Paul Biedermann is Principal/Creative Director of re:DESIGN, a small agency specializing in Brand Identity, Strategic Design, and Visual Marketing — creating great design and smart strategies that reach, engage, and inspire people to action, based in Long Island, New York. Formerly a Creative Director for The McGraw-Hill Companies and Art Director for the NFL, Paul founded a global design community, is an adjunct professor of design, and serves on boards and advisory committees that support the arts. Paul has a BFA from the School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Visit his website and blog at www.redesign2.com; check out his Facebook community at https://facebook.com/groups/redesign2; and follow on Twitter @PaulBiedermann.
QUESTION: On your blog, you wrote, “Design is never about you and me, it’s about the impact your business makes on its customers.” Please explain.
PAUL BIEDERMANN: The intent was to take subjectivity out of the design process and put the focus where it should be — on how well a design satisfies a particular business objective or some other goal. It should never be about whether a client’s favorite color is green or the personal style of a particular designer, but rather about how effectively design solves the business problem at hand. And that ultimately benefits the client’s customers, prospects, or end-users.
TWEET THIS: Design is never about you and me, it’s about the impact your business makes on its customers. –@PaulBiedermann #marketing #brandexperience
QUESTION: While the traditional marketing landscape of printed collateral including annual reports, brochures, and fact sheets has evolved in the digital era to websites, emails, and mobile ads, how do you see the future of design?
PAUL BIEDERMANN: Design will always have a place, it just evolves with the media. Remember, design is more about the message than the form — so clarity, functionality, persuasion — how well design gets the reader or end-user to take notice and act is what it’s all about.
This could be the difference between someone staying on a website or clicking somewhere else — or how easily they are able to locate what they need once there, whether they sign-up or make a purchase — no different than getting pulled-in by an ad or poster and attending an event, or how easily one can absorb and retain content. Design meets the moment. Moving into things like augmented reality and whatever else the future may hold, the need to grab somebody and influence a response or entice an action will always be the role of good design.
QUESTION: Have you seen any exceptional ad campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic?
PAUL BIEDERMANN: One that stands out happened at the beginning of the crisis, and how McDonald’s (Brazil) split apart its famous golden arches to convey social distancing. It was a simple, whimsical solution that was attached to their core identity — which they literally ripped in two (like a broken heart?). It effectively communicated the need to close their dine-in areas while promoting safety through drive-thru, carryout, and delivery options.
QUESTION: What is your thought process when designing a logo?
PAUL BIEDERMANN: That’s a rather broad question, because SO much thinking goes into creating an effective logo! People often seem to have a misconception that logos are easy because of their simplicity, but the reality is far different. Indeed, designing a good logo is among the most difficult things a designer can do.
I always start by learning what the company, organization, or service is about — and then iterating on how to best communicate its essence. The solution could be quite literal or oftentimes, something more abstract that nonetheless communicates the right feeling. So, it’s a mix of business needs, aesthetic needs, and practical needs such as if the brand mark will work effectively in all media, materials, colors, and sizes. Not easy — but that’s the magic. It just looks simple when it’s done.
QUESTION: What are your three favorite brands, and why?
PAUL BIEDERMANN: It’s probably no surprise that my favorite brands tend to utilize design in a way that makes our lives better. Stylish? Perhaps. But also, a great user experience. My three are: Netflix, Apple, and Twitter.
NETFLIX: Because who doesn’t like Netflix, especially during a pandemic? But seriously, it exemplifies a well-designed user experience: intuitive browsing, easy to preview, and simple to use. It’s an overall seamless experience that leads to less frustration and more viewing enjoyment! Netflix has also been vocal about race relations and the current civil crisis, and hopefully, will translate that into action.
APPLE: I know, I know… but I’d be remiss not mentioning the brand permeating my life for the past 30 years now: Apple. Beginning with the dawn of the Macintosh at the start of my design career, that’s the same desktop system I’m sitting at now and the brand behind the little digital and creative device so often in my hands — a true life-changer — first revolutionizing the creative field and then almost everything else. Not much I can add to what’s been said so many times before, but from their products to their retailers, packaging, and advertising, Apple is a designer’s dream. They pay attention to the little things and the needs of the end-user — all hallmarks of good design and undeniable proof of the business success that comes with it.
TWITTER: Besides the fast-moving, fluid communications vehicle they’ve developed, no social media platform is more prone to the serendipity that a casual tweet can produce by immediately putting you in proximity to some of the most influential people on the planet. That is by design as much as anything else. But with great power comes great responsibility — so I also commend Twitter for their integrity in protecting their platform and brand with recent moves to flag tweets that share misleading information or promote violence.
My thanks to Paul for sharing his marketing insights and for appearing here on my Blog.
Blog post referenced in Question #1:
“Design Is Not About You or Me, It’s About Them”
Image Credits: Debbie Laskey via the ImageQuote app and McDonald’s Brazil.