Last spring, there was some discussion over at DxF regarding personal dingbats. I found the discussion enlightening and inspiring. As a result, it made me realize that I wanted to establish some sort of strong identity for myself on the Internet.

The first step I wanted to take was to develop a personal dingbat. I wanted something that represented me, that was widely recognizable, and that would work well at various sizes. I ended up deciding on using a hot pepper as the basis for this. Hot peppers are found in numerous cultures throughout the world and are instantly familiar to those who see them. I won a jalapeño eating contest about 11 years ago and love spicy foods. These were all indicators that a hot pepper was a good choice for a personal dingbat. Besides, I am hot stuff and a hot pepper represented that well.

After the dingbat was designed, I added it to the footer on all my web projects. This allowed me to set up a preliminary branding solution that was subtle and would set things up for a future stage.

The second step was to buy a domain name. Naturally I wanted something related to a hot pepper. Unsurprisingly, hotpepper​.com was already taken. I was somewhat disappointed in this because I knew people would automatically try that URL to find me in the future. However, as I started contemplating it more, I realized a hotpepper​.ca domain would work well for me. It was just as simple as hotpepper​.com, but it also defined me as a Canadian.

The beginning of this month marked six months since I purchased the domain. I felt it was time to move the branding to a new stage. I wanted this stage to be focused more on promoting the website. To accomplish this, I moved all of my various web projects over to the hotpepper​.ca domain and used .htaccess files to automatically forward visitors over.

Once this was accomplished, I knew I wanted to create a design that could be standardized across all of my projects. I did not want it to be too elaborate for the first time. I wanted it to be a minimalist approach that would focus more on branding. I also wanted something that could indicate the different projects I had.

One thing I liked was the way that FedEx, Google, Yahoo and others maintained a consistent global brand while still providing a pseudo identity for different products/services. I wanted to incorporate something like that. As a result, I created a branding solution that included the dingbat, a stylized URL, and a project label.

As well, I incorporated the colours of the logo into the headings of the pages, and used the pepper itself in various page elements (menu headers, list bullets, etc).

I think the design I have chosen works well for the goals I had, and will be effective at strengthening my identity as I prepare the final stage for the future.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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