Lemieux Design

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Brand Thinking

Posted on: February 13th, 2017 by alemieux

NY Trip

1. The Trump Building on Wall Street. 2. A view looking down Wall Street. The NY Stock Exchange is on the left of the Church building. 3. The residence of president George Washington, before there was a White House. 4. The boardroom at the NY Stock Exchange where the team met for the first time. 5. A view inside the NY Stock Exchange. 6. Below the flag is a balcony where they ring the bell to start the trading day. No trading starts until the bell is rung. 7. The live set of SQUAWK ON THE STREET. 8. The boards at the NY Stock Exchange. 9. The ringing of the bell to start trading. 10. The South Tower reflection pool. The names of the deceased are carved and illuminated around the outside. The water cascades down endlessly. 11. A view from the Observation deck on the Freedom Tower of Lower Manhattan. 12. The altar at Our Lady of Victory church near my hotel.

I had an opportunity last week to meet with other designers from my company in New York to talk about and kick the tires on a new brand direction. The company did some research and found that their current brand wasn’t reflective of how the users perceived the company. As anyone in brand knows, moving in a radical direction for a big company can be risky. When Tropicana made a big change to their orange juice packaging, their sales dropped dramatically and they were forced to revert to the old design. Other branding endeavors ended in fiascos, like the London Olympics. The challenge of setting standards and visually identifying the company’s values and appeal to its target audience is rigorous.

A core team set out to define a framework for the new brand initiative and shared that with a group of stakeholders who reacted positively to the direction the team set out on. We got to test that direction by applying those assets to everyday corporate assets – PowerPoint and email templates, website and UI/UX elements, event graphics, and video assets. Through discovery and adaptation, each working group found problems and solutions to working with the new brand assets.

What amazed me is the process, strategy and thinking that has to go into a brand. First, overall, what kind of image or idea that a brand should convey to its clients and to the public. The imagery, colors and graphics that are created can create a tone. Think of Apple’s branding and logo. Their approach is minimalistic, with vivid imagery and finely tuned typography. Even without their logo, their ads and billboards have a sense about them that unequivocally says Apple. That idea is captivating and most companies are scrambling to attain something that’s on par, if not better.

Apple Ad

Advertisement from Apple, Inc. Even without the logo, the typography and imagery tell that it is from Apple

The second thing that stood out to me is that a brand can’t be strict and unchangeable. If it’s so tight, it gets stuffy and difficult to work with. A brand that is nimble and flexible can afford itself multiple applications and still sustain its overall look and appeal. Nike has a variety of applications in the sports world – from running to soccer and xtreme sports. Yet their logo, quality fabrics, graphical treatments still represent a recognizable brand.

Nike Ad

As long as the logo is represented, this ad from Nike uses powerful imagery and effective typography to adhere to its brand.

There are so many considerations that go into a brand and its usage. Our working groups brought questions back to the core team about color when it’s presented on screen, for example. One of the chose colors in the palette didn’t end up working in presentations. We also had questions about graphics interfering with the logo positioning. We collaborated on possible solutions and it was energizing! We focused on a goal of getting the brand to work in a variety of situations. It was exciting!

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Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by alemieux

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Valid

Posted on: February 28th, 2007 by alemieux

In the latest issue of ALA (A List Apart), Ethan Marcotte weighs the subtleties of valid markup. There are separate camps that have evolved and one side clings to validation as an important part of web design while the other sees it as only a small part of the process. For the average consumer who wants a site built for themselves, valid markup is probably not one of their major concerns. They just want a website to promote their products and services and start driving traffic to it. As a developer on the other hand, I feel that it’s part of my craft (remember that word from commercial art class?).

Imagine for a moment that web design was a surgical procedure. If I’m the doctor, then I’ll have to follow conventions and practices, i.e. standards, in order to complete the surgery. If I don’t adhere to those standards, then what the outcome could be, well, you can imagine. Even though web design isn’t a life or death issue, I think it’s extremely important that to hone your craft in web design just as you would in any other pursuit. Over time, you want to get better at markup, don’t you? You want to be able to produce pages without bogus code and validation errors, right?

Would you like your doctor to jerry rig your operation? Or have your mechanic botch your next auto repair because he didn’t follow the industry standards and protocols for that procedure? I think you know the answer.