Design Debrief: The Heart School Branding with Anja Geelen

Design Debrief: The Heart School Branding with Anja Geelen

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I recently had the joy of working with Anja Geelen to design the logo and branding for The Heart School. Afterwards, I had a chat with Anja to ask her about her experience finding and working with a designer, and the branding process itself!

Hi Anja! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

After running my two businesses and selling them, I am on to my encore career. This time I am committed to finding the right balance... I not only want to talk about 'play', I also want to play 'play', and I hope I inspire other older women to do the same. With wisdom in my heart, fitness in my body and knowledge in my head, I am only just starting up. This time around I am living for a making, rather than making a living!

And tell us about your business. What is it and how did it come about?

Feeding the heart makes us all smart. Becoming disillusioned with the emphasis on teaching from the head, I started focussing on teaching from, with and for the heart. With a friend I set up The Heart School to share our head to heart journey and create resources for all the carers (teachers and parents) to keep the heart at the heart of teaching.

What made you decide to take the leap, make the investment, and hire a designer to work with you on your brand?

We started on a shoestring, without a brand. We would strap on our work boots and go out into the field. This gave us a big following. We love our work boots but the shoestring only goes as far as it is long. It's time to replace the boots and shoestrings with bigger and more comfier boots. Time for a professional brand to elevate us so we can focus more on creating even better resources to an even bigger audience.

The original Heart School Logo

The original Heart School Logo

The new and improved logo suite for The Heart School

The new and improved logo suite for The Heart School

What were you struggling with the most when it came to your brand?

Communicating and putting into words the feeling I wanted to create with the brand and our products. Another aspect I was struggling with was my fear of the brand looking too 'corporate' or 'business' like whilst at the same time I wanted it to look professional, finding the right balance.

Once you had decided this, how did you go about finding a designer?

My daughter works in the design sector and recommended you :-)

Before we started working together, what did you expect from a designer and the branding process?

A good listener and communicator. Someone I could connect with. And someone who is able to think outside the box, and get out of their head and into their heart. For me the branding process had to be a two way, collaborative relationship, but at the same time I recognised that I wouldn't be the expert in this and I had to be able to trust the designer and the process. It was also important to me that I would be able to feel secure to share what I was really thinking and feeling along the way. Summed up in one word "honesty".

Did you have any goals for this branding project? Or a specific aim?

The Heart School has a good following nationally. We are ready to elevate it to international recognition with the aim to sell our resources on the international market. The world urgently needs heart-centred teachers! You gave us branding as well as practical templates to use with social media and our hands-on and hearts-in resources. They have changed the game for us.

Now having been through it, how would you describe the branding process?

Exhilarating may be a bit overstated, but I loved finding emails in my inbox with new drafts and proofs. I was very curious to see how you would package up my brief into something as little as an icon. In addition you shared knowledge and skills with me and helped me implementing the new branding. Your willingness and availability to be of assistance was beyond what I was expecting. And yeah, your patience with me too.

Did you have a favourite part of the branding experience?

I enjoyed our chats, sharing our thoughts, talking about the brand. Looking at colours, fonts, designs. And the deeper meaning behind the brand.

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How about a least favourite part?

Choosing which one to go with from the options, until you said, we can have one main and the others can be supporters. Phew, I didn't have to pick just one and throw out all the other beautiful goodies.

You told me what you expected from a designer and the branding process before we met, has this changed at all now that you’ve experienced it?

It has cemented for me how important a good brand is. We always had a high standard but lacked consistency and cohesiveness in our shoestring brand. You have managed to tie all the loose bits together and make it cohesive, practical and future growth proof. It looks more professional than I ever thought was possible.

What advice would you give to somebody else thinking about working with a designer on their brand?

Make sure you connect with the person. You need to be able to feel emotionally secure to communicate your likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences in total honesty. You need to be able to trust that person and have faith in them and in their work and creativity.

Hollie ticked all those boxes for me the moment I met her over a cuppa. Meeting up in a local cafe to have a chat about my vague ideas and finding out if we could 'connect' was what got me over the threshold. I was looking for a 'real' connection.

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