Branding has never been more important than it is today.
In a time when people want to feel connected to the companies they support, branding is everything. Across industries, we’ve seen the evolution of the brand identity, with examples like KFC and Popeyes engaging in twitter battles and, in the process, creating a unique, human-like voice.
As the financial services industry continues to evolve, I am often asked how to reinvent a brand in order to attract new demographics, primarily millennials and Gen Z. I have seen plenty of quick fixes from updated logos and color schemes to the jump to use new social platforms – and many of these have been met with limited success.
In order for financial service companies to stay current and to connect with new audiences, branding must be a top priority. I sat down with branding expert Kat Araujo who is the founder and creative director of Afternoon Culture to discuss how to leverage design and professional branding in order to launch or reinvent a business.
How/why did you get into your space?
I was always creative but I didn’t know you could really be creative for a living until college. I was a pre-med student at Johns Hopkins majoring in Biology and I took an Art & Design course. When the course wrapped, the professor encouraged me to pursue a career in design. I took her advice and from that moment, I have always been a storyteller and content creator. My first creative job was as a content creator/social media manager for an art gallery/ event space in Honolulu. Since then, I continued to work as a designer & content producer in a variety of projects with brands both big and small.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important
Being a creative director that focuses on brand design means that I am always observing & researching how brands communicate with their customers and incorporating this into my work with clients. We partner with startups and small businesses develop the visual brand that will help them move the needle forward as they grow and expand. Great design is powerful— it makes it easier for customers to interact with your brand, it helps attract the right people, and it communicates your values in a few seconds.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Creativity and strategy will always be human skills but technology has really influenced our workflow. The tools that I used to design are still pretty much the same since I started 15 years ago. However, the tools I use around the work have changed drastically. Tools like Trello, Zapier, Slack, Stripe…help make the workflow more seamless with automation and lets us stay more focused on the creative work.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
This is an ongoing thing but the democratization of technology really excites me. More people having access and more touchpoints to consider is making design more important than ever. Branding is no longer about the right logo or a color palette —it’s about having a distinct visual style and a voice that your target audience connects to across all touchpoints.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
Paula Scher— She is a partner at Pentagram the independent agency behind everything from the slack rebrand to the wing’s branding, and so much more. I am astounded at how 30 years later this agency constantly delivers design that is so fresh and innovative.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your space?
There are two main things that have affected my perspective and approach to design: (1) Side projects & personal projects keep you creative. Being a multidisciplinary creative has opened so many doors for me. Things I experimented years ago for fun are helping in current projects in ways I could have never anticipated (2) Being an info & culture junkie: I am also always talking to interns about reading the Style section & the business section of the NYT. A great designer is in touch with the broader cultural moment. Having this sensibility will help you when trying to help different brands find their voice and connect with their audience.