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Branding Blog

I recently read a blog post about the concept of 'Progressive Reduction' I found presumptuous and unnecessary. Essentially the concept is to minimize the interface of your site dynamically as users become more and more proficient. The example given on the site (above) is that of a submit button which features a checkmark with a text label. In time if a user demonstrated familiarity with this element the text is omitted leaving only the check mark within the button. Then finally only a checkmark alone. Call me cynical, but I think this is just UX guys showing off. To make my point I... More
The whole can sometimes be less than the sum of its parts.  This happens most often when those parts don’t fit together properly.  Which occurs when a project’s objective is not to be good, but rather to accommodate some trendy bell or whistle. You can imagine a film studio where the producers know a project needs to be in IMAX 3D before they have a script.  The writers are inventing reasons for their characters to lunge toward the camera when they should be developing a plot.  Before you know it, the film isn’t interesting enough to fill a 60 second trailer. Graphic design can at times be no... More
Associating an organization with an individual is a double-edged sword for any brand. Making a company’s founder its namesake or mascot can bestow it instant credibility and industry cache.  Yet, these affiliations can be devastating if its figurehead is discredited, or simply goes rogue. Enter Lance Armstrong, the Bruce Wayne of professional cycling and the Batman of cancer philanthropy. For years he has used his Tour De France celebrity to promote Livestrong, his charitable effort to raise money for cancer research, education and advocacy. But today Livestrong faces an identity crisis for... More
As a brand designer it is always somewhat flattering when a client wants to use their new identity as much as possible.  After all, the application of one’s logo is branding, and branding is good, right?  Well, not always. Call it a pet peeve, but a great example of bad branding is the old “Putting your logo in the signature of your email” move.  I see it all the time where businesses don’t realize the faux pas they are committing in the interest of looking more professional. Basically, emails with graphic signatures have a few problems. Mac users (at least) receive these emails as... More
Those of you who know me well may already be aware that my wife and I are expecting.  With a baby on the way I guess I couldn’t help myself but to see the design process through the lens of parenthood.  Forgive the unintended sexism. The essence of my observation is that the relationship a designer has with their brand is probably not so unlike the relationship a father has with his child.  At best its creation is an act of passion, and its long-term stewardship and care is a labor of love.  At worst its creation is self-indulgent and there is no long-term follow through whatsoever. In other... More
The web has an ability to shed its skin and emerge anew every couple of years.  It should not be news to you that the future of web browsing is mobile. Mobile has already overtaken desktop browsing in parts of the world and is projected to do so in the US before the end of 2013.  The technique that most proactive studios and shops have coalesced around is ‘Responsive design’ It is a term I believe was coined by Ethan Marcotte, the author of Responsive Web Design and a leading voice on the topic.  For the uninformed it attempts to address the ever-expanding array of device sizes and... More
You are starting up a small business and it needs a name. Exciting! Given your budget you’ve decided to take on the responsibility yourself. You named your kids after all and Brandon and Brenda turned out okay so why should your business be any different? Before you launch Brendco, I would like to humbly ask you to read this blog post. Your business’s name is one of the key ingredients that make up your brand. If a professional naming exploration is out of the question, we at least need to get you up to speed on some basic considerations. In my experience, it is not that DIY namers aren’t... More
While there are many reasons that small businesses work with the wrong design partners, the most common would appear to be cost. After all, doing it yourself, off shoring the work or hiring the cheapest designer around would seem to be motivated by price. However, I have found that bargain hunting is often a symptom of a larger disease. They are in a rush, and in attempting to budget for everything at once they are willing to accept anything in terms of quality. I call it the “fast food” approach to branding. If having business cards that look like they were ordered off the dollar menu doesn’... More
The first thing every designer learns when they go to school is the power of using grids. That is, to establish a framework from which all of your content can be arranged. Thus, it will all be neatly organized and consistent. At best, design grids make work easier and can be proprietary – as much a part of the brand’s toolkit as its color pallet or typeface. At worst however, it can be an obstruction, as it may prioritize mathematical cleanliness above visual and contextual considerations. This all comes to mind because I find myself working on a collateral piece, which of course I began with... More
It is not remarkable to encounter a small business in need of a holistic refresh of their brand’s look and feel. However, it becomes noteworthy when you are informed that they have just recently invested thousands into their design, only to be disappointed by the results. There are a myriad of reasons why this occurs. At the center of them all is the fact that many small and early-stage enterprises simply don’t have any familiarity with the process and they choose the wrong partner. What should they have been aware of? Know the difference between design and branding You wouldn’t step up to... More
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