a podcast by Pawlean

Building branding with Clark Narvas

June 21, 2021 Pauline Narvas Season 1 Episode 17
a podcast by Pawlean
Building branding with Clark Narvas
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

One of my most frequently asked questions is "how did you create the Pawlean brand?" In this episode, I talk to my "brand creator" Clark Narvas and we talk through how it was created, the creative process and Clark's many brand projects. 

Check out Clark's work over at: https://clarknarvas.com
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Pauline Narvas:

Hello, everyone, I'm your host, Pauline Narvas. Welcome to my podcast, "a podcast by Pawlean." This is where I share my thoughts on topics that are important to me, and experiences that I think you'd find mildly entertaining or maybe even insightful. If you're new here, here's what you should know about me. I'm a 20-something year old Filipina living in the UK. I've been working in the tech industry for the past two years, and I have a degree in Biomedical Sciences. Since 2008, I've been sharing my life in pixels on my blog, Pawlean.com. I'm also a international speaker, plant lover, health and wellness enthusiast. And as someone who basically grew up on the internet, I'm also a professional oversharer. Thanks for joining me! For today's episode, we're joined by Clark Narvas, as we talk about how he creates branding, the story behind the Pawlean branding, and where he gets his inspiration from. So we talked, when was that August or September? Yeah, August last year, talking about being a creator and our creator journeys. Just to kick us off, for those who don't know who you are, do you want to give a quick introduction?

Clark Narvas:

Hello, I am Clark Narvas. You should all know me as Pauline's brother. So I've run a blog clarknarvas.com. And I do a lot of stuff, basically!

Pauline Narvas:

I've seen it grow, and I've seen you like grow in your skills as well doing all these different little projects. It's really interesting to see it all, like pan out. I think you're being very humble about yourself, because you've done quite a few things in the past. And I'm sure if you want to learn more, you can check Clark's website: ClarkNarvas.com. And as well follow him on social media and see all of the various things he gets up to. So the reason I got you on here on this podcast is because a lot of people ask about the Pawlean brand. One of my most frequently asked questions is, how did you create it? What inspired you to create it? How do you create all these cool graphics? Do you use Photoshop? Do you use Figma? A lot of people ask about it. And I'm always like, "Oh, my brother makes it!" And they're sort of like cool, "does he take commission?" And we always have this conversation. And maybe you know, we've already had a few people who are interested to use DM'ed directly, which is pretty cool. So let's start with the Pawlean brand, I can give a bit of like how it sort of started for me, and then how you sort of came in and took over. For those who don't know, I run my own blog pawlean.com. And I've been in the blogging space for a very long time since I was like eight years old. And I'm 24 now. When I first began, it was around 2015. The reason I started blogging again, was because I was bored at university. And also, I wanted to blog about different things that I was experiencing during that time. That's sort of like how it came about. When I first kicked off again, I always looking for sort of like an identity. And my boyfriend (at the time) actually helped me set up again, I told him about how cool it was that I used to do this. And I haven't done it in like a couple of years. And I really want to get back into it. And he was like you should do it, he was really supportive. And as part of that, he created the nice little logo for me. And for those who have been following Pawlean for a long time, you might have seen like it change over time. And like the initial one in 2015 was sort of like pixel art. That was my identity. But during that time, I only blogged here and there and it wasn't like getting the traffic that I see now. I didn't think it would like reach the amount of people has. Nowadays I'm seeing nearly 2000 people (a month) visiting my blog, reading it engaging with the content and most of the posts that they look at are ones that I wrote were like really focused on quality, and they're still making rounds from years ago which is just incredible! I think after that I really wanted to move away from that was that around this time I met Tahira from Teecake...and then did you develop it afterwards? Was that how it was?

Clark Narvas:

I think it was earlier when I stepped in, Tahira wasn't there.

Pauline Narvas:

Okay, yeah.

Clark Narvas:

I think we start first like properly nailing in brand at the beginning of your current website theme - well the first one the first generate your current website theme. And we were also thinking about expanding into YouTube. Oh yeah. We thought of creating thumbnails for YouTube videos. I had this idea of thumbnails keep a visual because you are very visual, but have the text behind you. I was thinking we'd have the font on your website make that the thumbnail like font. And then you were like, you chose a random font. That is the same font we still use in all materials.

Pauline Narvas:

Is that the DIN Condensed? That was me just playing around on Photoshop one day trying to find the good font or the the font that was on my website. But then I couldn't find it. So then I just found this other one now it's stuck. So you sort of came in during that time, and we had like that picture of me. And then I had like the text in the background. I'm like, trying to develop that.

Clark Narvas:

Teecake, we're literally talking about...

Pauline Narvas:

What are you talking about? The one with my eyebrows? Basically, before we started rebranding it to like the Pawlean that you see now. Oh, yeah. It was like an image of me. And then some text in the background, that said "Pawlean" on it. And then as a joke, in my memory, you removed my eyebrows? No, I'm guessing.

Clark Narvas:

I have that exact photo.

Pauline Narvas:

The one with my eyebrows?

Clark Narvas:

Yeah, this was before we did that properly. Okay. It was back when you had your original site layout. And your audience was more about fashion.

Pauline Narvas:

Oh, yeah. I remember during that time, I felt really pressured to be a fashion blogger, because suddenly I returned to the blogging sphere. And everyone were fashion bloggers. And I was like, What the fuck is going on? What the heck happened? Why did that happen? I like met my friend Tahira who runs a small business called Teecake. And she draws faceless art, where, what it's a specific type of art that I really like, like, it's really, really pretty. And yeah, you can check out more of her art, she still does like commissions and stuff now, if you're interested. I think it was two like things I got commissioned from her, it was like to have two pictures of me just wearing like a purple top or something. And then that became like, the thing that people identified me with. And I remember that I created stickers with her art on it, and then shipped it around. And people had that everywhere on their like laptops, and I sent it all around the world, they were sending me pictures. And I still have if you go on my Instagram, I still have an Instagram story with all of like a collection of all the pictures people sent me of that brand everywhere. It was like amazing. It was that for a bit. And at the same time Matt created a like a "Paw" logo with the muscle emoji and he put them together.

Clark Narvas:

At first I didn't actually like it.

Pauline Narvas:

Oh, yeah. I remember, I remember when this happened. And Matt created it and I was a bit like, "umm I don't know, I wasn't sure about it." But now it's growing on me so much. And I absolutely love it. When I finished university, I wanted to focus more on separating the different aspects of my life from like uni life, to they're now entering the world of work. And seeing how I as a content creator can then shift my identity from being someone who is like, like a kid who literally knew nothing about the world, to then being a bit more established. And then it's a new chapter of my life to signify that right? And that's sort of like, I feel like that's when you sort of came in with the when you really properly came in with your, like branding guidelines with your like direction of where you want it to go. And then we had several iterations, which is what led us to what you see now, you know, and yeah, do you want to just like talk about like that process? Like, what was your thinking behind that?

Clark Narvas:

Okay, the first iteration of this new work branding was actually made by you. You had like, it was the "Paw", you've got rid of the circle and kind of got rid of the circle, and I was Pawlean life in pixels.

Pauline Narvas:

Oh, yeah. I just want to say that life in pixels. I don't remember where I got it. But I remember when I was explaining it to somebody, I was like, my blog is where I write about my life. And I said something like, it's sort of like, you know, pixelated world, but much I'd explain why it was really important to me. And then that's where I got that. And then now it's "Pawlean Life in Pixels" you know, "sharing thoughts in pixels" it's great. I love it. I love it. It just sticks. And it makes sense to people as well, which is great. One thing we didn't actually talk about, and it was like the base of polling, it's what people sort of know me for. I mean, they see all the logos and the text and it's all like fantastic, blah, blah, blah. But the thing that people know me for is the colour purple. Oh, yeah. Nice, something that's like they've developed over time and I'm really proud of it now because it's created this sort of like brand awareness that every time someone sees something purple, whether that's a purple iPhone, whether that's a purple iMac, or a purple top, a purple, just purple, anything purple curtains, people just send it to me. And they're like, hey, check out this purple thing. Like, that's like my colour now. When people think of me, when they see that colour.

Clark Narvas:

How to do you figure out that hex code? Did you just go on Photoshop like heyyy?

Pauline Narvas:

That's a good question. So I hate how I keep talking about my ex now because like, he's like the origin story.

Clark Narvas:

That wasn't your original hex code back then. I think it was. You had another shade of purple. It was more blue.

Pauline Narvas:

Was it? Yeah, I think I remember that. And then they sort of went to lilac-y/pinky shade now.

Clark Narvas:

Lilacy, yeah.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah. I don't know what happened. But basically, for those who are asking themselves why purple? Honestly, honestly, the Pawlean brand, like up until like, 2020, Why do you like purple so much? So my, my ex, like, when we first met, he said that when he first saw me, he saw like a purple of like an aura around me that was like purple. And that was actually because he could see when he sees someone or something he like sees in colour or something is called synesthesia, or something. Like you can read about it. And it's, it's really interesting, because certain people, like hear certain sounds, and they associate that with a taste like they can taste it, or they associate that with a colour. And it's just how the brain works. It was really interesting. But since he said that, to me, I was like, "yo know what, I really do lik purple." And then I sort of ju t ran with it. And purple ju t eventually became one of y favourite colours. And it's y favourite colour now, purp e everything. And then like y u said, like it first started o f like a bluey like purple. B t then over time, I've sort f like found this exact hex co e that I feel like, it's like a mix of the purple. And then bit of like, more of the lil c shade. And it just feels rig t. I don't know if this like is eally logical. But you can et anything from this. B cause, like, for people list ning are probably like, go on, I want to write notes about how can I create my brand? And ow can I pick my colour and th n I'm just here, like, if I feel right! it has never been planned. It's never planned. Also, if you want me to give some ultimate branding advice... Yeah like, 1, 2, 3, step one, step two, step three.

Clark Narvas:

It's not like this, it's more more like. People on the podcast wouldn't be able to see my hand gestures.

Pauline Narvas:

It's just like, Whoa, everywhere. It reminds me of that book squiggly career, where it's like, they basically talk about how no one really knows what they're doing. And they sort of just make it up as they go along. And then they end up somewhere they want. And that's sort of like what happens with with that Pawlean brands. So people always ask me, like, how do you do it? And they asked me for like, step by step advice. And they think it's all about the branding, it's all about the logo. And in essence, that's like the identity and it's great. It's a really big part of it. But also, they're just like, how do you like, you know, sound so positive? How do you make yourself sound so positive, and I'm like, that's genuinely how I write, I write, like, it's a cheesy romcom, I write my life as if I'm living in a Disney show. That's just how I live my life. And so like, if it sounds really cheesy, if it sounds really emotional, that's because my whole brand is emotional. I'm an emotional person. And I don't try to hide it, you know. But with that said, it has been really interesting to see it grow, we change a little bit, we like move the text a little bit to the left to like to tilt it a little bit. And then a sort of just works and we just make it up as we go along. But I think we what we work quite well together in the sense that I give you some feedback. And you're like "um I don't think that's the right thing" we debate about. We always debate about everything. Clark usually wins. So it's like back and forth a little bit, I throw use my colour, I threw your random tech like fonts that I randomly found. And then you started like building out the brand guidelines, you know, that create that's basically created what Pawlean is today, but out of all of the like years, even though we've said that it has been sort of like, what we felt like was right. 2020 was when we sort of took it a bit seriously. We were like, okay, let's create these brand guidelines. Let's follow them. And well, I didn't follow them. But you know, let's follow them. And let's make sure everything is consistent. So yeah, do you want to just talk about a bit about that?

Clark Narvas:

Okay, well, tea. So up until 2020, up until maybe up until 2021 actually. The entire Pauline brand, I think just you'd see fonts everywhere. You'd see like Roboto one time you'd see and then was like railway here. And then you'd have like doing DIN Condensed here on the website is the font is railway. And this just became confusing. I've I've complained dozen times about this. 2020-2021 was the year I managed to kinda like, align them together. It's not perfectly aligned. You reached out to me, you're like, you saw my branding for the podcast. And you're like, ah, how do I usually make my entire band like that? And I was like, okay, boom, we'll do it. I got inspired with the 2020 Pawlean brand, the slant and everything. I got inspired by AOC. Actually, the OSI logo, how it's all slanted. Yeah. And I think you can define the AOC as like a strong woman.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, I like where this is going.

Clark Narvas:

But like, I feel like that also, I think your personality is strong. I also think this really goes well with the strength. Yeah. With the muscle on the Paw logo, Pawlean logo, the life and pixels thing, the swirl thing? I think it kind of relates to what you said, how you said, you're an emotional person. Yeah, it's up and down. It's like, I'm not I'm not talking about mood swings.

Pauline Narvas:

I mean, I guess my mood swings as well.

Clark Narvas:

Okay, okay. It's up and down. But like, it's kind of like a metaphor for we're not really perfect. We're not

Pauline Narvas:

when you look at Instagram feed my Instagram perfect. feed, you think that everything is like fine and dandy, but you never, you never really understand. But people go through a lot of things. And I think one thing I've been really cautious about with my sort of like social media presence and stuff, and like my blog and all of this, like the Pawlean thing is that I want it to be as honest as possible and transparent as possible, just because, like a lot of things that you see out there on social media these days are very filtered. Sometimes you wonder if they're living in like, a different reality to you. And you're just like, how, why does, why is everything like perfect. And so I tried to be as honest as I can on social media. And I think, you know, what you described there with the way the inspiration behind that is important, as well as she really showcases like a key value of why a I create online.

Clark Narvas:

There's also the fonts used. My original intent was to actually move away from DIN Condensed. But I decided it's probably best to keep it because of heritage and everything. Brand heritage people know you do that font. Yeah, so we just so we decided to just go with DIN. And for the Paw, the big Pawlean part, I think it also matches up with a strongness you know? And that strength. I'll just reveal the entire brand guidelines here. Headings are DIN Condensed. The descriptions, paragraphs, they are Railway. We also removed the circle and I think it looks much better now. If I was gonna make more cheesy metaphors about the circle, because I just thought of one, I just thought of a cheesy metaphor, which I which I didn't, which I didn't think of, but we might as well. You could say that the circle was you breaking out of the box in a way.

Pauline Narvas:

Like someone like unlocked the cage, and the cage just like broke apart? Yeah. Woah, that just got real deep, real fast.

Clark Narvas:

I think she got inspired by me working on my new website.

Pauline Narvas:

Oh I'm always inspired.

Clark Narvas:

But she said she saw about how my site was totally random. She looked at that. And she was just like, what could I do to improve my website?

Pauline Narvas:

I felt like it felt like a different website. I've no, yeah, every time I went on it, suddenly it felt like it was moving away from, you know, like me as a person because it became very black and white. Yeah, that's what it was. It was a black on white website inspired by The Minimalist. And I sort of like built it off the fact that I wanted everything to be minimal. But then, as I've grown up a little bit more, I've realised that just because you want to be minimal, doesn't mean that's black and white. You know, there's plenty of colour to add for personality. And now I think it's a good balance of focusing on the content, but also having that splash of "Oh, yeah, I'm on Pawlean's website. I'm in Pauline's world." Exactly. It's not just the Pawlean brand that you've worked on. You've worked on several different branding, too many to talk about right? But like we could go on about about this. But I wanted to talk more about our recent collaboration with Ladies in DevOps. Sometimes when I speak to other creatives, they don't they can't explain a process because it's not like a logical structure. Sometimes it's just like, I felt like it. And it felt right. Yeah. So I didn't want to talk about sort of like maybe your process, inspiration, like, and now it's got like, it's a growing community with over 400 members that people identify with.

Clark Narvas:

Shall I be honest?

Pauline Narvas:

Let's be honest.

Clark Narvas:

I don't know. Genuinely like, I think really, there's nothing really. I didn't know how you're so impressed about it.

Pauline Narvas:

But people are impressed about it. Some people have been like, "Oh my god, what like editor do you use? Who created this for you?" And I'm just like, well, bro created it in 5 minutes.

Clark Narvas:

It's just there was literally just like me and Photoshop. And also five minutes of me procrastinating whilst studying. I selected a font in Photoshop to look like a code editor font. That was just it.

Pauline Narvas:

At first it was for our discord community so I can have an icon, you know what I mean? That's all I sort of thinking about. And now it's this huge thing. Yeah, like, what what made you go to the colours, because like, that's another thing a lot of people we briefly discussed earlier about how like, with Pawlean and we sort of had the story we had like the feeling. But when it comes to like, when you create a campaign for somebody, like for example.

Clark Narvas:

Not just Ladies in DevOps?

Pauline Narvas:

No, not just Ladies in DevOps. But like, you know, Nexus, for example. Where do you get these colours from? What, like, what draws you in? And we're starting like a little family business of our own, what draws you into our colour there as well.

Clark Narvas:

I honestly just think about personality, it just depends on the thing. Really, it's not really a step-by-step thing. But yeah, I just say colours aren't everything. And while it does enhance that the thing, it's also about visuals. It's also about you know, all the other stuff on top. And but if I was going to really give any advice about colours, it would just be what is the audience you're aiming for? What is your personality? Go with it. Yeah, Roll with it. You know,

Pauline Narvas:

And sometimes you don't have to even think that hard. I think a lot of people think a lot about like their colours and their branding. And even though it's a really important part, like I hope that what we've managed to tell you if but sometimes you just make up as you go along, and you will make mistakes. So be like, oh, that didn't work. And then you reiterate and things, change it make a little bit better. Maybe that works. Maybe that just does really well. And then you sort of just keep building on that. Like there's so many times where, like, I don't know, I've obviously failed a lot in like different creative things that I've done for Pawlean, but just hasn't worked very well. And you've given me feedback, but it's just like, no, that's the colours are off, or like the text isn't, like, stray or whatever. So yeah, it's just like one of those things that I think one thing that we both do quite well is that we're not afraid to build in public. And we're not afraid to make mistakes in public. I mean, obviously, we'll be like, Oh, you know, spelling error, just go back and you know, change things. But also there's some are things of it. That's been like embarrassing for us. But we've just sort of made it up as we go along. Which is sort of the point of I think that's like, I think one of the main take home message from this conversation that we had is that, like, nothing is planned. And sometimes that's the best part. Yeah, you you learn, we all learn new things every single day. And you're going to I don't know, the more you go into your creative ventures, you know, you'll you'll learn some new tricks, you'll learn some new skills, and all we can do is just build upon them. And, you know, it's also really important to note that the timescale we've been talking about here has literally been years. It's a long term thing. Sometimes people don't even find their like grounding on who they are and their personality until a few years later.

Clark Narvas:

When I was building my brand, I literally I started with black. I started with black and then I had some kind of like weird, like, Superman esque phase, I wanted to be funny, and I was just like I'm not a funny person. Okay, and now I have this little like, kind of text back to the simplicity of the last time the last, like, I don't know, Superman esque phase, so he kind of takes the minimalism of the black on why and it kinda like, merges them together.

Pauline Narvas:

That's a really good point. Like, I think it's on your website, isn't that you can sort of see Yeah, the growth of it. So that's something also to read. And finally, since we've been talking for a long time about this, I wanted to ask so if someone listening now is like okay, what should I be like doing next to improve my like branding online?

Clark Narvas:

With a great brand, you need to be consistent. And that means using the right fonts, the right colours, just like create brand guidelines.

Pauline Narvas:

That's another thing, don't it's not just like you stick to that for the rest of your life. Like, that's what we've been saying. And again, one of the main take home messages is that nothing is fixed. So it's okay to like reiterate, go back to the drawing board. Keep going. If you wait to be perfect, and you wait to create this perfect graphic or like, brand to represent who you are, then you're never gonna like build yourself up. No one's ever gonna really remember what you do when you constantly like change your or never put yourself out there, you know, the less things is honestly learning and building in public and just doing it.

Clark Narvas:

I think this could also be summed up into, I think a lot of my thing could be summed up into one word, and it's practicality. If you don't have something that's versatile, and that can be adapted or it can be developed, then go back to the drawing board. It needs to be flexible, in my opinion.

Pauline Narvas:

Thank you so much for sharing that! I think it was really good to have you here to get your point of view and how you approach things. And I think what we've gathered is things that we've created has been like random bursts of inspiration that sort of just come out of nowhere, you can't really plan it, there's no real structure, it's sort of just comes out. And also we've not been scared to build in public. And because of that, we've gathered feedback, collected, experience and skills. And that sort of led to what we've built together now, I think I really struggle explaining it to people because I don't know how to tell them that it's all based on feeling like my personality is just feelings. So make those feelings, it's a real thing. And I think a lot of people just like connect with it a lot more because I think a lot of people are just fed up of like robots and everything is sort of like robotic. There's not that humanity anymore, when you know we've locked down and everything is really tough. And so I think a lot of people just really connect with my content because I am quite honest. And I think that comes through the brand that props to you for like building building on it and you know, creating such a great thing. Thanks again, Clark. I hope I see you in another episode, better drive home now. Thanks, Clark! And that is it for this episode. If you want to continue our conversation on this topic, let's do it. You can find me on social media on twitter @paulienuh on Instagram @paw.lean and on my blog pawlean.com. If you found that episode insightful consider supporting me you can do so over on my support page where you can share my content, buy me a burrito, send me Bitcoin, use my affiliate links and more. Check it out at pawlean.com/support-me. Thanks again for listening, sending you all happy, healthy positive vibes as always, and I'll see you in the next one. Bye!

Creating the "Pawlean" brand
The colour "purple"
Pawlean brand guidelines
Clark's other branding projects
Advice for creators