1. When receiving a branding brief, what is the first thing you do?
I get straight to making a list of what has been left out – which is everything the client hasn’t told you about what they’d really like to see or what other brands are really standout for them. it’s important to speak to them as people are very reticent and think you will just somehow figure it out. Brands are like little people with personalities and you need to find out how that personality is going to come to life – is it a Daz doorstep challenge Cillit bang in your face – or more refined and eloquent. I suppose the ultimate question that I always come back to is ‘how premium do you want to go?’ Harvey Nicks or Asda.
2. How would you describe the difference between a brand and a visual identity?
Visual identity is just that – its the visual appearance – the brand has many more dimensions to how it is understood and received by people. The visual identity is the suit. The brand is the person wearing the suit.
3. How important would you say typography is in a brand identity?
Its important to be readable and reflect quality, but like before, as long as the suit is clean, pressed and fits its job done, there is really no need to obsess about the intricacies of the stitching – as this is a visual angle to the brand and noteverything. Typefaces and colours can be easily evolved over time so as long as it is very clean and readable – and works down small size then this is the only real importance.
In terms of being a designer and having a branding job, then it is obviously of much higher importance and crucial with regard to getting it ‘right’ in both your eyes and with the client – as you have to be sensitive to how the client exactly wants to portray the brand…. and this level of sensitivity is more than the end consumer who probably isn’t that bothered if the Google typeface is Baskerville or Catull.
For me being interested in Typography is like learning a language – all the beautiful sounding accents and vowels etc. are like the swashes and and slabs – and personally I think its everything in graphic design, but talk to my brother in law who is an intelligent professional person and you will find someone who does not appreciate the difference between different typefaces – for him, as long as its readable and ‘doesn’t look crap’ then it is fine… and in some way I am fine with that outlook as well because I know as long as it works – it works. When talking a language you simply have to ‘get it right’ and not say the word ‘pacific’ when you mean ‘specific’ etc. or mumble, talk like a chav, or be difficult to make out – just be clear and confident and you will go a long way.
4. Do you know if there is different rules for designing for television than for print and other mediums?
Not sure what you mean by rules? – the only rules for everything are the basics of grids, golden section/rule of thirds
5. How important is colour to a brand identity?
In a way, its only really important not to be ‘wrong’.. or unsuitable. Clients are naturally very choosy when it comes to selecting colours and quite rightly as it is their baby and it needs to be right in their eyes, however if it is down to the designer then this is about sensing what will be accepted by the consumer and not cause adverse reaction for being too dull or garish. I can understand sales of pink paint and lime greens as people get carried away when they have a paintbrush in their hands – but there is an awful lot more white and magnolia sold to paint over it when people realise they have made a mistake.
For example if you are designing for the financial sector there are many cues of quality you can get from deep reds and greens, but not many from pink. Colour also means different things to different cultures so there are stories of sales in Kitkats as gifts in China going huge because its like giving a red letter of money etc. so yes it’s important but only as long as it contributes to an overall ‘smartness’ and acceptance – its not critical to get the exact shade. Maybe I’m being blasé about it but I see quite a lot of design work in general as being common sense and not making mistakes – as long as its not unsuitable and its got clarity then it it generally works. I see everything to do with designing a brand as coming back to designing a little human personality in a nice suit – When you are presenting yourself you know that black always works, dark blue is not too bad, etc, but if you want to create a Noel Fielding personality then it is fine to wear an orange onesie with a psychedelic venus fly trap pattern on it 🙂
6. Do you have any tips for designing an effective visual identity?
When you are young cut out all the logos you can find and stick them into a little book and have this as your guide to the world.
7. How important is a good initial identity to a starting company? and why?
Its very important, but only in as much that is very important to be well turned out when you shake peoples hand for the first time. Your appearance [identity] is important, but not ultimately as important as having a good idea and a solid business at the start, the identity is not the actual business – it is simply your appearance to customers to say you have made an effort and give a shit – and if people notice this then it translates for them a thought that you have made an effort in other areas of your business and care about it, and its customers.
If you look scruffy in an interview you may not get the job, and there is a real reason for this – people expect people at work to look smart because it instantly communicates that they have made an effort to be there – if you portray a sense that you haven’t bothered with your appearance/id it suggests that you don’t care what people think .. and this is dangerous. The old sayings of never being able to make a first impression are very true because visually people take in an awful lot in a day and when you get noticed you need to look your best – always see a brand identity as a personality. If you are meeting someone important for the first time i.e. a customer, why would you turn up with a hangover just got out of bed, likewise if you are designing a label for your new product, why would you use Microsoft clipart?