95 How to Build a Brand and Start a Movement – The Launch of Never North

Three years ago I realized that I just spent 10 years building the biggest piece of crap freelancing business you could imagine.

Crappy clients. Crappy projects. Crappy situations. Mostly bread and butter work and rarely a fun project. I was frustrated with what I built. Freelancing was supposed to give me freedom. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS

Crappy Clients

I felt this untapped potential inside of me waiting to be released if only I was in the right environment or had the right clients. I would never find it where I was looking though, I had to create it.

So I quit my life and started over from square one. I fired all my clients, sold everything I owned, and set off to travel the world working from my laptop. My dream.

I took everything I learned my first 10 years of business and spent the next 3 years hustling and rebuilding my business from scratch. I’m now working with clients I love and on projects that inspire me and make the world a better place to be. It’s still a huge work-in-progress and I’m learning, but one day I’ll be exactly where I want to be.

The digital nomad diaries...

Never North is a journey to the top. So you can get what you want out of life and do good work. I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m fighting the same freelance demons you are and finding my way just the same.

Never North was built to be transparent and give you an insight into a growing design business so you can apply it to your own. By sharing what we know we can innovate faster and do greater work.

I thought there would be no better way to introduce you to Never North than to guide you through the entire process of it’s creation. I’ll divide this out into three posts: research + brand development, website design process + strategy, and site development so you can get a detailed look at this project from start to launch.

This serves two purposes:

Sweet. Now, let’s get down to business.

A great logo starts with research

Before starting a logo project there are a few things we need to know. Why the company exists, what makes it special, any hidden meanings, and who’s it for. Logo processes are hard to find and they usually don’t go into much detail about the company or questionnaire. To me, this is a mistake. The questionnaire contains key insights that push the logo direction in exploration. It’s important to understand where they came from to reverse engineer the process.

This information helps you connect the dots and develop concepts! So remember kids, at Never North we practice safe design. Use a concept.

First, let’s learn about the story behind the name Never North and other special meanings, what it stands for, and who’s it for. Then we can get into the logo building process where the fun begins.

What’s in a Name?


I thought it was a great metaphor for how I felt about life. Pirates are independent. They can do what they please and reap the rewards. It’s about setting sail and making up your own rules to the game.

Jack Sparrows Compass

In the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” Jack Sparrow had an unusual compass. Unlike an ordinary compass, it pointed to what the user wanted most in the world, rather than magnetic North and led them there.

“How can we sail to an island that nobody can find, with a compass that doesn’t work?”
“Aye, the compass doesn’t point north, but we’re not trying to find north, are we?”

―Will Turner and Joshamee Gibbs –

This is where the name Never North was born.

The path less taken.

North is the conventional path. The path most traveled. The one that your parents and peers probably pushed you to go down at some point or maybe still do. The old adage get a degree, get married, buy a house, start a family, and then when you retire you can do whatever you want.

Why should we delay our gratification?

Never North is for people who aren’t okay with settling. Who want to take the unconventional path, do something different, and get more out of life and business.

Chose yourself

Whether that’s traveling the world, spending more time with family, surfing the best waves, or designing for non-profits. It doesn’t matter. It’s uniquely you. It’s what makes you come alive.

Most people think that those kind of things only happen for the chosen few. Well it does, but that’s because those select few making their dreams a reality, have chosen themselves.

Never North is a journey and a destination. It’s a compass that can take you as far and as brilliantly as you believe you can go.

It’s the intersection of design, freedom, growth, and community. Four themes you’ll be hearing a lot about around here.

Our Purpose: Design a better tomorrow

Never North’s mission is to change the way freelance designers do business and as a result design a better tomorrow.

We’ll start by learning why we need to stop chasing money to survive and how we can build a thriving business chasing our values instead. We go all-in for projects that make a positive impact on the world and their success is our mission.

And this is how our army at Never North will change the world.

Design at it’s core is about amplifying messages. When design visually aligns with the message people hear it becomes much more powerful. When it resonates movements form.

To change the way we do businesses we need to be transparent and share information with each other. In order to innovate faster we can’t start from square one, we need to understand what someone else is doing, see the problems, and do it better. Rinse and repeat.

An Exploding Online Marketplace

The internet has changed the game. In 2006, just 6% of the world was online. In four short years it rose to 23% and by 2020 its projected to be around 65% 1 2. This means that at least 3 billion new people are going to be online in the next few years. This represents tens of trillions of dollars injected into the global market up for grabs.

People online

Digital entrepreneurship is on the rise. More people are stepping out of the workforce 3 and starting their own businesses. The internet has removed the need for gatekeepers and people are starting to realize that it’s anybodies game. These are the people that have chosen themselves and they need designers who have chosen themselves too.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
― Howard Thurman –

There is plenty of work out there if you know where to look.

I want to share every detail of my business, learnings, and strategy so you can use it to grow yours. As you grow your business, you’ll be able to land more and more dream projects, until that’s all you do.

This enables an army of freelancers to say HELL NO! to bullshit and FUCK YEAH! to the companies and people building a better future. The start of a movement.

Never North will design a better tomorrow.

With power comes great responsibility

The Audience

Never North is for the bold and the brave who have chosen the path less taken. At Never North we don’t care where you are, only where you’re going.

Our audience is interested in growth. They want to expand their skillsets, run a better more profitable business, be involved in projects that excite and push them, and get more out of life. They have all kinds of dreams from traveling to crafting to niche hobbies.

They’ve got some experience under their belt, but art school didn’t prepare them for a freelance career. They struggle with finding clients, knowing what to charge, wearing a thousand hats, achieving work/life balance, organization, productivity, feast/famine cycle, marketing, and being alone.

The audience comes from all kinds of backgrounds and areas of the world, but the one thing they share is the desire to do great work, live a good life, and make a positive impact on the world around them.

Never North is targeting freelance designers that are ready to do the work and make shit happen for themselves. The ones who have or are willing to say, “yes” to their dream business and start living life with purpose. The ones who treat life as their greatest work of art.

Design your life.

Put a face to it!

For each project I create personas based on real people I want to target to help me speak to and visualize their user experience as I design. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Meet Joe

Joe was a designer at a print shop doing what people at print shops do. He knew he could be so much more and was at this soul sucking job for so long he forgot how good it felt to be creative.

He has a beautiful wife and young son who he’s teaching to skate. He decided that he was too old to get his glory days at an ad agency and if he was ever going to make it, he was going to have to do it on his own. He enrolled in college to get his degree, but is considering abandoning it since he gets better results from online courses and it’s more cost effective. His dream is to move to Hawaii with his family and skate and surf in paradise while running his web design business. He’s been working towards that goal and should reach it in 18 months time.

Meet Amber

Amber loves crafting, fire spinning, green living, and Burning Man. She dreams of travel, but can usually only afford to take one short trip per year. She’s hungry for more. She’s heavily involved in her community and loves gardening, eating healthy, and supporting sustainable practices.

She cares deeply about the world around her and wants to make the world a better place. She wants to design for non-profits and build up her freelance business so she can afford to do more traveling. She struggles because her clients usually don’t have very large budgets to work with.

Meet David

David has been jumping from agency to agency for a really long time. A few years ago he had his first child. He adores being a father, but the agency usually takes up a lot of his free time. In the free time he actually does have he screenprints in his garage. He has the most creative integrity and willingness to fight for it, than any other designer I know. He deeply cares about the result and doing what’s right and is easily frustrated with bureaucracy. He’s likely a better fit for freelancing than agency work, but he’s scared to make the leap for his family’s financial security and stability. They mean everything to him.

What makes Never North different (Unique Selling Proposition)?

We strive to make sure our content is insanely useful and actionable.

Most (not all) of the information out there these days is generic and watered down. While you may get an insight here and there, it takes a long time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Never North is about fast tracking that process by going into excruciating detail about all things business, design, and freedom, so you can growth hack that shit and #win.

Our ideas are fresh and we have some extraordinary content planned. For example, we’ve arranged with a client to design and develop his brand and website online, week-by-week so you can learn and be part of the process. Live. In the kind of detail you’re reading right now with client interactions included. How would getting that kind of look into a design business help you in yours?

Nobody should have to start from square one.

Community Supported.

Never North is and will always be community supported.

There will never be any advertising on the site. Ads clutter up the sidebar and distract from the real message. Plus, we feel it sends a message that we care more about money flashing ads in your face, than our mission to provide you with the most value possible. We want our free stuff to be better than everybody elses paid. If we do a good job, the money will come.

We want you to trust the people and companies we link to from Never North and know that we were never paid to do so.

We do believe affiliate marketing is an honest alternative to ads, so if you want to support Never North and are going to purchase something at the sites we recommend, using our link will earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. You buy something you were going to buy anyways and we get to keep the lights on over here! #win #win. We only recommend things that we use and love and these rules will never be broken.

We have a compelling story.

There are freelancing sites out there that say the freelancer working on the beach is a myth. I’m living proof, it’s not. And I’m not the only one.

Halong Bay, Vietnam. One of our many offices around the world. Life is what you make it. Find more of these pics on our  facebook page

This is the new rich. Of course everybody wants to be a millionaire, but moreso, we just want to experience what we think only millions can buy.

Most people think this lifestyle of mine, working as I travel the world, is expensive and out of reach… but you’d be surprised to learn how little I spend.

The journey hasn’t been easy for me and has been full of struggles and hardships which you’ll probably get to know in time. I don’t claim to be an expert, but damn it I’m on my way to making it happen come hell or high water. And so are you.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says that “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This means that the people around you determine how you think, act, and how successful you will be. It’s motivating to be around other people trying to achieve a similar goal, but they can be difficult to find.

Lookie there, the Northies are migrating East!

Never North is about surrounding yourself with people who are doing the same thing you want to do, so you can get there faster and with more support.

It’s about not slaying dragons alone anymore.

Everyone else may call you mad, but at Never North you’re brilliant.

You’re one of us.

Creating the brand

Now that we know the story behind the name, what Never North stands for, and who’s it’s for… let’s get started with the brainstorming.

Sketch the first ideas

Never North preliminary sketches
The first thing I like to do is sketch any immediate ideas that come to mind. Since the meaning behind the name is a compass I decided to start there.

The results felt lackluster no matter how hard I tried to push it. While this felt like the obvious answer since the story behind the name is a compass, it felt empty. Unmemorable.

Never North needs to be remembered.

Create a mindmap

After all your first ideas are out on paper the next step is to create a mind map. The purpose of a mind map is to connect two unrelated things to form a unique concept.

Going back to our creative brief we learned that Never North was about design, freedom, and community so let’s start with those words. I write down anything that would represent those ideas. The most obvious answers are the best ones, but no idea is too stupid to write down. They often led to something better.

Community for Conscious Creatives

It’s easy to get some incredibly complex ideas here, but a memorable logo is a simple one. So try to push for symbols that can be represented in a basic icon.

Next to each word on the mindmap draw a small icon to represent the word or idea. This makes it easier to visually connect the dots later on.

Use all available resources

If I have someone available to do this exercise with me, I’ll bring them in and we’ll bounce words and ideas off of each other. It’s just about writing down related words and ideas, you can make sense out of it later.

I don’t always have someone to do this exercise with me so in that case I turn to image search, google, and the dictionary to help me fill out the map.

Search Google Images

I go to google image search to find generic representations of concepts that I may have missed by searching words I’ve already written down. Sometimes if I add the word “icon” I can get better concepts since they’re simple to represent.

For example: For my search of “design” and “icon” I was led to the image above. The bounding box tool is definitely design and could possibly be incorporated into the logo somehow. I write this idea on my mind map.

Check the dictionary and thesaurus

Sometimes a different word with the same meaning can lead you down a different path. So I check out the dictionary to see if any similar words sprout new ideas.

Look for alternative meanings

Lastly, I search google for any animals, colors, or other objects that may have symbolic meaning for the concepts I’m trying to produce. You have to be sure to use the context your audience would be familiar with since these things have different meanings in different parts of the world.

The eagle has landed

In my research I found the following meanings for an eagle:

That is just screaming the principals and values of Never North and I love it. Birds also represent community which is another core value of Never North. Birds that fly in a flock can fly farther, faster, and more efficiently than they can alone. All of this aligns with Never North perfectly and after going through my findings I feel strongly that the logo shall be some kind of eagle-like bird.

Make it memorable

The next question is: What can we combine with that concept to make it memorable? I mean if we just do an eagle, it’s an eagle and it has meaning, but if we can make it two things in one… well that makes for a really strong memorable logo.

Looking back at our mind map we can see if we can make a bird AND another symbol in one. What icon could be made into a bird (and this is where your icons next to the words comes super handy)?



A laptop represents location independence, freedom, and designing. It’s our number one tool. You can work from anywhere in the world and in your home with a laptop.

The laptop bird is the only concept worth pursuing at this point because it feels so right. I stop brainstorming and begin focusing on creating this one logo. It’s like love sometimes, when you know you know.

Start Sketching

Now I take it to pen and paper and begin envisioning how this laptop bird can come to life.
I wanted Never North to be bold and strong for what it believed in, but at the same time warm and welcoming.

The chosen one

When you look at our shortlist there is really one clear winner. This one is simple, bold, and is flying upwards and out into the distance. Which is where we desire freedom to takes us to. Up and away! The screen on the opposite side is simpler and more visual pleasing, but showing a trackpad and keyboard would make it unmistakingly a laptop.

Refine and Tweak

Now we have the overall direction we want to take the logo, it’s time to refine the idea and tweak it to perfection.

When it was time to look for fonts I had a huge realization. I should have picked the typography first and then created the icon to match it. This realization made me change my creative process, the typography was more important to get right and base the style off of than the icon. The icon should be molded to the typography, not the other way around.

When I begin my search for fonts I go to myfonts.com and create an album. Then I go through their library by keyword searches and add any font that I think might work to my album. When I have a good selection I head back to the album and see which ones stand out. When you have them next to each other it’s much easier to see the winners.

At this point, a few fonts should stand out from the rest. In the case of Never North, there was only one. You can check out my shortlist album of fonts here.

The perfect fontBold. Beautiful. Warm. It captures the Never North spirit and is a font the audience would appreciate. Brandon Grotesque is a favorite of many.

Next step. It needs some kerning. If you don’t know how to kern I recommend you play this game. Here’s my before and after for Never North.

How to kern a logo

Now that we’ve found our font we need to get the icon to match it. Putting the bird icon next to Brandon Grotesque makes it feel ‘off.’

Why? They have different ‘feels’ to them. The bird is very rounded around the edges making it a bit softer than the curves around the letters of Brandon Grotesque. We need those curves to compliment and match each other.

How to match a font to an icon

There’s a visual puzzle I’m trying to solve until the logo “feels” right.

The other areas that feel off are the head and the tail of the bird so we’ll work on those too.

Perspective Lines

While the perspective of the tail and the head look correct based on the lines, they don’t feel correct. The tail and the head are aligned with the bottom of the laptop. Let’s see what happens when we align them with the top?


Now, the head looks much better (not quite right, but closer) and the tail looks awful. We’ll move the tail back in alignment with the bottom of the laptop and keep the head aligned with the top.

Getting Close...

Now we’ve matched the curves of the laptop bird with the curves of Brandon Grotesque. Our final tweaks will be to get the tail and head tweaked to perfection. So lets create some variations.


I started to get really frustrated with the tail and head because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong about it. So I reached out to one of my peers for some feedback and critique.

My friend, Vonster suggested I choose version D and simplify the head. At first I was leaning towards B because I felt that A, D, and E looked like the bird was taking a huge crap instead of a tail. I was likely overthinking things and decided to move forward with variation D. You tell me? Is my laptop bird taking a big crap on Never North? The jerk.

Simplifying the shape of the head also gave it a more eagle-like beak which better represented the logos roots.


Seek critique of your work from peers. They will help you see things with new eyes and provide a different perspective or solution. Which means the quality of your work levels up.

All of these small tweaks took  hours of playing around until… we found the perfect balance.

Final Never North logo

The expression of color

You always want to design a logo in black and white first to make sure it’s simple enough to be used across all mediums. So now that we have our black and white logo, let’s splash some color on there!

The first thing I do is head to colourlovers where I begin searching some terms to describe what kind of vibe or style I’m looking for. For Never North I choose: freedom, punk, bold, different, modern, and pink. 

I was drawn to a color palette that was similar to, but not CMYK. It gives it a little Never North twist to represent the unconventional rebellion side of things, but at the same time fun and uplifting.

Once I settled on that color concept, no other color palettes came close. It was only a matter of choosing the right hues now and I tried over 200 combinations of teal, pink, yellow, purple, and black to find the perfect match.

I’ve represented the color choices below in mustaches.


Color Meanings

Pink – Hot pink inspires a more passionate, playful, and sensual love over other hues. It exudes warmth, happiness, and a love of life. 4

Teal – Blue signifies trustworthiness and reliability. Teal enhances the ability to focus and concentrate, think clearly and make good decisions, and develop good organizational skills. 5

Purple – Purple inspires creativity with intellect. It’s unconventional, individual, and original. It hates to copy anyone else and likes to march to the beat of it’s own drum! 6

Yellow – Yellow uplifts the spirits and helps create enthusiasm for life. It can awaken greater confidence and optimism. It’s the color of ideas and helps us find new ways of doing things. 7 [7]

Black – Black implies self-control and discipline, independence and strong will, and an impression of authority and power. It’s the color of sophistication and is associated with sexiness and seduction. “Black is the end, but the end always implies a new beginning. When the light appears, black becomes white, the color of new beginnings.” 8

And this is how the brand of Never North was created.


Whew. Wow. Thanks for reading all that. I hope you learned something about the process and thinking behind developing a logo. The next step is to dive deep into the content strategy, site map, web design, and overall vision for the brand which we’ll get into in the next post in this series. In the finale, we’ll learn how it was all put together, changed, and built from comp to code.  If you don’t want to miss out, be sure to subscribe below!

Don’t want to miss out on what’s coming next?


Now if you could please do me a favor?

The community starts with you! Let me know in the comments if there is anything you can add or improve about my process or what you learned and how it will change your own logo process.

If you know of someone who could benefit from this article please share it with them. It helps me and it helps them. Every share helps build our army to design a better tomorrow.



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  • http://joe-hirst.com Joe Hirst

    I couldn’t agree more with your theory on the importance of branding.
    When I first began my freelancing adventure, I started thinking that I needed a “company/ business” type name and logo. Perhaps a very corporate or studio look and feel. I slowly went through numerous name ideas, logo concepts, color schemes and design ideas until I stopped and settled on “Clevertail”. The idea based on “Tail” being the slang for someones behind, and clever is just another name for smart. In hindsight, I know this was practically idiotic, but at the time it meant smart-ass and its logo was nothing short of stupidity toting a fox’s tail…

    I quickly realized after having numerous confused prospective clients that the name, and brand that I’d created was just plain awful. Nobody but myself understood it, and i felt like the fox’s tail logo could be misunderstood as “cunning” or devious. Not intelligence and swiftness.

    I looked for inspiration all over the place to “re-brand” myself. I decided that people should know they are dealing with a freelancer on a personal level. Someone and only one person, and would be able to relate to me in the most simplistic form possible. Yet, at the same time I wanted to inspire luxury, creativity, quality and simplicity. I feel like i’ve at least achieved that through my self branded logo now.

    I got some great feedback from friends, family, and the online community at logopond, and numerous forums and social profiles.

    I love the concept behind Nevernorth, and Jenny did an amazing job at portraying her experience, belief and love of freedom into it’s design.

    I’ve attached a small image of my logo for anyone who’d like to give feedback on it or critique in any way, and I’ve included the mockery of what used to be “clever tail” for anyone who is interested.

    EDIT: Seems like one of the images I added didn’t upload correctly. Not sure how to re-upload or add new uploads after I post a comment. Sorry about that.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I chose to use DISQUS for comments because it allows you to edit your comments (gives you the power, not me). So you should be able to edit your post and reupload the image.

      Thanks for giving us your personal branding story. I went through 4 or 5 different names before I came up with Never North… want to laugh?

      Okay the first one was Creative Jenny… that went away pretty quick like. The second was idealution (idea and evolution combined) but hated it quickly after. The third one was Razviti which means something in Croatia–I don’t even remember. Then I loved pirates so I went with Pirata Creative for a while.


      I was having so much trouble creating a name that I enlisted Matt Gartland of Winning Edits to brainstorm with me, so that is his genius. Sometimes you’re so close to a problem you can’t see.

      But ultimately, I found that I was trying to make meaning, like you, for a corporate audience and was failing at it. When I started to be more of myself is when the gold really started to come out.

      Anyways, see if you can reupload. Your logo hits the points you intended it to and it’s nicely laid out but I feel that you could do something much better. This is your business and the logo doesn’t seem to fit who you are from what I know about you. I’d take some time to think deeply about who you are and the kind of design business you want to have and get busy researching. (This is what I’m doing right now with my design business, rethinking things—I’ll have more in an upcoming post).

      • http://joe-hirst.com Joe Hirst

        Thanks for your input Jenny!

        Yeah, I agree to some extent about my logo. I have an undying passion to constantly evolve ideas, so if I begin with another redesign It would definitely take me some time to be happy with the redesign, but that’s a huge part of creativity that I love!

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          I would probley endlessly perfect things if it were up to me, but we have to draw the line somewhere. :)

        • http://joe-hirst.com Joe Hirst

          We do. I think that part of me is my greatest strenght, but my biggest downfull.

          PS: look how many comments there are already. You rock!

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          I KNOWS. Thanks for being the first. :)

  • grantspanier

    Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh. I love this, really.

    I love that you’re going in-depth, not afraid of long form. This is what we need—diving deep into the stuff. Especially right now in a culture that’s focused on quick, quick, now, now, now, consuming light content at the speed of…light.

    I love the analysis of the logo options. Reminds me of (self plug in 3…2….1…) this project I did highlighting the creative process/identity development: http://grantdoeswork.com/royal-dodo/

    Digging in. Showing the work behind the finished product. Lifting the curtain. I think this stuff is so damn valuable. Thanks for providing a place to gather and dig in together. We can go way, way farther together.

    So excited to see where this goes. Proud of you for getting it off the ground.
    Onward & upward!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Thanks Grant! Yeah… when I was starting over and getting serious about overhauling my design business and skills, there wasn’t much good stuff out there. It was REALLY hard to find and it often left out key details for brevity. I would rather spend time reading one epic post and learn what I need to than search the end of the internet reading 30 short articles that just give me one or two pieces of the puzzle.

      The next two posts will go deeper into the site strategy and design. I’m pretty excited about them too. Lots of tricks up my sleeve, just need the time to create and get it out.

      Stoked to have you here your Dodo Vodka logo process was great! I like seeing the behind the scenes stuff because that’s where you really learn. Seeing how someone arrived at the idea and not just admiring the end result.

  • Nicholas Blasgen

    As a developer, and not a designer, I actually found this post, and in the future this site, much more useful than expected. It was enjoyable to read about the creation process, it was fascinating to see the level of details put into something like the logo, and the end product (the site) I think will keep me coming back from time to time. Surprisingly, my highlight was all the cartoons as they made good breaks between content and kept me engaged longer. I suspect that alone will increase the average session length with Google Analytics. Anyways, looking forward to more content and to see this design process happening LIVE with your client. The discussions alone will be fascinating and likely end with a better product. Smart.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Thanks Nick. Yeah the comics are a way to break up the content nicely and maintain engagement. I know that designers attention spans are short and my content was going to be in-depth and long so I wanted a way that made it enjoyable and fun to read. Some of this stuff can be boring, but is really important so I hope it keeps people engaged… because if you do the work, you can get some amazing results.

      • Nicholas Blasgen

        You should also post some of your artwork on Dribble. I’d subscribe to just the art.

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          Some of it is on Dribbble, but I don’t actually draw the sketches.

  • kenville

    Enjoyed the content in total, but it really belongs in several articles, independent or sequential. And with the font size I had to zoom out quite a bit to sit in the same room and read it, LOL.

    Question, though … thanks to the Internet in general and Social Media in particular, control of a brand has shifted from the company to the consumer, where it is made up more of what the marketplace feels about a company than what the company overtly portrays. Is that considered in the process of things like logo creation? And if so, how?

    LOVE the logo and font in particular, BTW.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Not all articles will be this long, but I wanted to go really deep into the process behind Never North and the kind of content we stand for. It’s hard to talk about strategy and process without getting wordy. I am working on getting an editing/feedback process to help evolve the content though. I did think about breaking down this post into smaller chunks, but we do things differently at Never North. What other site would launch with a 4.5k word post? ;)

      I do agree that the ‘brand’ resides in the consumer/audience rather than the company itself. But the business has to establish a foundation for how they want to be perceived and what they stand for. The consumer decides whether that’s true or not.

      I did a lot of research into who I wanted to attract to Never North. A lot. So that did help shape the brand as I was creating it. Not only did I want something I was proud of, I wanted the community (the audience) to be proud of it too. So in the development process, I spent a lot of time listening and evaluating who I wanted to be part of this community. I wanted to see through their eyes and understand what we could create together.

  • yesandgirl

    Ok, so I *was* on my way to bed when my mailbox pinged…it was the NN launch notice! I had been waiting all day!

    I am thrilled to see you launch a platform for people like me. I always hear “tribe this and tribe that” but I find most tribe-puzzles don’t are all the wrong shapes for all my various creative pieces. Does that make any sense at all?

    At first glance, I thought your how-to was going to be too long but I couldn’t stop reading. I love the graphics, the illustrations, the photos(yay!), and the story. I think it’s brilliant to start from square one so you take us along for the brain-ride, the decisions, the minutiae of creative decisions that is a gift and a curse for all creative beasts. How many times have I agonized on microscopic(to the untrained,non-perfectionist eye, ha-ha!) details that absolutely HAD to be done right.. And at what points I have learned the beauty of delegation and partnerships.

    I love how you are engineering this whole thing as a collaborative voyage, for a community of creative, ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners, say-it-like-you-MEAN-it, business-adventurers. Whew!
    And fearless.. did I forget to mention how brave and fearless you are?

    I am excited to be at the launch of NeverNorth because I can watch as you grow, taking on seasoned creative, adventurous passengers, welcoming fresh-faced, entrepreneurial newbies, eager to learn the ropes from the wise ones and hopefully rescuing others who have been shipwrecked by an imperfect business-as-usual world. I love how you plan to build your killer crew!

    Myself? I am *definitely* jumping aboard. I hope to learn from fellow ship-mates, marvel in the scenery of the collective brilliance and maybe I can pass on some gems I have learned in all my hard-fought battles and voyages in the sea of freelance.. Sea-lance??
    It can be choppy out here, but dive in! The water is FINE!

    So, with that, I will now present you with the virtual ***champagne*** to break upon the bow of the
    S.S. Never North!

    Bisous from the Black Forest!
    (Sharon Leigh)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      You are AWESOME! Thanks for staying up and love all the pirate references, obviously. I knew I was going to catch some shit for the length, but I am very happy to hear that it kept you (and others) engaged. Piotr has been drawing day and night to get all these illustrations complete… and there are more on the way. He’s taking this week off though.

      Stoked to have you on board. Yes, this is a community and I have plans that to go far beyond this blog, but it’s ultimately going to be directed by you guys. I got tired of hustling alone and having everyone around me tell me I was crazy so I decided to make a new world where hustling was awesome and together we are Never North. The conscious creative weirdos.

      S.S. Never North

      • yesandgirl

        While reading everyone’s comments, I find myself wanting to reach into my bookshelves and give some of my best book-tools that have helped changed the game for me and which I have seen positive results from.
        I want to share the riches.

        Might we at some point have a recommendation “library” on the ship?
        I would love to know what everyone else is currently reading or about books that have shaped your entrepreneurial, creative-beast evolution.

        I find a common denominator with all creative action-oriented people is a hunger for self education. Almost a gift/curse equation..can turn into “webbit” holes..
        Brilliance and curiosity are powerful bedfellows! ;)

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          I have some ideas in the pipeline, but I need some time to develop them. I’m trying to phase out client work and create a new stream of income elsewhere so I can devote much more time into Never North and get things executed faster.

  • Stephanie Kendall

    I am really excited about Never North. I worked in the corporate world, doing the typical (and dreadful) 8-5 job for about 7 years, and was pretty miserable the entire time. About a year and a half ago, I jumped out on my own as a freelance web designer. It’s been both great and a big struggle. The great part is that I have been able to travel a lot and do my work while traveling. My biggest struggle is that I seem to end up working all of the time and still seem to be broke all of the time too! I am looking forward to learning how other freelancers take on the same challenges I face so that I can improve my processes and work, and as a result have a happier life and better business. Just seeing how you developed your logo here has already helped me think about how to improve my design process and should help me a lot in the future. Thank you!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Stephanie!!!! You are the best! I totally get your struggles. I wrote a guestpost on Too Many Adapters about travel/freelancing if you want to check it out here: http://toomanyadapters.com/freelancing-from-road-good-bad-ugly/

      I totally get working all the time! I’m just moving back into a healthy stretch after a long medical battle. I’ve been through these things (and some are problems I’m working through) so I really hope that it can help others. Thanks for telling me what you’re struggling with and look forward to the most… these kinds of comments help me develop better content.

  • http://tristadedmon.com Trista Dedmon

    I’m blown away and so very excited Jenny….where have you been for the last few years as I was trying to put all these pieces together myself? I was looking for a way to travel and work at the same time while still being creative. I literally stepped out of the shower and said “What about Web Design”, and have been teaching myself online ever since. Your mission couldn’t reflect mine more, and is at a most serendipitous time when I just stepped into freelancing from full time Drupal development for large, boring sites.

    You’re right on in so many ways. The target market you describe is quite literally the one that is naturally how our generation of creatives is moving. I’ve always had that feeling of absolute misery going to the same place at the same time EVERY DAMN DAY. My instinct was telling me this wasn’t right from the beginning (of life I mean), and I always knew it was an outdated model and not for me.

    Never North has taken all of the information we try to attain from multiple sources across the web and distills it down to one resource. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for that. My bookmarks and resource files are filled with design/development blogs, location independent resources, freelancing information, etc. and you manage to bring all that together. It also speaks to me in my language instead of to high-brow design dudes and super-nerd people who only know how to think in terms of code. Wow. I’m not the only one.

    The idea of community is so important as well. We all struggle with the vacuum that is our daily lives alone. Some of us are lucky enough to be in cities with meetups and coworking resources where we can get some interaction with like minded creatives. I used to, but am currently in the middle of the valley in California in Bakersfield. And while there are a few resources and some good people here, it doesn’t offer the connections like other creative class cities. I’m looking forward to participating here as it grows.

    And lastly, you knew that what all of us really need to learn sometimes is to watch someone do it. Like an apprenticeship, a dying art. All I need is to see how someone does it, and apply that to my own work. Yet for some reason this alludes most instructional blogs. I like hearing about your thought process. It’s like you’re sitting there showing me how you work.

    Again, Thank you a million times over. Can’t wait to watch this project grow. Let me know in the future if I can be of any service :)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Trista, I’m blown away by your comment. I don’t even know what to say besides that I’m really stoked to have you here. You (and everyone else commenting) are exactly the kind of people I wanted to attract. 11/10 would do again. :)

      • Ashley Tinsley

        I hear you Trista, I don’t know a single graphic or web designer in real life. I wish there were some sort of apprenticeship program for designers! So excited for never north!

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          We’ve got a lot of really cool things in the pipeline… don’t you worry! We’ve got a pretty CRAZY plan for the future. I want to tell you guys everything, but it’s not the time… you’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Catherine McManus

    Jenny, first I want to say…thank you. You’ve launched at the perfect time for me! I’m a nearly decade-long freelance veteran and 6 months ago I grabbed the reigns to steer myself in the direction I really want to be in. I’m now working only with my ideal clients on projects that I’m proud and excited to be involved with, and I’ve had my best year financially (so far)!

    I really identify with this…

    “Most people think that those kind of things only happen for the chosen few. Well it does, but that’s because those select few making their dreams a reality, have chosen themselves.”

    It really is a choice, a conscious one I made during my college web development capstone presentation in 2008. I finished my degree after years of freelancing, but I thought a formal education in design and marketing would get me that “dream job” with a design firm I thought I wanted.

    But I knew after my presentation that I didn’t want to present at stuffy corporate meetings and work tirelessly on projects that didn’t appeal to me. So I set out to create my own path. In fact, without realizing it, I kinda already had.

    Like you, it hasn’t always been easy, but my freelancing has seen me through some challenging times (because I didn’t have a limited number of personal days or family leave), it’s enabled me to travel and experience so much more than I ever thought I would, and it’s connected me with a lot of amazing clients and friends.

    Now I’m ready to get even more serious about this.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and logo design journey. I love hearing about other designers’ creative processes, especially since I work independently. It’s a great logo and I’ve learn a lot! I especially like your mind-mapping technique. I think I’ll try this with a new project I’m starting soon.

    Looking forward to reading more and the discussions that will be inspired!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      My story will come out eventually somewhere… but thought I was going to work at one of the top ad agencies when I was in college. That ended the day I went on tour and the guy told me I’d be sleeping under my desk and playing errand girl to everyone. Totally not my style, I had things to do like race motocross. So I set out on my own path and never looked back. I love hearing that there are others out there and that I’ve somehow managed to attract them to Never North. Your comment excites me because I *knew* I wasn’t the only one.

      Mind mapping is awesome because creativity is really just connecting the dots. Excited to have you here!

  • Brianna Soloski

    Holy wow, Jenny! I am so, so inspired. We’ve talked about this before, but I’ve been struggling to find the time to dedicate to my business and give it the proper care and growth it needs. Part of this is school + work commitments that are paying the bills so the time isn’t there, especially on weekdays to be online at peak times to tweet and Facebook and all of that. The rest is utter laziness on my part, getting distracted by blogs or Facebook or TV or whatever. I definitely need better work/life balance. I definitely need to establish a more solid brand that makes people sit up and take notice. I need to ask for things and, if I don’t get them, push back and find out why. This is a post I am going to come back to again and again for inspiration and advice. So, thank you. For this. For Never North. For being a listening ear. If I can help in anyway, please let me know.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      MAKE THE TIME!!!!!!!!!! But seriously, I get being distracted. However, if there is one thing more powerful, it’s momentum. Vow to make everyday a no zero day for your business. Send one email. Do one sketch. Write one headline. The smallest and simplest thing is the minimum. Keep doing that because it’s so easy and eventually, it’ll start to snowball and you won’t struggle as much with laziness and distraction.

      Thanks for being here Brianna! :)

  • Blair Dee

    Jenny – wow what an amazing message. I am so excited to see what is to come for Never North. I have always loved web design and have been freelancing along with a full time job for many years. I identify a lot with “Joe” from your post. I have been working the same job for years and I know that my passion lies in my freelance career but I have not been able to figure out how exactly to make that leap. I also have a wonderful family to support so it makes it that much harder to make that leap.

    Reading your post and your emails leading up to the launch I just Identified so much with what you were saying. I will be following your site closely and truly can’t wait to see what is to come. I love love love the prospect of finding a way to follow my passions in web design and being able to make a real living doing it.

    Keep up the great work, Jenny!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Blair, Thanks! That’s so awesome that you identified with ‘Joe,’ I hope that Never North can help you make that transition. While I know the steps and can outline them (in future posts), what really helps is understanding what you guys need more specifically. So feel free to reach out whenever you need something. Just check out the contact page or hit reply to any email you get from the list.

  • http://blog.suzi-pratt.com/ Suzi-Pratt.com

    Jenny, you were my TOP inspiration for breaking out of the 9-5 world a couple of years ago. I remember sitting miserably at my desk job and reading through “Where Is Jenny” during my lunch breaks, full of wanderlust and admiration for your bold spirit and incredibly entertaining blog posts. My first attempt at being location independent in 2010 was a flop–I simply wasn’t ready at the time–but I remember going back to your blog for inspiration until in October 2012, I took the leap again, this time with MUCH more success.

    I’ve continued to follow your blog posts along the way and am SO STOKED for your newest venture! Throughout my first year of being an independent freelancer, I’ve experienced lots of highs and lows, but haven’t been able to find a community to share with. I was so excited when I found out that your newest project was to build a community for freelancers, and I’m proud to be in the right place career-wise where I can finally take part as a fellow location-independent freelancer. I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and Never North!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      That’s so cool that you followed me here! I remember your comments. I like how you identified that you weren’t ready yet, but didn’t let it discourage you. Sometimes we need to learn certain lessons before we can succeed. I mean, Never North did take me 3 years to build. I apparently needed to learn a lot.

      Happy to have you here and excited to develop this awesome community of ass kickers!

  • http://viajaryamar.com Anne

    This is fantastic! And a long time coming. I’m so excited for this community experience. As you say, nobody should have to start at square one. Some of us have already taken the lumps, why not help each other avoid them? I firmly believe that as soon as you accomplish something, you should turn around and offer your hand to the person behind you — which is why I really appreciate you sharing your logo design process. Sometimes I feel like the design community is so guarded or competitive… like no one wants to help another person. But then again, maybe I’ve been hanging out with the wrong designers. That said… hooray for team Never North! Now let’s go do some inspiring, world-changing shit!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Anne! For you people out there that don’t know… Anne and I met in Grenada, Nicaragua when we were room neighbors at a hostel. It’s time to take this connection global so we can connect better no matter where we are. I do have a bit up my sleeve when it comes to the community, but the cat is not ready to be let out of the bag on that for a while.

      And yes. People are very guarded sometimes. To me, it’s not the idea or process that counts, is the execution. I feel that if I give freely, hopefully it’ll inspire others to do the same and all this stuff doesn’t have to be such a mystery.

  • Wandering Missy

    I have a degree in art history and a long background in every 3D art imaginable…especially ceramics and jewelry. I’m horrible at 2D art (comparatively), and while I’m great with designing images and editing photos on a computer, I never learned how to translate that to the web.
    I’m in the process of starting a professional travel life grounded in education and accessibility and helping my mom develop a brand for her new consulting company. And in keeping with education, I am a beginner at both of these, learning as I go. It’s great for what I want to do with travel–documenting how I prepare for outdoor expeditions, especially when I am short on funding and experience, and the rewards I get from taking these risks–but designing a logo and a brand is presenting me with far more difficulty. I found your section on your process extremely helpful. Especially the links regarding fonts.

    I wonder how this site will work with people like me whose online presence is very low and inexperienced. Having a website is a necessity for what I’d like to do, but I’m not a web designer and highly doubt that I will be able to rely on that for income. I’d love to connect with people who make it with a location independent lifestyle who don’t make a living doing web design. (Oh, and if anyone does this while owning pets as well, I’d love to hear about it!)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      We travel with our dog Zulu, but that journey just started a few months ago and we’ve only been to Mexico. You can find Zulu in a lot of the sketches around the site. :)

      Not everything here is going to be about design and web stuff as we discuss all aspects of work and play at Never North. I also imagine a wide variety of freelancers will find this site helpful (in fact, a big portion of our list is made up of non-designers like entrepreneurs, illustrators, and writers.)

      Don’t worry about inexperience though. Everyone starts somewhere and Never North is for people who want to learn. We don’t care where you came from, only where you’re going. :)

  • Preston

    I loved this post. Phenomenal work. And I love that you rebutted my content on my site and linked back to it (busting the freelancing on the beach myth). I need your kind of point of view on my blog. Would you be interested in a writing gig? If you’d like to chat, I’d love to hear more of what you’ve got to say. Left my email on this comment. Please reach out!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I thought you’d like that! ;)

      Back in November Apple had broken my laptop when I brought it in for a battery change. Over a series of screw ups on their end, they had it for MONTHS. Finally, they send me a new one in February, but it was in Spanish. So I had this brand new loaner MBP for a month while I waited for the new English one to arrive from China. I was really upset over how bad they screwed me over.

      Then I came across that post.

      So as an act of rebellion and inspired to debunk your myth I went to the beach and took some epic laptop/beach photos with the loaner. It was perfect timing… because really, who would almost put their laptop in the ocean and risk the sand for a photo?… the sand got everywhere, as you could imagine.

      I ended up getting some really awesome (fake) laptop/beach photos to use around the site though. SO thanks for that. :)

      I’ll send you an e-mail.

  • Carlo(TRON)Maldonado

    Been waiting to see the beginning of what seems to be a very interesting journey for you and those of us that care passionately about design, communication, and a desire to not lose our souls while working on other people’s great or terrible business ideas. I’ve been down the freelance road off and on for over 15 years. With varying degrees of success and excitement. All the while I started to worry I was only here to make other people successful and never contributing my own verse to the grand poem of life. After seriously reevaluating and firing a few clients of my own I finally realized that I loved the challenge of communicating ideas and concepts but I was going about it all wrong. I started learning more about UI/UX design and the process of understanding users. This transformed the way I thought about design and got me back into pushing myself to communicate concepts and ideas instead of just creating multiple logo ideas and hoping I was dialing in the clients “style”.

    This is why I am loving your first post. You speak from experience and your design process speaks to it. Just like UI/UX has to do with the understanding users and how they want to interact with an app or a website, a brand is more than a pretty logo. It’s about understanding the concepts a business is about and conveying it simply and beautifully. Ironically I have found that spending more time understanding the client and what they are really trying to say results in nailing the brand quicker. Thanks for describing your process, especially the mind map and colorlovers. Very excited about what you’re starting here.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I went through the same thing. Found that I wanted to design for people and ideas rather than money to pay my bills or to the clients taste.

      It’s like I’ve fallen back in love with design all over again. Thanks for spilling your thoughts here, it just feels so good to see that other people dig the same stuff I do.

      This is the kind of stuff that excites me and we’ve got a lot of big plans for Never North. Stoked to have you.

      • http://www.dribbble.com/carlomaldonado Carlo Maldonado

        Stoked to be here :)

  • Eric Budzinski

    Great read! I’m (kinda) glad to see that I’m not the only one who agonizes over insignificant detail for a logo. It’s refreshing to see a different perspective to the freelance design approach. I could write a giant comment praising this project, but to be honest, I’d be repeating the many previous commenters. I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of this wonderful community! Thanks!!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Right! RIGHT! I feel crazy sometimes about the details, but that is what makes the difference between good and great… but you do have to draw the line somewhere. I could endlessly tweak things if given the opportunity.

      Happy to have you here.

  • yesandgirl

    So this is my first co-crew bonding move.

    I *highly* recommend Barbara Stanny’s book, “Overcoming Underearning”. There is no other single book that will change the way you approach monetizing your super-powers. This is *the* book that should be required reading for freelancers, entrepreneurs and …well, everyone. It goes to the heart of decision-making and pricing and blows the lid off all your bad habits.
    Who doesn’t need *that* ?!?
    Like a jolt of double espresso with a shot of shut-the-fek-up-and-get-the-money.

    GET THE BOOK. Do the digging. It will pay off, I promise…or you are welcome to come back here and kick my ass. :P

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I’ll be sure to check out the book. I’ve got a kindle full of things to read, so it may take a bit. I haven’t been so great on my reading lately. Too much stalking Never North peeps online to understand you guys more. haha.

  • Dirtydog

    Hi Jenny, so you’re up and running, congrats! I know it takes an enormous effort to get these thing off the ground, so hats off to you… looks fab. Plus I know from experience the effort and focus to get out there, travel, work and find new experiences… its not as easy as some may think but the rewards are fantastic.

    I did enjoy your creative process – its very similar to mine, although I haven’t done a ‘mind map’ for years… :) I must try harder as they do work and can take you in some unexpected directions. Love your attention to detail for kerning….. its so important. I usually end up manually kerning each letter to get it just right! (I drive myself mad!). The kerning game was cool…. (100% on my third attempt! ….not bad? : ))

    Its nice to be part of something right from day one…. So I raise a glass to you and NN. Im in…. cheers!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I know. Finally, right. Glad you enjoyed the kerning stuff. I love that game. It taught me to kern!

  • morgan haines

    This is AWESOME, Jenny! I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first because it seems so many people have their own take on the whole entrepreneurship and freelancing is the new business model and job, but Never North is quickly making its mark and standing tall in a sea of sameness. I love that you shared your logo process as most designers simply present the end result, “Tada!”, and there you have it. Taking us through your process, including the tiny tweaks and design choices that most people wouldn’t even recognize shows your attention to detail and how thoughtful you are.

    I’m excited to see what’s next to come for you and Never North! Thanks for opening it up for the other pirates out there!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I was thinking about this the other day (the sea of sameness) and even though I had a mildly successful first venture, it was a copy of someone elses idea to make money and not my own. I saw a travel blog and though, yeah… I can do that. And then did it, without ever stopping to think about if that was what I wanted, or how I could best add value to the world. It was probley confusing to my readers to be talking about travel and minimalism to writing articles for entrepreneurs about design on a travel blog.

      I LOVE travel (obviously) but I don’t LOVE travel as a job. I don’t want to write about some tacos in Mexico or top 5 things to do in Rome… some people love that but not me. I wanted to write about stuff that made me think on the things I loved: design & business & doing epic shit.

      So when I stopped to really think about that the idea for Never North was born. I think the sea of sameness comes from people thinking, “I can do that too” and basically recreating what they did with their own flair… rather than taking that and thinking deeply about what value, they personally, can best add to the world.

      Totally made that mistake and course corrected.

      • ivan

        Hi my name is Ivan. Think this is a great idea. I have been freelancing and traveling for the past 12 years. I call it a permanent Workcation. I was fortunate to have been working for my brother, who is a freelance designer, back in the 90’s. So as I was finishing art school in 2004 i also got the experience of invoicing, finding clients, estimating… all the stuff art school never teaches you… its what I call learning the ‘street’ smart of design. Id love share all my experiences, knowledge, etc with you guys.

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          Ivan. Stoked to have you here! It’s not often you find someone who has been doing something as long as you have!

  • Mike

    Hi Jenny

    First off, congrats on launch. Being a graphic and web designer, I always enjoy reading and learning about other people’s ideas on design. I really enjoyed what you wrote. You share a lot of the same ideas that I have but it sounds so much smarter and professional coming from you.

    I try to find people or groups that will inspire, help and guide me to become better at what I am not good at and allow me to inspire, help and guide those the areas they need help in. It is so hard to find those people who are will to do that because it seems that a lot of the freelance designers, at least in my area, see me as competition and not as a community.

    I could go on for pages about my thoughts on the design community and how it’s changed from what I learned to now having a bunch of students making digital artwork instead of understand the art of design and the knowledge around how to build a simple two color design that makes more of an impact than a full color design. I don’t claim to be the best designer but I will work hard until I am one. I carry the knowledge from the days of working in a printshop, preflighting files, doing paste ups, burning plates, and working on Quark 3.3.

    As the years pass and the technology changes, the skills that I learned helped me not only design better but teach my clients on why they have an expensive design and how I can make it look great and keep it in their budget.

    As I work to rebrand myself this year, I will be checking your site to make sure that I not stealing too much from you. I think when I hire new designers fresh out of school, this post will be one of the things I give them to read.

    Thank you again for taking the time to build this. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing what is next. Honored to be a part of this.


    PS Sorry if I ranted too much.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I think I have about 4k words on your rant. lol.

      When I had the idea for Never North… I spent a lot of time on how I was going to get everyone to switch from that competition/scarcity mentality to a mentality of sharing/abundance. Way more time than I care to admit. I may not have a lot of content for launch, but you can imagine how much time I spent on the details of what I was going to say, how I was going to say it, and how I was going to get everyone to buy into it.

      Which is why there is a lot of content that surrounds that idea here… because I think other people have this scarcity mindset because that is what that last generation has been beating into our heads since we were born.

      So at Never North we do things differently and are bold about what we stand for… I hope it resonates with that part inside of us that knows better, even though we were taught differently.

      WE. You’ll see that word a lot around here. I hope that it can change the conversation from a scarcity mindset to a mindset of abundance and we can do some really great things together.

  • beckykinkead

    I am blown away by this post! Process posts are the best and this just went swimmingly. Love how down to earth the whole site is. I’m hooked & so excited to see it grow!

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      swimmingly. I like that.

      Thanks happy to have you! :)

  • http://www.chanellehenry.com Chanelle Henry

    I have been waiting for this to start since I first heard about it randomly (I’m still trying to figure out where and when, call it serendipity I suppose). But it’s crazy just how much everything you wrote in here is something that I felt I have written or wanted to say but just couldn’t. Even down to the quote from Howard Thurman (which I have on my blog), and other random things.

    For lack of shameless plugging, I will not include links.

    I am excited to see where this goes and how to be apart. I have reached a point in my career where on the outside it looks like I’m happy, can do amazing things (I’m a Director of UX at a mid-large corporation in NYC, SF and worldwide), but I’m not. I want more, always have. Just turned down an even bigger position at one of the Big 5s in Silicon Valley…

    “Are you crazy??”, I hear.

    Yes I guess I am, but your post just reminded me how much I’m not alone. I enjoy to do more meaningful things, always feel overwhelmed because of the amount I want to do and feel like I have no support whatsoever.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to this, I still don’t have an answer, but at least I know I’m not alone.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I’d be rich if I got a $1 for every time someone told me I was crazy.

      If your link adds to the discussion, feel free to share it.

  • http://meganpru.com Megan Pru

    The more I read the more I am convinced this is just for me… and then I read the persona profiles. Yeah, I’m pretty much Amber. Exactly. ;)

    • http://meganpru.com Megan Pru

      Bet I could name Joe and David too. Yay! This is awesome. All of it.

      • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

        I’m certain you could. Happy to have you here. :)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Oops. Busted.

  • Jillian

    YES. Yes, yes, a million times yes. I am SO happy to read about the thought you’ve put into the Never North logo. You don’t know how many times I’ve met people (designer, client, or friend) who tell me to change something so that it ‘looks cool’ without it having meaning. It’s frustrating when you’ve put so much work into something having meaning and then get a virtual slap in the face from a client when they want things to change ‘just because’.

    I think you’ve really nailed it with the logo and the concept behind your brand name. It gives it so much more power to know the story behind it and that you’ve put so much thought into the logo, as well. I also love that you’re just as into pirates and birds as I am. I always ask have to ask ‘but why is the rum gone?’ at the end of my cuba libres and I have a swallow tattoo on my forearm that everyone mistakes for a Jack Sparrow tattoo – it really has nothing to do with pirates, but rather that the swallow always finds its way home. And I like that.

    I’m impressed that you’ve put together this whole concept of Never North and are sticking up for design that makes a difference. I’m psyched to get to know a whole community of designers who feel the same way.

    Thank you for creating this space.
    xx. Jillian

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Jillian! So happy to have you here. I used to have a pirate flag above my apartment. It was 6 feet wide and AWESOME.

      We are psyched to have you and can’t wait to see what we can all do together.

  • http://maozillah.com Kaye Mao

    The mustaches made my day, really, we all need to do our color palettes in mustaches.

    As a student, getting insight into your processes and thoughts is really beneficial. This won’t be a super long comment as I am currently procrastinating school work that needs to be done but just wanted to say great job! My only point of critique is the post felt a tad too long and a bit scattered with the logo design/what never north is about/back to brand design smattered throughout.

    It would have been great if you’d separated the two making for shorter reads and more focus in one post. It felt a bit overwhelming to see that massive block of post.

    Anyways, I’ll be checking back, thanks for the post regardless :D

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I LOVE those mustaches.

      I’m happy that you found the process beneficial and no worries about not leaving a long comment. I don’t care how long or short your comment is as long as it adds something to the discussion. Thank you for providing your feedback.

      I know the post is overwhelming in length, but Never North is for the doers. We’ve done our best to make learning fun. And to do the work you need to study the process and understand how you can apply it in your own work. I’m teaching you how to think like a designer not tactics. And when you go deep into something, it takes a while to explain the thinking behind it. These articles are for those that really want to learn and are ready to put in the time.

      I am working to build an editing team to make sure that articles are never longer than they need to be. We care about quality and we definitely don’t want to waste your time.

      The reason I made one long post rather than breaking it up is because in real life, the process isn’t separated. You can’t understand how to build a brand without understanding the audience first.

  • Valeria Di Matteo

    Finally I found some time to reach the bottom of this epic first post of newborn Never North community.
    Considering Jenny was afraid of starting this journey with little content, we all must be proud that ‘the creature’ is already growing in content by itself. Huge thanks to our captain Jenny who cleared the ground for us weirdos, can’t wait to discover new path with you guys. I can understand we all are looking for The compass here, hope we can build our own together.
    A lot of expectations here, from this one more weirdo on the line, kind of web-graphic-designer-musician-video-artist-and-hope-more-ish who loves to travel, travels for works and works during travels. I love everything of this never ending exploration of the world through our passions.
    I think those who call us crazy are wrong just because crazy ones can’t feel fear. We do. All the time. That’s what makes us not crazy but braves.
    Thank you all for building all this together. 
    P.s. Jenny, I know you hate the “awesome post” kind of comment but I am sorry to say I found your first post just awesome. Loved every part of it, it’s informative, useful and so inspiring. Thanks for your efforts and time to compile a text so rich and detailed about this project. Can’t wait for more.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Thanks for taking the time to read it. What I meant when I said to not post something like “awesome post” I meant any kind of 2-3 word phrase that doesn’t add to the discussion. There can be a 1 sentence comment that adds value. It just depends. Your comment adds to the discussion, you help me see what you resonate with so I can better refine things, which is gold. THank you.

    • Molly

      That’s pirata Jenny… :)

  • Louise Concannon


    I’m in a dead end graphic design job that’s sucking the creative life out of me – Time to build up my portfolio and take flight :)
    Such an inspiration – So excited to see what you have in store for us in the near future…

    Thank you Never North :) :)

    • http://www.seventythreecreations.co.uk/ Steve Gray

      I know you don’t need me to say it, but do it! Best thing I ever did – should have done it 10 years ago instead of 6 months. Good luck.

      • Louise Concannon

        Thanks Jenny & Steve :)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Happy to have you we’ve got big plans over here.

  • http://www.seventythreecreations.co.uk/ Steve Gray

    Great work Jenny (and those working below deck)! This site has already proved to be worth waiting for. Your detailed description of the process you went through designing the logo was not only extremely interesting, but very well put together. Although I’ve been doing design for print for many years, I wouldn’t describe myself as a “designers designer”.

    It’s only recently when I finally decided to start up on my own that I’ve found myself designing logos for start-ups and as much as I do love it, it is hard work and definitely a skill all of its own. So posts like this about the process other designers go through (and this one is the best I have read by a nautical mile) are extremely useful – even more so when the end result so good.

    Thanks Jenny, looking forward to setting sail, I really think this is going to be an amazing place for designers to be.

    Oh, and all your pirate references reminded me of the first book I was ever obsessed with as a kid – actually a collection of three stories – “The Adventures of Antony Ant and the Earwig Pirates” so last night I dug it out and read it again. Here’s a taste (this image is from “The Cruise of The Saucy Walnut”) thought you might like it….

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I’ve never seen that book before. Looks epic. Yeah processes and stuff like this would have really helped me when I was searching for stuff. Many leave out all the important details in an effort to give you bite-sized information to attract more readers.

      While we do want to build an army, we want to build the right army. The doers.

      • http://www.seventythreecreations.co.uk/ Steve Gray

        Yes, it’s an oldie – first published in 1942 but I should point out I’m not that old! Let’s just say my copy is a re-print from the 70s and leave it at that.

        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny


  • Joel Ward

    Jenny, this appealed to me on so many levels. The marketing guy in me, the traveler, the freelance-adjacent and the guy who just likes to hang out on a beach. Really good stuff and I wish you lots of success. I have a number of friends who may not be in the design business, but they will definitely appreciate the guts it takes to wipe the slate clean and work on your own terms.

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Happy to have you Joel. It’s gonna be a wild ride here!

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  • Molly

    My favorite part of the above was how you came up with the name! Love it! I won’t bother with my interpretations before I read the above, but sort-of funny… if we ever get to meet-up and share a coffee, will give you a giggle I’m sure :)

    I am not a designer, but have ‘had to’ do a bunch of design stuff off and on, and do OK but love and appreciate real high-quality work, is fun to see the thinking process behind your logo design, on my level the focus is usually ‘decent-looking’ fun if appropriate and focus on the user (my new site needs a font text overhaul, hate formatting text font). Glad all’s well and this rocket ship has launched, even better if it can help move me forward in my freelance career (photography/writing/editing). hugs, Molly

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Thanks Molly. I’m sure you have a dirty dirty mind you fox and can’t wait to see how you will tarnish the greatest name the world has ever seen, but sure… ;)

      Hope to see you around and we can help you launch a better freelance business. Until our paths cross in real life…

      • Molly

        LOL! That is seriously funny.. and for the record I keep a pretty clean slate up above and in general a kind, no tarnishing kind-of girl :) I would love that, is my goal for the year, working as hard as I can on it but need outside support big time.

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  • Dezmaster

    I am blown away by this post! thanks

  • Claes


    I´ve just read your first post and I am so looking forward getting to know you and your thoughts and how you want to change. I know we are in the same boat and I am ready to make that big change!
    We only live once.



    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      Claes, Excited to have you on board!! Where are you at currently and where do you plan to go?

      • Claes

        Hello Jenny.
        Where do I start? I´ve run my business for 3 years now and have before that been on and off freelancing for 10 years.
        I have always pleased everyone by taking on jobs (even though they don´t give me anything creative to work on).

        I am always saying yes to EVERYTHING. And I mean to everything, because I am afraid of where my clients go if I say no. Most jobs turn out to be ad hoc jobs too.

        That leads to no satisfaction and no chance to work on things that really satisfy me. So what satisfies me in the creative business… I will have to think about that one.

        I have come to a point with too many clients, too many yes where I am losing ME and I can´t se the goals that I used to have.

        A DIRECTION is what I am looking for now. A direction that can save me to stay in the business that I so used to love and don´t anymore.


        • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

          I would say your problem is saying ‘yes’ to people when you really mean ‘no’. Who cares where they go because you don’t want them anyways. I would start being authentic with what YOU want out of your business. When you try so hard to please others, you end up losing yourself.

          I, too, learned this the hard way. It feels like the end of the world to say no, but it’s not. Start by saying ‘no’ on something small (but be sure to offer a solution you CAN do like refer them to someone else). As you gain confidence in that, move on to bigger scenarios to say ‘no’ to. Pretty soon you’ll be a ‘no’ pro and only working on things you really want to say ‘yes’ to. You have to say ‘no’ in order to make room to say ‘yes’ to what you really want.


  • MsSlmNSexy

    I wholeheartedly am beyond pleased & thankful for coming across your site!!! It not only re-inspired me to continue to work on my corporation logo but also gave me confidence that it isn’t as hard as i may feel it is. I have been going through a creative block. I am a Virgo & we over-analyze pretty much everything, which in turn makes it hard to be decisive sometimes. Your simple & effective step by step method not only had me start from scratch & create something so riveting, i had to share this information with my fellow creative minds. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. P.s- I definitely will give credit to this company once mine is completely up & running!!! Keep up the great work!! :)

    • http://www.nevernorth.com/ Jenny

      I tend to overanalyze things as well… Anyways, I’m glad that the process was helpful for getting you out of your creative block. What did you find most useful in the post to help you do that?

      Thanks for sharing with your fellow creative minds. I greatly appreciate it! :D

      • MsSlmNSexy

        It gave me a simplistic structure on how to get started. Normally im bouncing from one thing to another trying to accomplish more than one thing at a time. This calmed my mind & had me focused on the true step by step procedure. :)

At Never North we demystify the process so you can unlock your creative potential and find freedom in freelancing.