• With the Participatory Consumer Audience in mind: exploring and developing professional brand identity designers reflexive practice

Kirby-Ginns, Sarah, 2024, Thesis, With the Participatory Consumer Audience in mind: exploring and developing professional brand identity designers reflexive practice PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This PhD reflects upon first-hand unidirectional and passive consumer audience experience approaches prevalent in professional UK brand identity design. It explores: How brand identity designers might move towards an improved reflexive practice in the design of consumer audience experiences. This practice-led research focuses on the ideas generation stage of their design process.

An ongoing constructivist audience paradigm shift signals that when thinking about and using their positionality in relation to their consumer audience experiences, designers need reflexive practice to support critical reflection of themselves, their biases and assumptions. This research uncovered a lack of relevant theory regarding reflexive practice specific to the context of brand identity design. This insufficiency throws into doubt designers' relational, participatory and equitable approaches in their working practices and their abilities to address market imperatives, including client requirements connected to the ongoing audience paradigm shift.

Aligned with John Dewey's ethical pragmatism and drawing from Creswell, Tashakkori and Teddlie, my study adopts a mixed methods methodology. Alongside established qualitative and quantitative methods, this includes my practice via design visualisations, as discussed by Drucker, and builds upon Carl DiSalvo's approach of practice used to do inquiry and design as a method of inquiry. My practice enabled me to critically reflect, evaluate and construct reflexive practice knowledge, including the development of reflexive practice communications, to advance understanding of and improve other designers' reflexive practice, and to communicate my process of reflexive design practice research.

Thirty UK-based professional brand identity designers participated in this research: nineteen participants in Phase One, a questionnaire, and six in Phase Two semi-structured interviews. Phase One and Two findings identified a gap in that designers are not employing a reflexive design practice and lack the resources to do so. Seeking to improve these shortcomings, eighteen initial reflexive design practice principles were explored and tested in Phase Three, a workshop involving five design participants. Results showed that the principles facilitated participants to advance prior thinking and engage in a reflexive design practice.

Further reflections and insights from the same five Phase Three participants uncovered a need to refine and reduce the principles and communicate them in a guide. Eight revised overarching and eighteen sub-principles in a prototype guide were explored in Phase Four in applied practice by three brand identity designers involved in Phase Three. Results corroborated workshop findings and provided further recommendations.

Contributions of this research are three-fold. First, offering an advanced understanding of professional brand identity designers' reflexive practice and process knowledge. Second, it produced a reflexive design guide with eight overarching and eighteen sub-reflexive design principles and corresponding digital app, thereby offering a preliminary new design practice method. This method offers a way to improve designers' thinking about and operation of their relational positionality, participatory consumer audience experience approaches, and reflexive design practice actions. Third, it provides a contribution to knowledge via its methodology, which integrates design visualisation practice into a mixed methods approach.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W210 Graphic Design > W213 Visual Communication
School or Centre: School of Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords: Brand Identity Design; Reflexive Practice; Relationality; Mixed Methods Methodology; Design Principles
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2024 15:23
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 15:23
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5654
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