This issue’s Coffee With features a conversation about the value of design.
Chad Martin joined Louis Nequette in July of 2005 before establishing his own boutique design shop, The G Brand in 2007 and currently has over twenty years of experience in the design field. His range of experience stretches from a singular 5,000 square foot retail space to a full multifamily development or student community.
His role is to create unique brands and pursue client relationships with like minded values. Chad’s passion lies in the built environment, working closely with architects and interior designers to create memorable spaces. From inception to delivery, branding has always been his main focus.
In helping shape the project style and feel he coordinates design efforts alongside brand direction that results in what he calls Interior Branding. This approach embraces many design disciplines including graphic design, architecture, industrial design and portions of landscape architecture. Communicating project identity with information design shapes the project experience.
Chad received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with a minor in Communication from Auburn University at Montgomery.
How would you describe the connection between The G Brand and Nequette Architecture & Design?
The G Brand is a division of Nequette Architecture & Design but it functions on its own island with separate clients, separate invoices and its own mix of unique design projects. All the while, working in a parallel direction with the same design philosophies, culture and values. The G Brand is a small design arm that’s easily adaptable to take on smaller jobs that most days aren’t a fit for Nequette Architecture & Design’s studios.
What is the process you follow in putting together a branding plan for a client?
A branding plan, that sounds so exact and finite. My world doesn’t quite work that way most days. Creativity is a tough thing to plan. It’s more of a fluid process, my clients mostly fall into two categories: real estate developers or small business owners. They each move at a different pace. Creating a brand for a small business owner requires a few layers of questions, to discover what they want, what they need and what they can afford. Next, I must get educated on their business, how it all works and where the new branding can assist. Soon after, we begin the dream phase at the 10,000-foot level and convert those dreams into ideas, then into concrete design work. The process begins with setting the right expectations, be it physical deliverables, design ideas, budget or deadlines.
My developer clients on the other hand are motivated by metrics, they want their projects to perform so I provide property branding services. There are many phases to their projects and you must be involved in all aspects to maintain brand continuity. Weaving the brand experience throughout every phase is key, especially if you want the project to stay true to the initial design direction. On many projects, my client is building in a new city and is working with a new architectural design team. This facet has allowed me to evolve my services past just the branding efforts. I call it being a “design coach” in a sense. I work to communicate design expectations and targets, then help manage and review progress to ensure the target is hit. The earlier I can be involved on a project, the more effective my efforts are. If I broke it down into three phases it would be the inspiration and discovery phase then the design development phase, working together with the whole design team as one fabric and the last phase would be construction observation and review. If we commit to that type process, we end up with a product that was developed together instead of in segregated efforts that feel forced.
What do you view as the biggest challenges for your business?
A project’s budget has to be the single largest challenge I run into most frequently but it only stirs my curiosity. Most days a little creativity can go a long way but budget, that’s more of a hurdle than a challenge.
What do you view as the biggest opportunities for your business?
The largest opportunity I have is to impact people’s lives through design. I get to influence the project’s design on multiple layers. Each layer alone may be weak, but they weave together to create an overall experience that is strong.