Designer Tool Kit Illustration - Tool kit Illustration - Grey Coffee Blog Post

The creative industry is huge and deciding which career path to choose can be tricky, I studied Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern design and am now completing an internship developing new skills within Brand Strategy. I want to share my thoughts on what skills are useful to have in a designers ‘toolkit’ as well as the importance of brand awareness in design, and how powerful it can be to blend these skills. 

A Creatives Toolkit

Specialising in a field of design is valuable, however gaining as much knowledge and experience within a wider range of disciplines in the early stages of a design career provides a good grounding for the future. 

Keeping open minded and taking every opportunity to learn more skills has been of great benefit to me so far. Taking on a design intern role means I have the luxury of learning and experiencing areas of the business I perhaps wouldn’t have had an insight into if I had taken on a more specific specialised design role. I can build on multiple skills within this diverse role, my training in textile design has given me a good starting point however I am now developing my digital design, brand, and interior knowledge and adding many skills to my own creative ‘toolkit.’

All creative sectors cross over at some point and being surrounded by other creatives with different specialisms allows designers to learn about multiple disciplines and build an understanding of the bigger picture. Understanding how different design skills can be used together helps to build a well rounded and more competent creative approach when working to briefs and collaborating. 

Knowing about multiple disciplines doesn’t mean designers have to be competent in executing all of them, simply understanding their process, potential, and how this feeds into the wider creative industry is great. These aren’t things that can necessarily be learnt, instead, they are gained through industry experience, but is that enough? 

Blending Design and Brand Strategy

Building diverse creative skills and experience is a good start but branding will provide an elevated grounding for designers.

It’s pretty simple. Designers will always be working with, or for someone, whether that be for their own company or for someone else’s, therefore ‘brand’ will always be present. Knowing the importance of all things ‘brand’ is extremely worthwhile, for everyone but more importantly designers. ‘Branding’ is usually mistaken to be the logo, colours, or aesthetics of a company… and whilst they are important recognisable brand attributes, they are not what defines a brand. 

 “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” Jeff Bezos

Creating brand attributes with no acknowledgement or exploration into brand on a deeper level can be detrimental, and will prove less successful. There will be less longevity in a brand if their aesthetic elements are designed in isolation, they will have less chance of making authentic connections to their customers. Brand has to be holistic and all encompassing.

This is where the right designers/creatives can transform a brand.

A brand designer would ordinarily work on any brand assets that need designing, whereas a brand strategist works on a strategic level to align brand and business objectives and extends way beyond identity (look & feel). Brand strategists have a genuine passion for design and all things creative, they are strategic thinkers and help solve your biggest problems. This way of thinking helps provide clarity around the problems you solve as a brand. Brand strategists conceptualise ideas and provide design solutions, which in turn ties a visual identity and ‘brand’ together. Understanding the relationship between brand strategy and design enables you to create authentic brand experiences

We believe that to unlock the full potential of brand strategy it’s about the culture you create as a brand and business. Align culture with a compelling ‘why’, vision or mission and you will have some of the key attributes in creating a brand that can really scale. 

Brands who are successful don’t have to look or soul search to find reasons for people to connect with them, they inhabit it and subconsciously integrate this in everything they do. Authenticity means humble and committed customers that are passionate and loyal to a brand. This is what will set brands apart from the rest.

The GC Design Intern Experience

I am 3 months into my Design Intern journey and I feel I’ve learnt more about design than I ever did within my creative studies. I now have an understanding of the potential of brand strategy and it really can be transformational for business and individuals. This internship is the perfect way to build on my skills, gain experience commercially and set solid foundations that I will take forward in my career. Working on live projects with support from other experienced creatives is a blessing. The diverse nature of my role means every day is different and I thrive on this. More generally, an Intern role opens up a space to make creative design decisions and to take risks without the fear of getting it wrong. The only way to learn is to try, review, reflect and improve and there couldn’t be a better way to do this. 

Gaining varied and diverse creative experiences and skills is invaluable and this should continue to be important throughout any creative journey or employment. Bringing together a strong creative skillset, strategic thinking and brand strategy is a game changer and one of the most valuable groundings for a designer. Grey Coffee’s future looks exciting, I can’t wait to continue building on the Grey Coffee brand in 2021 but I’m also excited to help transform other brands for a more sustainable, authentic and successful future, whether this is brand, digital or interior focused.

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