Exclusive Interview by HiiiAwards / 2022

How to build a brand mindset?

Hiiibrand: How do you understand "brand thinking"?

In terms of the term "Brand Thinking" alone, I think it's probably more of a "buzzword" in the business and marketing context than a real meaning, just like people used to be keen on Design Thinking".

As a way of thinking that influences behavior, it has been present in more or less all of the behaviors that have been required to distinguish property and identity from a hundred years ago to the present, from the branding of livestock in ancient times, to the development of brand management by FMCG companies such as Unilever in the 1950s, to the modernist brand identity practices that swept the world from the Netherlands in the 1960s.

I think one of the reasons why it has become a hotly discussed term nowadays is that society has once again entered a period of technological bottleneck and saturation, where products tend to be saturated and rarely differ from each other in terms of merit and demerit, and the objective conditions such as the function of products become less important for consumer behavior.

At this time, the taste, value and community relationship represented by the brand once again become an important part of the consumer's evaluation of the product and whether it is worth consuming.

The demand for "brand" as the "spokesperson" for all these more abstract issues is then amplified by everyone. Logically, "brand thinking" is more like a "vision as a desired outcome" approach to thinking, where the "brand" is the only lens (or filter) through which everything is considered. It also requires participants to move from "technical thinking" that relies on a set of quantifiable factors, such as data, to "relational thinking" that mixes abstract elements, such as emotion and vision. It also requires participants to move from "technical thinking" that relies on a set of quantifiable factors such as data to "relational thinking" that mixes abstract elements such as emotion and vision.

Hiiibrand: How do you do brand research before you start designing?

Duan: We generally set aside preconceived ideas and gather and research objective information that can help us get the full picture, and in the process discover and document possible concepts. After researching and exploring concepts alternately to a level that we think is appropriate, we will start to edit all the information and ideas we have gotten and reconcile them with our intuition, taste and feeling, and finally start to generate concrete designs.

Hiiibrand: Can you share your communication strategy with your partner brands?

Duan: Honestly, we are still in the process of exploring and understanding how to communicate with our clients and move forward with the design. From our experience in the studio so far, we have encountered projects that went smoothly in one draft, projects that took much longer than expected to make decisions due to repeated ideas, and projects that were interrupted due to disagreements.

We have always believed that in today's environment where there are so many brands and so many design teams to choose from, brands and designers should think carefully about whether they are a good fit for each other before they start working together, whether it is the type of project, the content, the price, the taste and style, or whether the people involved in the project are comfortable talking to each other, etc. All of these factors will be taken into consideration. This part of pre-communication and pre-judgment usually determines to a large extent whether the cooperation will be successful.

Hiiibrand: How should designers develop a "brand mindset"?

Duan Zhihua: As mentioned in the answer to the first question, "brand thinking" is a way to observe, filter and solve problems through the brand as an object of view.

It is like a person's success can be arbitrary, to solve the problems, to do the interesting period, and to slowly become what it will eventually become; or to determine a persona first, and not necessarily to spend time and energy to focus on and solve the conflicts that are not related to the realization of this persona, but to solve and implement the problems and actions related to the realization of this persona. "Brand thinking" is like the latter. It is also like when you like to write daily, you can record all the words you want to record in a book; you can also decide before you start a new book that "I want to write a book that readers can read easily and happily no matter what time of day they start reading it", and then you will think about the following in order to achieve this result The wording, the paragraphing, and the unhappy bits may need to be written in a different book. The latter may also be a metaphor for "brand thinking" here.

To summarize, "brand thinking" is more about authenticity, continuity, and the need to think about "relationships" and "feelings" in purposeful relationship building and maintenance. As Marty Neumeier says, "Branding is not what you say, it's what your brand's customers say", and the need to think about branding and design so systematically is because "in an information-rich and time-poor society, people pay more attention to feelings than to information. ".

Hiiibrand: What comprehensive skills do you think we need to continuously refine on the way to become a good designer?

Duan: Design is hidden in the details, and so is branding, which is actually rather like being aware of the smallest details. Being aware of the details and practicing them requires expanding one's life experience and relatively extensive knowledge, because many details exist in areas and environments other than design, and in things that may be taken for granted or ignored, just as many people would say that designers should be a miscellaneous person.

On the other hand, I think "editing" and "reconciliation" are also very important skills, here editing does not mean editing and designing books, but how to find information, read information, filter information, organize information, relate information and reconcile information, how to How to "edit" and "reconcile" largely determines the way to think, how to solve, how to design, and the direction and quality of the result.

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