When it came to research for the asset demos and the brand guide I looked into what others did. I looked into sites that made promotional items to find out the most common specifications and how they previewed their products. For the brand guide I looked at guides that accomplished what I needed and then combined the best of them. The most research was done in the creation of the media assets. A lot of them would only be good advertisements if people were willing to keep them around. One article I found was a study that looked into what made certain outdoor advertisements successful. The study found that being creative wasn’t enough, it had to also be conspicuous (Wilson, Baack, & Till, 2015, p. 255). This made me realize that I had to make signs that would draw the eye towards them. So, for the billboards, I looked into locations where the signs would be displayed to see what was around them. I found that they either had dark buildings or hardware around them or they were in front of trees and plants. This led to me making the decision to have a majority of the sign a bright yellow. This combined with other bright colors would help make it pop from its surroundings. In the case of the pole banners, they would be surrounded mostly by sand or crème colored buildings. This led to me using the blues, greens, and oranges to help it pop.
When designing the bumper sticker, I wasn’t sure what would make it successful. In research, rather than looking up sources about bumper stickers I looks into articles that talked about why promotional items helped a brand. In this search I found an article by Ott (2001) that spoke about how “[a]dding a reasonably priced promotional product to a direct mail promotion usually generates far greater response rates, which reduces the cost per unit of the mailing and increases your success”. This made me realize that the item doesn’t necessarily have to be successful just on its own. In the beginning of the brand, a lot of time will need to be spent introducing it to the community. Adding a lightweight item to a mailing campaign will make people more interested because they want to learn why they are getting this freebie. And while they may throw away the informational flyer, they are less likely to get rid of the item.
One issue I had was to simplify my work and give the elements space. This was most seen in my billboard. The first one was trying to layer too many elements on top of each other and it crammed too many ideas together. I also did not take into account that as people would drive by, they would have trouble seeing so many fine details. The first draft featured a strip of photos that went under the logo. One, the photos clashed with the logo and they merged into a jumble of shapes. Two, people driving by will not have the time to digest what the photos are. And if they do, they probably won’t have the time to digest the rest of the sign. I tried a solution where the photos had a cut out around the logo. This still had the issue of being too cluttered and from a distance they still merged. The final draft ended up eliminating this element. By eliminating the photos, the sign lost the ability to portray the area. Since the issue before had been complexity, I went simple. In my dynamic vision board, I had made a caricature of the Strip. Since these used simple designs, it allowed me to portray the area without over complicating the sign. The sign also featured a winding road. This did not fit with the imagery that the logo was portraying. I straightened out the road and put it where the strip of photos was to help fill blank space, but I stopped it before the logo.
When starting on the media asset assignment, I first went looking where to go to make these objects. I did this because I knew that the sites would not only give me specifications for sizes and prices, but it would also show how they showcase their assets. This became the most important for the pole banners. For most of the other assets I knew I could just find a picture of a surface, use the perspective warp tool in Photoshop, and edit my assets onto them. When I did this for the pole banners though, they still had this uncanny feeling. When looking at Glenn’s (n.d.) work for Little Mexico I saw that all her assets looked real. And when looking at Signs.com (n.d.) I saw that their products looked very real too. I didn’t have the money or time to order these assets and take photos. But I did have very good Photoshop and painting skills. For all my other assets I did not have to do much aside from a warp because they were on very flat surfaces. The pole banners had hardware running through them and seams which made them look folded and wrinkled. So, after adding the warp I went in and painted in the seam so that the banner looked like it was wrapped around the hardware.
Another time I had to innovate was working on the brand guide. I first started looking between different sites that informed people on how to make brand guides. Then I went and found actual brand guides that had features that fit my project. The first that I liked was the Skype brand guide: https://download.skype.com/share/blogskin/press/skype_brandbook.pdf (Andrys, 2019). I liked the fun loose feeling it had and I thought it would give a good idea of how to portray my brand characteristics Warm and Familiar. The Skype brand book used voice to make it seem like the brand was talking to the reader. I tried to incorporate this into my version where I could. I made the language a bit more relaxed and tried to use we rather than they. A problem with the Skype brand guide though was that it was a bit too loose. I found the layouts kind of empty. I knew I would have to handle a lot of images without using the same layout for every page, but I also wanted some order. I then searched for a brand guide that handled its photos really well. This is when I found the brand guide for Macaroni Grill: http://superbigcreative.com/project/macaroni-grill-brand-book/ (Superbig, n.d.). It was drier and classier than what my brand was, but it used their photos in ways that didn’t make the pages look all the same. There were shared layouts for common themes but each type of page hand a certain way to handle its assets. So, I combined the way that Skype used space and color to make the book fun and friendly with the way that Superbig used general rules to make it look organized.
- Expand Research (Academic, Conceptual): This made me realize that I did not have to find research specific about what I was making. I found that researching what I wanted to do rather than what I was making was more helpful because it led me to the concept of why it will work.
- Layouts (Occupational, Technical): For this one I learned how to create rules for page layouts and how to treat the pages. Creating certain layouts for certain types of information helped me create layouts that looked organized and similar without being the same. I also learned how to approach an open book rather than a page. When someone is looking at the brand guide, they won’t look at a single page they will look at both pages together, even if they only read one at a time.
- Layering (Occupational, technical): When creating my logo and assets I learned how to take layering elements into the account of designs. My logo had the issue where it had spaces other elements could show through. This made me realize that the element around and under the logo could change its perceived shape. So, I made sure to plug up unnecessary holes and to give elements space.
- Space (Occupational, Conceptual): I learned that crowding too many objects together or not showing all of an element can change its perceived form. Sometimes the simplest designs are the most effective.
- Trusting the design (Occupational, Conceptual): My original assets featured a phone number to call if they wanted to find out more. I did this so there was something tangible to follow back to my district. I learned though that I need to trust my designs to interest people enough to google the district.
- Focus (Occupational, Conceptual): I learned that to make my brand guide successful I would need to keep the pages focused. I would have a lot of room to work, I didn’t need to cram five concepts onto one page.
- Workflow (Academic, Technical): For this I learned to carefully plan time to both research and work. Allowing time for research helps to establish a good understanding so that I can make more effective designs. In a job setting you already have time set aside because you are at your work hours. In an educational setting you need to fit it in-between everything else in your life.
- Simplicity (Occupational, Conceptual): Over the review sessions I found that the simpler designs were more successful because there was less information to digest. The less information to digest the quicker the viewer gets to your point.
- Looking at the status quo (Academic, Conceptual): I learned that looking at what has been establish and meeting those standards is a good minimum. Being a student means getting the basics down first, once we have more experience under our belt we can learn how to better innovate.
From here I am going to touch up my design brief. I am going to add all the new information to it so that it is more cohesive with the brand guide. I will also start to better memorize the research and reasoning I have done so I can better communicate my brand. I communicate well when given the opportunity to write it out. In a verbal form I lose some of my specificity and I can’t keep resources straight. By nailing this information down I can better defend my design choices.
Andrys, S. (2019, January 8). 36 Great Brand Guidelines Examples. Retrieved from https://www.contentharmony.com/blog/great-brand-guidelines/#voice-tone
Glenn, K. W. (n.d.). Kara Williams Glenn Media Design Portfolio. Retrieved from https://www.karawilliamsglenn.com/#/little-mexico-branding/
Ott, B. (2001). Keep Your Name out Front. On Wall Street, 11(2), 62. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.oclc.fullsail.edu:81/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=4292693&site=ehost-live
Signs.com. (n.d.). Custom Light Pole Banners. Retrieved from https://www.signs.com/pole-banners/
Superbig. (n.d.). Macaroni Grill Brand Book. Retrieved from http://superbigcreative.com/project/macaroni-grill-brand-book/
Wilson, R. T., Baack, D. W., & Till, B. D. (2015). Creativity, attention and the memory for brands: an outdoor advertising field study. International Journal of Advertising, 34(2), 232–261. https://doi-org.oclc.fullsail.edu/10.1080/02650487.2014.996117