Branding is a curious word, an anachronism in our information age, commonly used but seldom explored. It reaches far into antiquity when ownership was recognizable by a mark, permanently seared into the surface of an object by means of glowing metal or fiery wood. Farmers and merchants; stonemasons and carpenters would each design unique visual symbols in order to identify their goods. Although our tools have significantly changed, the same practice continues today in what we continue to call branding.
As a graphic designer, my role in the North Star Marketing team involves translating the ideas, values and craftsmanship of our clients’ products or services into a visual form: brand identities (logos), print collateral and everything associated with a website. With a decade of experience, I’ve come to recognize my place in the development of a cohesive marketing strategy. Much of the success of my creative work relies on the vision and experience of our clients, from which our marketing strategists craft stories and organize plans to communicate this unique perspective to people in compelling ways.
Like any effective coach, a marketing team must begin with observation. Who are we working with? What skills and abilities have they arrived with? What are their goals? What are realistic goals and opportunities for them? At North Star, we call this our Discovery phase.
Once we’ve worked through this process, we enter our Design phase. For existing organizations, it begins by visually assessing if their current marketing materials align with the stated goals and offerings. We evaluate if these designs clearly convey value to a contemporary audience. If they’re encumbered by dated or lackluster attributes, we propose improvements or alternative solutions.
Throughout this process, our designers are carefully attempting to make natural and deliberate connections between what the audience hears and what they see. We do our best to respect our clients’ pasts by incorporating the memorable elements of existing materials and crafting new elements that represent where each business is going. Doing so creates a forum where past and future customers both find common ground.
This intentionality, along with our proactive anticipation of design and technological trends and opportunities, empowers our clients to clearly connect the value of their company, people and services with their audience in a way that not merely leads to sales but wins fans.