Boundless Love of Branding

Design has always been my first love. In fact, it was the only course of study that ever loved me back. Naturally, design was the only career choice for me. So with an eager mind and empty wallet, I exited the doors of Art Center with all the same hopes and dreams as many young, aspiring designers: I wanted to get paid to do what I loved most.

My first job as a designer was at a corporate branding firm. After just a few days of designing mind-numbing logos for tech startups, I started plotting my escape. The money was good, but the work was painful. It wasn't the mechanics of design that I liked, but rather the thought process. When I asked about transferring to the brand strategy department, I was told that without a business degree there was no chance. So I quit on my 10th day there, a decision that was nine days overdue.

I ran as far away from corporate logos as possible and ended up at a motion graphics boutique designing main titles. Learning to design through storytelling was a completely new and exciting experience. The visual narratives seemed to have a life of their own, which allowed my creativity to finally run free. For the next six years I honed my skills on juicy main title projects like Desperate Housewives and 300, and earned three Emmy nominations in the process.

Title sequence stills from 300 (at left) and Desperate Housewives.

A good designer sees infinite possibilities—and creatively incorporates design into everything.

But even with all that I was accomplishing in motion graphics, it seemed there was still something missing. The design itself was liberating, but every project began to feel like it was a single piece of a larger puzzle. Commercials always came scripted. And main titles, regardless of their potential for beauty, were still just a small appetizer to the main course. I found my mind constantly wandering back to the elusive world of branding.

Pinkberry offered me the perfect opportunity to finally take the risk I had secretly been waiting for. I happily dove head first into a new career—working, learning and taking pleasure in this new brand. Concerned that I'd have to start my process from ground zero, I quickly realized just the opposite was true. My six years designing main titles was actually perfect preparation for the branding world. Like movies, a brand also has character and personality; it allures and entertains. A brand tells its story visually, emotionally and epically.

Online branding for Pinkberry.

Consciously or subconsciously, I could incorporate everything I already knew into creating, building and evolving brands. Only now I was looking at the big picture. My work with Pinkberry and other brands has taught me that branding is not just about any one website, tagline, image or product—it's about the sum of all parts, unified in order to breathe life into a truly successful brand.

Ultimately, I believe a good designer doesn't see platform limitations across print, web, motion or other media. A good designer sees infinite possibilities—and creatively incorporates design into everything, literally. I believe this is vital to remember, as traditional branding continues to shift and evolve. The root of successful branding is good communication and good ideas—and good ideas have no boundaries.

About the Author:

Three Emmy nominations, an award winning branding agency, two start-ups and a publication.
In 2006, from her downtown loft, armed with a brand new Mac Pro, she started her branding agency, Ferroconcrete. Yo believes, ”People don’t fall in love with businesses, they fall in love with personalities.” With Yo’s unique perspective in branding, her first client, a little mom and pop shop, Pinkberry grew to a global brand with over a 200 stores worldwide. 

An entrepreneur, Yo created früute, a modern cookie company featured in Wallpaper, LA Times and Refinery29. Yo then co-founded Commodity, an online fragrance company featured in GQ, Fast Co., and Esquire, which launched in Sephora March 2015. She recently founded the publication LA Downtowner, an insider guide to downtown L.A., where she is the editor-in-chief.