Jolly Good Design

“Branding is storytelling. It’s that simple.” — Brian Collins

I love this illustration told by Brian Collins, principle at COLLINS Advertising, in the book Becoming a Graphic Designer. It demonstrates how important good design is in establishing and communicating the story behind a brand.

When you crystallize a brand promise with strong design, you can harness extraordinary power. I love the example of pirates and their skull and crossbones flags. That black flag was the pirate brand identity, if you will. When they raised it, it sent an unmistakable brand promise to the crews on the ships sailing through the Caribbean: “You’re dead.” The sight of that flag summoned a very specific set of brand expectations — ones which the pirates consistently delivered. Each time they acted ruthlessly, the pirates delivered on their brand promise — and deposited more legends and meaning into their flag. In fact, they were so bloodthirsty so consistently that by the eighteenth century, all a pirate ship had to do was hoist its Jolly Roger and the crew of the victim ship would often drop their cargo and flee. The outcome the pirates wanted materialized simply by waving, in effect, their logo.