For years, I have been following Brand New by Under Consideration, a design blog that follows new brands and identity refreshes happening throughout the world. Every year, Under Consideration hosts the Brand New Conference to discuss the previous year’s biggest design trends for brands, and where thought leaders in the industry come to discuss their techniques and work they have done.

Related: Digital Summit KC debut hits the mark on trending topics.

I was able to attend the 2017 Brand New Conference in Chicago and have come back inspired and ready to tackle anything brand related here at DEG. There were more than 16 sessions at the conference, and many topics were discussed, but they all seemed to have the same thread.

Here are my key takeaways from the design conference.

Process

Spending extra time on a project to explore different variations of ideas will help you in the long run.

Every designer—whether that be corporate, in-house, or freelance—needs to stay true to what helps them achieve the best end results. When it comes to design, many people start their creative process in different ways; whether it be with moodboards, mind maps, or sketches. You have to start somewhere.

With the fast-moving environment we live and work in today, sometimes it’s easy to skip the research associated with the ideation phase so that you can get to the end result faster, but will that in turn be the best work you create? Probably not. Spend an extra day or two on a project to explore different variations of ideas and think through concepts. This will help you in the long run.

Perfection

Many designers struggle with “Designer OCD,” as in thoughts run through our heads that look something like: “This needs to be the best thing I will ever create,” or “This will be the greatest design I have ever made.” Let go of the pride. Let yourself experiment. Let yourself fail once in a while. Let yourself have fun with design!

Without experimentation or failure, we can’t get any better than what we were already doing. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable venturing into something we’ve never done, but that experiment could lead to a great design in a future project. Without letting go of perfection, we will never be satisfied.

Words Matter

When it comes to branding, typically the first thing you will begin thinking about are the visuals, but along with the visuals is also a very important factor that sometimes gets overlooked: words. A brand is much more than just a logo. It’s a visual representation of a message you are trying to convey. So, before you start to obsess over the kerning, think about your message first.

Manufactured

Brands can’t be manufactured. Find the true heartstring within a company that gives a brand meaning.

Brands can’t be manufactured. You have to start inside. Find the true heartstring within a company that gives a brand meaning. Don’t create a brand off arbitrary ideas. Ask clients what their company feels like to them. Ask employees what their work means to them. Take those ideas and feelings and make something representative of the brand. You can’t fake culture.

Overall it was an amazing 18-hour learning experience hearing from top designers across the world. I am very fortunate to have been able to attend, and now it’s time to, “Drop some weapons of mass creation!”  — Richard Meza, IS Creative Studio.

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