time for a brand refresh?

An image from the new series for Anna at Sweet Polka. As a graphic designer and visual communicator, Anna is keenly aware of the power of effective imagery to win and influence her clients. She knew she did not need a rebrand (a total overhaul of the brand from the ground up) to inject a renewed sense of vigour. All she required was a fun afternoon spent crafting a handful of fresh images for use on her website.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

An image from the new series for Anna at Sweet Polka. As a graphic designer and visual communicator, Anna is keenly aware of the power of effective imagery to win and influence her clients. She knew she did not need a rebrand (a total overhaul of the brand from the ground up) to inject a renewed sense of vigour. All she required was a fun afternoon spent crafting a handful of fresh images for use on her website.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Is your brand feeling a little stale?
Does it feel like the ethos and principles of your brand are still relevant but the execution isn’t as elegant and effective as it could be?
If your answer is YES but the idea of a refresh fills you with a deep-seated fear of the endless hours you will lose as you go deep and attempt to reinvent the wheel (or in this case, your brand) - there is absolutely no need to fret.
Rather than going way out onto the precipice of rebranding, you can maintain the philosophy and essence of your brand but transform it into a super-charged version of itself by taking a few simple steps.

A portrait of Anna of Sweet Polka. By using a restrained colour palette and a beautiful inner city location we were able to photograph a cohesive set of images - each one powerful in it's own right but able to sit within a visual framework. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

A portrait of Anna of Sweet Polka. By using a restrained colour palette and a beautiful inner city location we were able to photograph a cohesive set of images - each one powerful in it's own right but able to sit within a visual framework. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

To start off, in most cases (with just a few tweaks from one of Heartland Project’s gun copywriter collaborators), your existing content can continue to serve your brand well.
The next step and in my opinion, the key secret ingredient to your brand refresh, is in creating a suite of professional, compelling and enticing photographs that reinforce your brand's central messages in a way that makes sense to your target audience. If you have been leaning too heavily on tired, daggy old imagery it is definitely time to (re)capture the attention of your clients with some original high quality snaps.
Having your own suite of professional photographs that you create from scratch allows you to shape an authentic and precise visual message, giving you control over what you evoke in your viewer. You can showcase real products, real services and real people from your team rather than the poor substitute of “off the shelf” stock photography. 
A limited series of original, high quality hero images are a key element - the right ones establish trust and catch the positive attention of viewers right away, adding to effective brand design.
In addition a wider gallery of associated images allows you to showcase your services/products on your website and can also be used for further promotion both on social and print media.

A close up detail of the Tea and Sympathy website for Sweet Polka as part of the brand refresh. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

A close up detail of the Tea and Sympathy website for Sweet Polka as part of the brand refresh. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Recognising the importance of visual storytelling is key to your brand’s success. 
I'm not just talking about pretty pictures, I'm talking about a way to visualise information in a simple way that makes sense to your clients. 
If you are tempted to skimp on professional photography bear in mind that images go into our long term memory and heavily influence a visitor’s opinion of your company culture. Potential clients will often eliminate your brand from consideration immediately, based on poor photography. You want the right photos, shot in the right way, by the right person: an experienced pro who knows how to get the most from a photograph. Your photos must be flawless. 
Get in touch to talk about the imaging opportunities that exist for your brand. Nothing gets me more excited than the opportunity to uncover a brand's true potential through successful visual storytelling :-)
And head on over to Sweet Polka's blog where Anna has a great post about our ongoing image-making collaboration - "How I learned to stop worrying and learned to enjoy having my photo taken."

Em x

champions of aussie made

Videographer Chelsea Morley of Tiny Disco capturing David Kiper from Catcher Coats as he steps us through the wonderful 43-year-old history of his Australian-made coat business. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Videographer Chelsea Morley of Tiny Disco capturing David Kiper from Catcher Coats as he steps us through the wonderful 43-year-old history of his Australian-made coat business. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Did you know that Queen Victoria Market has the largest concentration of small businesses in Australia? And many of them still make and sell Australian products.  
I was very happy to work as the photographer on the "Champions of Aussie Made" campaign that was launched last week, alongside videographer Chelsea Morley from Tiny Disco. The campaign highlights certified Australian-made products that are sold in the general merchandise sheds at Vic market. Spending a weekend at the market interviewing the owners of these small businesses was so interesting and by the end of two days I felt like we had been invited into a wonderful community of new friends. Many of these traders have spent their lifetime selling wares at their stalls - such dedication turning up year around,  day-in day-out to the outdoor market stall! Often they are second or third generation stall-holders. And to say nothing of the ever increasing pressures of manufacturing their products in Australia.

Bruce Pham holding up a selection from his Bruce Goose range of high-quality Australian-made merino wool socks. His family have been selling socks and hosiery at the market since 1987. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Bruce Pham holding up a selection from his Bruce Goose range of high-quality Australian-made merino wool socks. His family have been selling socks and hosiery at the market since 1987. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

I made some fantastic new discoveries - Bruce Goose merino wool socks have kept my feet warm all winter and in style to boot! They even kept my toes super-toasty in the snow! 
My fingerless merino gloves from Danny's Knitwear have also contributed to my winter comfort levels and are very useful for tapping away on my keyboard in our cold studio at the Nicholas Building. Not to mention the stunning line-up of Australian designed and made clothing + accessories at the beautifully curated Pussy Cat Black. Bettina has a very fine eye for quality ethical fashion.

Australian made and designed clothing hanging at Pussy Cat Black. Three cheers for retailers who understand the profound value in supporting local, ethical and independent makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Australian made and designed clothing hanging at Pussy Cat Black. Three cheers for retailers who understand the profound value in supporting local, ethical and independent makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

I really take my hat off to these businesses dedication and resistance to the temptations of producing off-shore.  As local manufacturing shrinks and the skills-base dwindles it is harder and harder to produce in Australia.  As a society we need to think very deeply about whether we are prepared to forego our local industries. There is a direct correlation between consumer purchasing behaviour and employment, local economic development and prosperity. As someone who has run two retail businesses in Australia I can definitely say that despite the challenges the rewards are great.  When you buy Australian-made and grown products, you can be sure you are keeping your family members and friends employed. Not to mention being part of a vibrant and positive-thinking community of like-minded folk!

emma byrnes
Cactusland's spiky display at the Queen Victoria Market - just opposite the Jam Donut Van. All plants grown in Melbourne. Photographs by Emma Byrnes.

Cactusland's spiky display at the Queen Victoria Market - just opposite the Jam Donut Van. All plants grown in Melbourne. Photographs by Emma Byrnes.

Andrew Thompson (left) of Cactusland and Ariel Lewin of Danny's Knitwear.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes. 

Andrew Thompson (left) of Cactusland and Ariel Lewin of Danny's Knitwear.  Photograph by Emma Byrnes. 

Chelsea has produced a series of short videos that will be released weekly over the next couple of months - they are definitely worth viewing. Here is the story of David Kiper from Catcher Coats to kick it off.

I look forward to some long-standing relationships ahead with some of the traders I met through this project. Many thanks to you all for participating.

Em x

a little bit of brand self-reflection

Our family home was featured in Frankie Spaces Magazine with images by the delightful Hilary Walker. This is an out-take from the photo session and shows one of my inspiration walls at the time of the shoot. I love making these paste-ups in response to the work that I am doing for a client at any one time.

Our family home was featured in Frankie Spaces Magazine with images by the delightful Hilary Walker. This is an out-take from the photo session and shows one of my inspiration walls at the time of the shoot. I love making these paste-ups in response to the work that I am doing for a client at any one time.

As part of an extensive interview by Mia Timpano for the latest Frankie Spaces Magazine I was asked what my business is about and why I do what I do. When she asked me I just waffled on and somehow she managed to whittle it down to a succinct quote and slot it into the copy.  Long live the blessed writers on this otherwise jumbled planet!
But it did get me thinking afterwards about how I needed to suss out my elevator pitch for Heartland Projects - summarise what it is that I do in the proverbial 250 words or less. Most of my clients find me organically - through word-of-mouth or my wider networks. So I haven't ever really needed to do the hard sell. I don't even have a business card - yikes. But a little bit of brand self-reflection can't harm anyone - especially me - as that is what I am supposedly good at! 

I come across so many people who have real talent and amazing brands/ideas but they may not always be communicating them in a strong, visual way - whether through lack of the right skills, not much awareness or they may just be time poor. These people are my potential clients. 

With my visual skills, small business experience, web-savvy and training as a journalist, Heartland Projects is the sum of my disparate parts. It allows me to dig deep and apply my varied and extensive experience to help all sorts of folks in establishing or rebranding their businesses. Taking something that is latent in a brand, lying just beneath the surface and then allowing it to flourish and shine is just the ultimate buzz in my opinion! By spending time with and observing my clients in their work spaces, I can identify their aims, capture the incidentals of their everyday rhythm, simplify their message and articulate their brand into evocative visual stories.  

Working with interesting and creative people whose work is authentic, compelling and meaningful is very satisfying for me. The ongoing relationships that then stem from this work allow me to cherish my working life . For some wonderful testimonials from my clients - see here.  

And if you haven't yet seen a copy of the latest Spaces magazine - go get your mitts on one. As far as interiors magazines go, this one has a real advantage over most of the other publications on the news-stand. The homes/studios featured have evolved over time by people who are thrifty, creative and resourceful rather than fashion-followers and consumerists. I would not usually open the front door of my family's private space for a magazine team but was happy to be involved in something that celebrates the home-grown aesthetic! And of course working with the team at Frankie was a pleasure.

Em x

tea & sympathy

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

 A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Earlier this year Anna from Sweet Polka approached me to work alongside her on the online rebranding of local tea artisan Tea & Sympathy. Anna would be responsible for the overall art direction of the project plus the word-smithing and I would generate the photographic imagery, design the look-and-feel of the new website and then rebuild the whole thing in Shopify.
Tea & Sympathy stocks a limited, hand-picked range of premium leaf teas - from classic blends, to many interesting bespoke Chinese and Taiwanese teas not otherwise available in Australia. Angelina Yannuccelli who founded the brand sees the range as an extension of her own personal tea odyssey and immersion in tea culture.
I first met Angelina when she established the brand back in 2012 so I was aware of the knowledge and passion she applies to her business and the calibre of the range she offers. When I visited her old web site I realised that it did not reflect the authority and perspective that she had garnered over the past five years in the tea business. The site was full of great information but it was cluttered and disparate, having been added to in a piecemeal way over time.

A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

A banner image from the new Tea & Sympathy website. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

 We decided to simplify the user experience and elevate the imagery to a standard that matched the quality of the tea for sale. Anna and I spent an afternoon photographing images to create a general mood for the brand - we wanted the feeling to be tangible yet sophisticated to reinforce the brand's authority on teas whilst reflecting the personal touch that Angelina brings.
We would also streamline the way the individual product was presented by photographing the teas in ceramic bowls provided by local homewares wholesalers - Marmoset Found. I must say this was a very pleasurable experience - spending the day with Angelina and her encyclopaedic knowledge of her range, visually honing in on each tea as a separate entity and observing the colours, textures and smells. 

Chrysanthemum flower tea in beautiful ceramic bowls by Marmoset Found. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Chrysanthemum flower tea in beautiful ceramic bowls by Marmoset Found. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Once the imagery was finished I built the site and Anna edited the copy. And, as of last week, it is out in the world ready for the next stage of the brand's growth.
I wish Angelina all the best with Tea & Sympathy. Having worked with her I understand that the motivation behind her brand comes from a passion for excellent product and supporting artisan growers and small family farms in tea-making traditions that have been passed down over the centuries. Wonderful!

Em x

PS - If you are in the market for specialty tea my favourite whilst working with Tea & Sympathy was the Jasmine Pearls - just sublime. 

ten tree

Roof top garden design by Ten Tree Garden Makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

Roof top garden design by Ten Tree Garden Makers. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

A new client of mine is the talented "garden-maker" Samira Heale of Ten Tree Garden Makers . Her mission is to make painterly gardens in unexpected places and, if this rooftop garden she has executed in inner-city Melbourne is anything to go by, she is definitely hitting the mark. 

Samira has a breadth of experience as an artist, horticulturist, permaculturalist, and bush food expert. She works alongside her husband Sam Buckley who has a wonderful knack for executing beautifully resolved buildings and designs. Together the pair make magic!

Samira came to me as a self-confessed luddite. She has little interest in the cyber world but knows that in order to run a successful business these days an online presence is almost mandatory. Taking this into account we chose to present a simple, low-fuss and elegant portfolio of her most recent projects. Of course documenting the gardens was a lovely part of the job - losing ourselves in the little details that makes Samira's gardens extra special.
Over the coming months we plan to photograph more gardens to add to her already very special gallery of projects. And the duo have plans to design arbors and garden sculptures for sale through their web platform.
All of that is yet to come. But for now, go and have a little look at what we have made together.
Hopefully it will inspire you.

 Em x

miniature mayhem

Author Judith Rossell‘s intricate, self-made and realistic miniature share house comes complete with all of the detritus of a real share-house. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

Author Judith Rossell‘s intricate, self-made and realistic miniature share house comes complete with all of the detritus of a real share-house. Photograph by Emma Byrnes

I had the pleasure of meeting the talented and very fun bestselling children's author Judith Rossell. When she is not writing top-of-the-pops children's fiction she makes miniature houses from gleaned materials. The detail is fabulous and includes stacks of unwashed dishes, garbage bags ties up ready to be taken to the bin, community radio stickers on the fridge and half dead potplants. So good!!!
I took the photo to accompany an  article written by Peter Barrett (my husband) on the six most common share house dwellers and how to handle them - see article here.

vic market variety

Footy paraphernalia market trader, Graeme. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

Footy paraphernalia market trader, Graeme. Photograph by Emma Byrnes.

This past year I have been enjoying working for the Queen Victoria Market as a photographer. They often employ me to document events or capture stallholders for various media needs - brochures, posters, social media and reports.

We are very lucky in Melbourne to have such a wonderful meeting place such as the Queen Victoria Market. It is truly a melting pot of different cultures and socio-economic groups - a vibrant venue where people can come together on equal footing. Meeting the people behind the stalls is the most rewarding part of working there - they are what make up the visual story of this cultural Melbourne icon. And what comes across when photographing them is their openness and sense of belonging. Often they have spent an entire lifetime selling their wares at the market, they may have inherited their business from their family or they may be just starting out in the hope of establishing themselves as permanent fixtures at this dynamic site. They all have stories to tell and more often than not are very happy to share them with you.

Footy paraphernalia market trader, Graeme (pictured above) started his stall 38 years ago as the first ever business in Victoria to sell AFL merchandise outside of the immediate vicinity of the grounds. With this deep-rooted history, it is not surprising that this little stall attracts many regulars who come back every year. He is as diplomatic as possible when it comes to showing bias towards a footy club, swathing himself in a hodgepodge of team strips. A very refreshing approach to footy fan-dom.

Em x