Framing your design brand

Framing your design brand: "
Contributed by Perth-based verbal designer and brand architect Bernadette Jiwa.

blank paper notebook

You help people to tell their brand stories every day. Designers give people a visual language with which to communicate to their audience.

 When a client comes to you for the design, they have, for the most part, already done the groundwork. They know who they are and who their target audience is. Your job is to pull the whole thing together with compelling visuals.

How often do you stop to think about how you are communicating to your audience? Sometimes even the most amazing designers get stuck at communicating their own message. And for good reason, there’s a lot to address.

Where do you start? What’s the story you want your own brand to communicate? Who is your audience? Are they ethical, green, large corporations, government organisations, global brands or tiny bakeries? How will you stand out? Is it better to fit in?

How do you begin framing your own brand story?

I think it’s possible to start by breaking it down into ten steps to consider.

  1. Mission

    What are you doing right now, today? What happens because you exist?
  2. Vision

    What are or will be the results and effects of what you do in the future?
  3. Core values

    What are the attitudes and beliefs that shape your business culture?
  4. Unique selling point

    What’s your edge, the thing that makes you stand out?
  5. Emotional selling point

    What’s the intangible or aspiration that you sell? Think feelings not facts. Connection, freedom, ego, belonging.…
  6. Brand essence

    The core of what you do, the image it portrays and the signals it sends.
  7. Tagline

    One line that communicates everything.
  8. Identity

    How the consumer perceives your brand.
  9. Name

    The verbal hook on which all of the above hangs and is communicated, the icing on your cake. Comes in all the way down here at number nine!
  10. Logo

    Last but not least the visual hook that represents your brand, the cherry on the top.

Design brand framing that works

Let’s look at some examples of well-framed design brands.

Believe in

One of my personal favourites because of their fabulous, flexible and evocative name is Believe in. In another life they were called biz-R! Believe in’s positioning is really interesting, they;

“Work in partnership with brave clients to deliver engaging, provocative and effective brand experiences driven by ideas and solid research.”

Before stepping through their door you know you are going to get imaginative ideas that challenge the status quo.

Designed By Good People

There can be no mistaking the niche that Designed by Good People works in. Everything from their name to their clearly stated values tells clients with a specific worldview a story.

“We found that we did better work when we worked for clients who believed in the same things we did.

“We believe in sustainability.

We believe in ethics.

We believe in doing what’s right whenever possible.

We believe in strong ideas that are solutions to defined design problems.

You do better work when you believe in what you do.

“That’s why we set up ‘Designed by Good People’. 

“We have expertise in design, branding, print, packaging and web. We work in English and Spanish.”

Miles Newlyn

One way to communicate your brand essence is via your portfolio. Miles Newlyn does that extremely well with his. Miles is a typography specialist and is famous for creating iconic brand identities such as the re-designed Honda logo and the Unilever U.

Here’s how he tells us about who he works with, and how;

“Newlyn is a world-renowned typographer and designer, specialising in the positioning and iconography of large organizations.

“The process is simple, and divided into logical steps. It is done quickly, practically, and economically. The results innovate, communicate and add value.

“Large branding agencies make money by selling lengthy process;
 evaluation, analysis, consensus, strategy, management… Your business probably has enough ‘process’ already — you don’t need more, that’s why the flexible way in which I work will quickly help you reach the world class status necessary for your brand.

“So, when it comes to the idea and what it looks like, come to me.”

The last line is a brilliantly framed and placed unique selling point, which Miles can back up with his results.

Eric Karjaluoto

Eric Karjaluoto pulls off a deceptively simple piece of personal branding with his website. Check out the over-sized typographic menu. It tells us everything we need to know about him in just six words! And the slightly irreverent header on the website gives us a clue to his personality.

“This is my website. It is awesome.”

These are a few of my personal picks. I have many more but I’d like to turn this discussion over to you.

Which designers and design brands do you believe are framed uniquely and why? Who are your personal favourites? Which ones do you admire and respect? David and I would love to hear more in the comments.

Win a “brand storming” session

Bernadette has kindly offered to give one commentator a brand storming session completely free (valued at $497). She’ll pick the winner from those who answer the above question(s).

Bernadette Jiwa is a verbal designer and brand architect based in Perth, Australia. She works with creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, designers, and bloggers to help them build ideas that spread.

Visit Bernadette’s newest website, The Story of Telling, and follow her on Twitter.

Blank notepad photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

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