I talk a lot about, honesty, bravery, strengths, starting movements, word of mouth, and the new ROI (Return on Influence). This by no means diminishes our passion and the importance of great design. Design plays an equally important role in your brand and is what makes all the strategy come to life.
There are many reasons why design is important and we'll discuss many of those in the future but this month I'd like to touch on the two big ones in my opinion. I'm not sure I'd put one of these as more important than the other but feel they are both imperatives for any brand to truly matter. One being how having a culture of design impacts your organization both internally and in the interactions you have with your audience and the other being how design actually can communicate more effectively and visually solidify your organizations characteristics in the minds of an audience.
Design as Culture
I'm sure integrating a culture of design in your organization is not something you have ever thought of. That's ok most people haven't. It may even be hard to think of an organization that has because it is rare. I'm sure you've seen it but it is often difficult to put a finger on exactly what you are sensing.
It starts with a bigger understanding of Design. Design is a way of life, it's a way of thinking. Design addresses problems and solves them in an elegant and beautiful way. I'm going to skip over the obvious example of Apple, and use a little lesser known company, Method. Method makes home care and personal care products that are beautiful. Some would say "needlessly beautiful" I would strongly disagree.
Put yourself in Methods shoes. You want to sell home and personal care products in the market today. Who are your competitors? SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, and Proctor and Gamble to name a few. Those three large corporations produce the overwhelming majority of household products. They probably make products that you use everyday that you didn't even know they made. How do you enter a market like this? You have to see a problem and solve it.
The problem that Method saw was that most of the products these huge corporations were creating we so butt ugly that people kept them under their sink, out of reach, and thus less convenient to use. The team at method addressed this human to product interaction problem through design. They designed their products to not only be easy to use, thinking about ergonomics, balance, one handed operation, etc but also designed them to be great looking. They look good on your counter top and in your bathroom. This idea of design has permitted all their decisions even down to the chemicals or lack of chemicals used in making their products. It goes far beyond just the looks of their logo and website. They've re-designed how people interact with everyday products, thus changing peoples lives and changing the world a little bit. That is the power of design.
Every organization, and company interacts with another entity of some kind. Those interactions offer the potential to create a remarkable experience that can change the world. Are you brave enough to take that opportunity and run with it? Embracing a culture of design can quickly set you apart from others, and can dramatically impact your brand. By thinking about how you can make the word a better place through what you do quickly moves any organization into the category of Brands that Matter.
Design in Identity
For clarification purposes; when we talk about identity we mean the characteristics of who you are. This is your actual identity. The designed elements that communicate who you are, like your logo, and website are just that, a logo and website. They are extremely important but they are not your identity, but they help communicate your identity to the world.
Just as every person is collections of traits, and personality so is an organization. Each is unique and complex. As a person you can't and don't fully express who you are to everyone you meet through the words you use. The same is true for an organization. Well designed experiences like a logo, color scheme, typography, website, customer service, physical location, advertising, etc all work together to deliver a fully realized understanding of who your organization is.
Design is here again to solve this problem of communication. Not only in delivering a consistent message but one that is solely from your organization. I'll call this "style" for a lack of a better word. This style, based on who you are (which hopefully includes a culture of design) becomes recognizable and is an asset. I mean asset in the truest sense of the word. It is worth something, and it grows in value, actual dollar value. The more recognizable an identity design is the more it's worth. Imagine if a company like Nike decide to sell. How much do you think that swoosh is worth? Granted that didn't happen over night, and they have done a great job increasing that value over the years, but it didn't start out that way. By taking the visual design of your organization seriously, over time it will add value and improve the trust your audience has in you.
Through delivering great design thinking, and design communication the overall experiences people have with your organization become more pleasurable, and remarkable. This adds those characteristics and value to the brand and it is thus becomes stronger and more valuable to both the organization and the world. More people will share their stories of those experiences with others and your brand will be introduced to more people, giving you more opportunities to offer great designed experiences, and continue to make the world place, and truly be a brand that matters.