Branding designer

Branding designer

Branding designers visualise new ideas for a product, build a story around it and sell it to the client and the market

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Branding designer Michael Miller Yu says employers pay a lot of attention to job candidates' portfolios.
Branding designer Michael Miller Yu says employers pay a lot of attention to job candidates' portfolios.
Photo: K. Y. Cheng
If a company wants to stand out from the crowd, they call someone like Michael Miller Yu Fong-jo. Yu is a branding designer - someone who helps businesses design the overall image for their products and services.

The products can be totally new or just needing an overhaul.

Young Post talks to Yu, the director of Creation House, about his job as a branding designer.

Requirements

The branding industry demands the combined skills of a designer and marketing officer. You don't only design logos and graphics, but you also package and promote products.

You need to be good at graphics because you have to draw images for pamphlets and posters. But you also have to be creative. "You have to capture the essence of a client's brand ... and create an impact, so people will remember your product," Yu says. On top of that, brand designers need a sharp marketing sense and good research skills. It is important to read a lot, spot trends and keep an eye on your competitors.

Employers also look for someone who is a good storyteller. Yu says branding designers have to make good presentations to clients, so they should have experience in public speaking.

A good knowledge of Putonghua is always an advantage. Hong Kong is a limited market so branding designers must look for opportunities on the mainland to expand their business.

Qualifications

You can choose from a long list of design schools and programmes at universities in Hong Kong, including Polytechnic University, the Design Institute and CO1 School of Visual Arts.

Yu graduated with a Higher Diploma in Industrial Design from Polytechnic University in 1973. He thinks training in graphic design or product design is a good start for aspiring branding designers.

These programmes are helpful, but not essential. Yu says most employers pay more attention to your portfolio of work. After you enter the industry, companies will give you on-the-job training.

Work prospects

Yu started Creation House two years after he graduated from university. He tried his hand at other fields, such as architecture, interior design and advertising. He realised that branding and graphic design were his greatest passions and has focused on them since 1981. He specialises in products, such as wine, cosmetics and food.

One of the projects he is most proud of is the branding for a variety of canned Mexican abalone. He gave the product a Western-style, chic image aimed at the middle class.

Average pay

According to Yu, fresh graduates at small-scale design studios can expect to start on HK$8,000 per month. Designers at trading companies earn about HK$2,000 more. Jobs at most sought-after advertising agencies start at around HK$12,000.

Where to apply

Small-to-medium-sized companies with four to five employees are a good place to start because you can work closely with colleagues, be exposed to different jobs and have more attention from your manager.

Look out for portfolio days organised by advertising companies every year. Creative directors will go through your resume and give you feedback immediately. It is a good chance to meet people in the industry and know what they think of your work.

A day at work

After speaking with a client, Yu develops an overall picture of the product and the client's needs so that he can prepare a job quotation. His team then researches the market, brainstorm concepts and present a proposal to the client.

Once they agree on the brand's concept and strategy, Yu will come up with a name, visual identity and package. Afterwards, he will work on marketing plans like advertisements and promotions.

He will meet the client again to report on progress, make sure everything is on the right track and discuss important strategies.

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