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Research

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Brand strategy drives the most successful products. In a highly competitive market, where consumers have choice and make decisions with the click of a button, brands are the signal in the noise. Brand strategy distills everything about a product into a singular, memorable essence that people will remember and continuously associate with a product and/or a company. In 2020, RKS brings decades of experience consulting with clients to create brand identity, as well as brands and branding, which together are the synergistic trio of brand strategy. We lead the process of designing and building a unique, memorable brand, and identifying the set of creative elements that feed into the branding process that broadcast your message, values and purpose. Ultimately, brand is the way the outside world perceives your company. Through brand consulting work, RKS helps businesses build new brands. We also  work with companies and businesses to consult and reinvigorate existing brands, to reimagine them for their current customers and current market forces.

RKS is a comprehensive brand strategy and branding design firm. Our quantitative and qualitative approach to connecting brands with customers is fueled by not only how products make customers feel, but how those products make them feel about themselves. Whether creating new brands, or creating the strategy for ones, we assist at all stages of creating and implementing brand and brand strategy. We use our advanced Psycho-Aesthetic process to solve complex problems that address design, engineering, brand, and regulatory issues. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep experience within multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions.

Our Clients

Research for Brand Strategy

A brand needs to make a good impression on its potential buyers or users to gain their trust. Research helps to get deeper into preferences and psychology of this target audience. Done well, research at the beginning of the process usually means steps later in the process can move forward more quickly. Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research and design, to name development, mission and vision statements, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Emotional Understanding

Ultimately, brands informed by user research are more durable, better targeted, and more financially successful. A strong, lovable brand can be a major asset that can ensure continuous growth, encourage user consistency, increase demand, and create a competitive advantage. However, today’s consumers have more choices than ever before. When they want to buy, they have to choose from a sea of thousands and thousands of competing brands. This consumer edge means brands have to go above and beyond to demonstrate value and stand out, which is where an emotional connection squeezes into the equation. This way this emotional connection is created through a deep understanding of the needs and wants of customers. Our research is used to generate qualitative and quantitative insights into consumers, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, Psycho-Aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. We routinely go into the field to observe consumers in a broad range of contexts from homes to hobbies to their offices. When we can’t be there physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as

human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Persona development

Our research often results in persona creation, which informs the creative elements of a brand. This important step of research is a foundation of the branding process. Before designers start working on a visual part, they need to identify the character of the customer, company, and product they want to present. Designing a brand without this knowledge won’t have the emotional connection required to work. This emotional connection cuts deeply the basic motivations and psychologies of the target customers.

Market Insights

An important part of making a brand work for a business are market-driven insights. A brand must respond to the needs of the market. We work with our clients to understand their business, and the market forces that dominate their business. Sometimes this includes understanding the cultures, context, and core macro economic forces that drive their business. We use our P/A framework to distill qualitative and quantitative insights from this data. In some cases these insights will inform our use of different visual elements and in other cases it will instruct communication strategies. Ultimately, a brand strategy is to drive the most effective marketing strategy possible..

Research for Brand Strategy

A brand needs to make a good impression on its potential buyers or users to gain their trust. Research helps to get deeper into preferences and psychology of this target audience. Done well, research at the beginning of the process usually means steps later in the process can move forward more quickly. Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research and design, to name development, mission and vision statements, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Emotional Understanding

Ultimately, brands informed by user research are more durable, better targeted, and more financially successful. A strong, lovable brand can be a major asset that can ensure continuous growth, encourage user consistency, increase demand, and create a competitive advantage. However, today’s consumers have more choices than ever before. When they want to buy, they have to choose from a sea of thousands and thousands of competing brands. This consumer edge means brands have to go above and beyond to demonstrate value and stand out, which is where an emotional connection squeezes into the equation. This way this emotional connection is created through a deep understanding of the needs and wants of customers. Our research is used to generate qualitative and quantitative insights into consumers, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, Psycho-Aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. We routinely go into the field to observe consumers in a broad range of contexts from homes to hobbies to their offices. When we can’t be there physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as

human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Persona development

Our research often results in persona creation, which informs the creative elements of a brand. This important step of research is a foundation of the branding process. Before designers start working on a visual part, they need to identify the character of the customer, company, and product they want to present. Designing a brand without this knowledge won’t have the emotional connection required to work. This emotional connection cuts deeply the basic motivations and psychologies of the target customers.

Market Insights

An important part of making a brand work for a business are market-driven insights. A brand must respond to the needs of the market. We work with our clients to understand their business, and the market forces that dominate their business. Sometimes this includes understanding the cultures, context, and core macro economic forces that drive their business. We use our P/A framework to distill qualitative and quantitative insights from this data. In some cases these insights will inform our use of different visual elements and in other cases it will instruct communication strategies. Ultimately, a brand strategy is to drive the most effective marketing strategy possible..

RKS designers using design thinking to create a brand

Brand Identity

A brand has to fit both the company and customers that the company and their products serve. At its core, a brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. A powerful branding depends not only on aesthetic features of brand elements but on the details such as message and emotional appeal standing behind it. To create proper brand identity, designers need to get deep into the details about business goals as well as do research of the market and its target audience. Over the years we have developed and implemented work in brand strategy and brand design such as the core features of the brand such as messaging, emotional appeal, and brand identity. At a more granular level we also provide services in logos design, style guides, color schemes, typography and more. Service businesses and product businesses alike are increasingly making contact with customers outside their office. This makes brand identity even more important as the first interaction is an impersonal one. Brand identity at its core is making impersonal interactions personal.

Logo Design

A logo is the basic mark of brand identity, the most prominent symbol of brand image and the foundation of effective marketing strategy enabling its connection with the target audience. The best logos combine typography, symbolism, and color into a concise and emotionally resonant marking. There are multiple steps in logo design including: user research, marketing research, creative search, choice of style direction, choice of color palette, testing in different sizes and environments, creating a style guide setting right and wrong cases of logo use etc. When the research is complete, designers move to the more artistic stage. Using experiments they choose the style direction and color palette which will work best for a brand. After the logo is complete, designers start the testing on different screens, materials, and environments and on a variety of surfaces.

Visual Elements

Visual elements are a way to personalize a brand beyond a logo. These visual elements include typography, color, and symbols. Typography is the sum of fonts, sizes, and ways text is used in the brand. We choose a combination of fonts which will suit a certain brand best. In some cases we create new fonts. In addition to typography we choose a color palette to best suit the products, company, industry, and product or service. A color palette is a selection of 2 or 3 colors that consists of 1 dominant color, 1 accent color (a secondary color for emphasizing or highlighting certain aspects of marketing, and 1 standard color for text (black/ shade of grey). We unite the visual elements into harmonic branding style.

Style Guide

A style guide is a document outlining the visual elements of a brand and how each element should be used. Traditionally, a style guide includes the explanation of the idea standing behind a logo, typography and its uses, as well as the presentation of a color palette which can be used for different purposes. For typography this can include information on size, space. For colors this can include information on how to match colors across different formats for example, the P/ANTONE name and number, the print color or CMYK, and the RGB color or HEX code.

Messaging

The right styles have to be applied to the right content to create the right brand identity. Brand identity is about a unified voice that pervades all forms of communication. We work with clients to define on-brand messaging that can be used on communications, advertisements, web, and everywhere the brand appears, even the clients own office. In fact, by keeping a consistent brand in their office, clients can reinforce the emotional connection of the brand among employees and customers alike.

Talis Biomedical Brand Design

Brand and Branding Services

Branding interrelates to all components of the product from the design to the UX, which work together to produce the first impressions people have of a product. A brand must fit the product form, while accurate information about how the function solves their individual needs. At the same time, the brand must be consistent across all forms. From early on in the research phase, we consider how a brand should support the product or service. For new products, this means we design the product and brand in tandem, making sure that both fit together as we move from each phase of design, engineering, and production. For existing products, this means that we spend time learning how consumers and users enjoy the product, and what types of messaging are most impactful for them. While every product is different, our close-knit team of designers, engineers, and copywriters have years of working in synergy to create cohesive and product-defining brands. We consider everything from the logo, colors, typography, and feel of the materials to create most effective and long-lasting brands possible.

Web

Key to any brand is a compelling and unique website and web experience. Consumers know the difference between a brand that does something truly unique and one that is derivative of competitors. We develop the pixel perfect experience that utilizes the latest in html, css, and javascript. With forward-looking CMS and customer builds, we construct experience and services that are built for the future and consistent experience across devices. What used to be a visit to an office is now a visit to a website. A firm that builds that their business around a website is the new normal.

Digital

We’re all using our devices constantly. Most of us engage with the largest world through the lens of our devices, which makes it essential for brands to reach target customers and convert one-time users into long-term loyalists. While the state of constant change makes digital branding difficult, it also presents new opportunities. Digital branding enables any company to make its presence known anywhere. As a result, digital branding needs to be universal in multiple ways. Branding needs to be technology aware, culturally aware, and generationally aware. Branding that is aware in these three ways is able to maximize the use of digital platforms, around the world, to the highest value consumers.

Print

Over the last decade, Internet marketing has come to the forefront of most businesses’ marketing strategies, but print materials are still the standard for conferences and in-person meetings. Moreover, while web pages are often skimmed in less than 15 seconds, visually engaging print materials can live in offices and homes for years. When designing branding, it’s important to understand how the branding will look in both print and digital experiences. These types of printed materials might be business cards, correspondence such as stationary, brochures, booklets, and posters, billboards, vehicle branding, t-shirts and hats to name a few. Branding we design and strategize for are made to be printed and online. We chose colors that print across CMYK and RGB, to make sure that branding is consistent across experiences.

Media

Branding must be available for old and new types of media. Radio and podcasts, TikTok and TV, branding needs to be consistent and relevant. A brand needs to deliver consistency across media types so that the consumers can instantly and emotionally recognize a brand. At the same time, a brand should be relevant to the consumer for the type of media they are consuming. Making branding relevant is often a technical and creative challenge. New types of media require different screen sizes, different layouts, and incorporate different technologies. AR, VR, and Lidar are making branding three dimensional, while haptics are breaking the fourth wall and making brands tactile. When we design brand strategy we look to the future to make sure that the brand is going to follow technology and new media roadmaps, while staying relevant to the millions who still use old media.