BRANDING AND IDENTITY
Logos have become an essential tool of business. You absolutely need to nail branding upfront for any business or venture to make a lasting impression on the customers you want to attract. While there is a lot of information on what the logo should be, here is my list of things you should avoid when making a brief for, or designing a logo:
Don’t be complex
Look around. Most well-known logos are simple – easy to remember and easy to recall. They are also easy to print and put on social media in any size. There is a reason for this; simple forms are easy to remember and associate with a business. A logo should be like an easy name for the eye.
Not just don’t copy, do not try to make it look like another logo as well. If you do that, every time someone sees your logo, you are promoting the other brand. Getting inspired from other symbols is fine, but copying forms, fonts, and even colors or styles is a big don’t. This brings us to another issue – while an absolutely original logo will feel unfamiliar to start with, with time, it will become familiar and known. Don’t look for a shortcut to familiarity.
Don’t change much
If you are changing from an earlier logo to a new one, try and retain some synergy with the previous logo. The change will signal freshness, and familiarity will continue the heritage and lineage of the brand.
Don’t be literal
This is difficult for many people to grasp. The logo should be abstract, something that should become the identification of your business. It should not communicate with the company in direct terms. It is an identification tool and not a communication tool. If it is too literal, it will get outdated very soon. Remember, both your business and communication trends are likely to change over time.
A logo needs help and resources to become familiar. Once it becomes routine, it is perhaps the most unique and efficient brand asset that you will own for a long time.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief
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What do designers do at the strategy level of the design ladder (refer to my last note)? How do they bring value that goes beyond product or service? Most experienced designers often reimagine businesses. They reimagine the products, distribution, monetizing systems, and manufacturing methods to communicate a new value to a future audience. This is what I call looking around the corner. They do this by the very nature of living in a future time all the time. This method of thinking can be channeled further to create businesses of the future.
Designers can absorb information and data about a current scenario and suggest tweaks or changes to the market, technology, usage, and geography, and ways to transform an organization into an imagined business in the future. In fact, they can take an existing idea of a traditional business and transform it into an imagined business. A reimagined business model uses traditional business and technology solutions to create value that hasn’t been possible so far in terms of reach and convenience.
Senior designers need to untangle confusing/abstract business information, clarify objectives, and create a new business model keeping the core of a business intact. I call this the ‘Imagine Business Model’ (IBM). Today, most platform businesses are using the Imagine Business Model, and you will find designers in the lead. Most traditional manufacturing/service and trading businesses also have the potential to transform into an imagine business by using design thinking and technology.
I am thinking more about this, and will be happy to share my insights and see how we can take this ahead together.
The purpose of design, or for that matter, anything, is to bring in clarity. The purpose of education, in general, is to give you enough information and tools to process that knowledge so you can make sense of this world and also make others understand it better. At the heart of every design project is a big question that needs clarity. Here’s how you can get there:
Spend time with stakeholders
Start clueless! Don’t wait for your research teams to get you answers – do your own recce. Meet your users, consumers, buyers, and spend time with the clients who have commissioned you the project. Just spend time feeling around the problem. Don’t reach conclusions or think of solutions, and don’t judge. Spend time. You will collect a mine of insights that will help later on. This first hand, hands-on time is the break you are looking for. Keep spending that time till you feel the problem, till you reach an understanding of issues.
Metrics versus experience
Managers rush to solve business problems by using business metrics. It does seem straightforward but stay with the user. If solutions do not align with the experience or the user goals, they will not fulfill any metrics in the long term. User needs will naturally align with the business purpose. This fact is lost on fast track managers or business analysts. Do persist.
Talk about solutions
Keep it a work in progress. Keep yourself open to changing or twisting your solution every time you talk about it. Talk often – just don’t get stuck there. Get as much feedback as possible without justifying your earlier solution; you should be able to change its purpose instead. Your solution should grow after every interaction.
Your ‘Moment of Clarity’
Keep listening, and keep connecting; keep getting feedback, and keep changing your solution. This is not an endless exercise, you will reach your ‘Moment of Clarity’, and then you will know. Once you are there, everything clicks like an intricate puzzle; till then, don’t make compromises.
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I have been using this tool from the Danish Design Center to inform my clients of what I do. I have also found it very useful to explain to young designers their future progression as professionals. Though these are seen as four distinct steps, I see them as four different roles that we land up playing in projects – ranging from playing one of them in one project to all of them at other times in the same project. I think playing together, they complete a project in totality.
This usually means not using a trained designer; you see this all around, from hand-painted boards to fairly complex jugaad vehicles on the road. This usually happens due to ignorance about design, sometimes resulting from the lack of resources to spend on design, but more often it is because of an attitude that says you don’t need a designer for this job. It also happens because of the increasingly common belief that everyone is a designer. This is the most complicated step for designers to break into.
Design as Style or Craft
When a designer gives form to a product or makes something good looking, appealing to the senses. Designers use the skills and understanding of art, color, and form to make things beautiful. Going ahead, this is a given requirement for every output. This is also usually the first place for designers to start working.
Design as a Process Service
When design is not the result but a process to make something work better. This may also require the use of many other skills, talents, and resources. Design definitely becomes a team activity and sets standards of delivery. More and more digital and interaction design projects employ design as a process.
Design as Strategy
This is where a designer lands up contributing to the vision and mission of a project. The contribution here is in terms of basic requirements and relevance to the owners and top management of the company. The contribution is towards the company’s business visions and desired business areas, and future role in the value chain.
This ladder is useful in understanding the level of the design professional or a design company as well as the maturity of a company that uses design. It is well proven that companies that use design make higher profits.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief
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