As a brand designer, I work primarily with our marketing team. It’s my job to render the content in the way they imagined it, and hopefully elevate it by digging deeper into how we want to effectively communicate to our audience.

I like to skim what our content team sends me and jot down any initial design themes/ideas that come to mind. After the initial skim, I reference The Golden Circle model created by Simon Sinek. It’s “how legendary leaders like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright brothers were able to inspire, rather than manipulate, in order to motivate people. It is the framework for the WHY.” 

You start from the middle of the concentric circles - the Why, “your purpose, cause or belief.” Going outward, the next circle is the How, “Your strengths, values and guiding principles.” The outermost circle is the What, “products sold, services offered or your role at work.”

I first learned about The Golden Circle from my creative director, Carlo. This was part of his rebranding research for ringDNA in 2018. I’m drawn to this concept because it can apply to both big and small picture ideas. An example of a macro application is how Carlo used it to show ringDNA stakeholders how a brand should be structured. Micro applications include marketing content like ebooks, infographics, and other collateral. But sometimes, (out of convenience, and abundance of maintaining consistency) I stick to our many internal design templates. Going back to reference the Golden Circle...

Sometimes I get caught up in just using our many templates that Carlo and I made, so going back to The Golden Circle helps me break out of that cycle, and really assess what I’m designing.

Here are some questions I’ve adopted from The Golden Circle to apply to marketing content:

What are we saying? 

Why are we saying this? 

Why are using this specific medium? (ebook, social post, video, etc)

How should it make our audience feel?

What should it remind them of? What images do we want to bring to mind? (this can be emotions, current events, your/other companies’ products, etc)

Usually after this step, I still have some unanswered questions and seek clarification from the content team. This can open up a productive conversation with your coworkers! It’s also common, as a designer, to not receive answers for all these questions. Other team members may not have considered or overlooked before or while writing - but that's okay! thought of this before or while writing, but that’s ok! It’s our job as designers to pinpoint the meaning and value of a piece of content, then bring that to the forefront for our audience. That takes teamwork from the content team and the design team. 

The great thing about being a designer is that you get to be the outsider and role-play as different characters / audiences all the time. It’s valuable to be the outsider but having business context and vocabulary makes asking these Golden Circle questions even more effective. 

I need to constantly remind myself that whatever I design needs to appeal to our current audience, so it’s about walking a fine line between designing like an already-established big brand that is known for good design, (MailChimp, Zendesk, and Slack). It’s about managing current audience needs vs future audience/brand needs.