Thoughts On Branding And Design
Over the last few weeks I introduced a slightly different topic here - one that I feel is of paramount relevance to photography. That topic is design. I think that design is critical to photography and is usually discussed in terms of how design and sub-topics like composition relate specifically to photographs - of course they do but those same principles apply to all of our endeavors that surround our business and in producing some sort of finished work. Too frequently design outside of the photograph itself is relegated to a backseat position or neglected entirely. No matter what the subject matter of your photographs, your audience, or your business paying attention to design associated all of the things surrounding your finish product with the same care you put into the images themselves can make a heck of a lot of difference.
I was surprised how much positive feedback I received and where it came from with the last couple of design related posts so I will try a couple more. These are not meant to be instructional or prescriptive - that’s not how I roll. They are only intended to spur some of your own thoughts or maybe make you think about some things that you haven’t paid much attention to before.
Today’s short topic is your particular photographic brand and a couple of things that might go into your thought process about it. Since this is a post on design and not marketing I am only going to discuss a logo. Since I am embedded in the thick of a project with a certain photographer right now his logo will have to do. That’s good since I designed it with a lot of input from him. The input wasn’t anything to do with specifications or technical requirements - more of a feeling that he wanted to convey with his particular target audience and the kind of products he produces. Based on all of those loose, ambiguous, semi-connected inputs I came up with a few goals of my own that I thought would play well for all of the things that might happen with this brand/logo…
- Must be simple and recognizable from teeny-tiny to huge.
- No specific color or photograph or image tied to the brand.
- Flexible enough and recognizable if the tones are inverted. Example: printed on white or reversed and printed on black.
- Needs to have a flexible way to incorporate multiple colors one at a time in order to tie it in very tightly with whatever that need may be.
- No dependence on goofy media/display context related effects but at the same time be able to incorporate them in a natural way. Think transparency, drop shadows, bevel, emboss, scale and movement, reflections, etc, etc, etc.
I am not going to show every example of how those self-imposed requirements manifest themselves in various contexts but I have tested ever single one of them and found that the simple direct typographic centered logo I settled on satisfies on all accounts and a few I didn’t even fully recognize until recently. Things such as an anchor or base when mixing fonts in various documents or presentations that subtly ties the brand to every single piece of text. I will save the topic of mixing typefaces for another day. For now take a look at how I use a flexible incorporation of color into the logo/brand in a couple of the portfolio boxes that we are currently producing.
I guess the main point here and take-away is when looking for a set of design elements to brand your photography you may want to take into account how those elements play in all of the different things you may want to use it to do and all of the media where you may want it to show up as well as the particular way it will be produced. For a video guy/girl it may be great to have his branding and logo be very very dependent on cgi effects for this particular photographer the ability to tie the brand very tightly yet subtly to a particular image/project/installation/etc. that wouldn’t work at all.
In these examples you can see the point about color flexibility and just a couple of ways that we use that for these two different portfolio boxes. The red accents are picked up from the center of the main image that the portfolio box presents. I also used it to accent various textural elements throughout the rest of the product as seen in the ampersand here.
In the images with blue accents that particular blue is a pantone spot color that is central to the organization’s logo who is the client for this product. Not only did I use the spot color for the fine art in the logo, I also shifted the blues in the headline image so that they covered that particular hue within the spectrum of blues. The actual organization’s logo appears throughout some of the include pages that are not shown.
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