Posted: Tue 2nd Aug 2022
Enterprise Nation member Claudine Curran started her brand design company, Curran Design, from her home in Co. Galway.
Born in the Netherlands, Claudine spent most of her childhood in Ireland before studying abroad and taking in some adventurous travel.
On her return to Ireland, she'd always planned to eventually fly solo, only it was circumstance that forced her to spread her wings prematurely. After a few challenges…watch her soar.
What is Curran Design?
I'm a brand identity designer – a graphic designer who's decided to specialise in branding specifically.
I help businesses create their unique visual representation of their values, so they can attract their ideal clients, and therefore gain customer loyalty and sales through that. It's just me, I'm a solopreneur.
How did you start the business?
I was a structural geologist and geophysicist initially, I didn't start out as a designer. But I ended up working for a company in Glasgow, where I was a marketing geologist. And in that role, I was basically an in-house designer.
I managed to get experience on all kinds of things to do with in-house design, which was really great. It made me realise that's what I wanted to do.
But I didn't want to go back to university again so I ended up going to Shillington College, to get all the training I needed to be able to become a graphic designer and build a portfolio. That was the biggest thing: to get work as a graphic designer, you need to be able to show what you can do.
When I came back to Ireland at the end of 2019, I was looking to get work at an agency, but it was really, really difficult. Then in 2020, of course, COVID hit so everything just slowed down. I was left wondering what do I do with this time? Do I keep trying to apply for stuff? Or do I try to make my own way?
I received the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance to start my business so that's given me some funding to get going. I'm still very much in the beginning stages of my freelance career, but it's been going great, and it's definitely picked up in the last couple of weeks since the middle of last year or so.
That was a big step. How did you feel about it?
Once I made the decision to get into graphic design, I did eventually see myself being freelance. Because I wanted to be able to work from anywhere – that was the ultimate aim.
Initially, I was hoping to get more experience at agencies, for example. But because I already had the experience from being an in-house designer, I felt a little bit more confident going freelance.
It did feel scary, I'm not going to lie, but I trusted that I had the skills. I did a couple of projects in the beginning for a really cheap price for people who I met on the course, to get my feet wet.
One of the biggest challenges wasn't the design work, it was how to run a business. If you're a solopreneur, you're doing everything yourself.
I was learning how to manage my time in such a way that I wasn't spending all my time on the administration and sending invoices and things like that. The challenge was learning how to balance everything.
Why did you choose to specialise in branding?
It allows me to work on many different aspects of a company's identity. And since consistency across both print and digital marketing materials is key to a strong brand presence, I like overseeing the entire process from start to finish.
Plus, it means I get to create many different types of design, not only web design, so it keeps the job infinitely varied.
What are the most typical mistakes small businesses make when it comes to branding?
A lot of people have misconceptions about what branding is. Most people think that it's just a logo, and it really isn't. You can't have a successful brand if all your focus is on the logo; it's so much more than that.
As a business, you need to be consistent and have your branding elements across everything. Every touchpoint with your clients has to be consistent – using the same colour, or the same typography. If you don't do that, you break the spell of your branding.
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