Rick Caballo is the Art Director and Co-founder of Dead Horse Branding in Nashville TN. He works with everyone from musicians and TV stars to corporate clients.
For young designers, technology can be a gift and a curse.
PROS: You don’t need to be a great illustrator or have great ideas to pull off a decent design project by utilizing pre-made mock-ups, templates, fonts and filters.
CONS: Designs lack originality and you stifle the ability to grow your skill set. By relying on these tools, they become a creative crutch for the designer. There is no substitute for the ability to be able to scratch out a design on a napkin in front of your client at a lunch meeting.
A brand should speak for itself without need for introduction. As we know, first impressions are everything. Which is why I get a kick out of compiling all the information statistics and demographics then, turning those words and numbers into a visual representation of it all.
Psychology studies have indicated that we make judgments about people within a tenth of a second upon meeting them. Within 10 seconds of seeing a logo, consumers have already formed an opinion about the brand.
Branding is one of the most elusive details I’ve noticed that plague young designers. Yet, it is one of the most important facets of design to consider when working with clients. There is a time and place to show off your elaborate designs but, it doesn’t matter how flashy, colorful, or trendy your artwork is, if the design is not speaking to the audience or abiding by your client’s voice, it’s just not going to work.
I once asked an employee why he didn’t use the company logo or colors for a brand we were designing for. He said, “Us millennials get bored and like to shake things up.”
He no longer works for us.
Branding and graphic design are inextricably linked. Companies refresh their brand every so often, but never veer away from their core. Imagine going into a McDonalds and noticing the logo was different, the colors were blue and orange instead of the iconic red and yellow. Even though these are subtle changes branding plays to our psyche and may result in not getting that happy meal and chocolate sundae you were craving.
Coca-Cola and McDonalds are prime examples of designing brand power. Coupled with ubiquitous and well designed advertising campaigns, their brands are plastered everywhere. Knowing that between the fifth and seventh time seeing a consistent message or image, the consumer is more likely to buy the product.
There is a reason the branding and designs from likes of Nike, Apple, Starbucks and others are so memorable. From photography to videography to typography, their voice and message remains the same throughout. Emphasized by logos so perfectly and yet simply designed, a four-year-old could replicate it.
The “less is more” approach rings true and is a good foundation for new designers looking to begin their professional careers. Develop the fundamentals first, adding the bells and whistles, as necessary.
Sometimes, we even get lucky when an unbranded company/product is rich with assets. The brand almost falls together by itself and the designer becomes the needle and thread within the branding process.
So, remember, for all young designers, having all the latest apps, filters and party tricks are nice, but once you can merge both tools with authentic design skills, removing the crutch, is when you truly become a professional designer.