Good Design is a Good BusinessPosted : 05 August 20174
Recently, we started asking businesses how much they valued design in their workplace.
And this is one of the most common answers we heard:
For the challenge of perfecting a steady design flow – is it really worth it?
Firstly, we’re strong believers in the notion that design in the workplace should be easy. And secondly – a thousand times yes.
To outline exactly why, we created this list of proven reasons design is a good business decision. Do you agree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
01. The Statistics Are In – Design Sells
Are you someone that understands and is more motivated by the numbers? Well then, this first point is sure to convince you to introduce some design into your business, because in short, design is fiscally beneficial.
In 2005, a group called The Design Council studied 63 portfolios of companies that traded on the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) over the course of a decade. What they discovered was that the companies that put an emphasis on design did way better than the ones that didn’t – they outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 200% in fact. Check out the graph below that shows just how much better the companies that put an emphasis on design (red line) do when up against the top 100 businesses on the FTSE (green line)!
Graph courtesy of Eglinski. Check out the performance of design-alert businesses (red) against businesses that aren’t design-conscious (yellow) and the FTSE 100 (green).Graph courtesy of Eglinski. Check out the performance of design-alert businesses (red) against businesses that aren’t design-conscious (yellow) and the FTSE 100 (green).
A more layman-friendly figure that this study by The Design Council also determined was that “every £100 a design alert business spends on design increases turnover by £225”. So, investing in design is a bit like investing in future profits, it may cost a bit now, but a little down the track, these studies suggest that you’ll likely be glad you did so.
02. Strong Web Design = Strong Consumer Trust
We’re in a world now where just about every business is online in some form, in fact encountering a business’ website is often some people’s first encounter with a business at all. This, ontop of the fact that a lot of businesses now are 100% online means that the impression your website leaves is more important than ever. And how do we leave a good impression? Good design.
A study has determined that badly designed websites are often not read, trusted or visited for any length of time. “Poor interface design was particularly associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website,” the study states, “In cases where the participants did not like some aspect of the design the site was often not explored further than the homepage and was not considered suitable for revisiting at a later date…”
A comparison of two online retail sites, one that has little attention to design, and the other has less content, but a more digestible and user-friendly design.A comparison of two online retail sites, one that has little attention to design, and the other has less content, but a more digestible and user-friendly design.
And don’t try to justify a poor website design by saying ‘at least my content is great’, because 94% of the reason the participants rejected a site was for design related issues, while only 6% was for content-related issues. So, your content could be stellar and as top-notch as ever, but a poor website design can bring it all to a crashing halt.
So, what things should you look out for when designing your website? These are the things that participants of this study noted were deal breakers: Busy layouts, lack of navigation aids, boring web design, pop up advertisements, slow introductions to a site (splash pages, slow-loading flash introductions, etc), small print, too much text etc.
Keep an eye out for sites you find successful, and try to pinpoint why they are successful and introduce this into your own online endeavours.
03. Packaging Design Can Alter Perception Of Your Product
Have you ever watched a cooking show and noticed how much effort the chefs put into presentation? They labour over it and get grilled (pardon the pun) for any errors. Why is this? Sure, a lot of it is a part of the art of cooking, but the rest of it goes down to the old adage “you eat with your eyes”.
We generally use all of our senses when consuming food, and sight is a huge part of this. So when marketing food on the shelves of supermarkets, how do we make the product appealing when we can’t plate it up? Packaging design.
Now, packaging design is not immune to this “eat with your eyes” concept, in fact it’s pretty arguable that it matters even more so for packaged goods than plated ones. In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell determined that slight changes, additions and tweaks to the packaging of certain products changed how people reacted and tasted them. Blogger Joseph Putnam summarised some of Gladwell’s findings as such:
“If you add 15 percent more yellow to the green on 7 UP packaging, people report that it has more lime or lemon flavor, even though the drink itself was left untouched.”
“On a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, a picture of a close up of a real human face influences perceived quality more than a full body shot or a cartoon character.”
“In the Hormel logo, adding a sprig of parsley between the ‘r’ and ‘m’ causes customers to perceive the products as being more fresh.”
A simple adjustment to the design elements of a product can have a huge effect on how your product is perceived.A simple adjustment to the design elements of a product can have a huge effect on how your product is perceived.
These findings by Gladwell not only prove how true the “eat with your eyes” concept is, but how legitimate design practises are. Even the first 7 UP example alone proves that the concept of colour theory (that people have distinct subconscious reactions and associations to certain hues) has some weight behind it.
So, for product retailers who work within the realm of packaging, making specific and calculated design decisions can make a huge difference with how consumers perceive and consume your product.
04. Good Design Keeps Your Brand Memorable
As I have discussed and will continue to discuss until the cows come home, design is way more than just the outward appearance of a business, brand or product. It goes so much deeper, particularly when it comes to brand design. I like to explain brand design by likening it to a person, while you may first only encounter their outward appearance, as you get to know them, you discover all the little parts that make them up as a whole. This is what design is.
I’ve discussed in the past how memorable brands are created, from the logo right down to the choice of colours, and (spoiler alert), the way a memorable brand is created is through intentional and carefully chosen design decisions.
So, what makes a brand memorable? Good customer service and a good product certainly helps, but what about beyond that, on purely a surface level? Of course, it’s design.
Have you ever discussed a product or brand and said something along the lines of “I can’t remember the name of it but I can picture it”? Often we will remember some element of the material used in packaging or the colouring of the website, some sort of visual cue that we base our memories and experience off.
Studies have proven, in fact, that colour is a huge factor in what we remember and how vividly we remember it.
“The studies reviewed above showed that colours can lead to better memory performance,” the study by The Malaysian Journal of Medical Science found, “…Colour has the potential to increase chances of environmental stimuli to be encoded, stored, and retrieved successfully.”
So, there you have it, scientific proof that design techniques like a selective use of colour can trigger the memory and keep your brand fresh in the mind. So, perhaps incorporating a distinct design technique like colour, a unique layout, an original concept etc. can be that one added element that ensures your brand stays memorable and recognisable.
Let’s quickly consider a brand that has created a memorable design for itself – Pantone. A simple colour matching brand that has developed a desinct design style that makes them iconic and memorable for people aware of the brand. Have a look at the example below where this memorable brand has been used to create a visual joke.
Design has made Pantone a recognisable and memorable brand, so much so that by using the visual cues alone, the brand is still identifiable. Images by Crazy Style Love and Shillington.Design has made Pantone a recognisable and memorable brand, so much so that by using the visual cues alone, the brand is still identifiable. Images by Crazy Style Love and Shillington.
05. Design Keeps Your Content User-Friendly
This point is for all you software developers, technology-oriented businesses, or businesses that focus simply on making complex information easier to digest. With the rapidly growing and constantly changing world, technology and content is becoming more and more complex and powerful. Good design from interfaces, data display, right through to physical product design and advertisements makes it all way easier
As discussed in a video by design consultancy agency Smart Design, “The products we are using are evermore complex, and we need the design eye to break apart that complexity for the user and put it in terms they can engage with and welcome into their life”
Let’s consider a homegrown example: Canva. Graphic design is a complex business, there are so many ins and outs and things to learn, tools to use, elements to consider – it’s a tricky thing to understand for some people. The Canva tool, however breaks this down with a clear interface design that organises these complex elements in a simple way, makes choosing a format and size as easy as clicking a button, makes adding and organising images and type a breeze and essentially makes the whole design process a walk in the park.
A simple interface design (like that from) Canva can make a complex task (like designing a graphic) incredibly quick, simple and easy.A simple interface design (like that from) Canva can make a complex task (like designing a graphic) incredibly quick, simple and easy.
Canva has hundreds of image creating tool competitors, but what makes it different, and a lot of people’s first choice, is the way it uses a beautiful and simple interface design to make the process understandable, quick and easy for even the most entry-level of people.
In short, design is like a translation service. It takes the complex ‘language’ of data, information, software capabilities etc. and translates them into an entry-level and easy to understand format that many more people will understand.
06. Make A Good First Impression
Walking through a supermarket, researching online, or flipping through a catalogue, you encounter hundreds upon thousands of brands, products and businesses, all competing to get your attention and convince you to buy what they’re selling. So, what’s the best way to make a good first impression? You guessed it: good design.
Studies have shown that visual appeal can be assessed within about 50 milliseconds. This boils down to the fact that designers have to make a good impression within the space of 50 milliseconds.
Think of your business’ design as a handshake, the greeting between two people when they first meet. Do they smile or frown, do they say ‘hi’, ‘hello’ or ‘good day’, is the handshake firm and businesslike, or warm and friendly? We can make snap decisions and impressions about people in this one fast moment. This is exactly what design tries to do too, all within the space of 50 milliseconds: it tries to communicate who you are and what you do in less than a second.
Consider the first impression these two examples make. Two different cosmetic brands, on the left is Anatomicals, a brand that uses large type, humorous and punny product names and vibrant colours to set a light-hearted and cheerful tone. This product is going to be purchased by younger people who are looking to buy a cosmetic product as a luxury item, rather than one that they need to buy. The use of type, tone of voice, colour and packaging instantly establish a light-hearted and youthful brand.
Anatomicals and Cetaphil are two cosmetic brands that give of completely different first impressions through design alone.Anatomicals and Cetaphil are two cosmetic brands that give of completely different first impressions through design alone.
The cosmetic brand to the right, however, Cetaphil, is less cheery. This brand uses medical-esque colours, conservative type, no funny or sassy product names and a fairly uniform product line design to communicate instantly that this brand is all about the product and what the product does. This brand instantly gives off a serious tone, so consumers know it’s serious about what the product does. This is a product you’d buy because you require the contents, it’s less of a luxury of pleasure-based purchase.
Figure out what key things you want to communicate to your consumer when they first lay eyes on your business’ product, website, brand etc. and create a design that works to reflect this. It sounds like a hefty task, but it’s most definitely possible with a little planning and a lot of faith in the design process.
07. Design Is More Than How It Looks
An all too common misconception about design and designers is that design is solely about the way a product, communication, image etc. looks. In reality, a good designer will consider how it looks as secondary to how it works.
To break the concept of a ‘designer’ down quickly, let me just say that ‘designer’ and ‘communicator’ should be interchangeable synonyms.
A designer isn’t just going to make your letterhead look nice, they are going to consider who you are, who your company is, who your audience is, what will go on your letterhead, what information is most and least important to display, what the competitors in your field are doing with this medium, etc. They are going to pull apart your content and reassemble it in a way that helps you communicate to your audience in the best possible way.
Steve Jobs said it all. Design is as much about the mechanics as it is about the aesthetics. Image via Startup Quote.Steve Jobs said it all. Design is as much about the mechanics as it is about the aesthetics. Image via Startup Quote.
Blogger and designer Alex Cue notes “Good graphic design ties a piece together. Typography, colors, images, and hierarchy are the resources a graphic designer uses to compose a design that clearly communicates information, value, and reasons to care in a quick, eye-catching manner.”
So, the major takeaway from this point is: don’t discredit design as simply an aesthetic thing. Sure, it makes your content look professional, consistent and enticing, but the reality of it goes so much deeper than that.
08. Invisible Design Makes Content Shine
This point dovetails off of the last. Basically, there’s a popular saying: “Good design is invisible”. This boils down to the idea that design should be experienced, not noticed.
I’m sure we are all familiar with situations where we have noticed design for all the wrong reasons – pixelated images, hard to read type, information that is hard to follow etc. In these cases, the (bad) design is extremely visible, people question why the designer made those choices and they consider ways it could be done better. But, when you encounter a really great piece of design, chances are (unless you have an eye for that kind of thing) you might not notice the design at all. Instead, you’ll consume the content easily and pleasurably. Why? Because good design is invisible.
Jared M. Spool gives a great example of an invisible design. He explains how Netflix questioned some users about what they liked best about their business. Customers noted that they liked the big selection of movies, the recommendations tool was useful, the service was great etc. but one thing they did not note was that the site was super functional, cleverly designed and well maintained.
“While all these things are what the designers at Netflix work hard on every day, they go unmentioned by their customers,” Spool says, “It’s not because these aspects aren’t important. It’s because the designers have done their job really well: they’ve made them invisible.” Image via iDownloadBlog. Netflix’s website has a high degree of functionality and a beautiful design that for the most part remains invisible, as most good design does.Image via iDownloadBlog. Netflix’s website has a high degree of functionality and a beautiful design that for the most part remains invisible, as most good design does.
So, what does this mean? Essentially, this is why people often discredit the need for design. They don’t often notice when they encounter a highly functional design, instead they notice the content and figure that this is why the communication is so successful.
So, try not to think of design for your business as something that accompanies your content or competes against it, but rather one that enhances it. Design, when done well, will make your content shine.
09. You’ll Never Say “It’s Hard To Explain” In A Meeting Ever Again
For businesses that revolve around concepts, ideas, numbers and data, explaining what you mean can be tricky, but working a little bit of design into your business can help you visualise your information and ideas in a logical and visual way (and save you a hell of a lot of rambling time).
Studies have proven that people are majoritarily visual learners – 65% in fact – so, people that understand and grasp concepts far better when they are visualised in front of them. So, even if you understand the concept/topic/idea you are discussing, a visual aid or two certainly won’t hinder your audience’s understanding (as long as you do it correctly).
Not only are visual aids a hugely handy tool for explaining yourself, they can also look professional when designed correctly. Gone are the days of bar graphs with flashy effects, drop shadows, glowing edges. Instead, consider creating visual aids that complement your business design and tone to give you a big boost of professionality in those meetings.
A visual aid like this one can help your consumers and coworkers visualise your data and information in a clear and professional way that also helps reinforce your brand. Image by Help Scout via Gregory Ciotti.A visual aid like this one can help your consumers and coworkers visualise your data and information in a clear and professional way that also helps reinforce your brand. Image by Help Scout via Gregory Ciotti.
There are heaps of types of visual aids, from graphs and charts, through to comics and illustrations, any visual aid to suit just about any need. So really, there’s no excuses when it comes to having a rough time explaining yourself, because there are countless visual ways to explain yourself.
So, instead of saying “Well, let me explain…”, consider using a visual aid and instead say “Look at this”. A professional-looking time saver if there ever was one.
10. Design Sets You Apart From The Crowd
Have you ever bought a product simply because it looked nicer than the alternative? Nothing major, just perhaps a copy of a book that has a nicer cover, or a new brand of shampoo that has an interesting label. Chances are we won’t fork out too much extra for the nicer-looking brand (except in some cases, i.e. Apple), but when it comes down to similar prices, similar functions, our hand will go toward the more aesthetically pleasing option.
Chances are that for whatever product or service your business revolves around, there are many other people offering exactly what you do, perhaps in the same price range, with the same benefits etc. So, what can set you apart from your competition is a sleek design.
As Steven Bradley says, “Human beings have an attractiveness bias; we perceive beautiful things as being better, regardless of whether they actually are better. All else being equal, we prefer beautiful things, and we believe beautiful things function better. As in nature, function can follow form.”
So, design can be the last port of call when it comes to consumers deciding whether or not they are going to purchase your product or a competitor’s.
Let’s consider a quick example: Blk Water. Blk Water (as the name suggests) is a brand of bottled water with a big difference – the water is black. The blackness supposedly comes from a bunch of nutrients and minerals, but added health benefits or not, the black was an evident design decision and one that sets them apart from the crowd.
Whether or not you find the dark water appealing, truth is that many people do. People seek this specific brand of water out, they pay extra for it despite the lack of taste difference to any normally-coloured or packaged bottled water brand. They enjoy experiencing something new and something that, basically, just looks really cool. So, design alone is arguably the key factor behind what makes Blk Water a successful brand.
Nono Ohga, Chairman and CEO of Sony says, “At Sony, we assume all products of our competitors will have basically the same technology, price, performance and features. Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace!”
So, throw some design at your business and see what sticks. Get opinions, get feedback, be experimental. The aim of the game is to make people point out your product from a shelf of competitors, to entice them to click through to your website because it looks different and appealing. A little design can go a long way.
11. But Design Also Knows When To Follow The Crowd
Design can give you a chance to embrace and explore experimentative solutions to problems, and by all means, do so! But, a good designer will know when is the time to experiment and when is the time to follow the rules.
This idea is called ‘prototypicality’ Defined as the degree of similarity between a product and competitors in it’s field, prototypicality often signals to consumers that an item belongs to a certain category.
Think of it like films. There are certain codes and conventions of certain genres, like spooky music and dark atmosphere for horror movies, or upbeat, cheerful music and funny scenes for rom-coms. We’re used to these formulas, we understand them and expect them. So, if you put some spooky music throughout a rom-com, audiences wouldn’t know how to react or how to feel – it’d get a little confusing. The same goes for design. Experiment all you like, but if you push it too far, you risk audiences getting confused.
Let’s consider news websites. They usually have lots of stories, images and links on their homepage – this is a convention of prototypicality. It’s prototypical because it’s a functional format to browse stories and select the ones you want to read. So, if you were to lay a news site out in a way that completely went against this proven and understood format in the name of “aesthetic design” or “being different”, you would be making it hard for consumers to recognise that it’s a news website/to navigate the site.
Google Research Blog did a study that determined that compared and contrasted prototypical websites and complex websites. The findings suggested that “if the visual complexity of a website is high, users perceive it as less beautiful, even if the design is familiar. And if the design is unfamiliar — i.e., the site has low prototypicality — users judge it as uglier, even if it’s simple.”
Graph via Google Research Blog.Graph via Google Research Blog.
Check out how in each graph the highly prototypical sites do way better than sites that are less-so. While, of course, this study (and common sense) states that if the rest of your website design is cluttered and, in a word, bad, not even prototypicality can save it.
12. Get Consistent
Consistency is arguably the key rule to a successful brand, and therefore, a successful business. I know, it seems like a deceptively simple and easily reinforced rule, and it can be, but only when you have a good, strong handle on design (so, you’re on the right track).
So, what are the pitfalls when you don’t appreciate consistency? In short, inconsistency. You risk your logo being used incorrectly, your colours being loosely adapted and your brand values being clouded. Sure, at first, using a similar colour to your brand’s signature colour seems harmless, it’s just one flyer, right? But in the long term, all of these little irregularities snowball and become a big problem.
Think of it like that children’s whisper game, where one person whispers a phrase to the person next to them, who has to repeat their translation of what was said to the next person and so on, until the person down the end has a completely warped version of what was originally said. This is brand inconsistency. While it might not be a big deal that you don’t use the exact right colour now, down the line, when all the little errors culminate, your audience won’t know which way is up for your brand.
An inconsistent brand is forgettable, because when you think of it, you won’t picture a specific colour like you do when I say “Coca-Cola”, or you won’t picture a specific tone of voice like you do when I say “Nike”. If your direct audience can’t answer simple questions about your brand’s voice, palette, how your communications generally look, then you might need to whip your consistency together.
See how an inconsistent use of colour can just draw all the effectiveness out of a brand? Don’t fall into this pit. Brands like Coca-Cola have a rigorously maintained palette for a good reason.See how an inconsistent use of colour can just draw all the effectiveness out of a brand? Don’t fall into this pit. Brands like Coca-Cola have a rigorously maintained palette for a good reason.
Don’t be worried, though, if people forget the finer details, but make sure that you’re as consistent as possible to ensure they remember as much as possible. A good way to boost your ability to maintain a consistent brand design is through a style guide, check out these handy tips for creating your own guide.
13. Ensure You Appeal To The Right Market
Chances are when you started your business, you vigorously established what and who your target audience would be. As established and well-rounded as your target market might be on paper, in practise, targeting this market can be tricky. Once again, this is where design comes in and saves the day.
Imagine if you produced a notebook that was marketed specifically towards young children – it had larger lines, easier to use layout for beginner writer etc. How would you signal to children/parents that this was a product for them? If it was in a plain black or white cover with little to no design, it probably wouldn’t get picked up from the shelf by that specific market, because how would these children and their parents know that this product was made specifically for them? Sure, you might have it in fine writing somewhere on the package, but are they going to pick it out of a huge lineup when browsing through the stationary aisle? Probably not.
Which kind of notebook do you think a children or their parent would pick up, thinking it’s marketed toward them? A little bit of intentional design can go a long way. Images via Officeworks.Which kind of notebook do you think a children or their parent would pick up, thinking it’s marketed toward them? A little bit of intentional design can go a long way. Images via Officeworks.
This is when design comes in as a super useful communicative tool. Design is able to communicate who an item is made for and thus is able to attract these exact people. In this way, design can act as a universal language of sorts that (subconsciously) signals to consumers who this product is made for, who benefits from it etc. Making your product as easily identifiable as possible also makes the process smoother for your consumer.
Even further than outward design comes the technical aspects of design. Dig deeper into your target market and figure out how best to appeal to them on a technical level. Figure out what browser they use or what screen resolution they have, find out what kind of packaging types are most functional for them, or what their price range is etc.
Design can not only make your product more appealing to your target audience, but it can force you to learn more about them, which, of course, never hurts.
When designing any communicative design from packaging to social media messages or anything in between, having a good handle on the codes and conventions of design can makes it all so much easier to stay on message with your design and make sure that you attract the audience that you are aiming to serve.
14. Broaden Your Brand
Design can help you market a brand to a whole new category of people just through simple changes in the design.
Imagine that you owned a business that marketed a product that was predominantly targeted to women, but you really wanted to tap into a male market. Mixing up the design of your packaging to appeal to a more masculine demographic could be key to transitioning your brand.
A good example is the brand Nivea. Nivea has a line of deodorants, creams, and other personal care products, but they manage to diversify their market beyond the typical female market and into men through a sharper and more ‘masculine’ design. Check out the way they have adjusted their ad campaign and product design in these two examples of Nivea Women and Nivea Men.
Nivea manages to maintain a distinct brand while still creating unique and tailored sub-brands to appeal to both women and men. Images via Nikoganda and The New York TimesNivea manages to maintain a distinct brand while still creating unique and tailored sub-brands to appeal to both women and men. Images via Nikoganda and The New York Times
Just like Nivea has done in these contrasting examples, it’s possible to maintain your brand while adjusting it to suit different demographics. The Nivea brand and stylisation, from the type down to the type of imagery used is maintained through both product lines and ad campaigns, but each appeal to a different demographic.
A study by The Design Council determined that design-alert businesses are “twice as likely to have developed new products or services…” So, consider where your brand could extend to with just a few stylistic adjustments.
15. Design Will Help You Rake Up The Shares
Social media marketing is such a huge part of maintaining and promoting a brand in today’s world, and a factor that dominates social media is content sharing.
Content sharing has become such a big thing that there’s entire social medias dedicated to it. For example, you may have heard of the little multi-billion dollar network Pinterest. Sites like Pinterest are what facilitate so much of content media sharing and discovery, with people pinning (and thus simultaneously saving and sharing) images that link back to sources on their Pinterest account.
So, where does design work into this? Well, if you haven’t already, check out Pinterest, have a scroll through some different categories, search a few terms. The top results that pop up in your searches and browsings are the more popular of the pins, and nine times out of ten, these images are well designed.
The numbers are in: adding some visually designed elements to your content can boost your share and response rate substantially. Graph via Buffer.The numbers are in: adding some visually designed elements to your content can boost your share and response rate substantially. Graph via Buffer.
Whether it’s a quote graphic, a photograph, or a blog header image, these top pieces of shared content are usually either aesthetically pleasing, well designed, cleverly designed etc. In short, they have been given some form of design TLC.
Whether you’re posting graphs, infographics, quotes, photographs or article header images, put some thought and time into them to encourage people to press that ‘share’ button, or pin it to their board. Who knows, if it’s got a good balance between informative and pleasing to look at, you might reach the top of the search results!
16. Capitalise On Trends
Just like with anything, design has trends that come and go, styles and techniques that are really popular for a period of time. Keeping an eye on and an awareness of design can help you capitalise on these trends, thus keeping your brand fresh, new and .
One example of a trend that still has some legs is flat design. Flat design is a trend where bevels, 3D effects, shadows and other dimension-adding effects are abandoned in favour of sharp, sleek, shape-based graphics with bright colours and gradients. This trend signalled a step away from overzealous effects and a step towards the idea of ‘less is more’ and an embracing of simplicity. Some brands jumped on this bandwagon, embracing the flat design wholeheartedly, and while this was a pretty heavily disputed thing at first, it did show that these brands were aware of what is happening in the present day and were willing to jump in on that.
A nice balance to strike between hopping on the trendy bandwagon and avoiding trends all together is to take ideas and concepts from trends and incorporate those. For example, with flat design, instead of flattening everything from your logo to your icons, consider minimising your use of effects, take a step and grow your brand in the direction of whatever works for you.
An example of a brand that did this well was Google. They made such a simple change to their logo that probably went unnoticed by many, but was definitely noticed by many more. Such a subtle change in their design, removing the bevel and shadows and flattening the letterforms right down brought Google up to speed with the direction much of the internet and culture was going stylistically. Good job, Google.
Image via Mashable.Image via Mashable.
17. Communicate Your Brand’s Values Visually
All brands are built on ideas, values, and ultimate goals, and sometimes it can be tricky to communicate all of these values quickly to consumers. Earlier, I mentioned that design can be like a universal language, it can help you communicate these values visually to your audience through things like colour, imagery, icons, type etc.
Let’s look at an example from Nike. Now, Nike have maintained a brand of being a company that motivates, facilitates and enhances the speed and agility of athletes. They very much value ergonomic product design, power, speed, a no excuses attitude etc. Nike has an authoritative, motivational and tone that is perfectly captured in all of their visually communicative designs. Let’s check out this example.
Nike captures their entire brand ethos with their designs – power, agility and determination, all within one design. Image via Chris Welsby.Nike captures their entire brand ethos with their designs – power, agility and determination, all within one design. Image via Chris Welsby.
A dynamic, bold, black and white image of athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton; rough and crude hand-written type; and heavy, contrasting block type down the bottom make for a punchy, motivating and powerful design – one that encapsulates and communicates all of Nike’s brand values visually and instantly.
Chances are, a majority of people aren’t going to read your mission statement, so how else will they know what your brand values. Unless you update your twitter status with “Our brand values honestly, community and having a laugh” every day (which is a bit tedious and blatant and not recommended for obvious reasons), the best way to go about this is visually. Consider a way to capture your tone and values through imagery and type and let your images do the talking.
18. Motivate People To Take Action
Turn on any television while some ads are running, or go on any site that is offering a piece of downloadable software and you’ll see them. “Call now!”, “Download it today!”, “Try it for one month at no cost!”, these are called a ‘call to action’ and they do just that: convince you to take action.
A famous call to action was the Uncle Sam “We Want You” poster, I’m sure you know the one. This poster was legendary as it provided a distinct mission and invitation to readers to step forward as a soldier and take action. A simple print poster, a 2D construct, convinced people to risk their lives for their country.
In present day, calls to action are a little less concerned with life and death, but are still extremely effective when done right. Let’s look at an example from Oyster.
An idealistic and well-designed call to action can entice viewers to click that ‘start’ button. Image via HubSpot BlogsAn idealistic and well-designed call to action can entice viewers to click that ‘start’ button. Image via HubSpot Blogs
Oyster, an online e-book resource, has created a super enticing call to action here. The written call “Read unlimited books, anytime, anywhere” is displayed over a beautiful and enticing image of somebody reading an Oyster book in bed while eating breakfast – an idealistic image to just about anyone. In this way, Oyster creates an idea that if you click that “Start for free” button, your life will have a significantly increased amount of lazy mornings spent reading in bed. And who doesn’t want that?
A call to action is a super useful tool that is given to you when you invest in producing good design. Motivate your audience to take action and click that button, buy that product, share that image – whatever your goal is, convince them to take a step forward by pairing enticing type and even more enticing design.
19. Find Unique Relationships
Have you ever come across a logo, packaging example or general piece of design and thought to yourself “Man, that’s clever”? Well, unfortunately enough, clever designs don’t grow on trees, and they can be pretty tricky to come up with. A super clever logo or design requires collaboration between the design and the driving concepts – something that’s not always the easiest thing, but can pay off big in the end.
Let’s look at an example of a logo that has had the naming and design collaborated on in order to discover a unique hidden relationship. Before you look at the logo below, do you think the name “CodeFish” has a distinct meaning for a coding software brand? Probably not, right? Seems a little random. Okay, let’s look at the CodeFish logo now.
A clever name and logo concept can work together to make a super strong and memorable brand. Image via Logo PondA clever name and logo concept can work together to make a super strong and memorable brand. Image via Logo Pond
Ahh, ‘CodeFish’ makes a bit more sense now, doesn’t it? While the concept of a fish made out of code is still a little odd, the logo and name when paired together feed into each other to create a humorous, clever and effective relationship – creating a brand that is memorable. You’re not going to forget what the brand name is if you can still see the brand mark, and vice versa.
Interweaving design into your business development and maintenance processes can give you a chance to be creative, explore hidden relationships and see what sort of clever concepts and ideas you can come up with.
20. Get One Step Closer To A Timeless Brand
Let’s speak bluntly, could we? Your goal with your business is to make it thrive for years to come. In an ideal world you want this brand to be around for as long as possible, you want people to remain interested for as long as possible, you want a timeless brand. Of course you do, any business-owner does. But, with the changing trends and technology, is it possible to have a truly timeless brand?
If you define a timeless brand as one that never has to make stylistic changes and can always remain exactly the same, then sorry, no. We’ve talked about coming and going design trends, new technology and techniques and your audience’s changing nature. So, remaining completely stagnant and unchangeable is unfortunately a bit of a pipedream.
But, if you define a timeless brand as one that remains popular, beautiful and as effective as ever for a long time to come, then yes, it’s definitely possible for you to have a timeless brand.
Let’s consider an example we’re all familiar with: Google. Particularly the home page. Now, when it first launched, Google looks pretty different, but at the same time, it looks relatively similar. The format of the page was similar, the simplicity of the page is there, the Google logo is recognisably similar to the one we see today.
Google, back in 1998. As shocking as the differences may be, also take into account how similar the layout is to today’s Google.Google, back in 1998. As shocking as the differences may be, also take into account how similar the layout is to today’s Google.
Over the years Google has kept this homepage design format incredibly similar, but they have embraced change. I highly recommend watching this quick video to see for yourself what tiny changes Google have made to their logo and page layout since 1998.
So, the key to timelessness is not in expecting zero changes or that your current design will be set in stone forever, but rather, the key is not in trying to avoid future change but expecting and embracing it if (and when) it becomes necessary.
Design is a good business decision. Spread the word!
If you’ve been second-guessing the value of design for your business – don’t. Good design gives you a competitive edge, drives powerful marketing results and allows you to stand out.
If you’re interested in finding easy ways to implement design into your workplace, make sure you sign up for Canva For Work. Because design is an investment for your succes
-article by Mary Stribley-
-Poster by Paul Rand for IBM"