Deep in the heart of Bubblefish
I have recently come to realise that I have a somewhat shallow idea of branding.
As a visual designer, I used to think of branding as visual identity, a mark, that easily recognisable “look” of a business or very simply a logo and all the supporting elements used to represent it across various communication media. Think of the “brand” that would be imprinted on livestock to denote the identity of the person or family who owned them. If you have a similar notion of branding, let me tell you that you’re not completely wrong, but you’re not completely right either.
My recent encounter with Bubblefish has got me re-evaluating my current understanding. Let me take you through my train of thought.
Design in context
When you walk down the street or shopping aisle, when you watch TV or when you jump on the internet you will see a whole bunch of businesses trying to talk to you. The reality is, you’re not going to respond to all of them. But the businesses we do choose to engage with, what is it about them that makes us talk back? How do they manage to speak to us so personally?
A lot of people don’t realise — maybe this is you too — that behind every brand expression (new logo, website, product, packaging etc.) is a carefully crafted strategy. Without strategic planning, a designer would be doing something similar to applying a superficial coat of paint to a random wall. You see, design needs context. Is the wall attached to a building? Where is the building located? Who will be walking past the building? If you want to win a game, you have to have a game plan. If you want to build a machine, you have to draw up a blueprint. If you want to build your business, you have to have a business strategy. Without strategy, you can’t come to the conclusion that a coat of paint is what you need. Now, I have been with Bubblefish just long enough to realise that we’re not in the business of providing arbitrary coats of paint.
A new perspective
In order for me to have come to understand this, I needed to take my “designer-tinted” specs off. I needed to put on a new pair and step back. Everything was a little bit blurry at first, but eventually came into focus.
In my first week at Bubblefish, I was introduced to the concept of “The Head, The Heart and The Hands of Branding”. I could see myself sitting at The Hands. I am the hands. I am a designer and I use my hands to make. With my new perspective, I can now see that everything I make is like a hand reaching out. The hand can be open, inviting you to join; it can have a strong grip to pull you in; it can be a nudge or a poke to dare you; or it can be anything. It’s a touch point. Where its effectiveness lies then, is whether the touchpoint touches your heart.
To go back and answer my question, this is how some brands manage to speak to us so personally. This is where true creativity of the brand expression stems and how an effective strategy can make a big impact.
Personally, having my perspective shifted has helped me become a better designer. For example, I wouldn’t dare design a new logo or website without considering a game plan. And now, I want to know more deeply about the people I’m designing for, so that I can speak to their heart.
By providing you with some insight into my thought process, I hope that you too may see branding in a new light.
By Bernadette Bucalon, Designer Problem Solver, Bubblefish