The intersectionality between communications and marketing is a strong one and our clients often inquire about branding needs. Rally Point’s Elise Perkins called on friend and multidisciplinary designer, Sugar Taylor, to bend her ear about how she approaches branding. If the visuals don’t grab your attention, Sugar’s way with words will! Read on for more branding inspiration.
EP: Your website is truly a burst of sunshine – visually appealing, colorful and just plain fun. Can you talk about where you find your design inspiration?
ST: Thank you! You know when I am designing a website, I love to go back to print design. What can I tastefully hide, to make people want to click around a little more, without making it kill the user experience? I just want a website to feel like a paper experience. An invitation. Not just a typical everyday landing page style, but a peek into my mind and how I want to present who I am graphically.
EP: How do you encourage organizations to think outside the box when updating or developing their brand? Would you say that strong communications are an essential ingredient to producing a top-notch branding concept?
ST: When it comes to thinking outside of the box – which is essential – you have to go for inspiration from the opposite of what you’re working on. When I was designing weddings, I poured over interior design inspiration. I looked up art installations. NOT other weddings. Strong communication is fundamental because if that part is not clear, then the visuals will not connect to the 95% of the population who simply cannot interpret that clearly. You can speak to me purely in colors and shapes and I will “see it” but most people don’t think like that, and logic and clarity in a message are what gives them understanding, the art just draws them in, even if they cannot themselves express why that is so.
EP: As a multidisciplinary designer working for a range of clients and industries, I’m sure there is no shortage of challenges and opportunities. Over the course of your career, can you point to one example where it was particularly difficult to find consensus with a client and how your team pivoted to deliver an awesome finished product?
ST: This happens ALL the time! Designers are not mind-readers or magicians, and often what someone views as “contemporary” or “rustic” could look like something completely different in my mind. We once worked with a brand that wanted what they considered a trendy new logo, but their examples and what they wanted to see from us was very dated and busy looking. I usually at this point will host a meeting wherein we present A and B examples and ask which images they are more drawn to. They kept choosing the ones that were more aligned with the direction I was trying to take them in, so I explained that, and they loosened the reins, and we ended up with a project they were proud of. But it took twice as long as usual to get there!
EP: How often should companies be considering a rebrand or refresh? Is there a general rule of thumb? What are some short-term and long-term considerations that communicators and marketers alike should understand and budget for?
ST: I do not believe there is some rule of thumb / one size fits all approach to when you need to refresh. You know when you need to grow. You feel it. There is a clientele you want that you are not reaching. There is a disconnect between who you want and who you are attracting. Often that boils down to what your brand is “wearing.” That is when it’s time to refresh your brand. If I want to date a hypothetically single and available Barack Obama, I’m not wearing a sweatsuit to his birthday party. I’m going for a bright bold business suit, with edgy hoop earrings. I want something that screams I went to Yale, but I grew up in the Bronx. Some people have an evergreen look that is a perfect representation of who they are, in their industry, and they never rebrand. That magical time is something only you know as a company, and if you are paying attention to your fishing rod, you know when you’re ready for some Bluefin Tuna. 🙂
EP: What’s next for Sugar Taylor Creative in 2023?
ST: Next for Sugar Taylor Creative is the shift from 100% service -based business (branding, commercial interiors + print design) to about 30% service based with select clients, and 70% product based. I have been designing my own line of textiles, art prints, a tarot deck, and so much more I am working fastidiously on. It has been so refreshing to design from my own heart, and people have responded amazingly to my work. I am feeling like I am only now finally stepping out as a true artist. It’s going to be an amazing next chapter! I have a retail concept called When in Roam, which is a combination of curated goods and custom designed ones. It’s been an exciting ride!