Interview | 07 Mar 2019

The design process behind your brand strategy

Posted in Marketing, Freelancer, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Learning, Freelancer's stories,

Here at The Work Crowd, we have consulted with over a thousand businesses, on their communications and marketing strategies. This month, we talked to Vicky, a freelance brand consultant & strategist from within our network.  

Many clients I have worked with believe design is the last port of call after thinking of something they want to communicate, taking content they believe their audience needs and then coming to me to make it look nice. However, once I have spent time talking to them, understanding their audience and what they are trying to communicate it’s often something completely different that they need produced or an entirely different campaign altogether.’ Vicky H., Independent Brand Consultant & Strategist

Vicky discussed how pivotal design is to a business and incorporating creativity into the heart of your marketing strategy or campaign.

Tell us Vicky, about your expertise and what makes you unique.

I have been working as a creative for over 20 years in a variety of forms including web design (back in the day that Flash was everything), branding and graphic design to marketing and growth strategy.

My experience allows me to help clients understand how a well thought out brand strategy filters through to their marketing campaigns which can, in turn,  have a huge impact on their business then it makes my work much easier and the output is far more superior and effective.

How does design sit in and interplay with the overall marketing mix?  

Design is integral to the success of any marketing strategy or campaign.  

If you want to communicate to your audience in a way that engages them, that builds trust and loyalty then I believe it’s really important to have a good designer that will do more than paint by numbers.  I try to help my clients understand that design is the whole identity of their business, their tone of voice, their values, their mission, design is effectively communicating all of this through beautiful visuals in a consistent way that makes marketing a lot easier and much more effective.  

If you think about it, all the touch points an audience have with a product or service will have been designed such as a brochure, flyer, website, social media posts, video, adverts… everything. So, it needs to be visually consistent and well thought through.

You are passionate about using the design process to drive positive change, how do you achieve this?

I use the design process in all aspects of my work and probably personal life. It’s a great tool for solving problems and looking at things in a fresh way.  I loosely use the four D’s process which is; Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver (there are other slight variations of the process) this helps both myself and my clients to understand the real problem and what the best solution is for each brief.  This isn’t a finite process by any means as I always loop back to ensure what we are developing is working and bringing my clients the results they are looking for.

I believe Design Thinking can be utilised in any aspect of business. I used this process at Fairtrade when the organisation was struggling to use the creative team in an effective and cost-effective manner.  I realised that many campaigns were repeating previous years content, a lot of leftover printed material was gathering dust in the stock room and brand awareness was not at the level we expected. Using the process, I discovered communication was very low between teams and there was little understanding as to the skill set of the creative team and how to best write a brief for us. My solution was to have a creative sitting in with the marketing team meetings, that before any brief was written we would all sit down and discuss the issues and goals with the project holder and regular touch point meetings were scheduled so all stakeholders were in the loop at all times.

These small changes had not only an effect on the great work that was being produced and the external engagement it created, but more importantly it brought teams and co-workers together, which sparked new energy in their work.

You have been working with Allison of Creative Eco-Catalysts and Mark through the platform, what business objective have you been working on?

The projects I worked on with Allison and Mark were both very different and pulled upon different skills sets.

With Allison, it was a three-month working collaboration that involved developing campaigns for a large organisation on their sustainability and R&S goals. Within this time, I developed concepts that would help create awareness of the projects and foundation programmes of the company, create a variety of print and online materials based on the strict brand guidelines, help to write articles for the programmes and refine presentations on the campaigns and programmes to raise internal understanding and take up.

Mark had a smaller project where he needed responsive website visuals created from wireframes. It was a great project, I more often than not designed the pages as per his requests and the brand guidelines but we sometimes worked on slightly different ideas I suggested if there was a better solution. The site won’t be developed until April so I look forward to seeing it launch.

“The Work Crowd is a great platform that can bring together the right people for a project. The UK has been a little slow embracing remote working but smarter companies are starting to understand the benefits of having the ability to work with someone who is further afield but perfect for their needs.

Being a part of The Work Crowd allows companies to upscale their skill set as and when needed and means highly skilled and passionate people have the ability to work on a variety of projects and make some great connections.” Vicky H. Independent Brand Consultant & Strategist