A Journey into the World of Visual Identity
RAMZAN RASHID AL-NAIMI
A JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF VISUAL IDENTITY
If you decide to start your own business, choosing the right visual identity is imperative for attracting and retaining attention. Although corporate visual identity and branding are used interchangeably, they are two different concepts. Corporate identity is about the look and feel of the business, while branding is the emotional relationship between a customer and the business. However, both brand and identity are interrelated, because when a product can establish its identity, it is recognized as a brand.
Therefore, choosing an appropriate identity contributes to the success of a business, just as an inappropriate choice could lead to undesirable results in the long run. To glean more information on identity and branding, we met with Mr. Ramzan Rashid Al-Naimi, Network Creative Director at Al Jazeera Media Network, who is considered one of the most prominent corporate identity specialists in the State of Qatar. He is also a veteran coach in marketing, corporate communication, corporate identity, and design thinking. He also represents the Middle East and Africa as a member of the Grand Jury of the renowned 2020 AME awards that evaluates advertising effectiveness.
We had a chat with this inspiring young Qatari who offered insight on the concept of visual identity as well as some valuable professional advice.
How did you start working in the creative field?
When I joined Al Jazeera, I was trained as a TV director by the BBC via Thomson Foundation. I was 19 years old then. Through my work in this field, I learned more about image-making and the elements that make up an image, and as I had a passion for drawing and design since childhood, I made sure to refine and hone my skills with professional courses in design. Then, I moved to working in the creative field.
Is creativity a talent or is it a skill that anyone can acquire?
I think creativity is a talent, but it needs refinement. Creativity cannot grow without a fostering environment that guides it and supports innovation. However, there are several elements that can contribute to the development of a person’s creative capabilities, no matter his or her age, including design thinking.
I am a great supporter of design thinking because of its approach that accelerates the process of thinking, innovation, and the development of creative solutions. It allows anyone to think in new ways and to see things from different perspectives, sparking an enthusiasm to participate and search for solutions, or even create them.
How do you view corporate or commercial branding?
It is like reputation. I remember a quote by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Corporate or commercial branding is a language of communication before being a visual design. It appeals to the feelings and impressions of the recipient, the customer, or the user, and shapes positive or negative mental images.
So, should choosing the logo of a business not be confined to aesthetics alone?
Attention to the visual aspect is of course important, but you should also not lose sight of the values associated with designing a corporate or commercial identity. You must keep in mind everything that is related to the identity, or what is known as “Brand Personality.” For example, when building a youth-oriented identity, you must adhere to the suitable complementing elements, such as identity-appropriate customer service.
What advice would you give young entrepreneurs who want to create a successful corporate identity for their business?
I urge them to work with specialists and experts in corporate or commercial identity and to stay away from amateurs and beginners. Do not look for the cheapest option, because that will affect the value and brand of your business. As for the visual aspect, make sure that your logo suits your core business. It should communicate the message to the recipient easily and reflect the business’s values. Here, there are a group of elements to be observed, such as being understandable, acceptable to the recipient, simple, with minimal colors, and not repulsive.
We often hear the term “personal branding” where a person seeks to create his or her own identity across various digital platforms to showcase their skills and experiences. How important is this for anyone who wants to develop a successful career?
Personal branding has become important in shaping other people’s impressions of you. It is now a science that is being taught and an approach that demonstrates your passion, personal values, principles, skills, and experiences. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, says “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, and other times, it will be behind. But a brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.” We can apply this idea in this case, considering that the products here are your skills and expertise.
How can I create a successful personal identity?
It is necessary at first to ask yourself “Who am I?” and “What distinguishes me?” Then showcase your skills and expertise using the appropriate marketing tools, the most important of which is social media. There must be consistency in your personality when interacting with the audience and customers, so as not to have multiple personalities which might lead others to lose confidence in you. Do not imitate others, rather create your own personality and your worth.
What should one focus on when creating digital content?
The focus should be on quality content. Creating good content requires attention to detail. Social media has become crowded with low-quality content, as most content creators focus mainly on catching up on trends and getting more views. We need to provide content that enlightens, promotes self-development, and opens new horizons for learning and knowledge in various fields, regardless of the interaction this content may register in the beginning.
Lately, the role of influencers as social media promoters and marketers has increased. What do you think of this trend?
Firstly, everyone should know the difference between celebrities and influencers. Most social media personalities in the Arab world can be considered celebrities rather than influencers. Not every celebrity is an influencer. To become an influencer, you must have a clear message and a mission to make a change in certain issues or fields, and you should not consider being an influencer as a profession in its own right. A mistake that is often made is the lack of knowledge about the celebrity’s audience, his or her personality, beliefs, the way he or she addresses matters, or the added value that this celebrity provides to the reputation or growth of an organization. They focus most of the time on the number of followers and not their quality.
What other advice would you like to give our readers?
Continue learning throughout your career, whether its honing new skills or gaining more skills. One of the most important milestones in my career was getting an Executive MBA in Leading Digital Transformation from HEC Paris in Qatar. What I learned changed my views about many things, and I embarked on a new phase in my career by focusing on digital transformation and institutional innovation. Studying expanded my perceptions, and I started exploring and looking deeper into areas that have become the foundation of the future. I also advise readers to volunteer in their spare time. For years, I worked as a consultant with the RAF Foundation and the Mental Health Friends Association (Weyak). My work as a volunteer enriched my career with human values and promoted my sense of happiness and contentment, and at the same time, it bolstered my confidence and psychological well-being.