Strong Design Builds Strong Brands

Design perspective provided by Aaron Moore, Principal, Orange Element, a full-service creative agency based in Baltimore, Md.

Imagine the home improvement store’s aprons in a color other than orange. What if you looked for the golden peaks, not the golden arches, when you craved a burger? Chances are, you just instantly visualized Home Depot and McDonald’s.

That’s because strong design helped build these strong brands. For great companies still working to become great brands, consider these points when engaging a creative agency to develop marketing and brand materials.

Effective design starts with brand immersion

To design a logo, packaging, or marketing materials, the designer must first understand the brand. That means taking the time to learn about the company’s products, sales process, customers, culture, and history.

AM: Listening first -- to a client’s customers, employees, and marketing leaders -- allows the creative team to gather insight and explore ideas. Then all parties understand where there are opportunities to create something interesting and true to the brand, and move ahead together.

Knowing how a piece will be used informs functional and esthetic design

A brochure used at a tradeshow booth may have a different job than one used at point of sale. The former is a lead generator to make an impression and earn a store visit. The latter supports closing the sale. Everything from the copy, layout, size, and paper stock should support each purpose.

AM: This “brand participation” requires understanding the mindset of a customer at the time they’re absorbing information. Capturing their attention happens in mere seconds. Using design effectively can be the difference between losing a prospect and securing trust and loyalty.

Design is a key element in the overall brand strategy

Before design comes strategy. What’s the look, feel, tone, and voice of the brand? How is the brand being positioned, relative to competitors or other choices the customer has? These strategic considerations are not only supported by design, but imperative for effective design.

AM: Building a brand is complex. The strategy guides design and messaging, and becomes the playbook for creative development. This ensures consistency, lasting recognition, and the ability to measure success for further refinement.

Good design stands the test of time

While even the most iconic brands refresh their logos, packaging, and brand look to stay relevant, good design should make this rare. The consistent application of a brand’s design standards – across mediums, channels, and time – is critical for building brand awareness and affinity.

AM: Great design uses a variety of elements (i.e. color, shape, scale, etc.) to personify the brand and evoke just the right emotion. Done consistently, this creates brand affinity and memorability. And all brands want to be remembered.

If you found this helpful, please share it with a colleague. If you want to know more about building a strong brand, give me a call, send me a note, or let’s meet. You’ll be glad you did.