Jacob Cass is a brand designer and educator, as well as the founder of JUST Creative, an award-winning branding and design consultancy and blog. JUST Creative works with entrepreneurs and businesses who want to strategically build a brand that cuts through the noise and delivers a clear goal-focused message, with a consistent visual style.
A strong believer in the value and accessibility of online learning, Jacob has been a lifelong learner his entire career and encourages all budding designers to be the same. He currently teaches through both his blog and his coaching programme. Jacob spoke to the Alison blog about his industry experience, how to get ahead in design and his advice for learners.
Hi Jacob, tell us a bit about yourself!
Hey! Jacob Cass here! I love helping designers, entrepreneurs and experts make money doing what they love through branding, design, marketing and business smarts. As for me, I am a brand designer, strategist, educator, podcaster, business coach, community builder and the founder of JUST Creative, a design consultancy that doubles as an industry-leading blog (and passive-income machine!). I’m classically trained as a graphic designer but have been deeply involved in the design and branding industry since 2007.
Along with a Bachelor in Visual Communication from The University of Newcastle, Sydney, you also hold a Brand Master Certification from Brand Master Academy. How have you found your own experience of online learning?
Online learning has been part of my education since the very beginning and still is today. I learn from online course providers as well as blogs, podcasts and everything in between. Online learning has exploded in the past few years, which has been both good and bad. On one hand, we have more teachers and knowledge, however the quality varies dramatically because “everyone’s a teacher”. In some courses, I haven’t got past the first module and others have provided paradigm shifts that have totally changed the trajectory of my career.
Through your JUST Branding Podcast and your Inner Triangle Coaching Program you teach designers, entrepreneurs and creatives how to grow their brands. What inspired you to be not just a brand designer, but an educator in brand design?
Looking back on my career as a designer, it’s clear to see that I’ve always been an educator. Earlier in my career, I was educating through writing but more recently that has shifted to educating via audio, as well as live through one-on-one coaching and group coaching.
As an experienced educator, what advice do you give your students that would also help Alison Learners?
Never stop learning. Life is a continuous journey of education. If you have a subject that you love, go all in and educate yourself from multiple sources. Take courses from different teachers as they will have their own unique knowledge to share, and amplify your learnings by reading books and actually putting what you learn into ACTION. Action is everything.
You included Alison’s Visual and Graphic Design course on your list of the 10 Best Free Graphic Design Courses Online. How did Alison come up on your radar and what prompted you to include it in your list?
I came across Alison when researching free graphic design courses on Google and I was impressed with the knowledge that was being given away for free so I just had to share your course on our list. The modules covered the basics of design and it wasn’t overwhelming for those just getting started.
What are the most important skills to learn to become a successful graphic designer?
At minimum, a successful designer must know the principles of effective visual communication aka what makes “good design”, as well as the process of how to effectively achieve this. Particular areas that I believe designers should master are the core design principles, typography and color theory.
Soft skills are crucial as well. This comes with practice but often way too late in one’s career. By soft skills I refer mainly to people skills – learning how to get to the root cause of people’s problems, how to sell your services, how to negotiate and so much more.
You’ve previously worked for some huge global brands, such as Nike and Disney, and are now focusing on working with smaller businesses to grow their brands. What prompted this change, and how rewarding do you find working with entrepreneurs?
For five years, I worked in advertising agencies in New York who had Fortune 500 companies as clients, and that’s where I cut my teeth in the industry. This taught me a lot about branding, design, advertising and how to apply my skills in the real world. The shift to small businesses happened when I left New York to travel the world. I explored over 60 countries over 3 years and during this time I started running my design agency and the JUST Creative blog which focused on smaller businesses.
You’ve said that you believe design to be “a lifelong journey of continuously honing your craft” and that you encourage other designers and entrepreneurs to continue to always learn. How do you always make sure that you continue to learn and upskill professionally?
What you put in is what you get out. If you consume garbage, your output is going to be garbage. Learn from the masters, from people who’ve been there and have the results to prove it. Don’t just consume either. Put what you learn into action as that’s how you will continue to learn and upskill professionally.
Follow industry-leader Jacob’s advice and start your design journey with Alison’s Visual and Graphic Design course now!