for social media, it also goes for packaging, ads, websites, and more. Design matters.
While you can do one without the other, having them both work together is when you get the biggest bang.
Visual design can do two major things for the copy. First, it creates a “frame” for the copy that can set the tone and mood; it gets people ready for what’s coming next, the longer and more meaty content. This leads to the second thing it does, the visuals are a teaser for the rest of the copy and information.
I feel like that is one of the greatest things we have in common, Rachel. I still remember when we met in a conversation in Clubhouse. I heard your passion for storytelling, and how your travels have contributed to how you see the world and the people in it. I resonated a lot with this because I, too have a passion for bringing light to stories that need to be told.
Behind every brand are people who started their business with a specific vision for helping others and themselves. I want to help people bring out that vision so that more people can see and feel its power. THAT is what visual branding is all about.
Well, I just recently launched my online course Brand In A Week which is a step-by-step how to think through and create each layer of the visual brand. This course can help me accomplish the goal of having an affordable option for small businesses, that can also give businesses design knowledge, guidance, and accountability to finish their own branding. This pairs well with my other course, Brand Launch for Teams which is a more extensive branding program, and Brand In A Week Hybrid, which combines a DIY aspect with a professionally completed final brand kit. The information for all three programs can be found at Your Brand Spark.
In the near future (end of 2022 or beginning of 2023), I will launch my YouTube channel which will give even more range to empower small businesses with more design knowledge. I initially wanted to create this for my existing clients, but I realize that many others will find the information helpful as well. So I can’t wait until I can get this out there.
If there is any sense of uncertainty, the only true way to know for sure is if we give it a fair try, and that starts with doing things a little messy.
I feel like I’m still struggling with this. It’s not easy when most of my close friends are states away. I love to attend in-person events, I’ve met some of my best entrepreneur friends and sidekicks that way. I also like to invest my time and money into growth and growing alongside like-minded people who are just as hardworking.
Travel is the greatest gift a human can have. It forces us to see how people different from ourselves live, communicate, eat, and enjoy life. It’s only by traveling that we can stretch ourselves intellectually and creatively. It is what I’ve wanted most for my kids, to see more of the world so they can be more informed about their future decisions.
I’m an artist and no artist can create at all times. We need our rest so we can use the other muscles in our body and brain to recharge and recycle our energy. I still struggle with this, but…
I love browsing a good bookstore. My favorite bookstore is Kinokuniya in San Francisco Japantown. They have on one floor the best-curated collections of my favorite book genres; food, art, design, music, fashion, fiction, and business. I go there to look for ideas and to spark my creativity.
And there you have it. We hope you loved getting to know Calvina and hearing about the power of visual storytelling. We are so grateful for her wisdom and insights. Tune into our Instagram Live conversation with Calvina to hear even more of her story!
Know someone who would be a good fit for this series? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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