Discuss class goals, objectives and expectations. The Syllabus can be found on the eCompanion.

Class Blog

Several of your assignments in this course will require that you post to a class blog. Begin this week by creating a class blog for yourself.


Aaron Draplin Takes On a Logo Design Challenge [16:20]

Branding and the Role of Design

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What Is Branding?

Branding is the sum total of a company’s identity—from its name and logo to every piece of communication, internal or external—to every encounter every customer or potential customer has with it.

Branding is critical to marketing. It is perhaps the most important of all business strategies. It is more than putting a logo or label on a product.

Branding is deeply rooted in psychology, taking into account both the functional and emotional benefits. Branding strives to create the beliefs that the brand’s audience recalls when they think about the brand in its context.

A brand is a combination of elements, often communicated through a name or a symbol. A corporation, law firm, country, university, museum, hospital, celebrity, or a person can be considered as a brand.

For the audience, the value of a brand resides in the promise that the product or service will deliver. Conversely, a brand can recall memories of a bad experience. The value for the audience then would be to avoid purchasing that brand.

From the perspective of the brand’s owner, the value of the brand often lies in the security of higher future earnings, but may also be assessed in terms of votes for a politician, career for an executive, foreign direct investments for a country, etc.

Branding is the blend of art and science that manages associations between a brand and memories in the mind of the brand’s audience. It must differentiate the brand in an attractive, meaningful and compelling way for the targeted audience.

Brand Management

Brand management is the organizational framework that systematically manages customer-centric processes. It involves gathering intelligence, allocating resources, and consistently delivering the brand promise over time at each contact-point with the customer.

Coca-Cola, for example, has become a cliché of brand management. Before branding or even management emerged as disciplines, the Atlanta-based company was already spending over US$ 11,000 on a mass advertising campaign as early as 1892. Its trademark was officially filed in the US that year and has consistently been displayed with the same script to this day.

Over time, Coca-Cola also associated its brand with a bright red color, the hour-glass shaped bottle (1915) and the ribbon logo (1970). Together these aspects contribute to differentiating Coke from rivals such as Pepsi-Cola, which has applied a competitive pressure since 1898.

What Are the Benefits of Branding?

Branding involves a great deal of time, money, and effort. Therefore, only a minority of businesses have what could be classed as a “brand” or a “brand name”. Why should a business venture consider making the effort?

Branding can help insure that:

  • Customers are much more likely to remember your business.
    • A customer recognizing your brand could mean the difference between no-sale and a sale.
    • If they trust your brand, they are likely to trust you with unfamiliar products—customers for one product will be more likely to buy another product from you.
  • Your business will appear to be much bigger and experienced than it really is.
    • This can be especially important when a customer wants reassurance that you will still be around in a few years time.
    • You will generally be seen as more reliable and trustworthy than an unbranded business.
  • Over time the image of quality in your business will usually go up.
    • However, branding cannot replace good quality, and bad publicity will damage a brand.

What Is the Role of the Designer in Branding?

The heart of brand design lies in communicating a company message. Designers provide the “face” of the company to the public.

Brands are a perception. Brand elements, such as names, logos, tag lines, trademarks, and packaging, are shortcuts to those perceptions. People use these shortcuts when making purchase decisions.

There tends to be a correlation between design elements and changes in the strength of brands. The usage of certain design elements correlates very strongly with people’s brand attitude changes.

Design is also critical to user experience online. When we create designs that focus on ensuring users accomplish their goals, we are likely having a long-term positive effect on the strength of the brand. Websites that have always focused on helping users accomplish their goals are reporting profits. For example, Amazon and eBay spend a lot of their development effort innovating new designs elements that ensure users achieve what they come to the site for.

On the other hand, websites that spend millions on ad campaigns but not good design fail to strengthen their brand (and are at risk of failure.) Companies like and did not expend enough effort on site usability, and are famous losers in the dot-com crash.

An effective brand design is also never static; a company’s brand should evolve as the company evolves. This may mean modernizing the visual image from time to time in terms of logo, tagline, typography, color palette, design, etc., but still staying close to the heart of the brand and what it stands for.