10 best branding design rules for standing out in today’s market by Jessica Walsh

Dive into the fundamental branding design rules that every creative professional should live by. This blog post distills the wisdom of Jessica Walsh, a trailblazer in the brand design world, offering actionable guidelines to elevate your design and branding to new heights.
branding design, A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent

A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent.


In the heart of New York, a creative beacon shines prominently — &Walsh, a creative agency renowned for its commitment to emotional expression and bold risk-taking. Jessica Walsh, the founder, has broken through a significant barrier, positioning her agency in the elite 0.1% of women-founded creative agencies. Walsh’s approach to design and branding design is not just about aesthetics; it’s about crafting a narrative that’s as distinct and fearless as her own journey in the design world.

Here, we explore the 10 cardinal rules of branding and design she advocates for, providing a blueprint for creatives and freelancers aiming to leave their mark in a saturated marketplace.


A Manifesto by Jessica Walsh

As presented on WePresent by WeTransfer, Walsh’s “10 Rules of Great Branding and Design” serve as a beacon for aspiring and established creatives alike. These rules on design and branding design, distilled from years of groundbreaking work and visionary projects, offer a roadmap to crafting compelling, memorable brands that resonate deeply with audiences. Now, let us dive into these tenets, unpacking each to discover how they can elevate our understanding and execution of branding and design to new heights.

Image credits: Jessica Walsh.


At a glance

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick list of the 10 rules on design and branding that are laid out in Jessica Walsh’s manifesto for WePresent by WeTransfer, read them because they’re really inspirational, and delve into them when you have time:

  1. If you want to innovate, find your why
  2. Passion & persistence are key
  3. Branding should not be trendy
  4. Failure is (sometimes) good
  5. Fake it till you make it
  6. Nothing is entirely new
  7. Creativity thrives off constraints
  8. Lean on experts & don’t try to do it all
  9. Pay attention to what you want to do when no one is paying you
  10. Good design is both beautiful & functional


10 best branding design rules

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1. If you want to innovate, find your why

“While I like to learn and try to do it all myself, I can’t be an expert at everything. Sometimes it’s better to realize your strengths and dedicate your time to those. Hire or collaborate with people who are experts at their craft.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 1

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: Innovation is not a happy accident but the offspring of intention and purpose. As a designer, start with the ‘why’. This is not just about fixing what’s broken but about reimagining what can be. When approaching your brand identity projects, consider the larger impact—how does your design improve lives, shift perceptions, or solve problems? Your ‘why’ should be the compass that guides every visual element and brand design decision you make, ensuring every piece of branding or marketing collateral you create is rooted in purpose.


2. Passion & persistence are key

“The idea of “innate talent” is a myth. No one pops out of the womb as a great artist or designer; I was terrible when I started out. You become good by putting in the hours, studying, refining, and evolving your craft.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 1

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: Discard any notion of innate talent; greatness in brand design is meticulously carved out of the bedrock of passion and persistence. The brand’s visual identity you admire, the logo designs that have become iconic—they are the results of relentless practice and continual learning. Cultivate a habit of rigorous market research, study the brand design visual elements that resonate with your target audience, and never stop refining your brand identity design.


3. Branding should not be trendy

“If you make your brand look like what everyone else is doing, it’s going to be hard to stand out, be memorable, or gain recognition. Great branding is ownable and distinct.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 3

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: In the pursuit of a strong brand, chase authenticity, not trends. Trendy designs are fleeting; what’s in today may be forgotten tomorrow. Instead, strive for a unique visual identity that encapsulates the brand’s personality, making it instantly recognizable. When creating a logo or developing a brand design, ask yourself if it tells the brand story and if it will stand the test of time..


4. Failure is (sometimes) good

“Allow yourself space and time to take risks and create godawful work in order to get somewhere great. Fail in the experimentation phase. But when it comes to delivering the work, leave your failures behind you.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 4

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: Allow yourself the freedom to fail. The creative process is often non-linear and fraught with setbacks. Use these moments to fuel your journey towards an effective brand design. However, ensure that what you bring to the client embodies the highest standard of quality, showcasing a clear picture of what their brand stands for..


5. Fake it till you make it

“Early in my career, if someone asked me to do something I didn’t know how to do, I’d just say yes and figure it out later. Don’t wait for people to teach you things. Create your own opportunities.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 5

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: The adage ‘fake it till you make it’ speaks to the heart of initiative. If a project demands a skill beyond your current level, view it as an opportunity to expand your horizon. Dive into a step-by-step guide, experiment with different fonts, play with organic shapes, and evolve your expertise. By doing so, you’re not just waiting for opportunities but creating them.


6. Nothing is entirely new

“Creativity is making interesting new and exciting connections between what already exists.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 6

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: True creativity lies in making novel connections between existing brand elements. Consider how the juxtaposition of different brand design elements—from typography to color palettes—can yield something revolutionary. Your role as a designer is to weave these threads into a visually appealing tapestry that stands out in the business landscape.


7. Creativity thrives off constraints

“Constraints are the best way to come up with ideas. They are also an excellent way to form a unique, ownable visual or branding style that people can begin to know you for. The more unique the constraints are, the more distinct the style will be.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 7

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: Constraints, be they in the form of a tight brief or a rigid style guide, should not stifle your creativity but rather, sharpen it. They can be the crucible where the most inspired brand elements are forged. Let these boundaries define a playground where your creativity can run wild within a structured framework, giving rise to a brand design that is both unique and cohesive.


8. Lean on experts & don’t try to do it all

“While I like to learn and try to do it all myself, I can’t be an expert at everything. Sometimes it’s better to realize your strengths and dedicate your time to those. Hire or collaborate with people who are experts at their craft.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 8

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: No designer is an island. The most complex and successful branding projects are often the fruit of collaboration. When tackling a project, identify your strengths and complement them by partnering with others who excel where you might struggle. This not only enriches your work but ensures the brand image is a collective vision of excellence.


9. Pay attention to what you want to do when no one is paying you

“Personal projects don’t distract from the client’s work, they fuel it. Many of the things we learn while working on passion projects feed back into our work. Passion projects are also a means of attracting new clients.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 2

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: The work you do for passion can often inform and enhance your professional projects. Personal projects are a testament to your brand’s personality and can often become the cornerstone of your portfolio. They showcase your values, your aesthetic, and your vision, attracting clients who resonate with your authentic style.


10. Good design is both beautiful & functional

“Good design can be used to inform, inspire, delight, sell products, tell a story, make complex topics easier to understand, make experiences simpler, reduce waste or drive attention to a cause. Good design is successful at what it’s trying to communicate.”

Jessica Walsh
A manifesto by Jessica Walsh for WePresent 10

“A Manifesto” by Jessica Walsh for WePresents.


Our thoughts: The quintessence of good brand design lies in its ability to be both beautiful and functional. Every element—from the color scheme to the shape—should serve a purpose. As you craft a brand’s logo or visual representation, always consider how it enhances the user experience. Remember, the brands that stand the test of time are those whose brand design is rooted in utility as much as in aesthetics.


About Jessica Walsh

Jessica Walsh is a luminary in the world of design, her name synonymous with vibrancy, boldness, and creative courage. Born on October 30, 1986, in the bustling creative hub of New York, she has carved out a significant place for herself as a designer, art director, illustrator, and educator. Her journey in the industry gained remarkable momentum during her tenure as a partner at the design studio Sagmeister & Walsh from 2010 to 2019. Walsh took her passion for design a step further by launching her own creative agency, &Walsh, in 2019.

jessica walsh 2

Image credits: Jessica Walsh.


Beyond her professional ventures, Jessica Walsh is the driving force behind Ladies, Wine and Design, a nonprofit initiative that fosters mentorship and support for women and non-binary individuals in the creative sphere. Her portfolio is a testament to her skill level and innovative vision, with personal projects that underline her influential status in the field. A staunch advocate for gender equality in brand design, Walsh’s efforts have consistently aimed at amplifying the presence of women in creative agencies, making her a beacon of inspiration in the industry.


The &Walsh agency

&Walsh is a beacon of creative innovation in the concrete jungle of New York, spearheaded by the visionary Jessica Walsh. Since its inception in 2019, the agency has been at the forefront of brand strategy, art direction, and brand design, setting a new paradigm in the industry. The company’s approach is rooted in a deep understanding of both the artistry of design and the strategic acumen required to elevate brands.

Zooba by &walsh 1
Zooba by &walsh 2
Zooba by &walsh 3
Zooba by &walsh 4
Zooba by &walsh 5

“Zooba” by &walsh.


With a portfolio that ranges from the giants of Silicon Valley like Apple and Snapchat to dynamic small businesses, &Walsh has proven its versatility and commitment to quality in every project. The agency is not just creating logos and branding elements; it’s crafting narratives that resonate with a company’s values and stand out in the global marketplace. &Walsh embodies the very essence of modern branding, where style, substance, and strategic thinking converge to define the future of advertising and brand design.


WePresent by WeTransfer

The 10 rules listed in this blog post are featured from the WePresent magazine on design, launched by WeTransfer in 2018. This platform transcends the traditional boundaries of a magazine, weaving together a tapestry of unexpected stories and artistic expressions from across the globe. With content that spans thought-provoking articles, films, and exhibitions, WePresent is not just a website; it’s a source of inspiration that challenges the concept of what art can be.

wepresent by wetransfer
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wepresent by wetransfer 3
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“WePresent” by WeTransfer.


It’s a celebration of diversity, showcasing a plethora of voices, styles, and typography that together shape the narrative of the creative world. With its commitment to quality and an audience that numbers in the millions, WePresent has become an essential hub for creatives of every skill level, providing them with the inspiration and tools necessary to shape and share their unique vision with the world.


FAQs

What is the branding design?

Branding design is the process of creating the visual identity for a company or product. It’s a comprehensive approach that involves a combination of brand design elements, including a logo, color palette, typography, and marketing collateral, to convey a brand’s personality, values, and promises to its target audience. It’s a strategic plan for how a brand presents itself to the world, ensuring that the brand image is cohesive, instantly recognizable, and stands out in the marketplace.


What are the 4 elements of branding?

The 4 main components of branding are the brand identity, brand image, brand positioning, and brand personality. Brand identity involves the visual elements that form part of the overall brand design, like the logo and color scheme. Brand image is the customer’s perception of the brand, shaped by their experiences and the marketing messages they receive. Brand positioning refers to the brand’s unique stand in the marketplace, often encapsulated in a style guide. Lastly, brand personality is the set of human characteristics associated with a brand, expressed through tone, language, and the creative process of branding.


What is a brand designer?

A brand designer is a skilled professional who specializes in creating and developing the visual identity of a brand. Their work is integral to the branding process, which includes for example brand design and logo design, selecting color schemes, typography, designing the visual representation of the brand, and developing brand guidelines and also website assets. They have a deep understanding of how different elements of design can influence brand recognition and how to translate a company’s essence into a unique visual identity design.


What is brand design examples?

Brand design examples can be seen in the logo design and visual identity systems of successful companies around the world. For instance, Apple’s clean and minimalistic brand design, Coca-Cola’s classic red and dynamic script, or Nike’s swoosh and bold personality.

These brand design inspiration projects go beyond their logo design, encompassing everything from their websites to their product packaging, all of which contribute to a visually appealing and coherent brand design and story that resonates with consumers.


Wrap Up

To wrap up, branding design is not just about creating an artful logo design, brand guidelines, or choosing an attractive brand colors (color palette); it’s a complex process that encapsulates the entire visual and emotional identity of a brand. It’s a craft that requires a high skill level, an understanding of the company’s core concept, and an ability to translate this into a visual form that the target audience can connect with.

An effective brand design is essential and can become the defining factor for a brand’s success in a crowded marketplace. It’s a step-by-step guide to creating a strong brand that stands out, appealing to customers through brand design elements, illustrated elements, and every touchpoint, from the business name to the style of the fonts used on the website.

For small businesses and global brands alike, the principles of good brand design and branding remain the same: it’s about creating a cohesive, memorable identity that tells the company’s story and showcases its personality, ultimately elevating the business and its products in the eyes of the world, helping a brand stand out on the today’s market.

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