This creator used their visual style to launch a multi-million dollar business
Give me five minutes to show you:
🎨 How Sam Parr's style inspired the brand identity for his new company
🔵 Test your design eye with this simple game
📱What the iPhone would look like if Apple listened to everyone
Not long ago, I asked entrepreneur Sam Parr how he came up with his beautiful visual identity for his new company, Hampton.
Sam Parr's visual starting point for his new company
I'm not surprised.
Sam's not a designer, but if you have listened to his popular podcast, My First Million, you'll know he's vocal about what he loves. I fully expected an answer like this.
“You know when someone has good style when the essence of style is authentic to who he is.” —Legendary skateboarder and inventor, Rodney Mullen
I thought it would be fun to break this response down and see how it was foundational to the visual identity of his company, Hampton.
I don't know what images Sam used to define his style, but a simple Google search for, ”old school car and rolex ads. British racing green. like an old e type jaguar" created some fundamental images that work for this example.
A Taste Palette from Sam's stated preferences
To me, I see the muted greens, the sandy undertones, the elegant serif typefaces, and the classic imagery. I've laid them out on this board to distill the vibe for you quickly.
When surfacing images this way in my own design workshop, I have my students squint their eyes at their own boards, to see what stands out. Look for patterns in your colors, textures, fonts, etc.
It seems too simple, but these images were the first to pop up. Just searching for a few objects, words, or colors will set you out on a path of combinations no one has repeated for themselves.
I call this designing from the Inside Out.
Don't start searching Pinterest for what other people think is cool and what others have done. Start from your own interests and stories. Pull those concepts and visuals into your own Taste Palette, and start to spot patterns.
Soon, you'll be inspired by colors, fonts, and imagery to remix and incorporate into your own unique visual style.
Hampton's visual style
As you can see below, while the greens ended up slightly darker than the original, many of the design decisions have a clear throughline to Sam's original interests.
The sandy color treatments, buttons, spot graphics, and serif font choices feel like they were directly pulled from the ad above.
While Sam hired an agency to do the work, giving them a north star pointed them in the right direction, saving him potentially tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours along the way.
Remember, a designer's goal is to answer a question.
As a designer, I want to convey and answer the question, “Who am I?” and do that in a visually distinctive way that's true to the founder. There are other questions I'm solving for, but if you're excited about how you're presenting your true self to the world, it's easy to stay focused and motivated on building your business or side project.
This Inside Out strategy works for businesses large and small. Tesla is heavily influenced by Elon Musk's own taste.
Even if you're developing a single product like a Chrome extension, you'll want to develop a style for the landing page and stay consistent with those decisions throughout the process. And it's much easier to do this by listening to what you love.
Soon, you'll have a starting point for all future design projects.
My own journey
My own journey of discovering my visual style was to answer the question, “What is it about Los Angeles that I love?“
I loved palm trees, and I wanted to better understand why. So I embarked on a 100-day creative challenge to draw a palm tree each day.
100 Day Palm Tree Challenge
If you look closely, Palm Tree #65 is where I found something unique. A moody background with a leaf being hit with a single source of light. Most of my personal design projects incorporate three elements. The sun, sand, and palm trees using moody backgrounds.
I get so excited to design for myself because it always stems from those three key elements.
Having a strong sense of what you love is like buying locally sourced ingredients. When you use organic, fresh ingredients, it's difficult to screw up a meal.
And when you're working with your own personal ingredients, it's difficult to screw up your visual style.