menu

Why Good Design Is About Creating Community

Why Good Design Is About Creating Community
Advertising

SVA Alum talks about having a multidisciplinary point of view and how branding is about understanding the 360 degree landscape.

PSFK
  • 10 november 2013

Branding has become an integral part of the business eco-system, but how can we become experts on the subject? As part of an ongoing series, PSFK will be chatting with alumni from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Masters in Branding program. We caught up with recent grad Noah Armstrong to discuss pursuing more than one creative discipline and the importance of community in becoming a better designer.

What made you decide to enroll in the Master’s in Branding program? What is it about our current society that makes branding so important?

My background is in design, and that is one of the things I am most passionate about. I wanted to enroll in the program because I’ve always thought of ‘branding’ as the height of design. Branding occurs when design has moved past pure aesthetics and into a space where personal connections are made, even if it is often subconsciously. The practice of branding is a little mysterious. There’s no single definition and there’s not a specific method in which a brand is created, or even managed. I wanted to be in place where I could explore something that no one has really figured out. And frankly, there was no one better to do that with than Debbie Millman and the faculty of the program at SVA.

How has having a Masters in Branding degree helped you to further your career?

It’s been integral in the development of my career on two levels. First, it was critical in shaping my own personal point of view. Throughout the year, you’re getting up in front of your classmates and professors countless times to defend your findings and your ideas. The program prepared me to not only to know what I believe, but also to be ready to share it in a confident manner. Having a point of view is essential to a career in this field.

Secondly, the faculty in the program literally changed my life. After graduation, I went on to work on projects with four different instructors, spent nearly a year working in the studio of one in particular, worked on some really rewarding projects with former classmates, and eventually joined the Design Intelligence team at Sterling Brands. I can say with certainty that none of those things would have happened had I not been a student in the Branding program.

What is the most surprising thing you learned about the process of branding during your time in the program? 

The most refreshing thing I learned is that there are a million ways to come at the idea of branding. The most surprising thing I learned is how difficult it is to define the method that works best for yourself and for your clients.

What do you feel is your most valuable experience coming out of the Branding program?

Without a doubt, developing a community of friends here in the city has been the most rewarding experience. I can honestly say that I learned something valuable from each of my classmates. Admissions really knows how to curate a great class year after year. I moved to New York to enroll at SVA, and because of the people I’ve met through the program, it’s hard to think about leaving the city again.

patagonia_tumblr_mf6uueGSiV1s0u0x3o1_r2_1280

Name two brands you think are standout examples of innovation in terms of their branding strategy, and tell us why.

Patagonia for their Common Threads program and Red Wing Shoes for repairing nasty old pairs of boots. Not only are both of their design aesthetics timeless and on-point, but they are brands that celebrate their function first and let the emotional connection follow naturally. Both of these brands want to see their products live long lives. They fix them when they break and they don’t fake patina. There is so much talk about ‘pride’ and ‘craft’ and ‘storytelling’ coming out of every other band’s mouth today but Patagonia and Red Wing are two that actually have those elements encoded in their DNA. They’re brands that legitimately do good work, and they’re richer for it. I can’t believe I’m qualifying this as innovative, but so many other mainstream consumer brands don’t seem to have this buttoned up.

Red-Wing-Shoe-Co

If you had to offer one key piece of advice to interested applicants, what would it be?

Be prepared to kiss most of what you know goodbye for 11 months. But know that it flies by.

What is the one lesson you learned during the program that you use today in your job on a daily basis?

A quick backstory: I concentrated in both painting and graphic design as an undergrad and in the eyes of some of my professors, I think I was seen as wishy-washy, and I remember being told that I needed to choose one if I wanted to be good at either.

I say this because at SVA I never thought I had to ‘choose one.’ The branding program is made up of really intense classes having to do with design, pop culture, history, human behavior, and business – and we were encouraged to fall in love with all of them.  Each class was integral in how we approached the next.

As a design strategist, if I don’t have a solid understanding of my client’s business, a firm grasp of the culture in which they operate, and an eye on how design can help give them a competitive advantage, then I’m doing it wrong. I can’t choose to concentrate on just one of those areas. The program taught me that it’s actually essential to be passionate about many things.

Thanks Noah!

School of Visual Arts (SVA) // Masters in Branding

 

 

 

Advertising
Trending

PSFK's Workplace Vision: Leave The Busywork To The Bots

Ai
Syndicated Today

In Popular Games, The Recurring Theme Is Exploration

The much-hyped sci-fi sandbox game proved to be as massive as expected, while Pokémon Go continued to prove inescapable

Design Today

The Best In Wearable Tech From The Rio Olympics

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best gadgets and devices used to track performance

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Advertising Today

This Cookbook Is Inspired By Brad Pitt’s On-Screen Eating Habits

Learn how to whip up meals and snacks pulled straight from the actor's fictional universe

USA Today

Tour The US National Parks From The Comfort Of Your Home

Google's new 360-degree video feature lets people take a trip to Alaska, Utah or Hawaii and see these marvels of nature up close

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

VR Training For Active Shooter Preparedness

SurviVR is an immersive environment to teach civilians how to protect themselves in dangerous situations

Cities Today

Redesigned London Tube Map Aims To Get People Walking

The updated display illustrates approximately how many steps it takes to walk between stations for a healthier commute

Experiential Marketing Today

Nike Creates An Immersive Pop-Up Fitness Experience In London

The Unlimited You space gave athletes a chance to push their limits farther than ever before

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 23, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Automotive Today

Uber Now Lets Commuters Pay With Pretax Dollars

The prepaid cards are a partnership with WageWorks, letting uberPool users save up to 40% on their trip

Home Today

Philips Hue Adds Motion Sensor To Control Lights Automatically

The wireless device lets users interact with their environment without needing to press a switch

Home Today

Beacon Device Takes The Pain Out Of Navigating A New Airbnb

Ping provides new guests with a guided tour of the house or apartment through a simple tap of their phone

Arts & Culture Today

Shelf Makes Its Contents Appear To Hover In Midair

The design uses metal tubes to create an optical illusion when viewed from the front

Arts & Culture Today

Interactive Ceiling Responds To People Walking Underneath

The installation features built-in sensors that cause the undulating surface to morph and react to passersby

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Fashion Today

Declutter And Recycle All Of Your Unwanted Stuff

A new app will help catalogue your possessions and give them away as donations when you no longer want them

Advertising Today

Tokyo Concept Store Disguised As A Parking Garage

The retail and cafe project is designed as a hidden treasure for urban explorers

No search results found.