What is Intuitive Branding?

Intuition has recently become a trendy buzzword. Its thrown around so much, I wouldn’t be surprised if you felt like it’s meaning falls flat. Despite the recent popularity intuition has gained, it’s always been at the core of my process as a creative. So, what is intuition?

Websters Dictionary describes intuition as “immediate apprehension or cognition, knowledge or conviction gained by intuition, and the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”

That last sentence nails the feeling. In reality, the drive behind my quick thought process (call it second nature) isn’t baseless. Here at Kiss Creative, intuition drives my creativity in two ways:

    1. The insight my clients provide, the interactions we have, and the digital paper trail they leave behind give me clues that informs my intuition.
    2. The experience I have, the education and the training I’ve received, and the and the values I have also informs my intuition.

I took a deeply critical look at my internal process to figure it out exactly how intuition and branding goes hand-in-hand. I examined my brand questionnaire, my design process, and the interactions I have to help me better understand my clients. In that exploration, a theory emerged. This theory completely demystified the intuitive aspect I struggled to describe.

Defining your brand is an opportunity to craft your signature aesthetic. We can prioritize authenticity by identifying a style you naturally step into and applying it to that process. Style is individualized and expressive. It provides us the opportunity to say something about the way we want to feel. Personal style is transparent because we don’t pick the “best” or the “worst”. It’s subjective to an individual. We pick our favorite.

Learning about your favorite things gives me an opportunity to see where you shine. Being an intuitive graphic designer means taking a closer look at the things that take your energy from just getting by to completely glowing. If you’re getting dressed up for your birthday, what do you wear? If you rush home from the mall with a bag full of purchases you can’t wait to unpack, what did you buy? We all know the feeling. Those features and characteristics are defined by you. It’s powerful design data. It’s the primary fuel to inform my intuition, because those clues help me to craft a brand you feel entirely obsessed with.

Intuitive branding is a process that calls on a wealth of design knowledge, experience, and the confidence that comes with developing a true understanding of your client. It’s the ability to make smart, effective, and concise decisions that benefit your client and fit into their signature aesthetic. The power of intuition transforms that process from being a delicate balancing act to a force of second nature.

Intuition and Strategy

The concept of intuitive design came to me when I was presented with a marketing challenge: I had to identify what makes my services unique. It’s something we should all do. “What do your clients say?” My coach prompted me. I took a look at the testimonials I’ve collected. “I don’t know how you do it. You just get me.” One client remarked.

Similar remarks were echoed in all of the feedback I collected. It’s the kind of data that’s the most rewarding. In that moment, I came to realize that my intuition played a pivotal role in my work as a designer.

Obviously, intuition isn’t all there is to it. Strategy is essential to craft an effective brand. Designers collect data like marketing demographics, sales history, and competition stats. We use this data to create graphics that directly target a specific audience, a specific goal, or a combination of both. This education, along with technical ability, separates the amateurs from the pros. However, contrary to popular belief, strategy shouldn’t come first.

Parks & Rec GIF

Lesli Knope making out with Ben Wyatt at her bowling alley fundraiser. Parks and Rec, Season 4 Episode 13.

Humans are emotional creatures. We connect over feelings — not data. Think Parks & Rec Season 4, Episode 13, Bowling for Votes. Lesli was challenged to sell her winning personality to Pawnee voters for a place in local government.

Voters didn’t fall in love with Leslie until she broke conventions, ditched her rule book, and publicly stood up for boyfriend Ben Wyatt after he punched an angry participant at Leslie’s bowling alley fundraiser. Leslie’s behavior wasn’t PR-material, but her realness allowed voters to see her in a new light. In that moment, she gave her audience a moment to relate. She inspired real emotions. She struck a chord with Pawnee.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging violence. But, branding isn’t that different. Sometimes, rules should be broken. Quirks unfit for PR-prestige evoke a sense of true authenticity that data can’t provide. The discerning perspective of a professional designer can help you to decide how you shine, which rules you can afford break, and how to highlight what makes you different. I’ve included a few links to get started below!


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October 2, 2019

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