Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video The designer's role, part of Branding for Designers.
- We've determined what a brand is, the promise, reputation and big idea of a company. We know the importance of a strong brand message. And we've looked at the reasons why this is critical to a company's success. Now, where do I, as a graphic designer, fit into the process? Let's revisit the touchpoints. Clearly, I don't have the ability to manage the employees, corporate actions, product, customer service, expectations or reputation of a client.
I'm not a human resources expert and know less than my client about the product. It's my job to look at the big picture. From this, I can determine what works and what doesn't. I may not be qualified to create a new business strategy, but if terrible customer service or confused communication is part of the problem, it's my responsibility to point this out as part of the overall brand management. But I do understand visual communication and can work on the visuals and logo.
Years ago, I was asked to design a new logo for VH1. I could have immediately started drawing logos, but I couldn't understand what I was trying to communicate. Finally, I spent time really looking at the brand as a whole. It was clear that the biggest issue was a lack of focus. I could make a great logo, but it would only be a Band-Aid. I created a document that showed the competition, what the internal employees believed the brand to be and all of the existing visual pieces.
The result was clear. There was no consensus about the brand message, and the product itself, the programming, was all over the place. Fortunately, the team at VH1, led by Fred Seibert, was smart and creative. They led the charge and moved the brand toward a singular idea, Music First The programming changed to focus only on popular music, with shows like "Behind The Music." The visual solution, then, was much clearer. The logo and all visuals had to reinforce the idea of music.
From the primary color blue, connected to the blues and blue suede shoes, to a tagline connected to the final mark. Our job as designers is to address the visual elements, but we can't do this without a clear message. And if one doesn't exist, it's our job to work with a client and make one. It's not as simple as it sounds. Getting past a client's initial idea that their brand is about quality is tricky. So is everyone's. Nobody is about bad quality.
It's our job to dig deeper, to look at the competition and find the one thing that is unique and compelling.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books