The Importance of Research in Design & Branding
Research is important. It is crucial to understand the market you want to design and promote in. You can’t effectively sell a product or service through the visual medium if you don’t know what you’re selling. Relevant ideas are born through understanding. Knowing the market means you know what symbols, shapes, colors, and references will be immediately recognized by your target audience.
As a designer, I want to have as much strategy mapped out as possible before I even touch the Adobe Creative Cloud. While coming up with different concepts, you want to have some ideas you can sketch out, look over, and pull from. Through discovery of that particular marketplace and that particular brand’s past and present, you can better zoom in on what is necessary. The goal is to work as efficiently as possible towards the mark of success.
Knowing the market means knowing what consumers are already familiar with and expect. You can use that knowledge to make your own lane with your design while, at the same time, residing within the parameters of that market. A brand’s visuals must stand out to make an impact and build interest in the product or service. Identity the leaders of the market and evaluate their impact. Knowledge of the competition helps in developing tactics to win attention.
Designers usually have questionnaires that potential clients fill out that give the designer a snapshot of their brand, their desires, and their perceived needs. This is usually the start of a conversation that delves deeper. With each additional question and answer, both the client and designer mine and refine the essence of the brand they want to build. The goal of the designer to pull as much information and perspective from these conversations as possible to start in the right direction.
When researching, don’t limit your scope. For a small business or non-profit, don’t just look at those on the same level you currently operate on. Look to the masters. Allow for growth and put your brand in the best position possible for lasting success. When I’m designing for an event, I don’t even limit myself to similar events. For example, when I designed for the 2015 Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention, I researched the branding of other fraternity and sorority conventions. However, I also researched past Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Kentucky Derby, and other high profile national events. There was a certain echelon I wanted to shoot for on this project. This did provide inspiration but it also provided insight on the process of creating an overall feel and theme for a large event.
Insight is important. Insight is gained through observation and research. Research and understanding fuels and directs proper execution.