This is my approach to branding and design. It might seem like, in this story, it takes a while to get to the actual visual design part, but all that up-front work is totally worth it (it’s actually the most important part). It assures that I get it right.
Visionaries are cool. I love working with people whose ideas are so inspiring, and so right on, that every conversation is a festival of outrageous enlightenment, egging each other on and excitement.
But when you’re the ideas person, you don’t necessarily have the time, the interest or the specific skill set to be the implementation person too. That’s where I come in — listening to, synthesizing, analyzing and organizing the big ideas into packages fit for consumption. I take the what you’re trying to communicate, work with you to refine it then figure out the best way to get it to the right people, with the right branding, with the right style, tone, messaging and design.
That’s why I call what I do “holistic design”. It’s a lot more than design — though that’s generally the end-product or deliverable. It’s taking the whole picture into account and really working on the business or mission objectives in concert with the brand platform and designed items which are going to do the work of accomplishing those objectives.
Here’s what the branding and design process looks like, in pretty abstract and generalized terms:
Design thinking is a huge honkin’ buzz word. It’s a curriculum item at school and the topic of half a shelf of business books. Turns out, it’s what designers do, by default (who’d have guessed!?). Really, that’s what this whole process is about. I help you to think about ways that design can achieve your objectives, through the same kinds of methodologies that we designers use to figure out visual solutions.
In more concrete terms, while there are some rather analytical (and sometimes even statistical!) parts of the process, there’s also a lot of time spent using sketches, diagrams and visual metaphors to help us understand and, ultimately, communicate the intangible ideas you need to express. You need to let people know why your product can make their lives better, why your platform can help them collaborate or connect better, why your cause is worth their believing in and evangelizing for. But, when you’re in the middle of whatever that mission is, it can be hard to see it succinctly enough to convince anyone of anything. That’s where all the exploration comes in. We get the story straight, then we tell it, through codifying brand values that are true and then expressing them in great design.