3 Keys to Building an Authentic, Award-winning Brand For Your Business

Editor’s Note: 502 won a 2017 GDUSA American Graphic Design Award for this deconstructed type design for North Central Kansas Technical College. The GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards had nearly 10,000 entries from across the United States. Less than 10% of the projects were chosen to be showcased. Winning projects run the gamut from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit organizations, government agencies, huge design agencies and more. 502 is honored to have received 6 of these prestigious awards, including one for deconstructed type developed by our own Darcie Riordan.

Your brand shapes who you are as a company.

It is not just your logo. It is the feeling that people get when they experience anything that has to do with your company: your building, your brochures, your videos, your social media. All of these things speak to people and ideally you want them all to speak the same language. A brand visually conveys who you are and what kind of service you provide. It visually represents what makes you the same and what makes you different from your competitors. It should immediately attract and communicate your message to your target market.

So, with that many different elements involved, how do you create an award-winning brand identity?

  1. Combine strong visuals to tell a story
  2. When we were coming up with the look and feel for North Central Kansas Technical College, we wanted people to be able to know exactly what it is NCK Tech offers. As a technical college, they are dedicated to innovative and personalized education that develops skilled professionals for our future.

    We wanted the design to capture that real world, hardwork feeling. From that core idea, we created deconstructed type (designer-speak for letters) to illustrate the hands-on quality of the school. After all, most of NCK Tech’s programs are for skilled jobs where students spend just as much time in the field as they do the classroom. There are many different layers, textures and patterns in the design representing the many programs NCK Tech offers: everything from industrial career paths like welding to technology and health fields like nursing. We tied these programs into the design through visual elements such as wood grains and metal textures, computer circuit board patterns, and grunge.

    brand colors and textures

  3. Engage your audience for a memorable experience
  4. When designing, you should always keep your end user in mind. Who are we trying to reach? We want to reach high school and junior high students – not the client, not ourselves. To appeal to Generation Z, we made the pieces youthful and easy to skim through. Bright colors and visual hierarchy emphasize the enjoyable experiences of college instead of the extensive and, honestly, intimidating, process that is secondary education.

    8 panel brochure

  5. Make it unique to who you are

It all boils down to this one question: What makes a brand stand out?
The answer? Making it unique to who you are. Consumers want authenticity. Your visual identity should represent your unique selling point and what it’s like for users who engage with your business. At it’s core, NCK Tech is about giving students the education to develop hands-on skills for high-tech careers and their deconstructed type design represents just that.

schedule card

Once a brand’s unique visuals have been established, it’s important that they are used consistently and cohesively to create a memorable brand experience for your audience.
About Darcie

Darcie Riordan, originally from Baileyville, KS, studied Graphic Design at Fort Hays State University. Here at 502, she uses that background to create visually-stunning materials for our clients... Learn more