Communication Design (Graphic Design)
Whether companies want to be perceived as revolutionary and cutting-edge or established and trustworthy, the words and images they use to represent themselves shape the feelings and actions of consumers. Perhaps that is why branding and brand identity services are currently in demand.
As the owner and creative designer of The One Studio, Connie (Colborn) Longman understands the need to distinguish her business above competitors as a small business that is savvy of big business. After all, much of her work involves helping other companies find ways of creating their own identities.
“Branding is hot right now; it has tremendous growth potential for the design industry,” said Longman. “I've designed for print, web, advertising, marketing among other outlets but I prefer branding projects the most. I enjoy conceptualizing and creating names and logos with personality all within interactive identity systems—designed to build or better a brand—be it a business, a product or service, or even an individual. Design of the print and online material all comes from that original idea and sketch.
“For example, I had a love/hate relationship designing online banner ad campaigns for Citi.com and Citibank.com at a marketing agency called Planning Group International, which has since been bought out by Sapient. I did learn (and had fun while doing so) how to design within one identity system, like how to represent the ‘Live richly’ brand in one tiny online banner ad, and then how to sell it all in one quick click!”
Since Longman opened The One Studio in 2005, she has experienced the overwhelming creative, legal and financial work necessary to establish her services as a business entity. She selected the studio name, designed the logo, created business cards/promotional materials and developed blogs used on her Web site.
“People come to me because they want to do real people business,” Longman explained. “My clients tend to be local and international startups, even independents and entrepreneurs like myself. They represent various industries, from technology and development to fashion and design.
“I completed one of my most interesting projects about a year ago, right before I took maternity leave. I was doing something a little different—designing graphics for apparel and patterns for textiles to be sold by an Italian merchandiser at a New York industry show. I liked that they wouldn't be used commercially, or at least I wouldn't know about it or have to deal with that part of the business. I was just making ‘art’ and it is cool to wonder what that art may become and who would get to enjoy it! That's why I like working with logo marks too.”
Longman’s confidence in her design talent originated when she learned how to create art on computers in high school. But experiences at CCS taught her that she needed to reach beyond technology to become an effective designer.
“Communication design involves so much more than just what the computer programs could do,” said Longman. “Instructors taught us how to look at problems and find ways of communicating from multiple angles—visually, artistically, creatively and conceptually.
“We were also challenged to learn and think about what was ‘new’ in media, so we didn't just learn the ‘hot’ things to do at the time."
"I learned to see what the needs are today and how to tell what they may be tomorrow. Plus the liberal arts education gave me an understanding into society and culture that has helped me with my own business and as I work with clients.”
Studying under instructors with working experience, Longman became acquainted with art in the local community (through collaborative projects and field trips to places like Cranbrook) and had the opportunity to showcase her student work in the U245 Gallery. One of her instructors, Doug Kisor, brought into the classroom international publications and prominent lecturers, including Dutch design critic Max Bruinsma.
“It's helpful to be part of a cross-disciplinary community at an art school,” pointed out Longman. “I also appreciate the female-dominated faculty (Sue LaPorte, Liisa Salonen, Callie Johnson) who helped me find my own artistic voice…”
A project Longman completed during her senior year continues to impact her design career today. It involved research and design work related to Fabrica and the United Colors of Benetton as at the time when their advertising was considered revolutionary by those in the industry.
“This experience helped me see how I can challenge the way art and design is today and change it to the way I see it needs to be—like Oliviero Toscani for Luciano Benetton, just by being one artist/designer.”