🏆 Your Brand Design Needs a Story
Removing personal aesthetic preferences for the greater good.
Yellow is fine. I have a yellow hoodie I’ll break out every so often, but really don’t wear the color much. My desk lacks yellow tchotchkes. I don’t have any yellow accents in my house and it’s not the color of my true love’s hair.
And yet yellow — and very specifically Royal Gold (#FFBC00) — is all over everything at Robin. So why would a tepid appreciator of Van Gogh’s favorite color wash his company’s brand with it? Simple. Robin’s story is not my story.
Personal aesthetics more often than not get in the way of good creative output. Having a strong story as a foundation through which your team can evaluate design allows you to remove individual taste biases, and start building creative capital that is truly evocative of your brand.
Every brand has a story. Roll your eyes all you want, but it’s true. Don’t think you have one? Then step one is to unearth it. The rest will follow.
1. Find your story
Is it in your name? Your history? Your brand narrative? Think back on all of these things and determine what it is you want to establish as your baseline for creative output.
Let’s look at us as an example. Robin began as a to-be-named-later EIR project at Elysian Park Ventures, the private investment arm affiliated with the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers. My apartment at the time happened to be located directly across the street from Washington Park, one of the first homes of the Brooklyn Baseball Club that would eventually become the 2020 World Series Champions.
Looking to that era’s history for our name, I discovered that from 1914 - 1931 — the year before they would become the Dodgers — the team was affectionately known as the Robins. Our name came to be, and with it a treasure trove of history and ephemera to build a visual system around.
2. Create and curate the right visuals
This won’t be fast or easy, but it will pay dividends. Using a service like Arena, start scouring the web for imagery and insights that tie back to your story. Create a moodboard and go wide at first. I’m talking about historical references, architecture, geographic surroundings, videos, sketches, photos — all of it! Inspiration can come from the places you least expect. Eventually the right visual patterns that convey your narrative will begin to emerge.
I’ll use us as an example here again. We thought a lot about the experience of going to a sporting event, particularly what it would have been like in early 20th Century Brooklyn. This led us to period-specific signage one would find taking the BMT to Ebbets Field. The Art Deco letterforms got the wheels turning on typefaces. We looked at many, and ultimately landed on Pacaembu by Naipe Foundry, a typeface that — much like Robin — has its roots in sport.
You’ve done it! Your colors, your typography, your patterns, your photo treatments — everything you could imagine needing to create compelling brand visuals has been decided on. So what now?
We recommend creating guidelines using a service like Brandpad. These guidelines should not only define usage, but also display why the design decisions were made. This sets the table for all of the stakeholders involved, and allows them to develop creative based on what’s right for the brand.
4. Use It
Time and time again we see startups that have been through a brand design process throw it all away because someone on a team didn’t like a color or an illustration style.
Be malleable and willing to change things for the right reasons (poor performance, not resonating with customers, etc.). Don’t cave on the whim of one person. The aesthetic preferences of teammates and friends aren’t necessarily aligned with your brand. Remember why you did the exercise in the first place and put it to work. The more you do, the more buy in you’ll get from everyone involved. It will streamline your design workflows and take personal feelings out of the equation.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve earned it. So, why yellow?
In addition to our Dodgers heritage, our name is a nod to our working ethos. We’re the Robin to our partner’s Batman — the ultimate sidekick ready to support wherever we’re needed. The yellow on Robin’s suit was a starting point we ultimately tweaked towards gold to symbolize any dynamic duo’s ultimate goal: victory. ✌︎
🤝 Let’s work together. If you would like to learn more about Robin, or want to talk about your brand’s marketing, communications, and product development initiatives, contact us at email@example.com.
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P.P.S. We’re hiring a Junior Designer, Junior Marketing Associate, Junior Communications Associate, and Junior Copywriter. If you know anyone who’d be a good fit, we’d appreciate it if you could pass the opportunity along.