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designer wedding invitation

A Mark of Distinction: wedding invitations

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.

designer wedding invitation

UK designer wedding invitation - Photo credit: Bunny Delicious

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

hallmarks on silver photo credit AllAboutGemstones.com

Hallmarks on silver: Photo credit AllAboutGemstones.com

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!

Saunders Waterford logoIs 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:

logos on back of cardHow 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

jimmy choo shoe logo label

Jimmy Choos - always keep the brand as a mark of 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?

Are you?

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. 🙂

Claire xx

 

 

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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11 COMMENTS
  • Nikki Ward
    8 years ago

    Such a great post Claire! Definately let me know if you find that embosser as this has pretty much convinced me that, where appropriate, I’m going to try and find a way of getting my logo onto my stationery. If so many designers I know and respect are doing this already and noone has ever questioned it then why not!
    To play devils advocate though …. I probably won’t do this on all designs. On some of the more heavily embellished designs it may just not work and get in the way of the design itself. But for many of the flat or folded cards it seems perfectly doable.

    Thanks again for making my mind up with regards to this issue. I am incredibly proud of my work and would love brides & guests to hand them around and show the logo off 🙂

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Thanks for your comment Nikki! And I’m glad to hear I’ve convinced you… a little!
      I appreciate there’s probably a way of adding a logo beautifully, and this might change with the designs. My search for an embosser has left me stumped: they’re expensive and big! I think custom-made has to be the way to go for me personally, but yeeeeouch! at the price. I’ll keep you posted… no doubt if I do get one I’ll be so excited I need to tell somebody!
      As for being proud of your work, that’s a wonderful thing to hear. You certainly should be from what I’ve seen.
      Claire xx

  • Thanks so much for this Claire! I’ve been wondering about this as I’m just starting out (yes, I’ve changed my biz name if you were wondering). I’ve almost been scared to include it, though I was encouraged by one client to include my website on the back of her invites. I guess brides get very precious about their wedding, but if we stationers use the points and arguments you’ve put in this post, they will see where we are coming from.

    Thanks once again.

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Hi Modupe,
      There’s definitely a bit of a fear / shyness to putting a logo on the back of an invitation design sometimes. I’ve been there!
      Hopefully this blog post promotes all the advantages – to both businesses and couples – of adding a logo to a wedding invitation or piece of stationery.
      On a total tangent – I love how you’ve done your website so much, from the ‘suites’ to the name and link with food and even the piggy face :@) how cute is that!!
      Best of luck with everything!
      Claire x

  • Liz Finch
    8 years ago

    Great post Claire!

    I can see why there are occasions when a logo might not sit with a couple’s design, but in most instances there are opportunities for it to be included. I view it too that it helps to protect your property and identifies you as the “owner” of the creation. Important more than ever today when so many people are just grabbing opportunities to make money and will “copy” anything and not come up with their own ideas. If you haven’t added your “logo” to it, then it isn’t easy to prove the design is yours.
    It’s just another reason to include it all the more. As for the client adding to the design – if they do a bad job, you might not want to be associated with it – so perhaps a “missing” logo is more appropriate. (Just a thought – I’ve had a couple provide awful cake toppers to add to a cake and I really didn’t want people to think I’d made them!”) My record of the cake was a photograph without them!

    Very hard for me to add a logo to my cakes without ruining the design – but I know the great cake designer Sylvia Weinstock always leaves a “logo disc” (probably icing/chocolate) beside her cake with her signature large framed glasses on it. I love that idea – I think I’d want all my guest to know I’d had a Sylvia Weinstock cake too if I had the budget!

    Interestingly enough I bought a small gift bag yesterday as I was very taken by the hand painted peony design on the front. Just a random purchase as I liked it – nothing more, I didn’t need it. As an added touch and to identify their brand “Designers Guild” have attached a stiff little tag to the side of the bag – rather like a clothing label with “Designers Guild” on it. It doesn’t detract from the “visual” design – but adds a certain “I’m not a Tesco Value Bag” quality that I’m sure the recipient would enjoy. It would make them feel special too.

    Invitations are so important – they set the style and theme for any wedding and it’s the first insight you give your guests of your big day. If I was the lucky recipient of a beautifully designed piece of wedding stationery I’d instinctively look to see who the creator was. I’d want to know if they offered other items and would investigate further. If there is nothing to identify the brand/creator then that opportunity is lost. I like beautiful things and I want to know who created them.

    I do hope couples will see why you wish to include your logo etc in your stationery. It’s not just advertising, it’s protecting your creations too and yes, everyone deserves the opportunity to get there name out there especially when they are offering a beautifully created quality product.

    Liz

    • Claire
      8 years ago
      AUTHOR

      Liz, I could kiss you!

      Thank you for the examples – they’re exactly what I was looking for as I wrote this blog post, and your reactions are exactly what I would hope discerning couples feel about wedding invitations and other wedding items they buy which have logos.

      I love the way Sylvia Weinstock identifies her cakes with the logo disc – that’s a great idea for any ‘on the day’ ideas from designer wedding cakes to sweet tables – it reminds me of live bands and the logo on the front of a drum!

      As for copyright – yes, a huge topic I am considering for another time. I know Rock My Wedding covered it really well just recently, and of course it’s a big factor in this discussion too. You have my sympathies as far as dodgy toppers go!

      Thank you again for such a great (and not to mention supportive 🙂 comment on my blog.

      Claire xx

  • Rosie Barrett
    8 years ago

    I include a logo and website details on all of my wedding stationery. It’s printed on the reverse in a soft shade of grey so as not to interfere with the design. The importance of having it there is twofold: I see the products themselves as the best possible advert for my work, without the branding that’s a massive opportunity lost. Also, it’s there as a guarantee of quality – if my name’s on the back, I want it to be right!
    At no point have I been asked to remove the branding, but I was recently asked by a bride if I might offer a discount if she allowed me to advertise on the back of her invitations! I sympathise with trying to keep the budget down, but I don’t think either of us would have been happy with a full-on advert on the back. It certainly wouldn’t have said much for my integrity!

    Rosie x

  • Anna Carter
    8 years ago

    I loved reading your article and totally agree, whilst it shouldn’t be blatant and tacky advertising, it is important to make sure your creative talent is credited. Here at Cardiff Inivtations, we include our website address discreetly and colour matched on the back of all of our stationery.

  • Wendy Bell
    8 years ago

    Wow Claire, such a great post. I agree with you that small businesses should be proud to brand their products, to prove to their clients that they’re worth investing in and that there is real talent behind each design.

    Recently, I have been asked by a few people why I do not add my logo to the back of my stationery designs. Sadly, the way that I design the majority of my invitations (double sided postcard style), it would impinge on the design if I were to find a way of incorporating my logo. In life, I tend to convert to the idea of style over practicality…which is why I wear the most ridiculously high heels, die within two hours but refuse to take them off! Unfortunately, I seem to have the same attitude towards my stationery. If it will take away from the design, I will not add my logo. However, your post has definitely got me thinking that I need to find another way of adding it. You’re spot on with the thought that when your invitations come through someone’s door, there is every possibility that they too will be getting married soon and may like your designs so much that you gain their business. Definitely food for thought and I should find a way of incorporating my branding somehow, though my only qualm with adding it to the envelopes is that these are the first item to be placed in the dustbin!

  • Gary - Special Day
    8 years ago

    We have always put our website address on the back of our cards (we leave it off single sided items because that is a bit too “in your face”). We feel this is an important part of our marketing and agree that we should place our name on the back proudly. We get the odd customer (in fact we seem to get more odd customers that we really ought 🙂 ) that does not want this but they really are one in a thousand. We also make sure this is shown on all of our online previews so customers do not purchase without knowing in advance!

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