We're hiring for a few positions so I spent about 4 hours yesterday reviewing resumes, portfolios and LinkedIn profiles. I stopped at the ones with big brand experience in their portfolios and looked at the ads. For the most part the ads...looked like ads...with a big famous brand logo on them. "Okay, this is someone who knows the system, who is capable of creating for our clients."
But the few that really caught my eye were designers who were able to tell stories. They highlighted their love for storytelling in their portfolios, even in their approach to creating their own portfolios-- how they told their own stories of who they were, what they did, and why they loved design. It was an entirely different approach to design and self-identity, which made me feel like I was breathing different air.
Behind every design is an amazing story. Great brands don't hire designers and say, "Design us an ad that tells a story." Storytelling is part of the way the brand THINKS. It's part of brand DNA. Designers follow brand guidelines when creating. Therefore, storytelling must be derived from brand guidelines and brand visual centers that emphasize storytelling. Here are some steps to bring a storytelling approach to your brand:
Write a Brand Manifesto: Great writing is something we can all get behind. The Declaration of Independence is a great example. "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...inalienable rights..." We each see something powerful when we say those words. Brands are no different. A brand manifesto conjures up an emotional connection. It defines the purpose of the brand--the why, when and where for audiences. Most importantly it creates a bridge from POV to visuals that a great designers can feel and manifest visually.
Create a Visual Center...No Really Do It. Brands need more than visual guidelines that align folks on font types, logo lockups and colors. Great brands that tell great stories need visual centers that show more than use cases. The visual center is where the manifesto and brand values marry the visuals. The story, mood, and purpose of the brand appears with photos, drawings or other stimulating visuals.
Change Your Creative Process: If you're looking at this and wondering why storytelling isn't a big part of everything that is produced, take a step back at the creative process. Is your creative process designed to prioritize storytelling? Does your creative process take into account the hard work that's been done on the visual center and brand guidelines. Are sales goals and deadlines preventing the creative process from actualizing? Take all of these things into consideration and map the process to the importance of storytelling.
If you'd like more info on how to bring better storytelling to your brand, we're happy to help. Yaaas! Feel free to reach out to us directly.