I have really strong feelings about today’s wedding blog post so I’m going to jump straight in and share them with you: wedding invitation designers have the right to add their signature or branding to their designs. It’s a mark of quality, proof an artist takes pride in their design work. Today I’m urging wedding stationers to add their name to their designs; I want to persuade couples who are buying handmade to choose designer invitations with the maker’s name on.
I’m expecting different reactions: a fair number of “ooh, this could be interesting”s – and probably a couple of sharp intakes of breath! Let me explain why this is so important to me.
The designer’s mark on a wedding invitation is:
- an artist or craftsman’s right and tradition
- a requisite for a small designer business
- a sign of quality; of pride in one’s designs
Let’s start with a little background – it’s about maker’s marks and designer labels.
What is a brand?
From Wikipedia: The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers“.
A brand is a word or company name that is loaded with our perceptions of quality, style and reputation.
A brand is something that creates a distinction:
- in retail: Prada or Aldi?
- in art and design: Van Gogh vs ‘Anon’?
A strong, positive brand can make the world of difference to a designer or small business. Successful brands are build on consumer perceptions. Brand image is all about quality and reputation, about pride in one’s work and conscious branding of a product range.
Every business has a brand
Wedding designers, business owners and creatives take huge pride in their products. It could even be argued that a team of 1 or 2 designers are more fiercely proud of and focused on the quality of their designs than the likes of… ooh, shall we say Moss Bros?
As designers we have the right to shout from the rooftops about how much we love our brands.
Signatures and logos in design
Who uses these makers’ marks in design?
- Artists, painters and designers from the greats to local artists (a slight tangent but here’s a great blog post about signing works of art)
- Designers and retailers: who has an embossed fork in their kitchen? Or a silver bracelet with a hallmark?
- Manufacturers of quality brands: designer label shoes, handbags, cars… think about Coca-Cola, Smeg fridges, French Connection for example
But wedding invitations are different, aren’t they?
There’s a very common misconception that handmade, handcrafted and smaller scale designer pieces aren’t like this. That ‘designer’ doesn’t apply.
I don’t get it.
Is it because they’re paper? Then look at the high grade watercolour papers I use – the beautiful watermark is an essential part of the product, the cherry on the papery cake!
Is it because you don’t expect branding on greetings cards? Have a look at the back of a card you buy in Smiths or Sainsburys… in fact, it’s my sister’s birthday on Thursday so I’ve got an M&S card here:
How many logos and brands? 1. Forest Standards Council 2. Marks & Spencer 3. Getty Images – and there’s also a guide to the size for posting the card, ‘made in the UK’, Marks & Spencer’s head office address and website (in bold), a barcode and a line to say “for her – bright fun” (? there’s a hamster on the front).
Is it because it’s a wedding? Then explain to me why that makes it different. None of the stationery designers I know – small business or high street chain – change their rules or prices for wedding stationery. So I can’t see any justification for denying them their branding: effectively changing the rules on them.
Branding and logos as a mark of pride and quality
Look again at designer brands: Prada, Jimmy Choo, Jaguar, Levi’s… you know when you see one of those logos on a product that it’s top quality, beautifully made, stylishly designed with thought and care.
Wedding invitation designers should show that they take the same pride in their work and include their signature / brand logo on the back of their product.
Sadly, I’ve heard stories about brides and grooms asking for a logo or brand name to be removed from designer wedding invitations.
Why?! Would these couples cut the label from a Louis Vuitton bag? Does ‘designer’ mean nothing in the wedding industry? Unless you’re buying your wedding invitations from Netto, or literally writing on the back of a fag packet, you should never try to hide the designer brand!
Zoe Rusga is the designer at Bunny Delicious, and she told me, “I have been asked to remove my logo from wedding invitations… but why would you spend £200 on invites and have a logo removed? I am so brand aware and have spent years developing an iconic “thing” that will set me aside from the rest, add value to my product and create a little world of intrigue via the logo and beyond. When I see my invitations without the branding they look so de-valued. I drew the design, I am proud of my rights as an artist. I want people to buy and be excited to buy from me!”
Asking a designer to remove their logo from wedding invitations
Asking for the removal of a designer logo or branding from your wedding invitations is denying a designer the right to claim creative ownership of their work.
Not only that, it takes away a perception of value from your stationery. It’s the difference between ‘designer label’ and ‘anonymous’.
It doesn’t matter if your designer runs a highly acclaimed business or is just starting out. Vivienne Westwood started somewhere – how cool would you be if you’d bought one of her very first pieces? How silly would you feel if you’d cut the label out? Supporting established and new designers in any field is a wonderful thing.
Asking a designer to remove their branding from a product is not only insulting and rude, it devalues a piece too. It’s like trying to pass Prada off as Netto.
Brand logos as trademarks
Is this more about business and advertising than creative rights and a mark of quality? Am I missing the point here, do you think?
Advertising is a small part of branding on invitations
If advertising were the sole purpose of branding wedding invitations, then designers would put a price on the back. Please credit us with a little more intelligence than that.
Look again at my M&S example: there’s a barcode on there, a product code and the website. That’s selling. Compare this to a wedding invitation with a designer logo on the back: I’m betting the logo is as carefully designed as the invite itself: it’s a mark of quality, not a hard sell.
If your wedding invitations arrive with “only £1 for 6 and get 10% discount online when you quote offer code XYZ” on the back, then you’ve cause to complain.
Logos are tasteful and while they do advertise the designer, it’s the right of every small business to get their name out there.
The desginers from Bellybuttonboo commented on my facebook page, “we do add a logo or website where we can to our invitations but we always add it to the final proof/sample so the couple know it will be there – it’s a key thing for us that if people like what we do, they can look us up. But it’s not always practical and we wouldn’t squeeze it in or add it where it would impact on a design.”
They went on to mention a bride who “wanted the feel of handmade invitations and wanted to make them herself, but we ended up doing the main invitation for her and she added some finishing touches. Although we could have added a logo, we didn’t as it wouldn’t have been ‘handmade’ for her. It’s really knowing when it’s not right for that couple in particular.”
I think an invitation handcrafted by a designer has added value though, don’t you?
Rachel Sokhal, designer at Exceptional Designs, says “I have always added my logo and website details to the back of all of my wedding stationery, right from when any samples are sent out and I have never had one client question it in 4 years.”
Sophie from Cards by Sophie commented on my facebook page: “I keep it simple, not too overt and in a grey shade so again it’s not too out there! I’ve never had anyone question it at all, like Rachel said. I think it’s important to show where they were made, also get your name out there and also to be very honest not have someone fob them off as their own! I don’t see why not? People have paid for your product, obviously love it to have done so, and no one seems to have an issue with it being marked as where it’s from.”
Julie from Carol Miller Designs told me, “I include my details on all my wedding invitations. If anyone asked me to leave them off I would say no. After all if you buy a card from Clintons or M&S all the details are there. I get calls from relatives asking for secret photo albums, keepsake boxes etc as a wedding presents. I’ve also had stationery orders from brides the following year who have received one of my invites.”
Supporting small wedding businesses and designers
I’d love to see English Wedding couples making a conscious choice to not only buy invitations from small businesses and designers, but to take pride in
a) having a unique, affordable, creative designer label on the back of your wedding invitations
b) helping spread the word about designers and small wedding businesses via the logos on the reverse of wedding invitations
Having pride in designer wedding invitations
Creatives in any industry have a terrible habit of undervaluing themselves. I hear it all the time from brilliant designers: “I’m not sure if I’m good enough” – from top bridal accessory designers to stationers, photographers (less often!) and even cake designers. Even though their work is impeccable and exciting, too many amazing wedding stationers work for peanuts.
Having a logo on a product is a mark of distinction. It’s a signal, a little stamp of confidence: not shouting “I’m brilliant” from the rooftops, but saying “I’m proud of this”. And that’s every designer’s right.
A wedding invitation designer who puts a logo on the back of their product is a GOOD designer.
(And let me take a little moment to say to designers, “please brand your products!” If you don’t, why not? I’m off to investigate an embossing press for my brand as soon as I’ve finished writing! Perhaps I’ve never really had the confidence to before – I don’t know. But I know branding my product will keep that confidence at the forefront of my mind – and that can’t be a bad thing.)
Haha… Even as I type this post, Nikki from Knots & Kisses has told me on facebook, “I’m looking at finding someway of embossing my logo on the envelopes and therefore it won’t ruin the stationery” – but Nikki I agree with your other half: embossing your logo on the invitations themselves will be a real advocate of your brand. I think any couple would be proud to show off their Knots & Kisses invitations!
Sharing your pride in your wedding designs
Brides: If you buy a top from Tesco in your lunch break, do you show your colleagues or leave it in the bag? No harm in either really, but I don’t imagine you’d be rushing back desperate to show it off…
If you buy a top by Alexander McQueen in your lunch break, do you show your colleagues or leave it in the bag?
The moral of the story there is, if you buy something special you can be proud of it. A designer piece is something to get excited about – designer wedding invitations are just the same.
If you buy a handcrafted designer wedding invitation with a logo on the back –
Show if off with pride!
and thank you for supporting our wedding industry designers too. 🙂