A wise man once said that branding is more than just a logo. This is true, but a good logo is a big part of what makes your brand recognisable to the general public. I’ve recently been introduced to a couple of games based around logos – one where you are given a logo and have to choose the company it belongs to, and one where you are shown only part of a logo (a couple of letters, a block of colour, etc.) and again have to identify the company which uses it. I’ve found these games very enlightening, and I was really shocked at how many logos I was aware of and could guess instantly. For example, I would never be able to describe to you the Alfa Romeo logo, but when it popped up on screen (minus the words Alfa Romeo of course) I straight away knew what it was. The same happened with the Goodyear winged sandal, John Deere (Why on Earth am I familiar with the John Deere logo? I have no tractor experience whatsoever!), and a number of other brands that I’m surprised that I recognise.
I found it especially surprising how familiar I was with American brands – Target, USPS, UPS, and Bank of America among others – products, companies, and services that I have never used in my life and yet, due to things like TV and other forms of media I guess, they are ingrained in my mind and very easily recognisable.
This kind of made me start to think again about my personal brand. What name should I go by professionally – my own personal name, or a company name? I like my name well enough, but I have a name I’ve used online for my Twitter and Instagram accounts which I feel fits with who I think I want to be in the “real world” or at least throughout fourth year and post-graduation (oh my god fourth year panic). The name is simply my initials spelt out, and I do worry that sometimes people don’t get it and I have to explain it, but I like it and it feels comfortable to me. I think I like the idea of keeping things away from my real full name, but I suppose this is something I have to do some proper work on over summer.
In my Design and the Market personal enterprise proposal I gave myself a timetable of summer work and research, and part of this was deciding on what name to use, setting up a proper website, and sorting out all of that fiddly stuff. I think what I have to do is just go with it – have a somewhat solid idea and make it work, because as my uni work and business self evolve it’ll be easier to change and update any online presence, rather than wait until halfway through fourth year to try to develop a website and online persona from nowhere when there’s lots of other important nonsense going on. Will I need a logo though? That’s the question.
That’s it. The end of teaching time for the semester, for the year. This is bananas.
I got some really good feedback on my SDC project today – I was told that I was very high on the list of people to be entered into the competition, and that I’d produced the best set of presentation boards that Andy had ever seen from me. This was all really great to hear – I feel like the start of this year was really slow for me, and I really didn’t enjoy myself or my projects much, and the SDC project really opened me up and turned things around a bit. I got a bit of constructive criticism, and Andy said that the digitally printed and hand-finished sample I included on my presentation board was much better and more engaging that the plain hand printed one. I agree with him and explained that I’d had many grand plans for my digital prints, but was unable to carry through with them because the prints took for ever to come back. I’d really like to continue to work on my extra fabric samples, but our access to the workshop has been closed off so that the fourth years have enough space and time to work on their final pieces, so I think (depending on time) that I’ll do a bit more paper work and create an extra presentation board with some alternative designs and colour options just in paper.
We’ve had our last Design and the Market session, and now have to produce a 2000 word personal enterprise proposal. We’ve worked through NESTA’s creative enterprise toolkit and had some absolutely fantastic talks from some incredible speakers (Patricia van den Akker came to speak to us and I’ve never taken so many notes so quickly – 6 sides of A4, plus some sneaky phone photos of her slides so I can come back to them later!). My only problem is that throughout the workshops I haven’t really had a solid business idea – I want to design and make things for sure, but I haven’t had that spark of an idea that has ignited a passion in me. I really want to focus on personal branding, because I feel that where ever I end up going after uni (working for a design company, working freelance alongside having a “real” job, or going into business for myself) this would be very beneficial to me. I’ve mentioned in posts before about how I want to “discover who I am” and I feel that identifying my values and passions using the NESTA worksheets has really helped with that, and I’m sure that expanding this idea into my fourth year report will set me up really well. I just have no idea how to go about doing it. I feel a bit like I’ve floated through the workshops without a solid idea and now that I don’t want to write a business plan I’m a bit lost.
Red squiggley lines keeps telling me that “aposematic” isn’t a real word, but it absolutely is; I Googled it just to make sure.
- (of coloration or markings) Serving to warn or repel predators.
- (of an animal) Having such coloration or markings.
This is what I decided to name the collection of textile designs that I produced for the Society of Dyers and Colourists’s live project brief entitled “fashion for the future”. The brief was very open, but we had to work within two constraints: we had to work to a trend forecast from one of the big textile design journals, and we had to strongly consider sustainability or a sense of eco-friendliness in our designs.
The summer 2013 trend “alien paradise” in issue 96 of Textile View really jumped out at me (I’d originally chosen an Art Deco theme, but to be honest I really wasn’t finding it too interesting), saying “This chapter is inspired by the wonderful world of primeval forests and jungles, augmented and enchanted by new technologies. Leaf patterns and the shiny skins of rainforest frogs inspire fabrics and patterns.”
I originally visited Dundee’s botanic gardens to hang around in the hot house and photograph their tropical and carnivorous plants, but found that February isn’t really the ideal time of year for such things. I quickly moved on to looking at rainforest frogs, which I have absolutely fallen in love with. There are so many beautiful pattern and colour variations, and most of the frogs are absolutely tiny and adorable (and poisonous). This area of research obviously lends itself well to the sustainability factor of the brief, so I researched the Amazon rainforest and conservation charities.
I placed my designs into the context of interiors accessories (I do love a good cushion), more specifically kids’ bedroom accessories. I feel that the bright colours and graphic marks I have used would really sit well in a kid’s room, and the subject matter of the prints would help to get the young ‘uns interested in conservation, nature, animals, and travel. I also feel that the handmade element would really add value to my final pieces, and really creates an appreciation in the customer and a bond between them and the finished product, giving a very non-disposable feel to my work.
I hand-printed designs on habotai silk with acid dyes that I mixed myself. I ordered digitally printed silk with my own hand-drawn and Photoshop-coloured-in illustrations of frogs, and my grand plans were to hand print on top with my chosen colours and foil effects, but my prints took over a week to arrive and I received them about three hours before my printing workshop access was stopped, so that’s rather disappointing and I feel as though some of my prints are simply unfinished. However, I am pleased with what I produced in such a short time. I didn’t really know what context I was aiming for when I began printing and chose silk because I felt the delicate, airy, shiny feeling of the fabric was appropriate for my project, and silk really shows colour well; with my context now being kids’ interiors, I wish I had worked with a more durable cotton base fabric.
Here are a few pictures from my sketchbook; there are more (and larger versions) over on Flickr.
And here are my three final presentation boards (A2 in size):
You can’t really tell from the photo, but in between the frogs on the digitally printed fabric I’ve hand-printed lines of gold foil. Also the colours in the photos are a bit off (especially for the context board), but I think it gives a good idea of my project and final designs.
Last week us Design and the Marketers worked on more NESTA worksheets. We worked on defining our ideal customers, our target market. This is a really difficult job, because it can be tough to visualise another person’s life, and to do this exercise you have to really delve into what makes your customer who they are: what they like, what annoys them, what they read, what hobbies they have, how much money they have, what they feel is important in life, who their friends are. As a designer empathy is incredibly important, you have to understand people and how they work. I kind of filled my worksheet out while thinking of an idealised version of me, or who I want to be when I grow up, which probably made things a little easier for me than if I were aiming toward an ideal customer of middle-aged me or something. I think this is a really useful exercise, and one it would be worth redoing properly once I have a better idea of what I want to do with my life – it gives a good base idea of where to aim your work (what magazines or blogs do these people read, how do they shop?) and helps to develop your sense of empathy.
We completed a worksheet on blueprint modelling, which helps you to visualise how your business will function and describe how business will be done. You list all the things you have to do to make your business work and split them into three stages: engagement, development, and delivery. Each of these stages has things going on “backstage” (things like research and development), and “onstage” (things like networking and showing off prototypes). This process of putting actions under the appropriate headings helps you to map out all the steps you need to take to deliver your product or service in a linear way. I think this exercise would have been easier for me if I’d had a more solid business idea to work with.
We also looked at relationship modelling – mapping out all the people involved in your business, and the relationships between them and yourself. For example, I will be the designer or the “generator” of the ideas, a textile digital printing company might be the “realiser” of my ideas – they take my designs and make them into fabric for me to work with (sewing machine suppliers and maintenance companies, and haberdasheries would also count as realisers), online and brick-and-mortar shops and boutiques are “distributors”, the people who deliver, sell, and market the product, and finally (of course) you have your customers. I found that this exercise really opened my eyes to just how many people are involved in a business. “I’ll start selling textile accessories that I make” all of a sudden turns into “I’ll have to develop relationships with x number of companies”, which I had never even considered before!
In my Design and the Market module, we’ve recently begun workshops that help us work through NESTA’s creative enterprise toolkit, in order to get us thinking in a creative, entrepreneurial, business-minded, you-can-do-it kind of way. It’s kind of daunting, and I imagine especially so if you don’t even want to start a business, but I appreciate why we’re working through the programme; it’s a business module (obviously) and the aim is to give us a good understanding of business, and how the creative industries work. These are all going to be useful skills, no matter what we end up working as in the future. The toolkit consists of four little booklets which provide you with information on how to shape your creative idea into a viable business, and worksheets to help explore and visualise the key issues behind your idea.
I unfortunately missed the first workshop, which I was actually really looking forward to (I’ve mentioned before how I really want to work on personal branding and developing who I am as a designer and, I suppose, businessperson). The first workshop had the class working on identifying their values. I’ve since completed the worksheet after speaking with a couple of classmates and other people who’ve worked through the toolkit. The worksheet asks you to identify values and place them according to how important they are – always important, sometimes important, rarely important, and never important. In my always important column I had things like fun, passion, communication, Scottish/UK-based, and artisanal/skilled work.
The second exercise was evidence modelling, which is where you succinctly describe your business idea (“Beautiful limited-run handmade printed textile interiors accessories & prints, based in Scotland, and printed fabrics available to buy by-the-metre.”) and describe what impacts your business will have on the world, good and bad. My business will enhance peoples’ home comforts, and revitalise dreary interiors with unique and intriguing pieces to delight and create bonds and memories. It will replace mass-produced interiors accessories; revive the public’s interest in traditional and artisanal skills, and owning items with a back-story; the backlash of my business becoming super-successful is that the market for mass-produced generic interiors accessories will dry up and lots of shops will sadly have to close down, and I will become so successful that I’ll have to employ huge manufacturing factories to keep up with demand, and will eventually lose the quirky, handmade feel of my work.
We were also asked to do fake evidence success, where you imagine a story of success and write or draw it out. This exercise was quite fun – I wrote a short Very Influential Design Blog post about how fantastic my work is, and why everyone should buy the things I make.
Yesterday we worked on a few more worksheets, defining our customers, blueprint modelling, and relationship modelling. I’ll write about this soon – it was a lot to think about!
On Saturday Iain took me on a wee post-work adventure to Newport and Wormit beach to take pictures. It was good fun, although I wasn’t exactly prepared or dressed appropriately for climbing over slippery, seaweed-covered rocks and sliding through muddy puddles. It was a bit cold and miserable (I thought my fingers were going to freeze off), but the sunset was beautiful.