A designer who builds brand associations is a successful designer.

In a new article on BMB (Brand Marketing Blog) I define what a brand association is:

Brand Association definition
A concept, emotion, object or image, linked to the brand via memory.
“There is a brand association between Quiksilver and surfing in customers minds.”

Creating links between a company and other concepts is what a designer should be doing all the time.

My background is in Industrial Design. At the Carleton SID (where I earned my bachelor’s degree), we learned how to take people prior knowledge and associations and leverage them to make easy to use products. Red equates to stop in everyone’s mind, so having a red button that stops something just makes sense. There is no point in trying to build a new association.

Using that sense to create brand associations is what I can offer a new company as a brand designer. I can use pre-established associations in peoples minds to give a new brand desirable qualities.

For example, when I designed the Strike Team logo for a competitive eSports team, it was determined that a sense of dominance and authority would be advantageous for competition.

What already has a sense of authority and dominance? The police. So the questions becomes: what design elements commonly associated with the police can we use in the logo?

In the final product, the answer to that question was the colour scheme. I did try other logo concepts where we used the shield shape of a police officer’s badge, but another direction was chosen.

Amateur designers design to aesthetics, but pro designer are problem solvers. I throw no judgment towards designers just starting out; there was a point in my development where I added gradients to everything because that is what people seemed to like the look of. I’ve moved on.

How do you create the correct brand associations for a net new brand? That’s just another problem that an expert designer could solve.

Categories: Branding

Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is an Industrial Designer working in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He is an industrial designer with a graphic specialty, meaning he has the rare talent in both 3D and 2D design, creating both the structure and the print graphics for any display. He has worked in the retail display and point of purchase industry his entire career, and had had the opportunity to work closely with clients like Warner Brother, Cadbury, Sony, and many others.


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