David Brier is a native New Yorker who now lives and works in Wisconsin, David Brier is an internationally recognized brand expert, rebranding specialist, and bestselling author.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) November 7, 2018
In addition to being the recipient of over 320 international awards on design and branding, David has the distinction of being presented the Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship medallion, presented to those who provide insights to companies, entrepreneurs, and startups for leadership, marketing, entrepreneurial innovation, and branding excellence.
David and his work have been featured in ADWEEK, Forbes, INC, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, the New York Times and numerous blogs and podcasts around the world.
His new book, Brand Intervention: 33 Steps to Transform the Brand You Have Into the Brand You Need includes a Foreword by Shark Tank investor Daymond John and is already a #1 Amazon bestseller.
The Logo Creative – Hi David, I’m happy to have you taking part in our Designer Interview.
David Brier – Hi Andrew, This is great thank you, and it’s good to hear from you.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
David Brier – I was in my final semester of community college where I was an art major. I was intent on becoming an illustrator. Then one day, I went into my class and on a drawing table was an issue of U&lc (Upper & Lowercase published by ITC foundry at the time). It was printed on newsprint and I’d NEVER seen design done this way before. It was a finely honed craft with exact attention to detail on every page, and the typography, being designed by Herb Lubalin) was AMAZING.
THAT was literally the turning point. I remember thinking, “If this level of craft and execution could be applied to design, then I needed to rethink everything.” It was the design equivalent of hearing the Beatles for the time. It was literally an awakening realizing a whole new world I didn’t know existed.
After that, I decided to master lettering and typography, (and this was all pre-computer, so I had to learn to letter by hand which I was comfortable with, being an illustrator and painter).
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
David Brier – Waking is the first thing. 😉
I love espressos or making French Press coffee for my wife and me, early day ritual.
I review the list of deliverables for the day (made the night before) along with meetings I have scheduled. I use ZOOM video conferencing since 95% of my clients are in other states or parts of the world.
Since I design, write, as well as strategize for my clients, I juggle a LOT. The KEY is to not getting into “multitasking” (e.g., the chipping away at “a little of many things” to be accomplished. That is the #1 way to get demoralized because you never are FINISHING enough projects, you’re just being “very busy” but not efficient nor as productive).
So I watch for that.
But essentially, I review my daily agenda, look at the projects (or segments of projects) I can complete for the day, and those that require “cones of silence” are reflagged to early morning or late night.
I probably spend:
- 25% on design,
- 20% on “homework” on a project (design, brand stories, etc.),
- 20% social media: tweeting, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
- 30% on phone calls, coordinating, Zoom conferences, etc.
- 20% documenting what’s been done to have continuous content for blog posts, upcoming videos, and case studies for clients
- 15% coordinating with teammates, colleagues and vendors.
That adds up to 130% so that gives you an idea of my day… 😉
- Weekly, this breaks out differently since there are Instgram Stories that spontaneously come up, being a guest on podcasts etc, doing the weekly One Minute Wednesday YouTube series, recording my #1 Alexa Skill called “What’s Next in Branding” and more…
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
David Brier – Yes. Because. (I love mornings but also get a 2nd wind later at night).
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
David Brier – First one I do not recall but an early one was the New York City Ballet. It was fun, memorable and definitely showed my inspiration at the time of Herb Lubalin.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
David Brier – I have numerous ones I love for various reasons: perfect for the industry, disruptive, unexpected, or technically amazing.
I can list a few:
Legacy Chocolates. Perfectly captured the right balance of old-world craft while being timeless.
Botanical Bakery. Disrupted the “proper” shortbread category and converted “leaves” into a mischievous smile.Student Loan Freedom. That one “rogue” eagle breaking up the formation of the other birds told the entire story.
Simply Snackin’ identity. Simple, on-point, classic.
Citron & Rose. A typographic vintage joy ride.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
Probably Mother & Child by Herb Lubalin. It’s immediate, timeless, brilliant with no excess. It’s simply BRILLIANT.The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
David Brier – First, I conduct a competitor review to dial in on the client’s Brand Story.
Then I develop the brand story. Brand story always comes first. To me designing without this, is like building a house without a blueprint or designing an editorial spread without having read the article. Or designing something for an audience without ever sidcovtring who they are and what lights their fire.
Then I conduct a competitive VISUAL review.
Then I see where we (my client’s brand) can be different, unique and be heard in terms of story and look and feel. This is accompanied by looking in other industries to see if there are inspirations from other industries that might prove beneficial to the process of developing this.
Then I have the shortlist of what are legitimate criteria for the logo design, and what is in the “no way” pile of approaches, designs, looks, and feels that just are wrong.
Then I get into the designing, and determine if it will more “mark-driven” or if it will be better and more effective as a typographic solution.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
David Brier – Apple is routinely good and I find their ability to tell their story in a refreshing compelling way is almost always on point.
Nike is similar in that way. High-quality story and design.
HARRY’S razor blades are brilliantly on point and clean and minimal. Love how much they say and convey with few visuals and few words.
I enjoy many boutique brands which are probably lesser known.
I am a big fan of liquor labels (even though I rarely drink). If I ever want to simply immerse myself in a design joy ride, I’ll visit some nearby “boutique” shop that has crazy liquors of every type and enjoys the design aesthetics and typographic influences.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
David Brier – Possibly Botanical Bakery which was incredibly successful in increasing their sales 900% in 24 months and also incredibly celebrated in food blogs, design blogs, and branding blogs. It was an overhaul 180% from where they were. A fun project as well.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
David Brier – I wish that was easy to answer since I don’t have “an average logo design project.” Sometimes, it includes name development, and these days, it always includes more upfront research as I find the brand story to be the most pivotal discovery to truly isolate “their voice” and then I have my anchor for their brand to truly be developed. So a competitive study is now done, visually and for story. For message. A logo project can be a few weeks if under a wild deadline and a LOT of the data has already been collected. Or it could go on for 12 weeks if the scope is larger and the applications where it will live is much more comprehensive.
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
And the Herb Lubalin book compiled by Alan Peckolick
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
David Brier – dobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop are my go-to programs plus I use Keynote for presentations.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
David Brier – Style is a poor substitute for context and truly looking at each space a client is in.
I used to go for style “to round out my portfolio” but as I have matured as a designer, it became more about the client (as it should be). It’s their investment, not “my portfolio.”
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
David Brier – Sometimes Instagram, sometimes Dribbble, sometimes certain Pinterest collections. It used to be Rolling Stone magazine when Fred Woodward was designing it. Right now, I do not have any one source.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
David Brier – Cooking amazing food, discovering amazing handmade chocolate, perfecting my espresso beverages I make for my wife. Discovering amazing music and finding incredible animations on Vimeo, one’s that expand one’s idea of what’s possible…
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
David Brier – One client consisted of a husband and wife startup and their relationship was toxic. Like a really bad movie, so I had to learn new tactics to get ANY decisions made since one of them was abusive verbally and domineering the other was indecisive and it was maddening. Getting any decisions made in that type of environment was truly insane.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
David Brier – Best of being a design is discovery (for me) and education (for the client).
The worst is dealing with indecisive clients who cannot make up their mind OR those who take advice from anybody and seek out advice from anybody (in other words, it’s a self-made committee created by that indecisive client).
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
David Brier – My wife. She’s as strong-willed as me and we make an amazing team, achieving things for each other that we otherwise would not have achieved. The end result is so more help and value across each of our lives and those we help.
The Logo Creative –Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
David Brier – I’d say Herb Lubalin for his “highly literate design” and “inspiration to a couple of generations of designers.”
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
David Brier – Favorite quote/mantra is
“Rules enable you to follow. Knowledge enables you to lead.”
Came out of my mouth during a presentation in Toronto when I refused to answer a question when someone asked me this inane question, “What are your 5 favorite typefaces?” because the person wanted MY list so they could use that list when they went back to their office.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
David Brier – The melody that makes the words of a brand sing.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
David Brier – I went to the “job posting board” at School of Visual Arts and started doing freelance gigs. I also published a quarterly journal called “Graphic Relief” in collaboration with printers, illustrators, photographers and writers which won awards and got a lot of attention.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
David Brier – I almost got a job with Herb Lubalin but his health was failing. I’d always wanted to study under a master.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
David Brier – Balance the amount of attention I gave to others with the amount of attention I sought for myself. You’re only a much as you give and bestow upon others.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
David Brier – No actual answer for this one.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
David Brier – Learn.
Realize your job is about empowering others, not just showing off your talents.
Learn the power of language and words.
Get a comprehensive skill set that embraces design, color, art direction, printing and more. That way, you can really make the best choices.
Develop a voice. Be a thought-leader.
Realize the best way to learn is by teaching others. If you cannot teach others, you haven’t learned it well enough.
Be decisive — not authoritative, but forthright. And don’t ever be wishy-washy.