Defining Brand Identity with Design

Building a brand is a huge task in and of itself but being able to communicate your brand identity across multiple mediums can enhance the overall experience for the user. Graphics applied to a physical space allow a company to communicate their brand without having to say a word to customers or clients.

Environmental graphics can play a huge role in your brand. Your lobby space is a high foot traffic area, and you must consider visitors perception of your business. Imagery can be instrumental in the telling of your brand story through colors and engaging content.

TAG has helped define and redesign several projects for clients including refreshing and integrating a company’s brand identity though environmental graphics and identity design.

TAG

TAG experienced flooding in our lobby area, which resulted in the physical space needing to be redone. The team turned tragedy into triumph and completely redesigned and redefined the space. The goal of redesigning the lobby space was to create an area that is welcoming and comfortable to guests, but also to illustrate TAG’s brand design and identity. Graphically the piece showcases a timeline of TAG’s history to our clients but expresses our brand identity through a high trafficked area. The graphic features a mosaic of words and images that fit together like a puzzle, many of which carry meaning and are symbolic moments in TAG’s history. The space is extremely unique and has become a great conversation starter as clients and visitors want to learn more!TAG Lobby

Two Rivers Financial Group

When TAG originally designed Two Rivers Financial Group’s brand identity, it started with understanding the business and history as well as where they wanted their future to go. This led TAG to creating a brand that features hand-painted watercolor graphics which we developed in-house. The watercolor was meant to be a friendly visual approach tying directly to the reference of the water in the name. Simultaneously, we developed the positioning statement for the bank division “My Neighborhood. My Bank.” This was used to emphasize the local approach taken by Two Rivers in how they conduct their business and treat their valued customers. We crafted their annual report covering 2018, to feature both the brand look of watercolor graphics, and the local, community-involved focus of the report. TAG’s VP of Design Services Brian Buckles hand-painted the watercolor landscape scenes of key communities that Two Rivers Financial Group serves, resulting in a well-received and brilliantly designed annual report.

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L&W Bedding

Another client, L&W Bedding required a brand refresh which offered a unique challenge to the TAG team. L&W Bedding makes high-quality mattresses which are all made locally right here in the Quad Cities. The owner of L&W Bedding, John Wheatley, is such a part of his business that you often can find him sitting behind a sewing machine, stitching together the next mattress. Their existing brand identity did not communicate the hand-crafted and high-quality approach to mattress making that they offer. TAG’s approach was to redesign their logo, creating a graphic with a stitched look that is as unique as the business, but also redesigning the store’s interior and exterior signs to reflect the uniqueness of the business. The signage was created to help guide customers into and through the store, attention-grabbing floor graphics and delivery vehicle wraps. TAG’s recommendations were well received, and the in-store experience became a whole new environment. All the elements came together, forming a cohesive visual language and brand identity that consumers were able to retain with ease.

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Everyone’s brand is unique and can be translated through a variety of mediums. Your brand is your business, the essence of who and what you stand for. It is important that you communicate that effectively to your customers. To efficiently utilize and voice your brand, you must communicate it through multiple facets of media. Design can be an effective tool in giving your office an inviting look into your company’s brand identity. Let TAG help you redefine your brand and show people who you really are. Contact us here to get started.

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Brian Buckles!

Brian is our Vice President of Design Services and like a Great White shark he navigates the design waters with creativity and grace. We want to ask him questions about his approach to design and what frightens him the most.

You dabble in painting, if could get a life sized portrait of yourself and the family done, which painter/artist (dead or alive) would you choose to capture the moment?

Claude Monet has always been my favorite artist. His use of color and the ability to capture the sense of light and atmosphere of a scene through dabs of color is incredible. While Monet focused his subject matter primarily on landscapes, having him paint my clan in his style would be fun to see. He would definitely have to paint quickly though…my kids don’t like to sit still…

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How do you go about approaching creating a design or logo for someone? Does it require research or do you sort of jump in and you figure it out as you go along?

It’s all about research! Knowing the business and its history (unless it’s a startup), vision and key attributes are all imperative. The more of the story of the business that you know, the easier it is to develop a symbol that captures the essence of that story. Of course, you never know where the design process will lead you, but research is imperative to getting off on the right foot on the design journey.

You continue driving the same green car (which is in pristine condition btw) but if you could have any vehicle you wanted regardless of price or fictionality what would you choose and why?

I would love to have a fully-restored 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air. The design of the car and the attention to detail are amazing. Modern car is tougher, I don’t have one favorite but have always had a soft spot for the Chevrolet Camaro and Mazda Miata.

1955 Chevrolet Belair

Regarding design, how would you describe all of the complexities to someone who might not understand how much work truly goes in to what you do?

Design is really a process of elimination. It’s done best when you go through an exploration stage of research, sketching (tons of sketching!) to determine a design direction, selection of the best singular idea and then the refinement stage, which includes removing all unnecessary components of the design to whittle it down to it’s simplest and most effective form. While design still has an art element, design also has a job to do, and that is to communicate an intended message and we know that messages are best retained when they are clear and easy to remember. Many people can make something “look good”, but it’s next level when something that looks good is also able to clearly communicate the intended message. This is the challenge and what separates good design from great design.

Da dum…da dum da dum….da da da daummmmmmm. (Jaws?) You’re a big shark guy, what’s shark week like for you? Is it your Superbowl?

I am mildly (okay, majorly) obsessed with sharks, so yeah, Shark Week is a thing. If I’m honest, it’s the best week of the year, no contest.

Jaws

What are 3 of your favorite projects that you have worked on during your time at TAG?

I really don’t have 3 favorites. I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of design and helping the client achieve success through design is super rewarding for me. But if I had to pick some that were unique, creating the strawberry characters for the “Be Healthy QC” campaign for the Quad Cities Health Initiative was a fun campaign with a great cause, developing the Two Rivers Financial Group brand was great, working on the Hungry Hobo brand is always enjoyable (along with eating their sandwiches, particularly #3).

Is there something that scares you more than anything? If so, how much money would it take for you to face your fear?

Spiders! A LOT of money…haven’t settled on an amount yet but It’s more money than I’ve ever seen.

Spider

What is your favorite part about working at TAG?

I love that I get the opportunity to learn about so many different types of businesses and meeting so many different people. In many cases, I feel like I am an extension of their business and team, which is really cool. Plus, I totally dig graphic design so getting to do this everyday for my job is awesome. As a bonus, my TAG Teammates aren’t half bad either!

 

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Zach O’Connell! ZO_3

Zach recently celebrated his two-year anniversary at TAG and has been creating inventive designs and eating oatmeal every morning but today, we ask him about his creative process and other thought-provoking questions.

If you had to describe yourself using a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

I am a knife because of how sharp I am.

What helps you get into that creative space to design?

I am most creative when I am able to really focus on what I’m doing with a clear mind, so I will do things like go on a walk during my lunch break to help me get into that space. I also do a lot of sketching quickly, get a lot of ideas out before taking it to the computer.

You have a time machine. You can go back to any time period to have dinner and conversation with 3 people. Who are they and why?

First, I would pick Walt Disney to hear about the humble beginnings of what has become a massive company.

Second, I would pick one of my ancestors like my great great grandfather because I don’t know really anything about them and it would be interesting to learn more about where I come from.

Third, Steve Jobs, because I could hear about the early days of Apple, but more importantly, I hope he would be able to tell me about the early days of Pixar as well.

Tell me one thing about design that everyone outside of that world might not understand?

How valuable it is.  A lot of work goes into making things look good and function well, and it can have a massive impact on how we interact with the world around us.

You find yourself trapped in the board game Jumanji, do you think you survive or is it Game Over? giphy

Am I allowed to watch the movie before entering the game, so I can remember how to get out? Regardless, I’ll make it out.

What are your 3 favorite projects you have worked on at TAG? 

Three of my favorite projects I’ve worked on are: Logo and website design for Smokestack, packaging re-design for Hungry Hobo, and I still think it’s cool when I see Genesis buses driving around town with artwork I created on them.

When is your ideal bed time?

I used to be a pretty devoted 11:00 pm guy, but recently I have been getting up earlier and have transitioned to more of a 10:00 pm person (sometimes it’s more like 9:30. Teenage me would be shocked).

Finally, what is your favorite part about working at TAG?  

My favorite part about working at TAG is getting to be creative with a great team every day!

How to tell it is time for a new logo

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A first impression is memorable.  A quality logo will help your business stand out from its competition and keep your customers at your side.

Here are five tips for a fresh look:

  1. Keep it simple – The company name should be easy to read and the typography thought out. The icon shouldn’t be confusing. You wouldn’t put a whimsical font in a doctor’s office.
  2. Make it applicable – Your logo should be versatile enough to use in various formats: pens, signage, letterheads, etc.
  3. Don’t go back in time – What was popular 15 years ago isn’t now.  A logo does not need to be trendy.
  4. Recognize it – A successful logo is easily recognized and professional. Don’t overdo it and don’t change a logo out of boredom. The general public doesn’t see the brand as often as you might think.
  5. Make it appealing – A logo can be the difference between a product being appealing or not. When you’re at the store choosing to buy something, a well-designed logo and label might help make the decision for you.

If your logo falls short, it could be time to say goodbye and start over.

Don’t know where to start? Ask one of our TAG Graphic Designers Brian Buckles and Chelsea Liske.

 

Why White Space is Important in Design

Print

What was the first thing you noticed about this banner? Chances are it was either the happy couple or Something Borrowed, they both drive home the same message. It was effective in standing out because it was not overcrowded with copy, images and logos.

Using white space is an effective way to draw your eye to a particular point, and can also improve message retention. But in order to use white space effectively you have to know what it really is.

It’s a simple answer isn’t it? But white space, also known as negative space, is more than just a blank canvas. That “white” area could actually be composed of color or texture. It even exists in those spaces between and around words. The most professional-looking ads have been designed with white space in mind.

Many times people want to fill every square inch of the space. However, it is better to use the less is more approach, and use negative space to put the emphasis on actual content. When you don’t use negative space, the viewer is overwhelmed by images and text, making it difficult to retain the message. You can’t do that without some white space.

These elements are the most important when it comes to using white space:

  1. Consider the main message  – Be sure that you are surrounding the most important part of your ad with enough white space.
  2. Who is the customer  – They are not all the same, you need to adjust accordingly.
  3.  Appropriate margins – To help the ad look purposefully designed, use enough negative space so that you don’t crowd the edges. This doesn’t mean that elements of the ad can’t bleed to the edges, but your core message needs to be surrounded by enough white space. Sometimes this may mean that you need to reduce the size of text or an image for it to be more effective.
  4. Create a hierarchy – Adjusting the white space around visual elements can create various levels of importance and help the eye move through the ad.

Chelsea Liske, Graphic Designer

Successful Website Designs

As a website developer, I have seen many older sites that are essentially nothing more than an online business card. From a basic functionality standpoint, this isn’t recommended – especially with the tremendous growth of expectations from Internet users.

Web designs should be both visually and intellectually engaging for consumers. Meaning, content is not only useful, but also easily sharable across various social mediums. Navigation between pages should be simple and a page devoted to photos, news and entertainment in your line of work showcasing your expertise is an excellent idea.

Just as important to a successful website design is staying true to the brand’s image. A website’s layout and content should be harmonious with all aspects of your business – such as print, television and billboard advertisements – to strengthen brand identity and customer loyalty!

Finally, in a world ever growing in number of tablets and SmartPhones, mobile optimization of websites is becoming a necessity. All TAG’s web projects are designed right out of the gate with mobile compatibility, keeping you relevant to your target audiences.

Don’t just take our word for it, check out our recent designs!

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Mystique Casino

What’s cool: Mystique’s built in Paralax – a fancy term for elements on the page appearing and moving at different rates – gives it a very modern presence. It also allows for more information to be placed on the home page, increasing SEO.

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The Hungry Hobo

What’s cool: The slider on the homepage allows the Internet user to glide to any of their numbered sandwiches and have The Hungry Hobo himself pop up to describe the ingredients.

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Active Endeavors 

What’s cool: The product photo gallery allows the Internet user to search for items down to very specific terms – from the product time, gender and age the product is designed for, size, manufacturer, price range and the quantity of it you want – making shopping online for your favorite athletic gear easier than ever.

Andy Erickson, Website Developer