This Black History month our team thought it would be a good idea to focus one of our posts on two topics. One main theme we’ve been hitting on lately is branding and the other would be African American History. How could we really bring the two together effectively? Right then it hit me. I remember watching a show on Abstract (season 2; episode 5) where I was introduced to Ian Spaltar. Ian Spaltar was Instagram’s Head of Design and now is actually the Head of Instagram Japan. He is well known for Nike’s FuelBand, the redesign of Instagram Logo and the stories function in Instagram. Ian Spaltar is also a mixture kid; his mother is black and his father is Jewish. I totally get it. Same as me. If you asked my father he’d say he’s black but really he’s both black (father) and Jewish (mother).
Ian on Branding
There are a few things I like about this episode of Abstract. Ian talks about the fact that good logos are not built in a day. He said to his boss when he was given the job to recreate the Instagram Logo that he wouldn’t see anything until 3 months. Realistically it can take that long when you’re looking at structure, color, usability, style, etc. The research and sketches that go into something like that would be enormous. Remember people already liked the original Instagram logo but as life goes on it loses its freshness. The owner was shocked but he trusted Ian so he let him have his time.
He also discussed collaboration. He mentioned collaborating with his team on sketches. I’m not sure how you could accurately create a new brand without collaboration. In our team there is collaboration all over the place. Even this post has at least 3 eyes on it.
Usability was discussed. The newly branded logo had to be able to fit different places. Online, for fun, in posters, flyers, Plaques, etc. It had to be something their consumers (1 in 7 people in the world actually) had to feel comfortable with.
Redesigning the App Interface
Past the logo change there were changes in the structure of the app. You needed attention to details. The redesign meant breaking down what was first there and reworking it to be better than what came before; better for business, better for users, etc. He talks about feeling out whats in the world to make space for the change needed in these project. I totally get that. I have to get out of the office. I have to go to lots of web and marketing events, museums, art studios, study people and have fun with my kids at the park and so on to really be connected to the change needed for our company to develop good design for our clients.
Being Black in Corporate America
Lastly I like that he has to think about his identity as a black person in this world. He says he chose places to work at wherein most of the people there did not look like him. “There’s a low bar and a high bar in these places for black people.” he says. Ian says “People don’t expect a lot from you (as a black person) but a the same time the price for failure seems very very high. Sometimes you can use that as motivation. Other times it can be crushing.” These situations ended up developing empathy in him.
I can relate to what he experienced, being a black-owned design agency in NJ. I also have struggled for corporate examples in the agency world that look like me. I know that on all our own branding projects our racially diverse group gives different perspectives and our absolute best and that makes me proud. Design agencies that promote diversity will see greater success as the branding effort will relate to a greater population.
For more on Ian checkout Abstract: The Art of Design: Season 2, Episode 4. Ian talks about getting to emotions from the app, differences in cultures of people using his app, his development of stories and more.
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Todd Sayles, Principal of Creative Mind Consulting Group, has built a successful organization that services real estate, retail, hospital and wellness clients among others. His team’s expertise includes problem solving/market strategy, design and marketing consulting, creative design, online website development, content and design creation for digital media and print collateral, public relations, search engine optimization and collaboration with outside designers and writers.
Creative Mind Design Group teams up with clients to strategize on marketing challenges and design goals. We come alongside companies to ultimately create inspired design alongside brilliant results.