Lifestyle Magazine

A Mark of Distinction: Wedding Invitations

By Claire

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

Hall­marks on sil­ver: Photo credit

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 logo
Is 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 card
How 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 gray 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

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