The Art of Branding: An Interview with Dock Line’s Brand Designer
At The Dock Line, we’re more than a magazine, but also a Digital Marketing Company! Get inside the creative mind of our marketing team’s Brand Designer, Tanner! A Star Wars nerd and father of three, Tanner brings with him 10 years of experience in graphic design, branding, and web design. We at The Dock Line enjoy Tanner for his creativity and boldness to think outside the box—taking on each project with excitement and curiosity.
In this article, we’ll dive into the inspirations, strategies, and unique challenges involved in designing excellent brands. Gain valuable insights into the creative process and peek behind the curtain of The Dock Line’s creative process!
What do you enjoy about being a Brand Designer?
The first answer that comes to my mind is making things pretty. When I see inefficiencies and things that could be better but aren’t, they drive me crazy. I’d walk up to a sink faucet and wonder, “Why is it designed this way, this doesn’t make sense!” Anything I can touch—I want to make it better, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.
One of my favorite quotes is by Clayton Christensen, “Questions are places in your mind where answers fit.” I have a joy for learning, joy for knowing the answer to something when there’s a problem. When I see a problem, I think, “How did it get there?” While some people say, “I don’t care how it got there, just get it fixed.”
What do you want your clients to get out of working with you?
I hope they get great customer service. I worked in the restaurant industry for a long time, so I really enjoy customer service and I am passionate about people. I’ve had instances where a company I worked with didn’t have a great interaction with a client, but I was able to work with that client myself and change their perspective. They told me, “I didn’t like the interaction I had with your company, but I loved working with you—and I’ll work with you again in the future.”
What do you look for in a good brand image?
It’s like the philosophy of buying wine. You don’t get to taste it; you’re just buying based on the label. My hope is always that if someone cares that much about making the label look good, they’ll put all the same care and attention into the product too—because they care about the details.
Like how Steve Jobs went through the effort of making the inside of an iPhone look pretty, compared to other phones. The makers were wondering why they were spending so much time on making the guts look good, since that’s where they’re supposed to be hiding stuff. But Steve said, “No, someone’s going to open it up and it’s going to be beautiful.” So, I’ve always thought the same, when someone opens up my stuff—every part is going to be beautiful.
What are some of your favorite companies that have a great brand image?
Apple is definitely one of them. It’s a company that I go back to a lot, because I really like how their communication style has been consistent over the years. For being one of the biggest companies in the world, they’ve still found a good way to strike a balance of positioning themselves.
Steve Jobs said they’re the “cutting edge of technology and design.” So, they’ve maintained that, but even in the way they communicate, it still feels friendly and easy to understand. Compared to Microsoft that is highly nerdy, and caters to a techie audience, Apple steers away from all of that in a very different way compared to the rest of the industry. Their tone is not only easy to understand but even kind of playful, like how their website headers will be a play on idioms or something. So, I’ve always liked them for that kind of messaging.
What should a company think about when creating a brand?
It doesn’t matter if you have a website or a good logo—your reputation is just as important. I can’t market something that’s not there. I cannot sell something that I don’t believe in.
When I used to work at a restaurant, we had to push the specials to people and talk about how good they were. But I said, “No, we all have to try it. Make one for everybody, that way when we describe it we can say why we like it or don’t like it.” If something was too tomato-y, then we can explain it wouldn’t be a good fit for certain people. But if you just say, “Buy this special, it’s amazing,” there’s no substance behind what you’re saying.
Your reputation and your interaction with people is what matters. The visuals technically don’t have to exist for the business to be successful. No marketing agency can buy you a good reputation or a good product. Whatever your business is, be clear about what you do and what you’re good at.
What common problems do you see in branding?
Inconsistent branding. For example, if you follow someone on social media who’s had the same profile picture for a long time, and then they change their photo, all of a sudden, you wonder, “Who is this?” I think companies take for granted how many things humans associate with a brand. When I work with a company, we make sure to select specific colors, specific fonts, and have parameters. If you’re consistent with those things, you’ll build recognition.
One of my favorite grocery stores in The Woodlands was Hubble & Hudson. It was my design mecca! One day I went by the bathrooms, and they even had a branded sign that said “Out of order” in the same font, colors, and everything. I was like, “Yes!”
If you’re going to build a brand, you have to be able to apply it, and be consistent about applying it. The team at Hubble & Hudson was empowered with the fonts and everything they needed to create the sign, rather than making something on Microsoft Word using Comic Sans font. Because of that consistency, my experience with this grocery store was unbroken by the bathroom sign.
What do you enjoy about working at The Dock Line?
It’s the people I work with that are inspiring. I like that we have gotten to a place where there is trust and it’s a camaraderie effort. The culture is pretty open-handed, so there’s room to have input and to help steer things. I also like that there’s a lot of local interaction, that our clients aren’t just far away on Zoom. The person behind the company is more interesting to me.
Dock Line Marketing
Build your digital brand, your online presence and reach your online audience with the help of Dock Line’s marketing services! Learn more about how we can serve your company by visiting our website thedockline.com, calling us at (936) 890-7234, or emailing us at [email protected].