Quarantine moved everything online – from work and wine parties to global summits and grocery shopping. Branding expert Frank Rodriguez says branding and creating a streamlined user experience is more important than ever because, “virtual is the new front porch.”
When lockdowns started, businesses that hadn’t created easy-to-navigate, interactive user experiences found themselves at a loss. Restaurants that had basic websites with PDF menus and relied on price-gouging third parties like GrubHub and UberEats, found that, when the county’s consumers were tight for money and spending all their time online, that wasn’t going to cut it. They would have to upgrade for a better user experience.
“Good design is invisible”
Regardless of the pandemic, branding can take a business a long way. A brand should let the consumer know right away what kind of company they are looking at – serious, playful, glitzy, value-driven, etc. That’s why Mighty Fine Design Co., the creative agency Rodriguez founded, offers clients a branding questionnaire to understand how the business perceives itself and where it wants to go.
Good branding seems like an obvious part of any business strategy, but Rodriguez says he has worked with multi-million dollar clients who relied on, “the secretary who’s been there for 15 years,” to do the branding. To get off on the right foot, companies must establish branding guidelines, including a logo, primary and secondary color palettes, acceptable fonts, dos and don’ts, etc. Mighty Fine makes sure businesses have everything in place to get the right exposure. “Our goal is consistency across the board so that things are recognizable and comfortable to the people that are using it,” says Rodriguez, who believes that good design gives credibility to a brand.
Rodriguez says that he even returned a Christmas gift he ordered because the product, which arrived in a plain brown box, “didn’t really have any brand identity,” which made him lose trust in the quality of the product.
During the lockdown, Rodriguez, decided to launch his new site, Bay Squeeze early. Bay Squeeze is a storytelling site that relies primarily on photography and focuses on icons in the Tampa Bay area. The first few stories focused on Ybor City, well known for its Cuban heritage and cigar rolling experts. Rodriguez expressed the value of having positive stories about community at a time when people couldn’t engage face-to-face with people in their own neighborhoods, and spent so much time doomscrolling.
Rodriguez also created a website for mountain biking, one of his longstanding hobbies. The site, StokedMTB, offers resources for Floridians, including riding tips, trail routes and a gear shop.
All Brands Send a Message
Some people care more about brand names than others. One person may wear a certain brand to show their style, another to express wealth or get consistent clothing fits. But branding is more than a name – good branding should evoke a feeling and readily express a business’s value proposition. Coronavirus has taught some companies the hard way that branding cannot be an afterthought.