Market research is an important and crucial part to many business initiatives. For many, it’s not only a way to test a proposed solution for something new, but a way to get insights into what makes you tick. Some strategies my be more affective or efficient than another (focus groups vs. one-on-one interviews, ethnography vs. consumer data), but our projects start before we get this information.
We start by listening.
We listen and engage in deep dialogue to try and get the clearest sense of the vision of the company. We try to get to the core of what we represent. It typically requires digging beyond the typical mission statement and often requires speaking to the owner or CEO of the company, because they have the clearest vision for not only who the company is, but where it’s going. It’s from this conversation that we can start the design process.
Communicating the core of the company is an essential part of every single initiative.
After understanding the objectives of the specific project and the core vision of the company, ideas begin to manifest that we have to react to. Reacting intuitively and viscerally to conversations have consistently resulted in solutions that connect with customers in an emotional level. When you react to your intuition, you allow the audience to use theirs as well and bring them in. That’s something that data just can’t do.
Once we’ve reached a point where we feel represents those core values of the company, we then will bring in the market research to compare against our current solution. From the insights of understanding the customer better, we can see if what we’ve already done is in line with the customers’ views. If we need to, we’ll adjust what we’ve developed in order to both communicate the core message, but also connect with the consumer insights. Therefore, we can get the best of both worlds.
I had a great discussion with some colleagues yesterday about building context in branding, marketing and design. For me, building context begins with building a relationship with a client. I can’t begin to build brand context if I don’t know and understand the client and their business.
A client I’ve worked with before is involved in a new venture, and he hired me to design the branding, marketing, and positioning materials. But before I could begin the design process, I had to learn more – from the client – about the new business. I asked him to tell me about the industry, current market competition, future competition, and business plan. This information helps me build only part of the context, however. In order to really build context, I also need to understand my client’s emotional connection to the business, so I asked him questions that helped me understand the core essence of why this business inspires him.
This first step in building context is absolutely essential for me to do my best work. A one-to-one relationship with the owner, president, or CEO of the company helps me meld my creative process with the client’s vision. From there, I can build a strong context for the company’s branding materials, and design with heart.
Good taste is hard to describe. At MRA, we think it’s present in our body of work. As Mr. Glass says, it takes time to develop good taste, and we’ve been working at it for over 30 years. We work hard at staying current and contemporary, and run current trends through our experienced sensibilities (our “good taste machine”) to meet clients’ needs. We’re very aware of the pitfalls of following trends, because of the possibility of being “trendy”, which isn’t always in good taste.
An example of this is the recent Abercrombie & Fitch/Jersey Shore brand clash. A&F asked the JS guys to stop wearing their fashions on-air, because of the negative public perception of the brand the show might be creating. Granted, it all might be a publicity stunt, but it’s the ultimate irony – both brands promote the same buffed male image, but A&F is running like crazy from JS because of JS’ lack of good taste.
Having roots in traditional graphic design, MRA creates brand identities for the contemporary world while never losing sight of good taste. The pioneers of design are the voices of good taste and sophistication we listen to when developing creative solutions.
What do you think constitutes good taste? Please comment, we’d love to hear your opinions!
When I heard that Elmira’s Jewish communities, Shomray Hadath and Congregation B’nai Israel, were merging, I immediately contacted them to ask about designing identity materials for the new community. It was an emotional and gratifying experience to design their new logo and sign, and I had a conversation with a friend about the process. Take a look!
Many people will tell you that emotion has no place in business. But today, when word of mouth – through social media – can spread ideas like wildfire, emotion does matter. We’re seeing a culture shift, as the customer is empowered with a much greater voice. One small statement, link or video posted on facebook can become a meme overnight, especially if it triggers an emotional response in the viewer/user.
We’ve always trusted a friend’s recommendation over something we read in a brochure. People now ask their facebook friends for recommendations on which vet to take their pet to, share experiences with photos taken on their mobile phones, and recommend books, films, and vacation spots. With this shift, the expectation is that you care about your friends and provide them with the respect and esteem to which they feel entitled.
We at Marc Rubin Associates welcome this shift. Anyone who knows Marc knows that he brings his heart to every piece of work he creates. Since 1976, Marc has been not only conceptually and financially invested in the work, but emotionally as well. We think you can see this in the work and that it provides a sound foundation for communicating the dedication and respect with which you serve your customers. We care about your business success and work to provide you with ideas and designs that will connect with the public on an emotional level.
Designing with heart makes good business sense. Connecting with the public on an emotional level increases the breadth and strength of brand loyalty, which in turn increases the lifetime value of a customer. Therefore, when you’re investing in design with heart, the return is more deeply felt, measuring well beyond the dollar.
To all of our dear customers, we are grateful. Thank you.
This is a great example of how design can affect your perception of a product. This Little Printer provides a personalize mini newspaper printed on a roll, but delivers it with a smile.
The other day, Paul Stonier shared with us the video below and it sparked a great conversation. We all fell in love with the little face and how it transforms the object from a utility to into your little assistant. Just imagine the product without that face. The body of the rest of the product is incredibly pragmatic. There is some nice simplicity to it, but the interaction would be very cold.
This product also speaks to why it’s important to involve design and branding into the stage of product development. In most cases, a company would come to a design firm with the product already developed and have the firm brand the product as is. Therefore, including something like this smile may have been too late.
There is also something interesting to recognize here; while with everything accessible on our phones and computers, there is less and less of an interaction with paper. There is something very intimate about paper that screens simply have not been able to replicate. The size of the roll helps with this too. The size of the prints are just the right size; not too big to feel like you are at work with a letter size sheet of paper that you are wasting most of the paper with, yet not too small that you struggle with it.
I admit it; I’m a skeptic. If it’s going to work, I want this social media marketing experiment to make a difference for us right away. Even though I know that any kind of marketing takes time to generate business, I somehow have this expectation that the immediacy of social media will generate an instantaneous business response. Read More
Although Marc Rubin Associates advises our clients about the importance of using social media, we’ve been pretty slow to use it ourselves. To be honest, I am not yet convinced that social media is the best way to advertise a business like ours, which depends on one-to-one personal relationships to sell its product. However, we’ve decided to (reluctantly) move into the 21st Century and give social media a try. Read More
The term ‘brand’ or ‘brand identity’ is often confused with ‘logo’. This is the result of a lack of full understanding of what a brand is. The logo (short for logotype) is the immediate flag and most tangible element of a brand, but it is just the beginning. We’ve said before a brand is a [...]
Our job is to communicate its message or tell its story to provide opportunities for meaningful engagements. We can elevate the brand by expressing the message in a pure and consistent way. In doing so, it allows us to shape a level of consensus across a market.
That message needs to be distinguishable, memorable and have a concept to it. In order to successfully reach that level, it requires a hand-in-hand relationship with marketing and design. I often say that it is “words & music”; marketing provides the words and we provide the music. In other words, the combination of verbal language with aesthetic language brings the strongest expression of your narrative.
The brand exists within it’s consumer’s heart and soul. Our job is to get it as clear as possible in the marketing language so that we translate it in a visual language… Read More