This month’s employee spotlight focuses on graphic designer Brian Behm, who is coming up on 3 years with Riverworks Marketing Group. Brian brings a wealth of design knowledge to the Riverwork’s team and has worked with dozens of clients to produce brand-related design items such as logos, business cards, landing pages, and print designs.
When talking to Brian about what elements he considers when designing items for clients, he had this to say:
“My larger goal for most clients is to balance consistency and innovation to help drive their brand forward.”
Consistency is key.
“When a brand can be consistent across multiple media platforms—both digital and in print—it grows trust with their audience and helps shape people’s perception positively. Any time you can reaffirm the brand on another medium, it’s a good thing.”
Don’t forget to innovate.
“On the other hand, it’s also important to innovate a brand by growing and stretching it in new directions to keep things feeling fresh. Magic happens when a brand can find the right combination of both.”
Passion for Beauty
For years, Brian has used his skills in design to help our clients. However, this amount of experience is not possible without a personal connection to the world of design and all of the elements that go into it. When asked what he loved about design, Brian responded:
“In its higher functions, design can be artful and moving. There’s a part of design that relies on principles of fine art: contrast, balance, movement, etc; and there’s a part of it that’s psychological: reading into a particular design and looking at it from outside yourself to consider how others will see and understand it. I’m very interested in this intersection, where art and psychology meet. I use a similar combination in making abstract paintings. These are visual media that work on a subconscious level to resonate with all kinds of past experiences and memories and feelings that people store inside. Often times when people view something, they’ll notice themselves resonating with it but not really knowing how it was done or what made them think of a particular memory.”
“As a designer — and as an artist — I enjoy creating things that can move people in this seemingly mysterious way. What I’m doing, really, is encoding a feeling in a visual experience.”
“On a more base level, design can be a functional thing, too. Its primary use on this level is to clearly communicate a brand name, the time of an event, the location of the store, etc. In these cases, the artful elements (contrast, balance, movement, etc.) help create a logical flow to a design, allowing the reader to easily follow a path with their eyes as they read each element of a design. This is called hierarchy. Setting up a visual hierarchy allows content to be organized in a way that most people will read it. Good hierarchy of elements means there’s no confusion in what to look at next. Bad hierarchy makes a design feel busy, messy, and at worst, it can make readers misunderstand the information entirely.
A good designer will understand the higher functions of design as well as the base functions of design and mix the use of both to suit the client and the audience. These tools become the colors in the artist’s palette and can be used in different ways to achieve different effects.
I love using my fine art knowledge, my interest in psychology, and at least a dash of organization, to communicate clearly in clever and innovative ways.”
Design & Marketing
Loving design and excelling at the technical elements is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing clients with the design products that they need. For a designer that produces content in the marketing world, being able to combine design elements and marketing goals can be a challenge. Luckily, Brian has no issue with this task.
“I have to acknowledge that I’m biased towards design, because… yeah… designer here— and I would create beautiful things even if it was only for the sake of enjoying the process of creating beauty in the world— BUT, marketing does offer a great framework for planning effective messaging to a targeted demographic. Marketing is how we can be sure that a message gets to the right recipient in the right way.
Ultimately, if the marketing plan is off, good design is just a pretty painting on a wall in an empty room. When the two work together you end up with a good message that gets through to the right people and is skinned in a style that gathers attention, shapes perception, and simplifies communication. Even if it’s more of one than the other, or vice versa, design is a vital part of the marketing process.
Consider this: when you get a bill and you can’t tell what it’s for, or how much to pay, or where to send the check, that’s a perfect example of a message that has not been designed well. It’s all information and no design. On the other hand, over-simplified apps like SnapChat (apps which use icons and swipe gestures without words or labels), have such a slick and minimal interface that new users are confused about what’s happening or how to complete basic tasks. The extreme minimalism may look nice, but this is also not good design because it causes more problems than it solves.
Off the bat, my quick advice for the proper combination of marketing and design is that it’s a compromise in any direction, and you have to find the combination that works for your brand, for your demographic, and for your message.”
Brian, we thank you for everything you do at Riverworks. Your passion for your craft, your amazing eye for detail, and your commitment to providing clients with the absolute best design services. Your efforts go a long way in helping Riverworks Marketing stand out as a premier digital marketing agency in the Chattanooga area.