When the scale of this pandemic truly hit me, it felt like running full speed into a brick wall. In addition to worry and grief, I saw all the momentum draining from my plans for the future, both in my personal life and for our studio.
I found myself asking a painful question: is our work still relevant in this new world?
Our goal has always been to use branding and design to further the critical work of our clients. Your missions matter more now than ever—and seem infinitely more difficult to achieve.
And yet, creating change has never been easy.
In a world that insists that everything should be quicker and easier, I’ve always believed that the difficult questions and the hard problems are MOST worth taking the time to tackle.
Imagining creative possibilities, envisioning and planning for a more equitable and sustainable future, researching complex systems and translating data into meaningful stories all take dedicated work and effort.
In full transparency, I have struggled to regain focus in the moments when it feels like the world is falling down around us. But I’ve also realized that focus is exactly what we need, more than ever, if we want to achieve our ambitious goals of reshaping the next normal.
At Studio Rainwater, our core philosophy is—and has always been—that branding should clearly reflect an organization’s mission and vision. In addition to being beautiful, the design must be meaningful and authentic.
But that is only PART of what makes a brand successful.
How that brand is used is equally—if not more—important when it comes to building a strong, trusting relationship with your audience.
Now that our audience interactions are mostly limited to the digital space, it’s imperative that we examine how we show up on screens and even reimagine how to showcase content creatively online.
A brand should ALWAYS be recognizable and exciting, wherever you’re showing up—whether that’s your website, your social media presence, your print materials, your email marketing, your presentations, or your events.
Consistent high-quality execution of your brand over time shows that you stand behind your core beliefs, reinforces the authenticity of your message, helps gain new audiences, and ultimately expands your impact.
Now is the time to take stock of your digital presence and decide if it lives up to the experience you promise your audience.
With time and budgets stretched thin, this may not be the right moment for a full website overhaul, but there are other opportunities to amp up your online presence.
Here are a few areas that we have always recommended focusing on, but they are even more important now:
Social Media Strategy
Despite its popularity, social media is often underutilized for building brands. Audiences follow organizations on social channels for news updates and to better understand their story—it may be the place they see you most often. Content created for all platforms can be redesigned to live beautifully on social media while graphics libraries, photo guidelines, animations, and templates can make planning your updates easy.
Open rates are sky high right now. Clear, captivating email templates can make content and calls to action even more accessible while custom graphics or animation let special messages stand out in a sea of communications.
A compelling presentation should never be dulled by boring templated slides. A thoughtfully designed custom deck provides vital support for your powerful message.
Digital Reports and Publications
From interactive PDFs to report microsites to online magazines, thinking in new ways about publications can create rich experiences that include video, animation, and interactive infographics.
Online events will be the new normal for a while—and can allow for more inclusivity even when we are able to gather in person again. Strong branding and design are still important to make every aspect of the experience feel exciting and memorable.
It remains to be seen what our world will look like at the end of this challenging time. Even before 2020 we were shifting toward compelling digital products and content. For the short term, online communication and virtual experiences will certainly be the norm, but they will likely prevail for the long haul.
To stay relevant—and I’m sure now that the work we do is as relevant and important as ever if not more so—brands need to adapt without losing the core qualities that make them unique. It may take some time and creative thinking to reinvent the way you do things, but the investment will pay off in long-term impact.