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The role of the designer in creating a brand identity

July 15, 2010

Free Silver Fern Logo from Logo Design New Zealand Website

The role of the designer and the level of participation of the client has changed over time and varies depending on the project. The New Zealand-based Vistaprint site invites anyone to create their own logo “in 3 easy steps.” The results are as limited as the set of provided graphics and typography. The Logo Design New Zealand site provides a set of generic designs that can be downloaded for free, including a rather questionable “Tiki Logo”. They also provide a set of Maori logo design ideas. Do you believe this use of Maori imagery is appropriate? How likely is it that this use of clip art (either Maori-inspired or not) could satisfying the needs of a specific client?

A very different approach is to depend on the skills and reputation of a famous brand designer who will produce a solution with limited engagement with the client. A 1993 interview with Steve Jobs about Paul Rand’s 1986 design of the NEXT logo is a good case study. Paul Rand (1914-1996) produced some of the best known brand identities, which are presented on a website showcasing his work. These days, a designer is more likely to work in close collaboration with the client (its decision-makers and its constituant communities) in a way that highlights the process as much as the solution. A process that includes substantial engegement carried out with mutual respect draws on the collective skills and knowledge in an organization, and encourages a shared sense of ownership.

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