The Cool Ledge™

Headshot of Mat
Posted by Mat
on 01 October 2019

I’m writing this in my 25th year of commercial design practice – my presentation, logo reveal and brand strategy tally is safely into the thousands.

Branding banks to veterinary wholesalers, TV channels to craft gins, many of the ideas sessions for these projects have seen me utilise something I would strongly suspect all designers can relate to, the most personal and closely guarded tool in our creative armoury; The Cool Ledge.

The Cool Ledge is a designer’s linear measure of coolness. It is formed from a unique blend of their own imagination coupled with the creative and cultural influences they value and aspire to. The designer aims to guide their client out onto the Cool Ledge; the further they go out onto it, the more ‘cool points’ the designer acquires. But the Cool Ledge is a scary place to be without total conviction – the client must have trust in the designer’s ‘vision’ and can be left feeling exposed, awkward and just ‘not themselves’.

7 years ago we started to develop another way to manage the design process. We decided to actively engage our clients in the initial phases of the design process using archetypes as a common language to help them better identify, locate and take ownership of their own unique brand personality. Once we reach a consensus on the core personality of the business it becomes far easier to develop creative work to reflect that personality.

This process allows the design conversation to not get ‘hung up’ on personal taste (of either designer or client). Once the personality is agreed upon the creative challenge is then simply about expressing the agreed personality. Our reputation as an agency is now founded squarely upon our expertise at translating our clients’ own unique characteristics into a workable brand toolkit that supports their business communications.

This approach feels more authentic to audiences, all staff and management on the client side are more engaged as they feel ‘involved’ in the process, and the brand has a uniqueness born from the client’s own unique story, rather than the designers own personal ‘Cool Ledge’.