Photographs provided by Quinn Laird
Above: Communication designer Quinn Laird
In everyday life we have various ways of presenting ourselves that will best speak to those with whom we are having a conversation or relationship. When out on a job interview, our suits are dusted off for the occasion, and our personal aesthetics are different from those that we tend to present when out grocery shopping or at a friend’s backyard bbq. This also carries over into our business dealings when we are considering the best way to communicate our knowledge and corporate intentions to consumers and prospective clients. While often described under the umbrella term of “corporate identity”, these elements are broken down into three distinct groups: “corporate branding” being the services and actions for which a company builds a reputation and trust with their clients, “corporate image” being the company’s public view of their company, and “corporate identity” being the in-house concepts such as logo, company name, and visuals that are associated with a business.
Our modern world is one where media surrounds us on every corner, and today's average person generally has a more sophisticated knowledge of design, advertising, and brand recognition, compared with prior generations. Ours is now also a world of instant quality results, and if you’re graphics aren’t up to snuff, or your website is disorganized and difficult to navigate, chances are your viewers won’t be coming back. With these considerations in mind, many companies must be in a state of constant growth in the way of aesthetics, advertising, and outreach efforts, and also be willing to take on new risks and changes in order to maintain a successful marketing approach. The questions that many have when entering into a new business venture, or refreshing their corporate vision, is how to make an impact, how to be memorable, and how to present their company as a quality establishment.
Quinn Laird has been working for a number of years with these very questions in mind. His creative input has helped to shape client presentations and identities with Brown Communications, a Regina, Saskatchewan-based, full-service communications company that has been collaborating on company branding, marketing, advertising, and public relations for well over 42 years. In addition to this expertise, Quinn also assists companies with their development on a freelance basis to create memorable branding that makes a lasting impact.
With the three elements of what is typically known as “corporate identity” outlined above, can you give us an idea of where each of these falls into the communication design process?
These three elements work hand in hand to publicly represent the company. It all starts with corporate branding. Themes, mission statements, and company goals become a foundation for the services and products a company offers. This inspires the design elements such as color, logos, and photography that help to shape the corporate identity. These become contact points for the public to receive and process the company’s corporate image.
For a company that is just starting out, and has yet to establish a corporate identity, what are some of the first steps that must be tackled in this process?
The first step for a fledgling company in developing a corporate identity is to identify exactly what the company does as a function, what it stands for, and what it’s philosophy is in regards to clients and society in general. This is the template that is necessary for creating an accurate and substantial corporate identity. One problem the company has to solve is how they stand apart from competitors. This is essential to establishing a unique identity and presence in their respective market.
When establishing a company’s visual identity, why are the choice of fonts, color palettes, and consistent layouts so important?
Different fonts and colors say different things. Therefore choosing particular fonts and colors can dramatically change the image and messaging of your company. A serif font may have a more traditional look than a sans serif font, and a royal blue may have a more corporate feel than a forest green. Once a font set and palette are established, it’s vital that they are used consistently in all of the company's advertising and marketing materials. Consistency and repetition effectively reinforce your company’s identity and it’s confidence as a public entity.
Companies like Target have instant brand recognition due to their fresh and unique style, consistent brand execution, and strict guidelines to maintain visual continuity. Can you discuss the importance of these key elements and someone that you feel has done an outstanding job in their branding implementation when it comes to advertising, marketing, and corporate identity?
Establishing a unique style is important in separating yourself from your competition; this will go a long way with resonating in the public’s memory and having them subsequently thinking of your company first. Consistent brand execution and adhering to visual identity guidelines work together to ensure that your company has a singular and unwavering public image, and this consistency will help facilitate quicker public recall of your company.
Apple is an excellent example of a company that has firmly seated it's brand in the public consciousness through consistent, simple and accessible branding. The clean and approachable look and feel of their advertising helps to establish them as a fun and future-minded company that offers reliable and practical products.
When creating branding and ad materials, web pages, or marketing pieces, what are some of the biggest client misconceptions that you see and that companies should avoid?
There are three things that some clients mistakenly believe are good design choices:
Using more than two fonts of the same style, like two sans serif or two serif, together. The best solution for this situation in design is to use the many different incarnations of one font (bold, oblique, condensed, etc.)
Using up all white space. Some clients feel that white space can be used for more text or images and don’t appreciate that white space is an important tool for guiding the reader’s eye and giving certain elements prominence.
Too many separate messages in one piece. Delivering one strong message versus many scattered messages will always produce better results.
With print media slowing down, and cost becoming a larger issue with the sagging economy, many businesses are looking to expand their marketing efforts in order to stay current, keep consumer interest up, but still their keeping costs low. Are their any notable methods that you have seen that you feel are worth a company pursuing?
The obvious and proven method for companies that are on a budget to stay current is marketing through the Internet; directing customers to their website is cheap for the customer and also relatively cheap for the company. The Internet is global and therefore allows for infinite expansion of the company’s market. It's also a contemporary medium that will give a company a ‘current’ image.
What examples of corporate identity projects that you have been a part of do you feel were the most successful and why?
I designed the logo for Over the Hill Orchards and re-branded their packaging. Over the Hill Orchards sells a range of products from spreads, juices, and treats made from the various fruits that they grow, and their goal was to develop an image beyond the ‘mom and pop’ level that many of their competitors were projecting. I feel that their identity is more upper-scale and lends itself to a more global market.
Above: Corporate branding and packaging for Over the Hill Orchards
Written by Ehren Seeland