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Why Design is Only One Piece of an Effective Branded Environment - A Designer's Perspective

Posted by Josh Terceira on Mar 10, 2016 11:25:08 AM

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Recently, while providing some support to our Account Management team out at Outdoor Retailer, I had one of those moments - one of those splendid, existence-bending epiphanies that occur when you realize you don’t know as much as you thought you did. I’m not ashamed to say I have those moments about a hundred times a day, but this one was particularly potent, and its implications are crucial.

In my role as a graphic designer here at Hill & Partners, I deal with lots of different materials, finishes, and formats, but my absolute favorite design element is dimensional lettering. I am a typographer at heart - my soft spot for letterforms goes back to my childhood, when I would glue my face to the car window on my way to hockey practice just to catch a glimpse of the incredible graffiti that lined the highway. The days of letterpresses and type foundries are long gone, and, unfortunately, I missed them by quite a while, so  I relish the rare opportunity my job gives me  - the opportunity to hold the letterforms I am so enamored with in my hand, to examine their details and intricacies in real time.

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It’s a good thing I really enjoy it, too, because dimensional letters are a thing we deal with a lot around here. But all the details I handle when it comes to these letters, along with all of the other parts and pieces that make up a Branded Environment, are only part of the story. Once I pick a material, size it appropriately, and ensure the color match is perfect, someone actually has to complete the intricate balancing act of putting all these elements together perfectly. Watching these acrobatics live on the show floor gave me a newfound appreciation for all the intense work our Account Management team does to bring life to the letters and graphics I love so much.

The video above shows Rachelle Kulak, Account Manager, and Samantha Donnelly, Project Manager, putting up some dimensional lettering - I’m the one behind the camera. Once you stick these things on, they’re not coming off, so you basically get one shot - and while the pressure of permanence resting in my shaky hands absolutely terrified me, Rachelle and Sam were not intimidated in the least. Watching that template come off was a supremely satisfying moment, and it was a nice grand finale to the impressive install I got to take part in.

As a designer, I sit in front of a computer most of my day, poring over the tiniest details and laboring over fractions of inches, and it’s really easy to lose the big picture while you’re swimming in the particulars. My experience at OR made me even more grateful to the wonderful people entrusted to bring our designs to life, and watching them execute with such effectiveness and grace really hit home with me. Design doesn’t stop when the letters are cut and the crates are sealed for shipping - that’s when the hard part starts, and I sleep soundly knowing the team I work with has the hard part more than covered.

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Topics: From the Experts, Brand Experience, Featured