What & How is a good branding designer?
Interview | Zhihua Duan   

Author: Cynthia Zhu
Visiting Designer: Zhihua Duan |
Translation: Cynthia Zhu
Design: Cynthia Zhu
Aug. 15.2017



C:First of all, I want to deliver my gratitude to your accept of our interview. I've known you for years, and always heard you winning awards, having shows and contributing to branding specifically. By this interview chance, we would love to talk with you about branding design and the concept behind it.


C: 那我们就先以简单的自我介绍开始吧

C: Can you briefly introduce yourself?


D: I'm a graphic designer. Now I'm pursuing my master as MADA in Melbourne. Most of my design practice focus on typography and graphic symbols. Besides my personal projects, I accept projects as a freelancer from brands, institutions, museums and galleries.


C: 可以再介绍你下最近几年参加的一些赛事和展览吗?

C: Can you also introduce your recent competitions and exhibitions?

D:之前很幸运的入选过“金蜜蜂”国际平面设计双年展、中国动态文字与图形邀请展、3x3国际插画大奖赛、HiiiBrand、HiiiTypography和“美学城市”设计上海平面设计邀请展等展览与赛事,以及有作品被选编入香港Victionary出版的《HanziHanja Kanji》、德国Gestalten出版的《LosLogos 8》、BranD杂志,最近亦很荣幸被收录在即将出版的一本收录了国内300位各个创意领域顶尖创意人的访谈和作品的《EKOO300》。然而,诚实地说,自己一直都没很主动参加过很多比赛之类,前面提到的这些展览和收录,都得感谢自己周围很多朋友的支持以及师长前辈们的提携。

D: I feel  very lucky that my works are selected and exhibited in "Jin Mi Feng" International Graphic Design Biennale, China Motion Type and Graphic Exhibition, 3x3 Illustration Award, HiiiBrand, HiiiTypography and Shanghai Graphic Design Exhibition. My works are published in HanziHanja Kanji, LosLogos 8,  BranD and EKOO300. However, I never proactively participated in contests. All the awards and featured are generously helped and supported by my friends and supervisors.


C: 上过Los Logo和BranD好厉害(这里有掌声)都是在branding界知名的读物。可否谈谈你对优秀branding的理解呢?

C: Congratulations! It's surely a pride to be featured in Los Logo and BranD! Can you talk about your understanding of what is a good branding?


D: Although I haven't decided to be a banding designer, but most inquiries I got are related to branding. I always think branding is comprehensive. Besides design itself, a good branding needs more inputs. As far as I do, I am still only working on the visual system. From my perspective, a good brand must be established based on the needs from people nowadays or in the future, and the brand will keep running  itself in a good way for a long term. Based on that, if the brand can find a designer has a good fit and trust, which allows the designer to visualize it in a way to explain the brand well. That would potentially realize a good branding.



C: From your experience, what do you think is the most important thing while designing for a brand?


D: I think designers should identify at the beginning that the inquiry is a brand or just a product needs a standard visual. Personally speaking, this understanding will help designers know what they are doing, so as to avoid lack of plan or redundant work. Other than that, how you feel about the brand synthetically and resonantly will decide wether you can design it well, or not.



C:Among your works, which one you like most, and why?


D: I really like the project I am doing now, ARIA. First of all, I am always interested in modern art field. In the communication with the client, we have lots of tacit understanding that I could apply to the design of visual system. Secondly, I can feel the passion and belief  from clients. Plus I get many trust from clients, I naturally become very passionate and motivated on this project. Hope it will come out soon. 



C:What should designers sharpen if they want to become a branding designer?


D: Besides horning professional design skill, they need care about statuses and trends of brands, products and service in life, especially on interested field. Moreover, learning how to communicate with clients and translating feedback is also vital–like we talked about it again and again. 



C: Last but not least, tell us the book you read most recently, and your advice on reading.

D:最近正在读一本叫ToNote:NotationAcross Disciplines的书。至于阅读类的推荐,会想说设计方面的专业书籍其实可能只该占总的阅读的很小的比重,更多的应该是读设计之外的各种书和杂志,尤其是自己感兴趣的话题和类别,无论是人文的或者科学的,甚至炼金术和黑魔法……

D: The book I'm reading now is called ToNote:NotationAcross Disciplines. I would recommend designers to read more books out of design, such as the topics you are interested in. They could be literature, science, or even alchemy and dark magic....(lol)

我们很多时候都会在想,为什么有些branding设计师对客户需求抓得很准,对作品水准把控很强,为什么不但赚了钱还拿了奖。将商业设计和对艺术的追求融为一体,其难度远高于学生作品。就像段智华所说的,我们在设计前有没有共情的体会这个品牌的产品或者服务对于自己的感动到底是什么?有没有寻找到设计中的动力和热情?另外,我也非常赞同关注生活和阅读设计以外的书,毕竟我们做设计师的,就是要上知天文,下知地理的嘛 :D

We always wonder why some designers never be a clients' punch bag, accomplish work aesthetically well and win awards home.  Commercial goals and aesthetic achievement  being approached at the same time is way harder than what we expect. Like what Zhihua mentioned, do we feel the brand synthetically and resonantly? Do we find passion and motivation in this project? Other than that, I agree a lot with reading more books out of design. After all, being a designer is to be curious about the universe and think out of the box.

– Cynthia Zhu