black vintage typewriter with supplies  on wooden table, copy space on aged paper, top view

What is Your Story?

As a graphic designer understanding a brand and their consumers is an important part of the design process, it allows me to create visual content that embodies the personality and values of the company successfully. This appreciation for brands has followed me into the IMC program where I am now learning more about Content Marketing. Just recently one of my professors invited Rob Howard, a Senior Strategist at Cult Collect Ltd., to talk to us about the importance of Brand story telling. Rob spoke about how we are hard wired for stories. Storytelling was one of the first ways we communicated our thoughts and ideas.  When people receive information they are more likely to retain it if it is presented in a way that connects with them.

Below is a video I found by MSLGROUP  that talks a little more on how valuable this method of sharing can be.

Understanding Storytelling | MSLGROUP

MasterFoods Australia is a company who’s mission is to bring life to your dinner table with their food products. As a designer, I feel the overall branding of the company needs work but thats a whole other animal. What I admire about MasterFoods it that that company really understands their customers and they has begun to implement some pretty great strategies to reach them.

Recently campaign has been created by the company to inspire busy families to take a step back from the distractions of everyday life and look at the what really matters in their live.

The company traveled through out Australia asking parents and children one question: “if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead who would it be?” The responses were humorous and heart warming.

#MakeDinnerTimeMatter  The campaign touched people around the globe nd resonates with the majority of busy families, it really encourages people prioritize their family.

I encourage you to click on the link below and watch the video:

MasterFoods #MakeDinnerTimeMatter

A good brand story is a reflection of how the customers experience and feel about the product. When a company chooses to disregard the feelings of their customers or there is a disconnect in translating that over into a successful campaign companies can receive a damaging amount of backlash from consumers. Because we live in digital age a lot of times  companies will quickly erase, alter or change their campaigns quickly so it takes some digging to find a really great case.

Instead I will give you some food for thought today.

What if you don’t have a story?
Or What if you have a story and its boring as hell? 
Brand story telling is very popular right now but is it for everyone? 
We all have stories but are those stories always something we should share? 

In the video below designer  Stefan Sagmeister shares an interesting opinion.
Not everyone is a storyteller and thats not a bad thing. You need to recognize your strengths and approach your strategy differently. Not everyone has a compelling or inspiring story to tell so if you don’t have one, don’t make one up just because its a popular trend and successful for some.  I found myself some-what agreeing with his statement.

Stefan Sagmeister | You Are Not a Story Teller

You can always find a story to tell and attempt to appeal to users through their emotional connection with your brand  but its very important to think your concept through and come up with something that is genuine and impactful. The purpose of brand story telling is to connect with user experiences and feelings. Successful brand story telling is not meant to manipulate consumers into buying your product.






Recently my professor hosted a discussion panel for my entrepreneurship class. The panel consisted of 3 local designers who all have very unique experiences working within the industry.

The guest speaker that particularly sparked my interest was Brian Chard.

Brian obtained an Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia and now operates a design business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This business provides clients with design and consulting services. In the early 1990′s Brian began using is computer knowledge to design for the web and since then has helps countless businesses in various i industries implement goals through design and the use of strategic web development.

What I found interesting about Brian was his journey becoming a designer.  Brian spoke about how he has a passion for cycling and told us that told us that a lot of his initial jobs were from businesses within that industry who were seeking designers. I have observed that a lot of successful designers initially find job opportunities by connecting with people who have similar interests and passions. Many people tend keep their work and passion separate from one another but as a designer it seems to be the best way to gain opportunities that both improve your business and your own quality of life.

Brian sat confidently on the panel, his answers were very direct and helpful. He spoke minimally about his own success, he focused more of his energy on talking about the real issues that someone running their own business would face.

Another point that peaked everyones interest, including my own is when he spoke about qualifying the client. I this is something that not many people want to address but it actually very valuable when starting a new business. When you are running your own business you cannot waste time. It is important to connect and establish relationship with people through networking but when people seem interested seeking out design services you need to be able to assess whether or not they are serious about obtaining your services. There are many ways you can asses a client and figure out if their business will be something that is right for you but it is something each individual has to sort out for themselves. A general red flag when qualifying a client is any resistance to pay, or any real financial hesitation. Asking for a deposit upfront it a quick way to tell who is serious about hiring you for work and who is expressing empty interest.

I understand that businesses all have individual target audiences but I wasn’t considering myself a business until I heard Brian speak about himself.  Ultimately if you design for everyone, then you design for no one. Not all clients are right for every business but developing good working relationships with the ones who are contribute greatly to the chances of you having a positive and successful business

The information Brian shared regarding his personal experiences as in entrepreneur were very insightful and I hope that he will attend future panels hosted by the St. Lawerence Graphic Design program.





Branding Identity & Application

This is a redesign for educational purposes only.

Live Out There provides their customers with products and useful information that will help their customers get the best possible experiences from their outdoor adventures. Instead of expanding their locations Live Out There decided to take an aggressive Online approach that enables them to reach a wider market with products, inspiration and lifestyle information while giving their customers fast efficient service

This logo will be used mostly Online, in the initial design this was not carefully considered and the Logo was in need of refining. The original design had a variety of line thicknesses and the company required something that was long lasting a scalable

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The abstract shape of the mountain was aligned to a grid and constructed using the X and Y height of the L in the logo type. While it was still an abstract object the careful complementary measurements and fine tuning gave it a more structured and well designed look making it a more simplistic and scalable object.

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The typeface for the logo remained the same, Univers is a font that is now available for the web. It also has a variety of weights and styles that makes it a font that is able to be used as their corporate type face.

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When the rebranding process was complete, the logo became part of a much larger picture. A brand identity was already in the process of being being formed. One of the key components to developing a good brand is understanding the companies brand values and establishing  a tone of voice that is clearly applied and visible in every aspect the company.

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The idea for the company came to life while the founders were climbing Mount Everest and the blue chosen in the primary colours is inspired by the breathtaking richness of the night sky. The original Live Out There brand was done in an orange, being vibrant and daring is important to the company but because of the richness of the blue a bolder color was needed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 1.06.59 AMA brand guide was created and photo page designed to inspire and help employees better understand the tone and mood. The brand is about community and exploration and they have really tried to include their clients by allowing them to tag photos of their own journeys.  Originally the majority of  the photos used were filtered and usually not high image quality but this kind of photography is not effective when trying to express the quality of a brand.  The photos displayed in the brand guide are high quality black and white photos that are typically used when showing intense activities that may have more motion. The black and white photos are paired with vibrant , crisp, clear, breath taking photos that do not have filters on them, show casing the earths natural beauty.

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A variety of applications were explored during this process. In future, more application such as a personal clothing brand, social media extensions and unique packaging design will likely be explored.

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This weekend I had the opportunity of going to RGD event, Design Thinkers.
There were many interesting people who came to speak but I came eager to hear John Furneaux speak about Designing Building Blocks.  Our role as designers are changing, we are no longer there to just come up with a design for a single platform, we are there as a consultant to assist in setting up foundational blocks that can be used in a variety of ways though out different platforms to suit the clients needs and evolve with them in ways that we may not have even been anticipated yet.

The talk really resonated with me. I started the St Lawrence College Graphic design program during a time when the curriculum was being revamped. My classmates and I had the opportunity of being the first students with the privilege of having a whole new learning experience based on a new curriculum that had a strong focus on user based design and strategic thinking. In keeping with what John said, our role as designers is shifting and we must change with it so that we continue to add the value and expertise that clients need to come up with long term solutions to their challenges.  Graphic Design has always been a profession that demands constant change from the people in its field. Every day new programs come out that change what we design for. Every time there is a software update we are required to learn and grow with it, new trends come up that we must choose to follow or avoid, our profession is one that will forever be changing.

A class mate of mine used a quote in a piece of work recently that said, “Design is How it Works”. It is a very pure statement, one that will never change and becomes even more relevant as the things we design for become more complex and require us to think even further into the future than ever before.

Building Your Process Portfolio

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the 2014 Design Thinkers conference in Toronto this year but as a designer even if you are unable to attend these fantastic events you should still be trying to learn and improve yourself anyway you can.
This week I took the time to review some online webinars posted on the RGD website. One in particular was by Russell Gibbs and it was on the topic of building a process portfolio which I will be starting to build next semester. My teachers have already started giving us information relating to building a process portfolio but you can never know to much when building something that is showcasing your  skills for your potential employers.

I find typing or writing out the information helps me retain it better than just listening to someone speak, below I typed out what I felt were the important points of the first half of his webinar. Hopefully this will be helpful to other students or young designers who are in the field and trying to build a strong portfolio!

Creating and Effective Design Portfolio
By: Russell Gibbs

What is a Portfolio?
A Representation of your best works

Keep in Mind…..
Sometimes you may not be able to explain every detail of your portfolio to the person viewing it so it is important that your work speaks for itself and provides the viewer with clear self explanatory visual.
The portfolio you create should show case your talents and personality.

What format should be used digital or print?

Consider this:
What format suits your work the best?

Interactive, App, Web Design, etc. = Digital
Illustration, Branding, etc. = Print

Either one works as long as its professional and well thought out.

How Many pieces should be in a process portfolio?
8-12 projects (not pages, projects)
Find a happy medium, not too sparse and not too overwhelming

What should you include in your portfolio?

Choose a diverse range of work to put in your portfolio. Don’t limit yourself by focusing on just one specific area of design. Obviously you want to showcase your stronger talents but make sure that you are giving the person viewing the portfolio a variety of work so that you aren’t limiting your employment opportunities by just focusing on just one area of talent.

How do I show my work? 
Scan or take Photographs?
If you want to take pictures, make sure you have the skill level to do it properly.

Should I show my Roughs? 
If it enhances your projects, Yes. If it doesn’t mean anything or add anything, leave them out.
If you don’t have roughs, don’t recreate them.

How do You organize your work?

Keep your work consistent and leave them wanting more

Consider your portfolio as a story, your story.
What projects are where?
What is the evolution of the story?
How is it flowing together?

Play with the composition, be unique. The effort you put into your portfolio because it shows.
Remember: Layouts can be whatever you want them to be just make sure whatever you do makes sense.

Check and re-check your work, give it to a friend or several friends to check as well.
Spelling errors are not acceptable.

Consider the competition. 
Does your book hold up against the stronger students in your class or program?

For the complete webinar click the link below: