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Design Within Your Brand
with Anna Ingemann

“If you don’t define your brand, the internet will do it for you. And in a weird way.” Anna Ingemann, CEL integrated marketing specialist and graphic designer, shares her insights on brand expansion, design, and usability. 

A recent University of Minnesota graduate and former design intern turned graphic designer, Anna is no stranger to design trends and cutting-edge technology. Still, her passion is keeping designs functional and useable. 

“I can make something beautiful and trendy, very exclusive. And there’s a time and place for that, but when clients need something they can easily replicate and edit themselves, they need functional design. It’s important to marry usability with artistic expression.”

CEL designers explain the technical words of design can be intimidating for people outside the design world, and the brand expansion process may seem overwhelming. Their goal is to make the process friendly and welcoming for every client—whether they’re design-savvy or still learning. 

Anna describes the process as setting up a workbench for a client. “If you go to your workbench and don’t understand the tools, you don’t have the right pieces, you don’t know what to do—that’s frustrating. We want everyone to feel like they can use our designs. The usability part is so important. Just dropping files onto someone feels very cold. It’s important to me that when we deliver a brand to someone, it’s their brand. I want them to feel really comfortable and able to use the assets we give them. We make sure they have all the tools they need, organized in a way they understand, to take ownership over their brand.”

What is a brand, anyway? 

“Your brand carries your story. It’s a supporting actor. The unspoken way you present yourself,” Anna explains. “There are unspoken nuances in how you present yourself to the world, and people pick up on those nuances, whether consciously or unconsciously. We understand many personal nuances, like the clothes you wear to an interview or if you make eye contact when meeting a new person. 

But it can be hard to put your finger on what energy your brand is putting into the world. Most people can identify “good design” or “bad design”— cramped typography, a stretched or blurry design. But your brand tells so much more about you, from the words you use to your website design, your color palette, and your logos. Together they’re telling a story. Is it the story you want to be telling?”

Creating a new brand is daunting, but Anna shares that clients rarely want to throw out what they have and start over. “We help clients identify what’s working and what’s not. We can perform an audit on your communications, messaging, and visuals to be certain your brand shares the values you have. And often it’s adding aspects to your brand, refining or evolving your messaging, getting at the core of who you are.”

Can a brand be expanded without starting from scratch?

It’s the brand expansions that delight Anna the most. “I don’t always start on pure branding and design from scratch. Sometimes, I come in after, looking for ways to expand the brand while still using existing assets. It’s a fun, creative challenge for me.”

“We want all design assets to have the same voice and feel—but not identical design. It’s easy to use the same design over and over and over, but instead, we want to provide unique items that share the same values. A flyer, social media templates, posters, website banners, business cards, letterhead, thank you notes—they’re all different. We don’t just resize the logo and slap it on, we thoughtfully design each piece.”

“Think about your brand assets like this,” said Anna. “There’s not a single person on your team; there are many individuals. They’re all unique people. But you present as a team, as the same organization. And just like your team, you should be able to present yourself in different ways. It’s the same thing with visuals and messaging. You don’t say or show the same things over and over and over. Unique, but a united front.”

Anna recommends your brand consistently convey the messages and values you intend. “If you haven’t spent time considering your brand, it could be saying things you didn’t plan, or it may not be keeping pace in this world. And of course, if you don’t know what your brand is saying about you—the internet will say it for you.”

If you’d like to learn more about designing within your brand, reach out for a chat with Anna

Published on: November 16, 2022