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.
A friend recently sent me this piece by Ira Glass, which got me thinking about good taste and what it means to us at Marc Rubin Associates. The famed graphic designer Saul Bass once said, “good design is good taste”, which Mr. Glass’ piece exemplifies.
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!