The Pratt Institute held its second Design Symposium at the TimesCenter in New York where designer and professor Marc Rosen led a panel including Debbie Millman, brand consultant, educator, and artist; Paula Scher, designer and principal at Pentagram; Arne van Oosterom, founder and partner of DesignThinkers Group and DT Academy; and Terry Young, CEO of Sparks & Honey, to discuss the marriage between design and brand identity. They dug into how to build a successful brand, highlighting “the crossover of design as a state of mind in every discipline,” notes moderator Rosen.
Millman kicked off the presentations, sharing her philosophy: A brand is what allows you to understand a company, but the design shows you what it can do. There are four critical concepts that lead to good branding, she says: cultural anthropology, behavioral psychology, economics, and creativity. Sparks & Honey’s Terry Young delved deeper into cultural anthropology, explaining “To design great brands today, you have to be culturally relevant. You have to understand what’s happening in the moment and translate those moments into the brands that we create,” while Scher offered a different perspective. As a graphic designer, she views herself as designing identities—the “way people see, understand, and recognize something,” she says.
Moderator Marc Rosen led the panel discussion
Van Oosterom discussed the importance of understanding value spaces within a market, as well as his three core principles: to question the question, break the rules, and lastly, to have empathy. To truly understand people is essential in design, and it became the unifying theme of the night. As Millman put it, “You need to have a design that’s going to engage a person’s spirits.”