As a seasoned professional visual brand builder, I have then both an accomplice and observer of the unnecessary destruction of a company's visual brand identity.
In my early years, as I scratched and clawed my way up the graphic design ladder when it came to working with a new client, my priorities often took a selfish turn. What I mean to say is that as a young professional focus on building a robust portfolio of work, I was motivated to make my "mark" on each project that I touched. My thoughts were directed more towards strengthening my own "book" rather than carefully analyzing a company's visual brand equity, deciding what to keep, what to enhance and what to throw away.
Because being a visual communicator* is a transient career primarily in the early years, with most engagements lasting two years or less, such survivalist tendencies are relatively prevalent amongst young professionals such as myself.
The thought process goes like this:
"If I can convince my client that their logo requires a redesign, I will be able to fill a few more portfolio pages, which will look great as I search for my next position."
"Hell, I may also become famous!"
With a little arm-twisting, a company that has spent 20, 30, 40 years or more building visual brand recognition will allow the destruction of the equity that they have worked so hard to build.
By the way; this mentality also takes up residence in the minds of marketing professionals other than designers. Corporate Marketing VPs, account representatives, and salespeople fail to elevate their client's needs over their personal or their organization's agenda.
In basic terms, a marketing professional must always put the client first. (Duh, right?)
For the immediate future, you may not be adding the desired heft to your portfolio, and sure, rather than bulldozing the house, you may only be called on to remodel the kitchen. However, if you complete the project successfully, you may eventually be asked to repair a bathroom or replace the roof. You know, a long-term plan!
After 30 years in the biz, here is the way a smarter and more seasoned Doug Eymer thinks:
- Knowing that the earth is spinning at about 200 mph and that levels of ADHD are at all-time highs, how drastically can we make changes without disrupting the attention of time-tested customers?
- Are there salvageable pieces of the existing visual identity system? These elements may include a company's corporate mark (logo), color palette, visuals (photos, illustrations, and other graphics), typography, shapes, etc.
- Considering the corporate mark as the flagship element in a visual identity system, would a buffing and polishing be more beneficial than a complete teardown?
- How can the current visual brand be enhanced extended or extended so that it works successfully with continually evolving marketing platforms?
Building a highly visible and unique visual brand identity is not Rocket Surgery.
With thoughtful, unselfish planning and execution, an organization's visual brand identity will soon reach a wider audience, communicate more clearly and increase sales.– Doug.
*I try to avoid the term graphic designer as much as possible. To me, the definition has become drastically diluted. The moniker is freely used to describe anyone involves in creating non-personal fine art.
In other words, there are 'decorators,' and there are 'designers.' A designer takes an unselfish problem-solving approach that addresses an organization's desire to increase visibility. Simultaneously, creating marketing vehicles that through text and visuals, communicates their brand message. In the majority of cases, the goal is to elevate the sale of either products or services.
A graphic designer does not render unicorns and bunnies just for the sake of creating unicorns and bunnies.