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Getting serious about design

Posted by Chad O'Connor  May 13, 2013 12:35 PM

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[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

Entrepreneurs are serious about good ideas; but most will tell you that coming up with the idea is the easy part. It’s the little things like patience, impeccable timing, and both the ability to execute or make the connections with those who can, that determine one’s success. Of course there is that minor detail of gaining a following, finding the people that believe in you and your idea, and motivating them to get the word out.

Entrepreneurs are discovering it isn't enough to offer consumers the highest quality, the fastest customer service, the best value or even the lowest price.

The average American city dweller is bombarded with over 5,000 marketing ads, daily. Everywhere you look there are signs, slogans, posters slapped to the sides of Subway cars; let's not forget the virtual world of never ending spam emails, website banners, and pop-ups! People today don't have the time to read about humble beginnings; they don't care where you might have been published; even finding the time to skim over your mission statement is a challenge.

So, how can entrepreneurs take their ideas and capture consumer attention, fast?


(Photo taken by REPENSO©)


YoBamba© Modern Mahogany Plywood Installation in their Self-Serve Yogurt Cafè.

What consumers want is to be excited about your Brand!

As a Brand Designer, I meet all kinds: web developers, bankers, statisticians, activists, inventors, musicians, every one of them eager to launch their new idea and turn it into a game changer. Many of my first hand encounters go something like this: someone has a fabulous idea, they aren't through hashing out the details, haven't finalized their business plan, but you can bet they already have their company name! Hang around long enough they'll be showing you logo sketches on a napkin or maybe a crumpled print out of something they whipped up in Photoshop.

So, why are all these serious business types interested in sketching out logos? Shouldn't they be more concerned with the technical stuff? It happens intuitively. For many entrepreneurs, a logo can be one of the most exciting moments of their idea. It's the part where the words take form. It's one of the first steps that constitute legitimacy, value, seeing is believing.

It’s safe to say that if one of the first steps in building a business is visual, an idea's visual impact can certainly enhance business strategy and even impact an idea's success. A Brand's Identity should never stop with a logo. Further, that logo must act as a foundation in how a Brand intends to open a dialogue with its customers.

Brands that can get people talking: Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Burberry, Nike, Red Bull, these companies may differ in how they reach their customers, but their passion for creating a visual impact is always priority number one. They're passionate about their Identities in the world. These Brands use holistic design techniques to ensure whether people are browsing their website, being handed a business card, walking through their space, or walking out with a product in hand, that there is an immersion into the world of their Brand.

My aim as a brand designer is to continuously rethink the experience a Brand can create for people. To be successful, a new Brand needs to have its own personality, aesthetic, speech pathology, and style. Imagine you're at a networking event. Your first impulse may be to head towards the person you (visually!) have the most in common with. Maybe they're the same height, dress the same, have the same name (you’re wearing a name card after all people), but guaranteed the person you’ll remember was the one with the funniest story, the wackiest hairdo, maybe was the best (or worst) dressed. They had something about them that stood out. It’s always, always about image.

Being objective, understanding and embracing the steps taken as consumers are what drive the successful formation of any new brand’s identity. Every medium can work to promote or disqualify a new Brand over its competition. It's vital each element in the creation process is both well planned and well executed.

Entrepreneurs need to start thinking holistically, using design to their advantage. Design must attract, communicate, drive, and ensure that people remember a Brand as it’s intended. Entrepreneurs need to be thinking big picture, need to be thinking of consumer experience, and need to get serious about design.

Michael Luciano Abbate is Lead Designer and Head of Experiential Identity at REPENSO.

[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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