A Beginner’s Guide to Branding Portfolio That Gets You Hired
While branding experts build brands of others they often neglect having a personal brand of their own. Learn how a branding portfolio can boost your career.
Defining Branding Portfolio
The job market is hot for branding designers, like copywriters, graphic designers, and creative director, as more businesses invest in ecommerce and digital infrastructures. Despite the demand, the competition remains steep, making it a little challenging for branding professionals to land jobs, let alone get noticed.
So how do you cut through the noise?
Like companies, you also need to create your personal brand through a branding portfolio that says, “This is what I can do for you and more. Hire me!” Read on as we explore how you can create a brand portfolio that will win prospective clients, and check out some design portfolio examples to learn from.
What Is A Branding Portfolio, and Why Do You Need One?
A branding portfolio is like a resume that does more than narrating and oversimplifying what you can do in bullet points. As a creative, you’ll need other means to show and tell. Your branding portfolio then becomes a vital tool, culminating in your best creative works—brand identity, business card, website design, branded packages, logo design, etc. — which offers your clients a peek at your achievements, skills, and how you can help them.
Before the advent of online platforms, creatives would compile their portfolios in compendiums filled with photos and illustrations. Nowadays, clients can easily access your portfolio on different online channels allowing you to cast a wider net when looking for opportunities. It makes a well-curated and uniquely designed branding portfolio all the more crucial. Done right, you have the upper hand in achieving the following:
- Stand out from the crowd.
- Creatively communicate your capabilities.
- Allow clients to understand your design style at a glance.
- Secure clients that align with your career goals.
How to Make A Branding Portfolio: Tips and Tricks
Building a branding portfolio from scratch can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it before. Add to the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Not to worry, we have compiled some tried-and-tested tips and tricks to get you started.
1. Narrow Down Your Best Works
After working on several projects, it may be challenging to cherry-pick your best projects. But being concise is vital when you most likely have less than a minute to make an impression.
One way to help you decide is to think of your intended clients. Ask yourself:
- What type of clients do I want to attract?
- Would I prefer to work on projects that deal with specific needs (i.e. building a brand identity, a brand website or social media)? Or can I provide a 360-branding service?
- What are my strengths? Which skills do I want to highlight?
Looking inward and putting yourself in the shoes of your potential clients can bring valuable insights vital to your branding portfolio. But what if you are only starting your career with no real projects to show?
Enter mock projects or “pretend projects.” You can do this by going through past branding campaigns from brands and adding your twist to demonstrate how you would tackle the challenges differently. And if you are extra creative, you also have the choice to make up your client with unique problems for you to solve.
Diversify your portfolio by including personal projects, like social issues and organizations you support. Such inclusions illustrate that you also go above and beyond in offering your skills and knowledge that positively impact society.
2. Be Distinct and Flaunt Your Style
Before your branding portfolio lands in front of a potential client, they would have already seen hundreds of other portfolios. That said, try to have a distinct style by adding your flavor or personality to your portfolio. In effect, your portfolio makes you more memorable in the minds of your potential clients.
Take advantage of the creative freedom to express yourself. For example, minimalists can integrate neat yet attractive design elements into their portfolios. Add your preferred tone, whether that’s a mix of casual, friendly, and confident.
You can also explore bringing in experiential strategies through added sounds, animations, illustrations, and more. Your portfolio should appeal to several senses beyond sight. It should entice hiring managers to imagine more what you can do.
Finally, while the sky is the limit, it is important to remain authentic. Your goal is to get noticed where your audience relates to you easily.
3. Tell Stories Through Case Studies
You can fill your branding portfolio with beautiful illustrations, photos, and other creative specs. However, these are not enough to explain what you have done for the brands. This is where a case study comes in handy.
A case study lets you break down the details of each project, allowing your audience to grasp what branding challenges need addressing and what solutions you have implemented. It gives a peek at your creative process and strategic methods, so to speak, that yielded positive outcomes.
Sometimes, your prospective clients may even see semblance to their current challenges. And having a solid proof that you can solve them gives you a leg up. Presenting your projects through case studies filled with rich information helps in persuading potential clients and communicating your expertise in visual communication, especially to those who are non-designers. That said, include relevant and reliable statistics and findings that support your choice of methodologies when possible.
4. Be Visible On The Right Channels/Platforms
A quick search for branding pros on Google brings about a plethora of design portfolio on websites and social media channels. While it may be tempting to be everywhere, spreading yourself too thin may actually lessen your odds of being seen.
For starters, building a branding portfolio does not end upon upload. It takes a lot of effort to tweak it now and then to stay relevant, attractive, and stays current. Ask yourself: how much time can you spend maintaining your brand portfolio? Unless you have others to count on, this may be a huge undertaking for a one-person team.
Below are some platforms you can peruse and assess according to your audience, goals, and resources.
a. Personal portfolio website
A personal website has many perks that other multiple-user platforms do not have. It allows you to have a dedicated channel that showcases only your work. Think of your own website as a blank canvas that lets you tailor content to your style and target audience.
In effect, you can build a pipeline of highly interested clients who will likely hire you. Somehow, having a dedicated portfolio website also creates an impression that you mean serious business.
On the flip side, a personal portfolio site requires too much work to stay visible on search engines. Maintenance is another concern, ensuring that everything functions as it should and users are safe from cyber-attacks and malware.
These are just some things to consider.
Check out DIY website platforms like Squarespace or WordPress if you’re up to the challenge of creating your website from scratch without spending too much, or work with web designers for a more professional look.
b. Platforms for freelancers
If you like to trek the freelancer path, you can join freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. LinkedIn, a professional networking platform, has expanded its service offerings through the freelancing marketplace LinkedIn ProFinder.
The beauty of these platforms is they allow you to find global opportunities. Thousands of hiring managers are in these sites ready to look for contractors. Freelance platforms also have tools that allow you to customize your profile and upload past projects. Do note that joining a generic freelancing platform means competing with millions of diverse professionals and weeding out thousands of unrelated opportunities.
c. Platforms for designers
What sets designer platforms apart is they are made by creatives for creatives. They offer ready-to-use beautiful templates that branding professionals can tweak to build their portfolios. Designer platforms also attract clients looking for creatives through their job board, bridging you to exciting opportunities. Meaning, no more spamming from unrelated job opportunities.
If this is your wheelhouse, you can start building your branding portfolio on Behance or Dribbble, to name a few.
d. Social media
Once regarded as a place for fun and self-expression, brands are now scouring for talent on social media sites, too! You may have come across hiring announcements on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Truly, social media channels have blurred the line between fun and work.
Additionally, hiring managers also use social media to learn more about potential candidates. It’s best to leverage your social media profile and showcase some of your best works once in a while. Alternatively, you can create social media pages dedicated to your professional work. Doing so allows you more privacy and helps in your work-life balance, so to speak.
5. Let Your Clients Do the Talking
While receiving feedback can be difficult to swallow, they actually bring more benefits than you think. For starters, potential clients are likely to hire candidates when they read or watch organic reviews from brands and individuals who tried your services.
Moreover, adding a feedback section to your branding portfolio can be an abundant resource for information that will help you improve your service and profile. It also opens up conversation where clients can engage with you directly.
Best Branding Portfolio Examples to Inspire You
Check out some of the best design portfolio examples and how they integrated the above tactics.
Michael’s branding portfolio demonstrates a good mixture of startups and big brands, like Google, Fast Company, and Adidas. He throws in some work with non-profit organizations, like Deahla, too, giving a glimpse of the social causes he supports.
As you go through his info page, Michael succinctly details his skills, achievements, and notable clients, making it easier for interested clients to grasp what he can do at a glance.
2. Do-Hee KimDo-hee is a San Francisco- based cofounder of a design firm specializing in branding. In her branding portfolio on Dribbble, she diaries her design iteration process, including unfinished ideas and which direction the client approves.
Her approach to branding portfolio evokes a casual tone, lending a peek at her fun and creative personality. Portfolios do not have to be so glum after all, especially for creatives, which sets her apart from most portfolios. Do-hee’s branding portfolio shows a wide breadth of her capabilities, from creating brand logos and UX/UI designs to sizing charts, event invitations, and coding layouts.
On her branding portfolio website, she integrates infinite scroll—a web design technique where users can scroll through content without clicking on tabs. This helps immensely in her storytelling, starting from who she is, how she works, and her projects. The bottom of the page provides a summary of her specific skills and interests that visitors can click through for more details.
But what if you are not a graphic designer or into visual brand? Hannah Silverton’s branding portfolio is a great example to learn from.
Copywriter and branding expert Hannah has a direct approach to her branding portfolio’s home page that follows a Z-shape layout. A Z-shape layout allows visitors to read the page from left to right with ease.
Below each featured client, she provides a high-brow summary of the specific functions she was involved in, like tagline development, campaign messaging, and brand strategy. Projects are directly linked to brand websites, saving them time from searching. Moreover, a separate portfolio page then categorizes projects per services rendered, making it easy for clients to filter what they need.
Upon clicking Ylimay’s branding portfolio, a featured text animation of random and fun facts about her welcomes you.
‘Ylimay loved watching Magic Night Rayearth.’
‘Ylimay is named after her Mother’s name—but backwards!’
The flow of her portfolio is akin to meeting someone in person where you say hi and introduce yourself before anything else. Talk about injecting personality into your portfolio!
As you scroll below, you will see a menu of her specialties as a branding expert—branding, art direction, and illustration. She also flaunts some of her non-professional projects and even floral styling skills. Like the other portfolios, Ylimay also includes case studies with a more in-depth take.
Take a look at one of her projects, Roma, where she details what motivated her client to start the project at a personal level. She then explains how every creative detail in her branding proposal signifies what the brand stands for. Her approach makes the branding portfolio highly relatable and easy to understand.
From all the portfolios we featured, you may notice how each digital channels cross-link to each other. Doing so increases audience reach, and moving priority leads to the next step in their journey of discovering and eventually hiring you.
Build A Branding Portfolio That Wows
A branding portfolio evolves as your career does. And the better a branding portfolio gets, the more clients you secure. Aside from setting you apart from other branding experts, it becomes your entry ticket to lucrative opportunities. We hope our tried-and-tested best practices help shape an awe-inspiring branding portfolio.
But a branding portfolio is just the start of your journey. Let Ramotion help navigate your way into the world of branding.