Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Design matters

There are a lot of gurus and jargon-laden books about the power of branding, the need for a consistent brand image, and clear brand identity guidelines. But what many of them miss is that brand is not a marketing exercise, it is a promise in everything you do, and to truly add value it needs to be intentionally and thoughfully designed "on purpose".

It's not a tactic to be managed, nor is it about the size and placement of a logo.

Design of every touch point establishes the relationship between you and your customers. That's what brand is about - a relationship and a promise between you and them. Complete design incorporates what they see, interact with and come in contact with - all the things they experience about your company and use to form opinions about it, and develop desire for your product. These touch points shouldn't just randomly be allowed to happen, they need to be designed and coordinated in a way that gets you where you want to be with your customers - to where you matter to them.

Why is this thought so simple in theory and so rarely practiced?
If we could figure this out, bottle it and sell it we'd have a lot more Apple Computer, Nike, BMW success stories.


  1. I wrote a great post about brand and I included all kinds of big words and great theories and I agreed and disagreed and it was otherwise brilliant.

    But it melted when I tried to post.

    The thesis was this: the "brand" is dead.

  2. If you mean the "brand" as a product, a finite place in time, a marketing construct, a thing to be achieved, then I agree.

    If you mean the intentional design of specific experiences and touch points to clearly and meaningfully communicate the promise you make to your customers, then I disagree. Those design-focused and customer centric companies that do it well, in every touch point will always rise above the rest, be memorable and have more value.

    Let me hear your thesis again?

  3. Thesis = brand is dead. overused. over-branded, as it were. Like mission statements, visions, brands are the new corporate dodo bird.

    Branding has become a panacea for a lack of corporate integrity. But like Dumbo didn't really need a feather to fly, great companies don't need a great brand to be great. Their greatness makes them fly.

  4. Great companies are like zealots who focus intensely on the kind of customer experience they want their product or service to create. They are incredibly intentional about that experience and no detail is too small.

    Today that is the only kind of brand that matters. The rest is eye candy, or the subject of many books that explain, "unpack" and torture things like brand vision, brand equity, brand image, brand this...

    Great companies have great brands, because everything they do is connected to the answer to the same central question: What do I want my customers to feel after they have bought my X, Y, Z? How does my store support that? How about the people they talk to on the phone? Or the way my Wenb site functions? Or even the language on the packaging (if my product has packaging).

    More than ever today people justify their purchase decision with reason, but they stay connected through emotion.

  5. Thanks! Those are some great points. I am working on the brand for my company and have been following different brand identity guidelines to do it. I'll certainly keep some of those suggestions in mind when doing the logo.