Why design is essential to future branding

design-thinkingThinking about design today.

I wrote a blogpost a couple of weeks ago about the three components of future branding; Authenticity, Innovation and Design. Today I though I’d dig deeper into the design part of branding. Why is it important, what does it mean and how do you know you’re on track.

Why is design an essential part of future branding?

Andy Warhol said in 1968 that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Andy was in many ways right. But while he was at it he could just as well have said “In the future, brands will be world-famous for 15 minutes. Designed brands will be worlds-famous forever”. We’re in the midst of a century where the consumers are in control. Consumers define who’s famous and who’s not.

Advertising is slowly fading away and product and service design is taking over as the new instrument to get famous. Design plays an extremely important role here. It’s like a we’re all invited to the biggest prom night ever where brands are looking to get laid with consumers. The sexiest brands on the dance floor will be the winners and design is the prom dress that defines how sexy you are.

 

Your brand designed – Everywhere!

Design isn’t only about a logotype or the product. It’s about the entire brand universe. Yesterday you could survive with making sure you had a nice logo and maybe a nice product. Today we’re comparing your brand to all the brands in the world. A quick ‘google’ and then you’re being compared with the best of the best.

Designing your brand means caring for every little part of the brand (as I’ve written about before), basically anything visual that represents the business. This means that you as a brand manager or owner of a company should put systems in place that ensures you have control over every part of the brand. When it comes to the logo, marketing material and stationary it’s usually easy. But most brands struggle when it comes to the products, the packaging, their offices, websites and more. Get this fixed today.

 

How do you know your brand design rocks?

This is the million dollar question. What great design looks like is of course a tough question but the right answer is: On brief! After all, designing your brand is not about creating art or doing something that you personally like. A great design should achieve a designated objective for your brand. On brief and on strategy in other words. There are however a couple of things you should strive to achieve when you’re designing your brand. Here’s a couple of things to think about:

  • Differentiate your brand.
  • Guide the consumer.
  • Create viral effects.
  • Connect the thing you’re designing with the brand.
  • Tell the story.
  • Create brand equity.
  • Understand technology.
  • Don’t ask the consumers what they want.
  • Break rules.

How do you do it? Making your brand sexy?

The only way forward when you want to build a future brand is making sure you have a design team on board. When I say a design team on board I don’t neccesary thing you should design things inhouse but you should defenetly have people inhouse that leads the design process even though it’s an external agency delivering design for you. I think it’s essential that every brand today has a creative director that ensures their brand is on track. Developing a deep and broad knowledge of design and brand inside the company is key component in making sure your brand survives the test of times.

The challenge with having your in house design team is of course to get access to top level designers but that can be solved with using freelancing designers or creative directors. It’s essential however that they’re not connected to an agency or network, that only leads to solutions that benefits the agencies, not necessarily your brand. When you’re looking to implement brand design, here’s a couple of things to think about:

  • Give the designers the tools they need.
  • Designers are artists. Treat them as such but make sure their ‘art’ is on brand.
  • Pay a designer more than you’re paying your CFO. A great designer creates value that lasts forever.
  • Put one of the designers on your board.
  • Make sure design thinking is spread through your entire organisation.
  • Don’t do bad design cause a certain system, product or service can’t be designed beautifully. If so, change the system, product or service.
  • Don’t be afraid to approve design that differentiates your brand.
  • Constantly question your design process.
  • Creativity is the opposite of routine.

 

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Curiosity. My greatest asset. Born 1971 and Raised in the suburbs of style city Stockholm, creativity was always a part of growing up. With a background as a former snowboard professional (with among others Greger Hagelin from WE and Per Holknekt from Odd Molly as sponsors) and one of the few in the world who nailed a 1440° spin, I started my career on the buyer side. Marketing exclusive golf brands such as Mizuno, King Cobra and Goldwin gave me insight into the demands of advertisers and consumers but foremost the complexity behind how products actually make it into the stores. Always full of ideas, I felt I needed to move on to the creative side of the business. Internet, on the rise in Sweden drew me into the digital revolution already in 1994. In 1998 however I joined Framfab, one of the late 90’s fast-moving companies. As a concept developer and key account manager I parted in creating award winning projects for clients like Vattenfall , Bredbandsbolaget, Nike Europe and Volvo Cars. I also held a position within Framfab Innovation. The incubator of new ideas within Framfab. After Framfab had grown in just two years from 130 employees to 3400, I felt I needed to move to a smaller organization. Abel & Baker - in 2001 the worlds most awarded digital advertising company attracted me. At A&B I tool part in winning the global account for adidas, but I also worked with MTV, Nokia, Toyota, Årets Kock, ICA and the Red Cross. In 2002 I left Abel & Baker to found something of my own - Foreign. Foreign - an ideas creator with focus on the communication of tomorrow - based in Stockholm, Sweden. Foreign quickly grew to 27 employees and was awarded in the Cannes Lions, D&AD, New York Festivals, London International Advertising Awards, Epica, Clio, Cresta and other award shows every year since start up. Foreign launched both digital and integrated global campaigns for BMW Motorrad, MTV, H&M, IKEA, Omega, Beckers, Com Hem, Intersport, Kosta Boda, adidas International and many more. In September 2008 I took the decision to close Foreign down after almost 7 years. I’m now consulting within the same business on my own. Apart from Foreign I’ve also founded WhiskyGrotto.com and Co-Founded PremierGoals.com. Thru the years, leadership and success has been important, but enjoying life, loyalty and sincerity is what drives me further. I consider my part in motivating adidas to let fairly small Foreign handle adidas global digital World Cup campaigns my proudest moment in business. The birth of my two daughters Ebba & Linn is my proudest moment in life.