Business

Business needs a designer label

Ann Jensen Warman has created designs for local and national businesses. - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Ann Jensen Warman has created designs for local and national businesses.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Ann Jensen Warman pushes ‘brand unity,’ a corporation’s key to successful marketing.

More American schoolkids can identify the McDonald’s golden arches than the Christian crucifix.

Worldwide, Coca Cola takes a back seat to the cross, with Mickey Dee’s placing a close third.

These survey results may be unnerving to some, but these corporate marketing success stories contain a few lessons even a Winslow shop can learn from.

“Small businesses are catching on to what the large corporations have been doing for years,” said Ann Jensen Warman, owner of Brand Unity, a Bainbridge marketing design firm. “You know Coca Cola immediately from their colors and packaging. Their logo is the same across the board.”

Warman’s three-year-old company works with island and regional businesses to develop and unify marketing strategies that create a consistent visual design that targets the people most likely to buy a particular product.

Part artist, part psychologist, Warman offers services that include designs for web pages, business cards, letterheads, print advertisements and brochures.

“In marketing, it takes a customer seven contacts with a logo before they start to think about purchasing a product,” the 10-year island resident said. “But if you keep changing your identity, or you have multiple ones, it’s going to take more than seven times to do it.”

Warman uses a tried-and-true stop sign as an example:

“If it were purple and round on one street corner, triangular and chartreuse on another, its message would be diffuse and confusing,” she said. “Likewise with visual branding.”

Warman, who studied visual design at the University of California in Los Angeles and the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, is the driving force behind Brand Unity, but she often employs local artists, photographers and web technicians to round out her skills.

The southern California native entered the field as an independent print designer in 1989, adding web development in 1997.

Warman’s previous company name, Digital Media Communications, reflected expertise in technology and software development. She shifted to Brand Unity to put visual arts at the forefront.

Brand Unity has helped a variety of island businesses and nonprofits improve their marketing and “brand” cohesiveness, including the Bainbridge Arts and Humanities Council, the Bain­bridge Farmers Market and Sound DSL.

The company has lately taken on a number of local attorneys looking for a boost in their visual marketing.

Warman created an interactive website for Jeanette Nyden, a former criminal trial lawyer moving into the field of consulting and corporate training.

The site’s online registration feature drew in enough clients to pay for itself within three weeks, Warman said.

Formally trained in the fine arts, Warman is largely self-taught in a variety of web-based technologies.She is adept in an array of programming languages and multimedia features.

She has also written for Media Inc. Magazine, discussing strategies to boost website traffic and search engine rankings.

Warman taught advertising and graphic design for nearly two years at Shoreline Community College. Teaching reinforced her belief that higher education is “extraordinarily important” for artists. As visual communicators, Warman said, it is vital for artists to be “broadly educated and keenly aware of social currents and diverse languages that speak to our era.”

She said her business has benefited from her own wide-ranging education.

“I became passionate about the arts and absorbed by technology,” she said. “Even though my academic studies were widly eclectic, the university was deeply enriching.”

Warman recently won two web design awards for the Bainbridge In Bloom garden tour site.

She enjoys working collaboratively with a variety of client types, calling the creative work she does a personally gratifying, “life-giving” process.

Crafting the “linear, elegant and simple” designs befitting attorneys’ business card is just as exciting as the “flowery, curly, not direct” style that matches the Bainbridge In Bloom site, she said.

“My goal is to find the intent of the business,” she said. “I look at everything – the heart and soul – and find ways to bring that out so they can reach their market.”

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Unification

For more information on Brand Unity and samples of Ann Jensen Warman’s graphic design work, see www.brandunity.com

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