StepUp Communications: Branding and identity means ‘organizing information’

1 04 2009

Green Printer speaks with Sigrid Albert, Principal and Art Director of StepUp Communications, a company that focuses on creative services for internal communications.

A Green Printer ‘Design Goes Green’ dispatch. A post by contributing writer Melissa Chungfat.

Some of your clients integrate sustainability in their business. What advice would you give to green start-up businesses in terms of identity and design?

Having a clear vision and direction for your company is the first step. From there, you can create your visual identity. Green businesses already have clear values to communicate, which makes it easier to design for them. Their visual identity should reflect what the business does and the best thing is for them to follow through with their promise. Be clear about what your strengths are and the direction your business is going, and designers can help with that process.

What value does design bring in terms of brand equity?

Design has a lot of value and good design will go beyond the product to allow for interpretation. Design establishes a professional look and there is an intangible quality that comes from a good identity that portrays trust. It’s important to keep in mind that the best logo is not going to help you if you don’t have a strong business plan.

There are also companies that are established that don’t have great branding, and they may miss out on some potential business. There are some people who are more drawn to companies with a consistent and visual identity.

Branding and identity includes organizing information, not just about making something pretty. It’s about people being able to find information by communicating clearly with good design and writing.

What kind of look and design is effective for businesses promoting their green initiatives?

Because green businesses tend to be from interdisciplinary areas, it makes sense for them to have a more modern look than a traditional look. There are many established businesses that are finding their “green side,” but that doesn’t mean they have to revise their visual identity. There is room for long-time businesses to integrate their environmental initiatives within their brand.

If a green company approached us to develop their visual identity, we would research what other companies are doing in a similar field so we don’t duplicate the design. We would avoid the colour green altogether because it’s been overused and try to do something that expresses what they do. We do comprehensive briefings of our client’s vision, strengths, audience, the applications they need for a logo, and vehicles of communication to extract the best possible communication feedback. Not many clients do this, but it would be valuable to have audience research in their budget before developing their visual identity .

Can you give an example of a client you have you worked with that found their “green side”?

Many established businesses like lime producer Graymont have begun sustainability initiatives and have been communicating their actions. When I designed their newsletter, I  suggested printing on recycled paper and they wanted to use a paper that uses one of their products that acts as a paper coating. I found a paper company that sold recycled paper made of 40% post-consumer recycled material that also uses Graymont’s product. That same Quinault paper we used has now moved to 100% PCW recycled content. It’s great working with companies to help them find their strengths so they don’t have to reinvent their green strategy.

You encourage your clients to use environmentally-friendly paper stock. Why do you think they choose to print on this kind of paper?

I’ve been lucky, the cost of recycled paper hasn’t prevented my clients from using it and they are not environmental businesses, even though some have sustainability initiatives. There’s almost no excuse not to go with FSC-certified paper for print jobs with 20,000 copies or less. When I did a project with the Vancouver Oral Centre for Deaf Children, I gave them five different types of recycled paper to print on. It’s getting easier to get people to go for recycled paper than 10 years ago because there are a lot more choices. Most of my clients now ask to print on 100% PCW paper.

I always thought recycled stock made so much sense. But I’m not a big green apostle. When I grew up in Europe, we had recycling in Germany and it was normal for us. When I moved to Canada, there was no recycling and I couldn’t believe how much waste there was. But now it’s so mainstream and I’m happy that recycled paper is much more affordable and comes with a variety of options.


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One response to “StepUp Communications: Branding and identity means ‘organizing information’”

1 04 2009
StepUp featured on Green Printer Blog (21:09:25) :

[…] is featured in two articles; on the Green Printer Blog and on […]

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