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Why Design Works - No.1
Picture this, you're walking down the street. You see two restaurants. Oh, by the way, you're hungry. They both have signs in the window. One says "Home style cooking" in a nice font and lists some of their favorite dishes below. The other says "good food" written in magic marker on a stained piece of cardboard. As far as you know both places might be the same cost level but which one are you going to walk into first. I could probably stop writing this right now but let me (as the saying goes) connect the dots.
Without you even knowing it you have been shown many messages about each restaurant that will effect your decision. The level of communication (or in this case, the look of the sign) immediately delivered a subconscious message that the first restaurant cared about your experience and that the second restaurant was probably sloppy and might not be sanitary. You immediately created an image in your mind about what the dining experience would be like in each place. Without having walked into either restaurant do you know any of this to be a fact? Of course not. But without a direct experience and without skipping lunch and taking the afternoon to do research on both places you have little to go on but the first impression.
The first aspect of design is that it helps to build a first impression. And that impression can establish a "first contact" with a potential customer. It "gets them in the door."
As a potential client or customer walks by your "door" what impression will they get about your company from your logo, the promotional materials, your web site, even your business card? Will it be enough to make them place your company above your competitor's and make first contact or will they walk by. Needless to say, the initial impression for a larger business is infinitely more complex than a store front sign. It is your message, your delivery, your personality... your brand (yes, you have one whether you asked for one or not). And once somebody responds to your brand and "walks through your door" it is only beginning. You want a client for life, not a one-time project. So what's next? Call it the quality of the food, the ease of the menu use, the interior decor, and the consistent service... but that is for another article.
What is a Brand?
I've had numerous people ask me this question. "What is a Brand?" Some think of it as simply a logo. Some think of it as a feeling or opinion about a business or product. Before I answer that question let me go back a little to the origin of the concept.
It actually does come from the days of cattle herds when the ownership of cattle to a specific ranch was identified with a brand, a symbol burned into the skin of a cow. Soon there after, products, which were shipped in plain brown wood crates needed to be identified to avoid confusion with other plain wooded boxes (not rocket science here). They started using the same process to permanently identify the boxes... burning the identifier into the side of the box. From there, it became logos, labels, promotional material, advertising and just about every method of connecting with a perspective customer base.
In this day and age we view a brand as not only every possible communication that a company puts forward but is also, and ultimately, the perception of the customer base. This perception can be modified by the delivery of promotional material. It can also be modified by the experiences of other customers if there is a strong communication flow among a particular customer base. This is more common in younger audiences that have a strong network and discretionary time to research new ideas and products. A brand can also be modified by the actual service that a company or product provides.
To correctly "Brand" a business or product it involves stepping back and thinking in broad brush strokes about every aspect of the business and then drilling down into each area to make sure that the desires brand... or perception is reinforced by all areas of the business.
As a first impression, a logo is often viewed as the beginning (and unfortunately sometimes the "end.") of brand development. It can create a good start but stopping at logo development is like expecting to drive some place simply by filling your tank.
New Axis Work
AXIS was asked to develop a promotional calendar for the Marlena Agency, a company that represents a wide variety of illustrators. The goal was to create a design system that is both an interesting structure to look at but that allows the illustrations and Marlena Agency brand to be dominant. Then theme of the calendar was Einstein... quite a fun and interesting subject for everyone involved.
Problem Solver No. 1
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If we can help with your design and marketing needs feel free to contact us.