What’s the point of a designer? In our modern, technological world anyone can have a crack at Adobe, or use a simple logo generator website. It takes two seconds and the results can often look pretty decent. DIY design is fast, easy and cheap. So why would you turn elsewhere? Is it really worth enlisting professional help when these tools are so accessible?
Well, as a creative marketing agency, we obviously do appreciate our designers (and not just for their fun-loving personalities)! We think that they’re invaluable for the creation of a brand’s visual identity. Here’s why:
Back to Basics
Firstly, let’s go back to the basics to try and understand the nature of the beast. Designers are often underestimated because their work is not fully understood. Some people think it’s easy peasy and can be done by anyone. That is just a myth.
Designers are integral to developing a brand’s visual identity and have, in our opinion, unrivalled skills that cannot just be ‘picked up’ by the average Joe Bloggs. There’s a whole ecosystem of different designers and specialised skills out there! I’m only scratching the surface here, but let’s take a look at three of the main roles:
- Creative Design
Creative designers get inside a brand’s head. They talk directly to clients to learn about their story and then think strategically to conceptualise visuals that correspond to the brand's narrative. This enables brands to reflect more deeply on their own purpose and have it directly inputted into their design identity.
- Graphic Design
Graphic designers are always ahead of the curve in terms of design trend forecasts. This means they have in-depth knowledge of how target audiences respond, and will respond, to certain visuals. They create specialist, professional designs that reflect this and so help brands stay up-to-date and relevant for far longer than their competition.
- DTP Development
DTP stands for desktop publishing. DTP developers modify designs to produce different types of deliverables: varying sizes, files and platforms. They ensure that brands have design consistency across all channels, from digital to physical, Instagram to print packaging.
The Design Choir
All these designers need each other to produce an authentic visual identity for a brand. They work in harmony together. Almost like a choir. Imagine if the soprano called in sick or the tenor was too hungover to come in on the day of the performance. The final beautiful chorus would be ruined. It’s exactly the same for the design world. Without the creative designer, you wouldn’t have the visual concepts; without the graphic designer, there’d be no top-quality images; without the DTP expert, you’d be stuck with the same file format forever and fall behind developing technology.
No one person can sort all these things out by themselves. There are too many skills to master, too many moving parts to keep under control. You need specialists on your side to complete these various jobs with finesse. Otherwise, it will be near impossible to achieve a consistent and professional brand visual identity.
Unpacking the Creative Process
Still not convinced about the added value of design? Alright, badass. You’re making my job a little harder over here. But fine, I guess haven’t explained exactly how these different design steps work in practice and what the end outcome is.
At Colourcake, we’re all about sharing experiences and expertise. So I also enlisted some help from Lieke Bergman, a creative superstar at Colourcake. We had a coffee and I picked her brains about the design process here.
Let’s take a look at how it goes down with us:
- Creative Session
First up is a creative session with the client to discuss their business goals as well as their brand purpose and story. Brands often think they know what they want; we encourage them to consider things differently. Ask the right questions, open the right creative doors. Coffee stimulates everyone’s artistic inspiration. The creative designers can already start thinking about what visuals may align with the brand’s narrative and ethos.
- Moodboard Madness
The creative designers take inspiration from all of their surroundings. So for the next step in the process they develop mood boards which collate images from various sources (Pinterest, Instagram, personal photos, magazines). The client chooses their preferred colour palette or style. This way they’re provided with multiple options: we swap out everything they don’t like and we emphasise the details that they do.
- Design Time
After back and forth discussions with the client, the graphic designers create the final whole visual identity including typography, logos, shapes, colours etc. These assets are then formatted (with a bit of DTP) into a brand book (a funky little ‘How To’ branding bible) that brings the brand’s narrative to life in a visual format.
What we’ve found from our experiences, and those of our clients is that a cohesive visual identity is key to creating a recognisable brand.
Having a snazzy home-made logo or using a fancy font is all well and good. But you need visual consistency if you want your customer to remember your brand and keep coming back.
“Upcoming and even well-known brands often have great separate visual pieces, but they’re just not complete” ~ Lieke
Professionals can provide completion. It’s all about attention to detail: what font aligns best with the logo? What specific shade of pink works best? How do all these visuals coalesce together?
“Your brand has to tell the same story at every different touchpoint, interior, exterior and digital.” ~ Lieke
These are all things that you or I wouldn’t necessarily notice at first, but make all the difference in the end.
Across the Board
Now you may be thinking, well I’m not really a particularly aesthetic focused company or don’t work in a very visual-focused industry, so this isn’t really important for me.
We’ve seen this before. At Colourcake we concentrate on the fashion, lifestyle and hospitality industries. The different industries usually have varying levels of interest in design.
For example, the fashion industry is often ahead of the game with visuals, simply because they need to design products six months to a year in advance. They care about design and invest a lot into staying on the ball.
On the other end of the spectrum, the hospitality industry can sometimes be less concerned with design. This is a real shame because design is the key ingredient for providing consistent customer-experience - something which is so important to hospitality. If anything, they should be the most engaged!
Hotels in particular need branding at every step on their guest’s journey. This journey is usually 24 hours, from breakfast to bed. You need the same design everywhere: from the slippers they put on in the morning to the beer they’re drinking in the lobby at night. The most sure-proof way of achieving a holistic identity is through employing professionals to provide the whole (design) package.
Just take a look at one of our most successful hospitality branding stories: Unplugged hotels. In every room, on every wall, and under every pillow, they have the same logo shape, colour scheme and specific font.So, don’t skimp on the design. To make sure your company looks completely professional and provides a consistent customer experience, a little bit of TLC on the brand visuals side is invaluable. Everyone does need designers!