Tonight, I want to dive into a process that often goes unlooked in day to day life. That process is the execution of branding. When you see a logo or an aesthetic or a piece of work and can immediately recognize the artist or brand; thats good branding.
To an outsider, good branding looks easy; to the brand designer, its a lot of work.
When everything is done and finished, good branding appears simple. That is what a branding designer strives for. We want things to look clean, concise and well executed. We don’t want people to think too hard in order to convey our message whatever it may be. Good branding has the ability to make subconscious connections in a viewers mind without them even having to think about it.
At least twice a year I sit down and hone in my outputs. I look at everything around me—my studio, my packaging, my jewelry, my photography, my writings—to make sure I’m keeping everything tightly knit.
This past Fall, I embarked on a journey to do a slight shift in branding. This shift was to help others (as well as myself) to understand my brand better. Specifically, I was ready to transition my product packaging into something more relative. I ditched the “cutesy” vibe and had my sight set on developing something that triggered “cool” as a response instead.
I surveyed my clientele and asked what descriptive words they would use to describe my work. Two that hit the nail on the head; vintage aesthetic and modern design.
I took those words and then set off to turn them visual.
What came to mind when I thought of visuals for ‘vintage aesthetic’ was stripping the details and going back to the basics: Paper, cotton, canvas, wax, texture, unbleached materials, raw edges, stamps, old-type, handwritten letters, muted palettes etc.
What came to mind when I thought of visuals for modern design: Simple, clean, concise, straight forward, earth friendly, limited color or one color.
Things that didn’t fit in either category: Synthetic materials, plastics, velvet, satin, gift boxes, bows, stickers, business cards, color play, imagery etc.
I’m sure any onlooker can look at this redesign and think it looks rather simple, but every little detail was pondered about for days in order to build onto the vintage aesthetic. If you start removing things one by one it’ll quickly start falling apart. The very subtle details are the glue that hold it all together—
The box size and color (what if it were square, black and glossy?)
The ripped edge on the brown paper (what if it were cut, not torn?)
The crinkle paper stuffing (What if it were green?)
The textured tag design (What if it were printed on card stock from Moo.com?)
The red straight stitch on the woven bag (What if there were no color?)
The old-type on the postcard (What if it were replaced with a color photograph?)
The masking tape to seal it all (What if it were a “thank you” sticker instead?)
See what I mean?
Every tiny detail sends a completely different message. Branding is PERSONAL. Packaging design is PERSONAL to a particular brand and product. Another artist can replicate my words, my designs and my packaging but will it ever fit into their aesthetic as seamlessly as mine? No.
Now that’s what I call good design!