Rebecca Williams, Director of Design at BrandOpus, talks to Transform about her passion for all things design and illustration in the world of brand development.
How have advancements in technology over your 15-year career improved the visual design process?
Technology has undoubtedly helped us to be more efficient, but the paradox is that our brain still needs the same amount of time to dream, think, wander, strategize and react to solve design challenges. It made very practical things run smoother, but I’m still interested in how we can use these advancements to allow more time for creative organic processes. There’s something unmatched about going back to analog – drawing, exploring and disconnecting from screens. One of the best inspirations comes from noticing a sign on a walk, or even a piece of trash. In my mind, technology should be used as a tool to complement the creative process, not to replace it.
What considerations go into designing new typography for a brand?
What considerations go into creating anything from nothing? Much like cooking, one of my favorite activities, since typography is just one step in a recipe, is the whole brand. When you want to create a dish from scratch, you consider every element, such as the type of onion you use, which will affect the flavor, in addition to how you cook it. The typography is essentially the same. It is an ingredient that plays a vital role in building a solid design, which sets the tone for the overall look. Typography also affects a myriad of things, from the rest of the world of packaging and branding to digital. That said, of course it depends on the brief! Is it a new brand or a renewal? What needs do they have and what is the task they are trying to address? What are they trying to convey through their wordmark? So much can go into designing a typography for a brand, no matter how simple a wordmark may seem.
How important is it to take risks when developing a corporate identity? Is it always better to play it safe?
It’s not a question of risk versus safety. This is what the client or the brand wants to accomplish by taking on a redesign or creating a new brand. The business environment is changing, even with more traditionally conservative markets, such as banking. Thanks to the growth of crypto and fintech, we see the visual language adapting to better appeal to an evolving customer. Sticking to the dominant codes can mean missing a chance to access a whole new market. We should always challenge customers when we believe there is a greater opportunity for their brand, but in a meaningful and brand-true way.
How does the region a brand originates from impact the type of visual assets produced? Does this factor sometimes cause problems?
There are always nuances and limitations to consider when designing for brands in unknown or different regions. But what’s really great about working with different regions and markets is just that; discover new cultures, how people speak, understand and perceive design. Subtle colloquialisms and cultural and regional trends play a big role in designing a brand in a specific place. You might be limited in subject matter or stylistically, but that’s part of the beauty of being a designer, we’re innate problem solvers. At the brand identity level, maintaining basic brand consistency is also essential to establish and strengthen brand visibility to make it a truly global brand.
In a rapidly changing world, is it becoming a requirement for brands to continually update their brand identity?
As culture evolves, it’s important to understand that the meaning you convey with your brand is still relevant. Not based on passing trends, but on long-term changes. Sometimes this requires an overhaul of the main logo, but other times it may require a change in the entire brand presence/experience, from the brand world to social media or communications. Branding can remain fundamental and persistent, as long as there is a fluidity and understanding of the world around them. Nike would never change its logo – but it adapts to the market it lives in.