“MEET TONI: An intuitive creative and self-taught designer and coder”.
On October 21, I thought I missed the talk with Toni Brown! Vashnee, my colleague, friend and City Tech’s Art and Design Club President put together an instagram live at 1:00pm. Thankfully the instagram live was rescheduled for 6:30pm and I was able to attend. To be honest I never heard of Toni Brown before. I learned about this because I follow City Tech’s COMD Instagram and happened to see the Art and Design Club Meet the Pro’s repost. The post advertised Toni as a person who’s passionate about brand authenticity that would answer our questions and share her “real world” creative experiences.
To watch the full instagram live Meet the Pros w/ Toni Brown: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CVTzi1cFA5H/
Takeaways after the Instagram live:
- Two designers, same brief, result is different designs, neither is wrong
- Set limits to revisions – Without you are doing a disservice to clients who can’t be decisive.
- Social media is important but remember to be human, allow your clients to see a person is behind their brand.
- Have a process/ system for each client ex: Payment in 3rds
- Toni Brown’s Mother says “Start how you want to finish”
While listening to the talk between Vashnee and Toni Brown I learned she is a brand strategist, designer, and founder of Skye Media Group. She began her career in the corporate legal field. Toni was always fascinated with the internet and mentioned remembering Myspace, Blackplanet and being impressed when she discovered SONY Wheel of Fortune had a chat feature. This was exciting because it connected her with other people in different states.
Toni explained her experience with being creative was trial and error. Growing up she made her own Barbie clothes, and loved creative writing. In Highschool she started with adding html, changing colors and loved the feeling of instant results. Unfortunately while attending community college her dilemma was money plus creativity did not translate. She wanted stability because she was a mother, until a friend told her just to do it. Toni bought a laptop and photoshop and the rest is history. (lol jk)
While Toni shared her story It was the self-taught that really grabbed my attention. She explains the difficulty of self teaching but the thrill that comes with it. Toni was authentic and shared there were nights of tears. Eventually Toni joined a LinkedIn group that targeted CSS & HTML. There was a man who ended up being her teacher. It was an exchange of learning.
What stood out to me the most was how she realized her own skills needed a boot. She wanted her clients to be able to manage their own sites, which meant she had to learn WordPress. She learned coding is embedded into WordPress, which would drastically help her Web Design. (Prof. Goetz mentioned during class a few weeks ago, one of the reason we blog on blackboard is to familiarize ourselves with WordPress)
Toni’s current team of creatives hires photographers and incorporates Canva (https://www.canva.com/learn/portfolio/ ) into their business to create graphics, reiterating her desire to empower clients by using applications they can have direct access to. Now it is rare she makes individual graphics because she does it right in the system using HTML & CSS. (Personally I am not great at Html, but I did get a thrill creating a menu for my final web design class at City Tech)
Listening to this talk was relatable because there was a phase in her life when making one logo, one business card, one flyer, was not enough. She needed to think bigger and create strategic branding not just a piece of something.
Toni talks about the importance of communication with your clients, which she and her team refer to as “brand therapy” because each client brings different personal challenges.
When she creates contracts her legal background comes in handy. A limit on revisions and specific explanation of what each revision entails.
Toward the end of the talk Toni mentions how her process is good for her. Branding + Messages + Strategy. The best part was learning she gets a lot of her business and brand strategies from Chris Do. I love that guy! I learned about him from Prof. Kapusinski during intro to video class and ever since I’ve followed him on instagram.
To learn more about TONI BROWN:
To learn more about CHRIS DO:
I could make this blog WAY longer but to sum it up I asked three questions, two of which Toni was able to answer:
Toni “ I would say I don’t have a style, and that is what becomes my style”
Me “Would color be considered your style?”
Toni “I think so, no client comes to me asking for neutral color palettes. I feel businesses for personal branding does not feel or speak neutrals”
Me “Do you have a standard contract or different for each client?”
Toni “The same one, standard contract because I have a legal background and my attorney friend draft one for me. As different experiences presented themselves I write in new clauses”