The Brand Message

Communication in Design: the KISS Principle still applies. 

KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid” a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 which states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Design schools for decades have taught that simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. However, communication in design has changed.

Good design is about going beyond the expected to seek out innovative solutions that get our attention and delight. To compel us to stop, look and think. Good design is influenced by local events, the community, the country and is kept abreast of the world at large by staying current with and influenced by global change. We are so overwhelmed by the barrage of information out there vying for our attention that we’ve learned to block most of it. We’ve gotten smart at fine-tuning our attention towards information relevant to us. We’ve become sensitive to marketing hype. Now there is a hunger for transparent honesty and self-expression, even in the corporate world, toward a fresher, less scripted approach in communication. Good conversations and stories that touch our hearts and stirs the soul.

As a visual communicator who also writes copy for the website and print media, I can attest that some of the ground rules still apply: keep your message simple enough to remember but with enough impact so people will want to share and repeat it. Through personal stories, told with authenticity and with a clear message.

1. Authenticity  2. Clarity  3. Continuity

1. Authenticity: When you speak your truth, people will listen if it comes from a place of personal conviction. This invites authentic dialogue. Personalizing your message to sound less like marketing and more human will attract a more receptive audience. So that what you say and who you are is the same.

2. Clarity: Your message is clear, concise + easily understood. Make clever use of white space to set the stage and allow room for the message to be heard. Minimizing the distraction of visual “noise”in order to cohesively align the elements together. Matching the voice with the appropriate font.

3. Continuity: Your message is the same on whatever platform you are on. Using the same font across platforms. The repeated use of the logo as the visual voice of the business and a means to build brand presence across all print and web media platforms.

Coming from a less scripted, more authentic place will bode well to stimulate dialogue, ensure better communication, inspire personal connectivity through heartfelt rapport and ultimately create credibility + trust with an engaged audience.

Posted in Consistency, Continuity, Good Design

The 101 of Brand Positioning

brand_position700Let’s start by defining the word” position” as it pertains to brand building. Positioning is the precursor to building the brand and starts with research. The designer will research the client’s market to find out who and what is out there. This is part of the discovery process as it feeds the designer’s creative process for building the logo in order to differentiate their business in the market. The designer will listen to the client’s why – the fire in their belly as to why they got started in their business. A good designer will listen to the client’s story then jot down words and visual clues about who they are. We follow this by finding what differentiates their business in their market.

The key to your market position is your point of difference – also known as your point of distinction or your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). But being different isn’t enough to build a position strategy. For a brand to be built well, preparation through research in the marketplace is key. Look at the market you serve. Where does your business voice fit in? What do you contribute that is different and needed in this market?

Create a Distinction Statement. This includes your name, tagline, description of the business, the offer, and the benefits. This includes using words such as best, first, only, most-recommended, or highest ranking. Include how your customer will feel with your offer – the emotional outcome:secure, successful, self-confident, indulged, etc.

Match your position to your brand’s experience.

Clever brand strategy begins by looking at your market and doing a competitor’s analysis. To get clear about where you fit in this market. A good competitor knows their market and will vie for position to be the friendliest, the highest quality, the lowest prices, or to excel in a given attribute. To prevail in that niche. You need to ask what your competitor provides that leaves the customer/client leaning toward this company. The high-positioning companies build trust and credibility in their offer. Their brand message is clear and consistent with continuity in their choice of font, colour, and graphics. To stake a claim to your brand’s point of difference and position, ensure every encounter delivers on the brand promise. If your focus is economy, create a warehouse experience. If it’s exclusivity, excel at individualized services and second-to-none responsiveness to the customer’s needs.

Outside-the-Box Graphics are brand ambassadors for our clients. We build brand guides so the message in the market is clear and consistent across all platforms for both print and web media. Knowing your place in your market and sharing it with continuity goes a long way to strengthening the business foundation and building trust and credibility in your market. Give us a call to find out what we can do to build and expand the brand position in your business.

Laurie Kingdon, Creative Director

Posted in Brand Positioning, Brand Strategy, Branding, Consistency, Continuity, Good Design, Positioning, Uncategorized

The Making of a Brand Statement

YourCultureisYourBrand800pxIn this post we’ll talk about getting to the heart of your business by looking at the intrinsic essentials of your brand, which go well beyond the design of a good logo. Let’s start with asking: What aspirations and motivations are behind your business?

When developing a brand, it’s important to incorporate your values and goals because it becomes part of what differentiates you in the market. This is further elaborated in your mission statement and your vision statement.

YOUR MISSION STATEMENT: defines the purpose of your work and the statement you want to make in the world. It distills your mandate and the approach you follow to achieve the aspirations you have – for yourself, your organization, and your business. Think of your mission as the route you’ll follow to achieve your long term goals.

YOUR VISION STATEMENT: is more specific than the mission statement. It defines your long-term goals and aspirations for the company, and touches on the values of your organization. It covers the actionable goals you want to achieve, such as the services it provides. 

To start, create a list of values you deem important both personally and professionally. Think about the intrinsic reasons why your business exists. What inspired you to start? The more authentic you are, and the deeper you go to get to your WHY? you are in business, the more it will resonate with your clients.

The brand is a key statement within the surrounding culture; the more you tune in to the changing world around you, the more your brand will remain current and relevant.
Similar to the vision and mission statements, you’ll also need a brand statement. A brand statement is a summary of what your brand offers. How would you summarize it in a sentence? Think about the products associated with the brand, and what they offer the consumer. Your brand statement should again touch on the intrinsic values of the company. Next is your brand promise, your biggest consumer facing statement. What are you promising your customers when they invest in your brand? And most importantly, why choose your brand over others? Get input – it helps to see your company from different eyes, from consumer to manager and even outside sources. Think of your brand character. What are the physical and non-physical attributes of your brand?

Going forward, in the process of developing all of this – the mission and vision statements – is that you remain true to the values behind your message. Commit to that by spreading the message internally within the company and externally to the world at large and you’ll have the makings of a solid business foundation.

Consistency and continuity are key to creating clarity in the overall message.

Posted in Brand Positioning, Brand Strategy, Branding, Positioning

Building the Bones of Your Brand


The logo is the  cog in the wheel of your business from which all print + web media pivot. It’s the visual voice of the company brand. Does it speak well of you?

The first step involves getting clarity about what you're branding. Look at your business goals to determine if this brand will be a one-and-only or will it be linked to other products and services immediately or down the road. Then plot, plan and decide on the relationship between your business and your brand.
Analyze your offer and the market from which it will compete. This is known as the Discovery phase, comprising of two steps:
1. Research your customers - who they are and what motivates their buying decisions. Then analyze the market to discover what already exists and how is the offer you're branding is different and how you are better.
2. How are you unique? How does your product or service answer your customer's needs?
Determine the market position. Positioning refers to how you'll differentiate your brand in order to determine where your business will be placed in the market. You'll convince the market to buy from you only if you can convince them in a split second that you'll provide unique solutions to your problems or needs that aren't already being addressed.
1. Be sure your unique selling feature is communicated clearly.
2. Perform so well that no competitor can compete. The mantra: "Leave your clients ecstatic with the end result" will encourage a loyal following and begin a conversation about your service as customers share what they like (or dislike) with their friends and family .
Your brand definition describes your offer, why you offer it, how your offering is meaningfully different and better, the unique benefits of your business and the promise(s) you make to all who work with and buy from you.

The brand definition can be broken down into the external and the internal face.

The external face is your name, logo, website, ads, packaging, promotions and marketing messages understood by everyone in your network.

The internal face is the substance of what your brand is a stand for. It includes your services, productions, culture, mission, vision and values as well as leadership, management and structure of the larger brand base that lies outside the customer's view.
This is where branding gets exciting. When your brand comes to life with a name and face - the logo – residents, staff and the general public can start to buy into it.
1. Name - the key that unlocks the brand image in the consumer's mind. The right name conveys your brand promise and contributes to brand value.
2. Logo - the mark or symbol that is the face of your brand that is placed on signage, stationery, websites, ads, promotional material, etc.
3. Tagline - the key phrase that provides customers with a quick indication of your brand position and promise. It acts to further elaborate the brand essence and brand position.
Your brand launch happens in two phases and in this order;
1. Internal Launch: before launching to the public, the brand needs to be introduced to the people behind the business, from stakeholders, managers and employees to key partners.
2. External Launch: this is when your brand goes public, revealing your identity and the story behind the making of it.
Consistency is key for success at this stage. This is where the brand guidebook plays a key role in maintaining clarity in the overall look and feel of the brand. This is essential to proper brand management by providing the basis to maintain the brand to consistent high standards in the look, message, tone, colour and quality throughout all channels.
Brand realignment. Some entrepreneurs start their business without taking the time to invest in their brand, usually for financial reasons or due to time constraints. A weak brand starts to have a negative effect on public perception. At this point, the business has often been able to build capital to implement a rebranding of the business. At this point, the business owner knows the strengths and weaknesses of the business and realigns or refreshes the brand promise to adapt to the changing market needs or trends. Brand realignment is also vital when the brand has outgrown it's smaller place in the market.

It's important to stay in touch with an ever changing market in order to keep the brand esteem healthy by realigning and refreshing your brand personality to match the market's evolving needs.
Posted in Brand Positioning, Brand Strategy, Branding, Logo Design, Positioning

A Fresh Approach to Design

Design is evolutionary. Current trends shift with media, political and environmental influences. There is now a greater acceptance for transparent self-expression, and this creative flow has also entered the corporate world. We are overwhelmed by the barrage of information out there that we’ve learned to block out a lot of it. There is now a fresher, less scripted approach in communication. Information that is relevant to us gets noticed. As the recipient, we are touched, moved and inspired. The jargon of rules, regulations and protocol are being replaced with:

1. Authenticity  2. Clarity  3. Continuity

1. Authenticity. When you speak your truth, you will be heard more clearly as it comes from a place of personal conviction. This invites authentic dialogue. Personalizing your message to reflect your personal opinion will attract a more attentive audience. Take away the script, speak one’s truth and be wary of using jargon and platitudes in your web message.

2. Clarity. Keep your message simple – keep it clear, concise + easily understood. In design, an ample use of empty space sets the stage for the message to be heard. Minimize the distractions of visual “noise”by only using images that further clarifies the message. Match the written voice with the appropriate font.

3. Continuity. Your message is the same with whatever platform you are on – in print and web media. Use the same font across platforms in order to define your voice with consistency. Position your nav bars on the same place on your website.

A less scripted, more authentic vocal presence will inspire personal connectivity through heartfelt rapport and create credibility + trust with an engaged audience.

Posted in Uncategorized

Best Content Writing Practices for your Site

Online visitors to your site are impatient and insist on instant gratification. It needs to meet their expectations within 3 – 5 seconds or they move on.

Design is key to instantly communicating your value. Who you are, what you do and why. A well-designed site makes time an ally as it creates interest and arouses curiosity. for the new visitor to your site. Keep the message simple. The site should act as a roadmap – once there – what do you want the visitor to know? Where do you want the visitor to go? What is your call to action? Make it clear and concise.

Users have control. Users want to be able to control their browser and rely on the consistent data presentation throughout the site. Users don’t want new windows popping up unexpectedly and they love to be able to go “back” to where they were once on a page. Make it easy.

As the web differs from print, it’s necessary to adjust the writing style to user’s preferences and browsing habits. Promotional writing won’t be read. Long text blocks without images and keywords marked in bold or italics will be skipped. Exaggerated language will be ignored. As a designer, having a conversation about this with a content writer can be an exercise in frustration as they want to use as many “keywords” in the content so as to attract a better SEO.

The online viewer knows when they’re being sold something so as a web designer, I’ve learned to take away the marketing spin and get to the point.  I avoid marketing-induced names, company specific names, and unfamiliar technical names. If you describe a service and want users to create an account, “sign up” is better than “start now!” which is again better than “explore our services.” Viewers appreciate directness – being really clear about your offer and presenting it quickly.

An optimal solution for effective writing:
– use short and concise phrases – get to the point quickly
– use scannable layout (categorize the content, use multiple heading levels, use visual elements like bulleted lists and coloured block text boxes which break the flow of uniform text blocks)
– use plain and objective language to build trust (a promotion doesn’t need to sound like an ad; give your users some reasonable and objective reason why they should use your service or stay on your website)

Posted in Content Writing, outside the box design, outside-the-box thinking, Uncategorized