The Design Business Show 175: Overcoming Branding Limitations for Underrepresented Populations with Shar Biggers

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | February 9, 2022
Check out episode 175 of The Design Business Show with Shar Biggers to learn all about how branding can create limitations!

Shar Biggers is the creative director and founder of Provoke Design, a branding studio. A native of Atlanta, by way of St. Louis, she holds an MBA in business management and is a graduate of Miami Ad School’s Portfolio Center of Design. In her extensive experience, she has worked with Fortune 500 companies, led design for Amazon rebrands like Amazon Fashion and Amazon Diversity, and helped more than 10 million Americans say “I’m with her” for Hillary Clinton.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

Underrepresented Populations + Provoke Design

  • How we originally met Shar on Episode 170 of The design Business Show and why I invited her back on to discuss how a lack of investment in banding can create limitations for underrepresented populations
  • Shar’s created her agency, Provoke Design, to provide branding for all different types of businesses – specifically, businesses led by color, businesses led by women, and businesses led by people who may come from backgrounds who may not have the funds necessary to succeed in their business
  • Just because you come from one of these three groups doesn’t mean you don’t have a good business concept, idea, product or service, or leadership
  • Shar expresses how much of a struggle it can be to see these businesses come in but not have the resources or funding available to get them to where they need to go, and not have the awareness needed to have a strong brand and marketing presence that they need to succeed
  • Too often throughout Shar’s experiences, she would see those businesses not be able to approach the agencies she knew of or were so well known, which created a massive gap that Shar saw needed to be filled because she could see how it affected the economy and diversity in business
  • How there are so many examples of where representation for these 3 groups does not exist
  • Many people who do not fall into these groups usually get money from friends and family for their first investments when starting a business, which is the first stumbling block when it comes to underrepresented people because they don’t usually have people they can turn to
  • When you come from an underrepresented group and are starting a business, Shar says you are probably the breadwinner – the reason they are trying to launch a business is to try to help the family and leave a legacy
  • Shar says she is thankful to have gone to school for an MBA because being educated in psychology and business first and design second has helped shape the type of way she wants to do business
  • Once Shar sees those businesses that have a need, she tends to consult them on business overall – product design, product name, digital presence and asks questions like, what’s customer service like, do people like your company, is your product/service actually strong and solving a problem, or do you need to pivot
  • Sometimes when people come to Provoke, they don’t have an idea at all, or they have a failing idea and need help figuring out an idea that will do better – they are coming at different phases, Shar says, some need a rebrand, and some need help with their overall brand to make it stronger

Using Design to Help Solve World Problems

  • Shar explains there are some things in place that make it really hard for these underrepresented groups to qualify or get approved; that’s why she created a business where some of their biggest blocks can be solved through the branding and design work they do
  • Why Shar believes design thinking is the way of the future and the way businesses should be led – she believes if the world’s biggest problems were in the hands of designers, they would be solved
  • Shar’s advice for designers is to think about the things you are passionate about and would like to see solved and think about how you can help solve that thing in a beautiful way
  • Another great suggestion Shar has for designers is to think about including a certain number of pro bono projects or discounted projects per year for underrepresented groups so they can have more accessibility
  • Sometimes designers don’t think their work is that serious when it comes to branding, but Shar explains that it can help determine how great of a legacy these underrepresented groups can leave their families, which impacts the nation and is why were need to be more thoughtful and empathetic towards finding a solution to this problem
  • If you don’t see anyone solving the issue that you feel needs to be solved, you should think about how you can solve it
  • Even if you aren’t an expert in something, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in that area with the skillset and knowledge you do have
  • How the majority of people don’t realize how social, economic, or racial problems aren’t just limited to health care or housing, but how it stretches into business
  • Shar wants to make sure people are aware, so they can begin to think of solutions and little things they can do in their personal lives to help solve this problem in branding
  • As designers and problem solvers, we can help figure out ways through what we’re passionate about to help solve these world problems
  • We hope this conversation ignites inspiration –  make sure you check out Shar’s agency website and connect with her on Instagram 

Links mentioned:

Provoke Design Website

Episode 170 of The Design Business Show

Connect with Shar on Instagram 


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