A few months ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) as a mentor graphic designer. This program takes students through the process of starting and running real businesses over the course of a full academic year.  YEA! students as a class visit area businesses, meet successful entrepreneurs, and work with mentors, all to develop a business or social movement idea and plan. As part of the program, they also meet with professionals – like me!

As a graphic design mentor, I worked with two groups of students to guide them in developing their logos, branding, business cards, and photography. There are many elements to consider when creating a new business identity and we walked through the students’ favorite colors, what they might say about the attitude of their business, how they wanted their business to be portrayed to their customers, and what type of marketing they might create in the future. Below are some examples of what we created:

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Daniella makes signs for the home and office with fun little reminders and sayings. She wanted an elegant logo with a handmade touch. We incorporated the bow to tie back to the bows she puts on her signs. She also loved the idea of using a blueish teal color for her business identity.

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I also created images of her signs so that she could use them for her website and other marketing material in the future.

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My other group had a non-profit business model. Sophie and Neha create handcrafted knit goods for purchase. For every piece purchased, they donate one to a person in need. They wanted a very handcrafted feel for their logo, so I went with a watercolor heart for them, which they could also use as a standalone branding piece on hangtags for their knit pieces and other signage. I built a pastel color story for their brand, with a few brights incorporated for some punch.

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Eventually, students then pitch their ideas “live” to a panel of investors made up of local business and community leaders with real dollars at stake to obtain funding. The day of their investor panel presentation went very well – here’s Daniella showing her signs to the judges!

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Both of my teams were successfully funded. I wish them all the best luck in their future business ventures!

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