Joe Duffy Branding Seminar.

Thanks to Hoyt, some of us (Professor Grayson, Hoyt, Jeremy, Sean, and myself, Sam) got a chance to attend a webinar about branding by Joe Duffy, sponsored and organized by HOW/Print. Here are my very basic/scratchy notes!

Brand is the f-word of marketing; everyone swears by it.

Lessons learned over 25 years
-Its not about the logo. is about brand experience.
-success begins with the design of a visual brand language based on essence, culture and personality.
-Collaboration with clients should be welcome not feared.
-assessing true equity is a critical part of the process.

5 cases

-The islands of Bahamas
– Aveda Men

-Wolfgang puck
-Minute Maid

CASE 1:: Bahamas
Simple PROCESS: collaborate, refined, and transparent.  IMAGINE > DESIGN > ACTIVATE

the business situation was dire. Post 9/11, visitor satisfaction, travel industry recommendations, bahamian interest in travel industry, differentiation studies, what makes the Bahamas different.

Filter the visual and verbal with the clients; involve them in everything but the actually designing. When the client is a part of the visual brief, it eliminates the element of surprise. IF ITS A SURPRISE, YOU’RE DEAD.
Maps, imagery, florals were important in Bahamas work. The map stood out because of the Bahamas actually being 14 destinations as opposed to one as with other islands.
Brand logo has a whole logo an was sectioned into their own “indivual” flags that should work separately and together, hence the individual pieces that make up the Bahamas type. Bringing in the “island-hopping” experience was a great consideration in this execution. Each island uses their own logo for their own marketing, which can be brought together in the end.
Usual process: Brand identity program > brand standards > advertising etc. Duffy finds it critical to also do enough of the applications so people know how to use it.

Mailer went out explaining the identity and why the bahamas are important and was prideful. Included in its final pages saying: “Together we are about change how the world sees us. together we are about the change how the world sees”.

CASE 2:: Aveda Men

What they wanted: Scientific leadership; natural; uniquely male. They needed a new brand look so that more males with be interested in it.
Verbal Brief: the aveda man is simple in choices but passionate about his choices. “life is more than me”. simple. passionate. proven.

Aveda Men was the name they were given and they wanted to create a short hand. They address packaging, materials, etc. size shape direction. If you get the visual brief right, you can only come up with a few options for directions and such. Testing it out in configurations and directions. Unretouched images of the real man were shown.

Case 3:: HERRADURA (tequila)

Maintain autenticity and celebrate 140+ yr legacy
Design a brand language as a global platform across multiple products.
Enhance the sense of premiumness

They went to Mexico to “dig” for more. Imagery. Then autenticity as its own idea. Premium as is own idea. Then distilling those down to start sketching.
Mexican Papercutting visuals. Horseshoes. Packaging and glass exploration.

He was running out of time at this point so I just stopped writing whole sections and just wrote memorable mentions by Duffy.

Case 4:: Wolfgang Puck
“Joe I want my picture bigger”
“Picasso of the culinary arts”
“Joe, I want to make eye contact and a bigger photo”

Case 5:: Minute Maid
arrange fruit in a ways that allows for patterned look when cartons are next to each other.
“Doesn’t take a lot to tell if someone is an a-hole”

4 Comments for “Joe Duffy Branding Seminar.”

Sean Barnes


Thanks for sharing your notes Sam! No I don’t have to wade through my chicken scratch! :)


Thanks for the article. It turned me on to Joe Duffy and his blog—another great resource!

I completely agree that surprising clients is a bad idea—I was just never able to articulate to myself why or how to prevent that from happening without seceding too much control to the client. The visual design brief sounds like a great tool.

The webinar sounds like it was awesome.


I wathed this excellent webinar. I am not a designer but i would like to know if there is some reading about visual brief. How the visual brief is created. Any format or it’s just the designer own creation and intuition?

Thank you very much for your help



A visual brief is synonymous to a mood board, a compilation of images that preview the designer’s vision for the look and feel. A visual brief, when accompanied by a written brief, helps clients better understand what they can expect to see as opposed to pure word description that can be lost in translation.

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