Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strategy behind design and branding: a Sol Sender interview

Does your public have an accurate image of your products, information, services, people, and environment? During the last month a couple of students have sent messages asking for advice about brand and identity design because they have been offered freelance projects.

Since then I’ve thought about what is probably the best example of branding in most recent history—that is, the identity program for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. When Dordt College alumnus, Elbert Bakker was here last February, as a visiting designer, he asked me: “Are you familiar with the Obama campaign graphics,” and I said, “Yes, I am.” In fact, last fall, we helped canvass Sioux Center for Obama.

I’ve included a couple of movies of an interview with designer and design strategist, Sol Sender. Sender is credited with the Obama presidential campaign symbol. Actually, he was the principal of a team that designed the symbol.

What I also appreciate about Sender’s expertise is that he seems to allow for flexibility of the identity program and is not overly dogmatic with standards. An example of this, in the movie is Viral, when a public group becomes expressive and responds with baked cupcakes with the Obama symbol frosted on top—not exactly a pristine rendition of the symbol—but very effective and interactive.

The interview with Sender, one of the best design strategists, gives you a very good idea of how designers work. He provides insight about the design of the Obama symbol, which was a fresh, original, and effective branding strategy. I’d suggest that branding is the repetition of appropriate appearance, backed by solid performance and builds a positive reputation. When all your visual and verbal contacts are intelligent, coherent, and consistent, it becomes a memorable reputation.

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