Design Thinking, Branding and the Secret to Creativity

Branding and design expert Dan Borg shares secrets for creating consistent, personalised, multi-touchpoint branding. Daniel founded Newcastle-based branding & design agency Psyborg, which focuses on creative and useable communication.

5 Questions You Can Answer After Listening To This Episode On Branding, Design And Creativity With Daniel Borg:


  1. When we talk about the elements of a brand, what does that include?

  2. Can a person be creative if they’re not a “creative person”?

  3. Does Daniel Borg have half a brain, or a full brain?

  4. If you want to build or improve your brand, where should you begin?

  5. According to Daniel Borg, what is more awesome than having an actual real motorbike?


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Daniel Borg is the founder and Creative Director of Newcastle-based branding & design agency Psyborg, which focuses on creative and useable communication. In today’s episode, Daniel shares his insights about the importance of branding and design thinking for local businesses, as well as a few of his secrets to creativity.
INTERLUDE! If you’ve just discovered Redback Solutions, below is a short video about who we are and what we do. If you just came for the article, you can simply skip past the video and keep reading 🙂

Video production by our friends at Thirty3South Films in Newcastle


What Is A Brand? It’s What People Think When They See You

That’s your logo, right? Or is it your name? Your tagline, colours, font & tone of voice? These things are all included in local business branding that’s true, but a brand is something both simpler and more complex than just a piece of fruit with a bite taken out of it, a red and yellow clown, or the words “Just Do It”. David Ogilvy described a brand as:


“The intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”


Put simply, a brand is the world’s perception of a product; what somebody thinks and feels when they see or imagine it. That product could be something tangible like food or clothing, or it could be a person, a service, a film, a band, a company, a school of thought — anything at all.

Creating a successful brand takes more than just the picking colours and shapes that you think represent your business. Building a brand that represents your business means creating consistent emotions, memories, behaviours and experiences for your customers. These responses can be felt through every single brand touchpoint, from customer service to social media content, invoicing, website design, vocabulary, packaging, company ethics and yes, also the logo.


Why is Branding So Important For Any Business?

Branding builds value, plain and simple. Don’t believe me? Ask Debeers, the diamond company who invented the diamond engagement ring.


So You Want To Build Or Improve Your Local Brand, Where To Start?

If you have an existing brand that you believe isn’t working, the first action you should take is to do a touchpoint audit. Take a look at every way the business comes into contact with your customers or target audience. This includes everything from the way your receptionist answers the phone to your Facebook cover photo.

Once you’ve documented your brand’s assets it will be easier to review them and decide on the direction you wish to take. Branding agencies and designers analyse the raw elements of your business from an outsider’s perspective and combine them with new insights to find a creative direction that you, as the brand owner may not have considered.

What if you don’t know the first thing about design? How do you choose an agency or designer that you can trust with your business’ greatest asset? The best way to gauge your brand’s future success is to look at the designer’s portfolio and what how they’ve managed to convey other brands’ messages.

It is essential to have a good relationship between your business and the designer. If you’re both on the same page, it will be easier to communicate a succinct, unified message to the consumer.


Theory Of Creativity: The Secrets To Being Creative

Creativity can be applied to improve any facet of your business, whether you’re designing the visuals of your brand, creating live social content, writing a blog or planning your customer service. A brand needs creativity in order to be noticed and leave a positive impression on consumers.


With the right systems in place, everyone has the ability to be creative.


Many people think that creativity is something we’re either born with or we’re not, but in fact creativity is a skill that can be learned, practiced and improved in a number of ways.

Take Note Of Surroundings

Ideas aren’t formed in a vacuum, they are a combination of everything we’ve ever seen, heard, tasted, touched or smelled, as well as the emotions triggered by these memories. In a sense, incredibly creative people are just those who lead interesting lives and watch/read/listen to anything they can get their hands on.

A fantastic example of just how susceptible creativity is to subconscious influences is mentalist Darren Brown’s advertising agency experiment.

Define Your Limitations

This is why creative briefs exist in marketing, to narrow down the possibilities. If you want to create a new logo for your brand and the only stipulations are that is blue and has your name on it, you’re dealing with a billion different possible outcomes.

“Systems enable you to be creative.”

Putting a guide in place that specifies your brand personality, who/what/where your target audience is, what you want them to feel about your brand, etc., will make the creative process a piece of cake.

Be Organised

Your physical space represents your mental space, so when your surroundings are filled with clutter it can be hard to focus on being creative. This doesn’t necessarily mean your work desk has to be “hospital clean”. Some of us work best in a space that could look like chaos to others, but to us it is actually “organised chaos”.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a process that focuses on the desired outcome in order to solve a problem, instead of focusing on the solution itself. The methodology of design thinking can be applied to any industry, not just marketing.


Now You’ve Got Your Brand, How Do You Scale It?

One of the biggest problems that growing businesses face is how to scale a brand consistently across multiple sites while still maintaining a local feel, differentiating themselves from bigger multinational players.

There is a reason the “About” page on a website is one of the most visited. People want to buy from people who they trust and like, so it’s more important now than ever before to think about personal branding.

Thanks to social media, personal branding is no longer restricted to celebrities. Now anybody can become the face of a brand in their own local market. When scaling your business, each location should stay consistent with all aspects of your core branding, but the people communicating your brand’s message on a local level will be what keeps the local feel.


“Authenticity is becoming the value now.”


It simply doesn’t cut it to just be in front of people these days, especially when we’re apparently being exposed to over 3000 brand messages each day. Real people and real experiences shared through engaging platforms like Facebook Live and Snapchat could be what it takes to make your brand different enough to cut through the clutter.

What if I’m a private person who doesn’t want to be a reality TV star? Tough cookies, it’s survival of the most charismatic. If you don’t feel confident being in front of people, learn the skills! Either that or sponsor someone who could be your ambassador like a local personality or enlist a team member (that you trust) who is happy to do it.

Influencers are everywhere on social media these days and it’s becoming really easy to spot a fake, so if you (or your ambassador) are really genuinely excited about your brand, you’ll easily stand out from the rest.


Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

Whether you decide to create a brand from scratch yourself, engage a designer’s help or get a branding agency to do it for you, the key is to remain consistent across all platforms. Your brand is the most important asset you have. Without branding, Coca Cola would be just brown fizzy sugar water. Who wants to buy that?


“One thing I’ve learned as a graphic designer, it’s not so much about the look of something, it’s the consistency.”


As the marketer or owner of a business, you might get bored with the look and feel of your brand and think you need to change it, but remember there are a lot of potential customers to whom your brand is new and fresh. Your brand might be in fact working really well but you might just need to look again at all those different touch points, making sure they’re consistent. If it ain’t broke!


What is the Location Station Local Marketing Podcast about?

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