The importance of art direction in branding

21/10/2020

At NOMON DESIGN art direction is a strategic asset for brand communication. It allows us to visually and graphically conceptualize our client’s message in its context.

Disciplines such as photography and illustration help us provide brands –as well as their products and services– with a unique, singular personality. Moreover, thanks to the characteristics and versatile language of these disciplines, we can build stories that connect people and bring them closer to the brand.

As a matter of fact, that mainly is the objective of art direction: to establish an emotional impact that generates a connection between the brand and its target consumer or user.

But let’s start at the beginning: before art direction we have to first work on brand development…

As mentioned before, art direction takes on the challenge to visually represent brand messages. It does so through the combination of coherent verbal and visual elements, duly aligned with the brand or communication strategy, which is defined beforehand and responds to a set of previously established objectives.

Therefore, before we start conceptualizing and developing the art direction of any project, the branding strategy needs to be well known or previously put into place.

How does this process work at NOMON? Well, after the initial briefings exchange with the client to agree on the scope of the project, we carry out benchmarking to collect ideas and detect market opportunities. We then study brand positioning and work on verbal identity. This stage may involve naming, tagline development and storytelling and also establishing the tone (voice) of the corporate discourse.

The next step is designing or redesigning corporate branding. It is at this time that art direction takes on the challenge of visually representing the defined brand strategy.

Verbal and visual identity must be consistent in communicating the same message. If this fails to happen, the message is never going to represent the established brand values that were bound to be transmitted to the public.

That is the reason art direction is so important. It basically ensures that the objectives, which have been set, are accurately represented visually. In sum, it conceptualizes brand messages, both visually and graphically.

This concept subsequently marks the criteria we will use when choosing, for example, the style of photography, lighting, illustration or settings that will be used to represent the strategy; and therefore, it will also define the team of professionals with whom we will be working on that particular project.

At NOMON our premise is to endow each client with their very own personality. This seems obvious but actually not really. But we are sure about one thing: brands should not adapt to our style, but the other way around. The clients must ultimately communicate who they are, or who they are aiming to be, and certainly not who we would like them to be.

 

What is an art director and what should his or her background be?

An art director is a visual storyteller who makes brand strategy visible by combining words and images, thus making audiences connect with brands.

Art Direction is a profession that, like many others, is learned through experience. But it also requires an ability to know how to listen to one’s own intuition.

It is of course advisable to have specific professional skills in addition to having great criteria. A good art director understands the client’s objectives, has a clear vision of the message, and knows how to conceptualize and apply it to design.

It is also essential that an art director be a good manager.

Art directors are key at managing and inspiring creative teams that are often made up of very diverse professional profiles. Knowing how to mediate well with all the team members, including the client, will allow the branding agency to achieve a unique, coherent result.

Moreover, good management skills are essential during the production process of the different communication pieces. Professionals, like many of us, who started our careers in a more analogical era, learned that when it came to making our ideas tangible, photographic shootings needed to be perfectly planned ahead, since at that time it was not always possible to take a large amount of shots or do a lot of postproduction retouching. The project relied on just a limited amount of shots.

If the planning phase prior to production (photography, video, etc.) has been perfectly organized, the art director has more autonomy during the shooting or filming, and can exclusively focus on managing the different professionals involved (photographer, camera, set designer, home economist and so on). This way we can focus on substantiating the ideas to produce the best results.

The different techniques and styles will help us connect brands and its products or services with their target public.

Now live in a more digital world. For our profession, this obviously comes with plenty of advantages. But having learned from the limitations of a more “crafty” era has definitely provided us with a lot of wisdom.

In part, we have transferred this idea to the NOMON DESIGN methodology. We strive to have everything well organized for each production. That is how we can successfully implement art direction, be more efficient and, at the same time, have more freedom throughout the work process.

For, the greatest satisfaction when carrying out an art direction project is to see what was initially proposed during the conceptualization stage, is perfectly materialised in the end. And to know that the client, who confided in you, values your work and has the opportunity to apply it in all the areas of their branding.

 

Esther Agustench
Creative Director and Associate at NOMON DESIGN

Tags: Branding strategy, Communication, Corporate branding, Nomon Design

2020