In our latest installation of Lunch and Learn, Chris Ward, our Creative Director, talked about all things branding, creativity, and design. Here are just a few of the highlights from his presentation and some key takeaways for you!

Defining Design

To dive into the world of branding and design, we must first differentiate between fine art and design. In fine art, we often see pieces, paintings and structures that may not make any sense to us, and that’s okay. Fine art isn’t designed to be logical, but rather promote thought and introspection.

In design, the complete opposite is true. Everything you do has to make sense. Design is for the user, the customer, the consumer. Because it serves a specific function (brand awareness, event advertising, etc.), it has to be purposeful. Design has to solve the problem it was structured for. 

The takeaway: The next time that you start planning out a marketing campaign, or when you sit down to design a brochure, an ad, or a billboard, make sure that your piece is serving a specific function. Don’t use a color or graphical element just because it’s the current trend or it’s cool. Every time you employ design, the final piece should make sense, it should promote your message in a meaningful way.

What is creativity?

We all know that defining creativity is difficult. Many people have tried to define it, but often those definitions end up sounding too abstract without any real application for what you’re doing right now. Here at The A Group, we believe that every single person in the world can be creative, and our definition of creativity cuts straight to the point:

Creativity is simply holding yourself to a standard. (Sounds easy, right?) Let’s dive into what that standard looks like.

To harness creativity, the standard that you must hold yourself to requires utilizing the influences around you and pairing those with your life experiences and your capabilities to come up with creative solutions to issues, problems, or needs. Whether the final product be a painting, new software, a restorative policy, donor development tactics, etc., creativity lives within each of us and can be uncovered by holding ourselves to this standard every day rather than resorting to random impulses or senseless ideas.

The Takeaway: Creativity is not wizardry. When someone comes up with a seemingly more creative solution than yours that makes your head spin, it is usually the result of them having broader influences or greater capabilities or different life experiences. That’s why The A Group digs so deep to understand our client's perspectives and challenges. We are building the creative bridge from problem to solution!

What is a brand?

Your brand is what your consumer thinks of when he/she hears your name. In the past, brands were just names necessary to differentiate one product from another one. As more and more brands filled various industry spaces, pre-existing brands were forced to evolve to keep up with their competitors. Now, brands are much bigger than just their name and what they do.

Take for instance: Starbucks. Starbucks consistently offers a luxury “fast food” experience that puts pressure on other fast food players to up their game. At Starbucks, you can sit for awhile, relax on a couch, enjoy some music while you drink your coffee. Until recently, no other fast food or drink company had ever offered that to its customers before. The Starbucks standard was a luxury standard. 

Now when you walk into a brand new McDonalds, you’ll see leather sofas in the corners, giant televisions flanking gorgeous walls—all to compete with the customer experience Starbucks has been offering. Because we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, we have come to expect this standard from the brands we love.

The Takeaway: What now seems normal to us once used to be a luxury experience. With high competition, today’s brands must offer an unique experience, share the same values with their target audience, be invested in their consumers’ lives, offer inspiration, etc.

The Big Takeaway:

So how is your brand doing? Is your team channeling creativity and employing design correctly? Are you offering an unforgettable experience to your audience? It does not matter what industry you are in, if you’re lacking these elements, your brand will fall behind.

But you can avoid that. Take stock of your competitors, see what is working for them. What are they doing that you aren’t doing? It is successful?

Making key creative decisions for your brand, early in the process, can build the foundation for your brand's success!

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