the most important part of design is not design

Personify Shop 's new branding on their product tag!

Personify Shop's new branding on their product tag!

I run into this in my own work daily. I do my best to create wonderful designs that keep audiences engaged. Designs that spark connection and inspire action. 

But - the most important part of my job is not my design.

It's what that the design does.

When we design a logo, the most important thing is getting that logo on a business card / on your website / on your sales sheet / on your email header / on your product tag so you can go do the work with confidence.

When we design a line sheet, the most important thing is getting that line sheet printed, packed in a box with samples and in the mail to your retail stores.

When we design an annual report, the most important thing is getting that annual report into your donor's hands to show them how their money made an impact.

We could spend hours agonizing over the smallest things together, but that font/kerning/color/layout/extra revision is not the most important thing. 

Good designers facilitate forward momentum, while easing doubt and uncertainty. 

Hitting send, mailing it out, passing it along - those are the most important things. Don't forget that! 


Mad & Dusty Restyle Their Brand

His Why:
How To Build a Brand Mood Board

DUSTY: When we first started Mad & Dusty, it was our intention to showcase our work as a husband + wife team. But since I work full time at a screen print shop, I've been more of a shadowy figure in the background. The one Maddy talks about occasionally, but some may not believe is real. But with our impending rebrand, we decided that it's time for me to make my presence more apparent. Starting with my input on the whole restyling thing... 

First of all, we want Mad & Dusty to be more design focused. Our business has been many things since we've started. We did a little bit of this and a lotta bit of that. Designing, painting, printing, woodworking, etc. More or less taking any job that we could tackle, regardless of what it was. As time has gone on, we've gotten a better feel about how to run a business. Obviously we haven't nailed it, but we're getting there (fingers crossed!) We've refined who and what we are, so it felt like time for a refresh!

Right now, our business looks rather clean and safe. But that's not what we are. We're a little messy and we like to experiment and adventure! And we want that to be reflected in our business.

Maddy has a fun and youthful illustrative style that people love. And I've got a clean retro style focusing on design and type-layout. It may sound kind of boring, but it helps us balance each other out. Clients love the way our styles come together, so we want these things to be evident up-front. Which we'll hopefully be able to achieve as we walk ourselves through the same branding exercises we work through with our clients.

How to Build a Brand Inspiration Board

MADS: When we first started, we had trouble with our brand. We were trying to build a brand around something that wasn’t fully formed. Luckily we were getting married and a designer friend was able to gift us with a logo. (Thank you Joey!) That got us started and gave us the confidence to move forward. Now that we’ve grown and been working on this thing for a while, we noticed some things were off. The brand we were in person was not syncing up with what’s online.

Our site was (is) clean and structured, but our house is chaotic and eclectic. There’s no clean white space. Our home is full of video games and roommates and old things getting renovated by Dusty. It’s even in the suburbs. I can’t keep a plant alive, let alone Instagram it. I don’t like pineapples as a design element, even if you put them in gold foil. With all this working together, it seemed to me that we were doomed to failure. (When you think success is simply looking like everyone else.) I felt this discord around the beginning of February. Our brand started to feel like clothes that will never fit right, no matter how much you tug on them.

I felt lost. Like I wasn’t matching up with who I wanted to be and just couldn’t catch up. There’s the good aspirational “I want to be more…” and then the bad aspirational “I want to be more because what I am now isn’t good enough.” I was operating in that second space for a good while, and probably will always navigate back there from time to time.

I was juggling too much, not sleeping and we were saying yes to everything. I was looking for that job, that client, that goal achieved, that affirmation to say, “Yes, you’ve finally made it. You can sit with us.” But no matter how hard I worked, how much family time I sacrificed, I wasn’t hearing that.


I think I finally realized it was because I didn’t need to hear that. God wasn’t holding his affirmation out of reach on purpose to show me who’s boss. (Really a thing I had believed for a while.) God had already given me affirmation. I was sitting at the right table, wearing the right clothes and just staring with envy at all the other tables. Yuck. Even writing that physically hurts my fingers as I type. Chasing that sort of affirmation through your work is not a healthy way to operate, no matter your profession, but especially as a creative. That sort of chase makes it incredibly hard to be authentic. You’re too busy trying on the brand that “works” and not exploring your own person.

I had been so busy jamming ourselves into “the right” persona online, that we were missing out on the chance to communicate a lot of what makes our brand unique. We weren’t telling anyone what makes us fun to work with or why we love to design and who we love to design for. So, yeah, basically what Dusty said with a side of all the feels


Since we are two people forming one brand, we both created separate mood boards. They look kinda Different Don't they? Sign up for next week's dispatch to see how we merged them!