Inside ROBRADY: An Interview with Jason Garvale
In your opinion, what is the definition of “brand?”
There are too many experts that have come before me to answer that with originality. To paraphrase Austin McGhie of Sterling Brands, it is a “noun” not a “verb.” So when we talk about “branding,” in essence we are really talking about positioning. “Positioning is marketing.” You need to know what you are positioning and whom you are positioning it to. If you are patient, observant, creative, and disruptive, you grow into something that emotionally connects with others on a large scale. The way in which you are woven into the culture begins to determine whether your product or service is a brand, be it strong or weak.
What is your role in that process?
I live where strategy and design collaborate. I’m a designer, not a marketer. However, I understand marketing and create from that point-of-view. I dig deeper to the root of the client’s needs by asking the right questions. I find the boundaries and the open space to run. It is an art of balancing that can only be achieved by listening.
From there, I create the “stimuli,” as McGhie states, that works with the marketing strategy. This could be trademarks, messaging, print and digital collateral, websites, and packaging. Not unlike the way a parent would speak to their child, these materials must have the same voice but could be delivered in a different tone depending on mood and circumstance. Communicating that visually, and with impact, takes skill.
Can you share an example of where this has added value for a client?
A perfect example is the package design, website, and messaging for Ziivaa’s menstrual relief belt. I came into the project midstream while the strategy was evolving at a fast rate. The focus was directed on the package design to spark the overall identity of Ziivaa.
We had to consider how a potential customer would perceive a product completely foreign to the world. What would give them comfort in their purchase? How do we design an experience with the packaging that was delightful but mindful?
In addition to marketing data, I began with my own research regarding the competition, the target market, the cultural history of menstruation, and any tangent that provided insight. This is important to me because we are all at risk of making decisions based on personal/group assumptions rather than intuition. The collection of that data supported patterns. The patterns lead to observations. The observations landed us in that emotional sweet spot to begin communication.
The goal was to translate a balance between modern credibility and a soft embrace. Form and material became driving factors in the non-verbal touch points. They also guided the visual and verbal communication of the outside sleeve, the box, and instruction manuals. Previous iterations relied on product-focused imagery. This created a skewed frame-of-reference as customers tried to make sense of something they had never seen before. Shifting the imagery to be user-centered created context for the customer to better understand the application and scale of the product. Keeping it light and open, but not misogynistic or cliché, adapted itself well to the website and messaging.
Looking back, two aspects of the package design excite me the most. One being the belt is stabilized in the box by a couple of shapes that appear soft and contoured. The other is the initial piece of messaging you see when the top is removed. I won’t spoil it, but it just sets the tone so beautifully. This really shows how we are creating a visual identity and family of communication, not just a repetition of “stimuli.”
"Successful branding is a collaborative process requiring a strong interface between the company's vision and the customer's expectations. In particular, the evolution of a socially responsible brand is both an art and a science. With Jason's strong command of these elements and his wisdom in design, he has added great value to our overall branding strategy."
~Kristen Nichols, CEO Ziivaa, LLC
Jason Garvale attended Syracuse University for Communication Design. His experience in designing brand identity has taken him from Los Angeles to Florida, where he was recently one of the Art Directors of Sarasota Magazine.
Fun Fact: My family and I are preparing for the Camino de Santiago, which is a 500-mile hike from the French Pyrenees to the northwest coast of Spain.