The 317 is a creative solutions network which was founded in 2016 to become a connector for brands with a group of talented, resilient individuals who wanted the opportunity to do amazing work. Their philosophy is “We work better together than apart.”
Co-founded by Doug Evans (The Visionary) and Sadie Domineck (The Sensible One), their services include brand development, strategy, creative direction and design and content creation and production.
Here, Evans shares 317 Network’s strategy for creating successful brand identities.
Why is design important to creating a business image?
Design is simply a component to a business image. The true importance of the image should be defined by the business’ brand. The brand curates the design. In the grand scheme of brand development, design is a tool.
What is your approach and steps to helping a company develop a new brand identity?
At 317 Network our philosophy is that “We are better together than apart.” Internally that means no area of our agency or single member can deliver its best work, alone. We view each challenge and project as an entire unit. What affects one, affects us all. Externally for our Clients we take that same holistic view for their brand. We look at the brand to ensure that what they deliver to their consumer from messaging to platforms to products or services work together cohesively. That there is a proper brand flow. We have found that when there is proper flow, there is synergy with the organization, the brand and its audience. Where there are gaps in the brand flow is where we find the pain points and challenges.
We have a three-step approach, at each level fully engaging our client and team:
Step 1: Experiential assessment
This is where we take a deep dive into the existing brand. We become a consumer of the brand. We explore their existing platforms; we engage with their content; we purchase their products; we visit their stores we work to experience every component that a loyal or potential consumer would do. This also includes taking the time to sit with our clients and really understand their business, ask the hard questions, get to know their objectives, goals and forward-thinking for the organization.
Step 2: Brand flow development
We like to call this the blueprint for the brand. This is the brand strategy development phase. We identify the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Once we identify each of those, we ensure they all work together succinctly. This equates to clear messaging.
Step 3: Tactical plan creation
This is the plan of action. How the brand is executed in the marketplace.
Keeping in mind that with each phase, we must be nimble and flexible. We live in an ever-evolving society and brands must be adaptable.
Why must design and style be updated and changed regularly?
To stay fluid with the times while holding or advancing your position in the marketplace. Even the most well-known brands have modified their identities. For example, KFC. There is still the iconic Colonel Sanders for the brand look but they updated it from the traditional hand-drawn to a more modern stylized version to appeal to the current times. Another reason to ensure that the design and style are updated is to match the latest brand messaging. Again, we live in an ever-evolving society and brands must be adaptable to their customer base. Current and potential. Bluntly stated, to not evolve leads to death.
What are three principals of design all business people should know?
Design is a tool and a component of brand development. One can design but that doesn’t mean that it aligns with the brand. Brand principles guide the approach to design. Each approach varies in developing brand identities. However, there are fundamental takeaways that a business should receive when seeking any partner in brand development:
Brand definition. A clear explanation of what your brand means, the brand ID. The brand mark. All the design elements and components tactics. How the brand is implemented in market using the brand definition and ID.
No matter what, be honest. Honest with who you are as a business and how you want to be perceived. Being disingenuous is not appealing and consumers and your teams can spot it miles away.
How should brands approach the idea of creating a brand culture?
Honest messaging. Internally and externally. Live it. Be it. Breathe it. Then allow the Law of Attraction to work.
What is the role of a branding agency for a business?
A brand agency comes into your business like a best friend. The one that is honest with you and tells you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. Emphasis on honesty, not the friend [who] tells you what you want to hear. They are true partners who work with your business to make it better.
Describe your company’s brand identity.
We are a collaborative group of talented, resilient individuals who do dope s— together for our clients. We are committed, adaptable and driven.