Campfire🔥: Branding for the Future
by Emily McMahon Jul 8, 2020
In Conversation with Travis Bragg: The Value of your Digital Brand
We were so excited to chat with Travis Bragg, branding and visual design extraordinaire, whose work with small businesses looking to develop their visual identity and branding strategies. We spoke with him about the power of branding, how marketers can learn from successful brands, and the role that motion graphics and video play in the future of brand design.
The Power of Branding
Over the course of his career, Travis has worked with entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to take the next step in their branding.
“What I love most is supporting individuals and small teams who are looking to bring their ideas to life,” he says.
“A great idea stays just that unless it gets promoted. The most brilliant idea isn’t going to help many people if no one knows about it.”
Travis talks about how branding and marketing work in tandem to tell the story of a business. In his role as a freelance designer, he’s worked with clients to figure out their objectives and tell their own story in order to generate sales, increase revenue, and build brand awareness.
Then, of course, came the advent of social media in the late 2000s.
“That was interesting, a whirlwind of personal expression, like a live journal. Then Facebook started evolving and somebody decided to figure out how to make money.”
To Dr. Young, the tipping point in digital marketing was the moment when content shifted from what the user wanted to see to predetermined algorithms that filtered content they considered most important.
“That’s the root of the challenges we’re seeing where information gets surfaced to the tops of these platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” explains Dr. Young. “The content you see is driven by where you’ve been physically and virtually across platforms. It’s all put together behind the scenes. What has changed is that social media platforms are no longer great for organic content. They’re a highly targeted, still-evolving advertising space.”
But if social media is no longer the ideal platform for organic content, how can marketers best share their companies’ stories?
“It’s all integrated now, from putting content on a blog, to surfacing that content on social media, to pitching PR and news stories, and using email marketing and ad buys. They all come together so that the messaging is coming at multiple levels.”
The Case for Color
Among Travis’s biggest former clients is Reconciled, a Burlington-based SaaS bookkeeping company. When he was first brought in, Reconciled was already profitable and growing steadily, but the team wanted to see how far they could reach with a more intentional approach to their branding.
“One decision we made early on was that we were going to stay with the existing brand color,” Travis explains. “They had some brand equity with it already, and they were the only ones in their field using that particular color scheme.”
This color choice—a burnt orange—deviated from the typical colors associated with SaaS brands, which lean more towards cool, modern colors in green, blue, gray, and black tones. That’s exactly what made it work.
“We kept it warm. We wanted to be really open and inviting to the audience,” says Travis.
When talking about branding, it becomes quickly evident that color is a huge part of Travis’s approach.
“Some people think of it as secondary but to me, color is one of the most important things in a brand, in the way that a brand is perceived and identified.”
He mentions Coca-Cola and AirBnb as examples of widely recognized color palettes. “People associate color to messaging, it’s always expressing something.”
Marketing for Good
This idea of looking to large companies then veered into an interesting thought experiment about marketing and advertising for brands that don’t always serve in the public’s best interest.
“You think of the most famous ad campaigns of our era, you think of Camel,” points out Travis. “Really good marketing, but that was for a product that kills people”
By drawing branding inspiration from unexpected sources—like the cigarette industry and its wildly popular successors, e-cigarette and vapes—marketers can study the impact of successful campaigns and pick apart elements that could be relevant to their own company.
“There’s something to be learned from some of the companies that are not doing so well by their customers,” reflects Travis. “What tactics have they deployed that can be used for good?”
One of these marketing tactics that has floated to the top as a great investment into the future of marketing is undoubtedly video, and motion in general.
Geeking for Motion Graphics and Video
Here at Scout Digital, we love video and motion graphics, so we wanted to get Travis’s perspective on them, too.
“Your team is doing what needs to be done in the modern era,” he says simply. Where written content may once have ruled the Internet, the present and future are visual. Not only through videos and gifs, but motion graphics and animation as well.
“I turn into a little kid talking about motion graphics,” admits Travis with a grin. “I just love them. Aside from the fact that they’re a blast to work on, they’re extremely effective. The human eye is immediately going to gravitate towards the thing that’s moving. It’s human nature, you can’t help it.”
When it comes to using motion graphics and animation, as with everything else in branding, the guiding question should always be: why? Why use this particular strategy, and how does it tell the story of the brand?
“A static shot of some food packaging might look great and tell a story, but what if that same piece of content was a video or an animation?” Travis points out. “Rather than a still shot of a package, what if it was someone actually opening that package? There’s a whole new level of depth there. Here’s what it looks like, plus how it’s opened, and here’s what it looks like after it’s opened. You’re seeing the whole story in that five-second clip.”
The Future of Design
Finally, we asked Travis what he was most excited about in the future of design and branding.
“One thing I’m really excited about right now is voice-activated brands,” he says.
We talked about smart fridges and appliances, how products could begin to work within the household to target our needs in a seamless way that feels helpful rather than invasive.
“I think every brand should be thinking not just about ‘Here’s my sell slogan,’ but more like, ‘Here’s who you are and the values that matter to you, and we’re going to insert ourselves in gently.’”
Not only is video an essential part of any marketing strategy moving forward, but voice activation and integrated technology are here to stay, and most likely going to expand beyond their current capabilities to become commonplace elements in our daily lives. But no matter how useful these technologies become, there is another important factor to consider.
“I want to be entertained,” says Travis. “If you’re going to steal 20 seconds of my life, give me something valuable. And if your service isn’t for me, then please don’t target me. I think that improved targeting is going to be the future. Attention spans are short, so if we’re going to look at something, make it something that matters to us and keep it quick.”
When it comes to imagining the future of branding and marketing, there are many more avenues to explore than can fit into one conversation—from scaling small brands while preserving their uniqueness, to protecting individuals’ right to privacy in a hyperconnected world. But as Travis navigates the future of branding, he reminds us of an essential question to keep in mind as video, voice, and automation become more and more present in our everyday experiences.
“As marketers, we are in the business of selling products,” he points out, “but how can we do that in a way that is honest and not bullshit?”
About Scout Digital
At Scout Digital we build beautiful online experiences and powerful marketing programs to help our clients solve challenges and realize opportunities. We believe that the most engaging brands are storytellers, and we develop narratives to help you foster meaningful connections with your customers.