Recently we hosted a guest post by Kathryn, our Director of Client Services. This week we turn the blog over to our Creative Director, Clarissa Zorr. She’s an award-winning designer with more than 10 years of experience in developing and executing integrated brand strategies ranging from print to web to video. Clarissa is a member of AIGA, the professional association for design. Here, she tells us the about her branding process, her ideal client relationship, and when to break the rules. Take it away, Clarissa!
On my branding process:
Start With Trust
Whenever I begin a new branding project, I always like to have an in-person meeting with the project stakeholders. This is how I establish mutual trust. They are entrusting us with their branding, their marketing, and their communications needs. How can they do that if they don’t know me personally? I am entrusting them to provide us with history, context and the business perspective that I need to help solve their problems through creative. In-person meetings provide real-time sharing and feedback that transcends telephone tag, and reigns high over email communications.
Assign Each Project A Clean Slate
Everyone has preconceived notions on just about everything, and I am certainly no exception. But when I approach any new branding project, I always begin with a clean slate. I try not to talk – I just listen. I let clients tell me what they need, what they think, what they like, what they don’t like. They might say something that will spark a totally new idea or creative direction, and I won’t get that freedom unless I have a blank canvas to start from.
The Creative Brief: Where Art Meets Science
Design is art, and therefore subjective; people may have different opinions but we all share one goal. That’s why, after that first meeting, my team and I put together a creative brief. The creative brief helps outline each project’s general information, its goals, objectives, and deliverables, helping everyone stay on track for the duration of the project. It’s the blueprint from which all things emanate, and it’s what we check our work against to make sure we’ve done our job well. I describe it as bringing “science” to the art of creativity.
Client Mood Board
On my inspiration:
Ideas Are Everywhere
When I start any new branding project, I look at what others are doing – not just competitors, but also other industries and trends, and even what aren’t people doing (and why), so I can always bring something fresh and unique to the client that’s meaningful and helps deliver their message. My inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I might see a texture in a wall that I could use as a website background. Or I might take a photograph of flowers and use it as the color palette for an identity. I also draw inspiration from many industry magazines and websites. One of my favorite publications is Communication Arts. They feature the cream of the crop in design, photography, illustration, typography, and advertising. Some websites I frequently visit to check out the latest in all things cool are FormFiftyFive, NOTCOT, andAIGA.
On our mantra: “One Brand”
Employer Branding vs. Consumer Branding
I don’t see any creative or process differences between creating employee communications and consumer-facing campaigns. Design is all about problem-solving. In each case, there is a message to deliver to an audience, and it’s the designer’s job to make that message clear. As creative director, my goal is to build brands, creating emotional connections between our clients and their target audiences. I seek to attract, educate, and inspire people with my work, and my approach doesn’t waver based on audience, geography, or medium.