The Power of Design in Your Brand

In an increasingly digital world, where attention spans are shortening and content is becoming increasingly short form, powerful design matters. Companies that excel in design are growing revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers. Therefore, one cannot ignore the inherent power of design in one’s brand and the importance of executing an effective design strategy. The British Design Council raises a pertinent example of the power of branding and design, though essentially just a soft drinks product, the Coca-Cola drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of the Coca-Cola brand. This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a Coca-Cola executive: “If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive.” By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business. Therefore, for a business that sells around 1.9 billion units a day, all around the world, the fact that their brand is more integral to their business than their factories and machinery, speaks volumes about the power of design in one’s brand.
According to a recent survey conducted by McKinsey, only 10 percent of their respondents felt that their company had realised design’s full potential. This begs the question, why aren’t more businesses maximising their brand potential and investing in a powerful design strategy. McKinsey’s research suggests that it often comes down to a lack of awareness
When working with clients to create powerful brand strategies, we have so often experienced this lack of awareness with clients being rather surprised at seeing their brand come to life with a consistent design strategy. Joining forces with a brand partner or empowering your in house design leadership can have incredibly positive impacts on your business rather quickly. McKinsey’s survey revealed that fewer than half of design leaders feel their CEOs fully understand their role and only a third of CEOs and their direct reports can state confidently what a head of design is accountable for. Furthermore, many businesses lack real design ambition. For instance, only 1 in 10 CEOs say that their senior designer plays a meaningful role in strategy development and only 1 in 6 design leaders believes they are positioned to deliver their full potential value to the company. Compare this to the Coca Cola executive’s view of branding and design and it is abundantly clear to see that a great deal of businesses are neglecting an important area that can stimulate serious growth. The power of branding is unstoppable, and as we head towards 2022, it’s interesting to consider how it affects consumer behaviour. As per Forbes, 86% of consumers prefer an authentic brand image and honest personality, especially when it comes to social media driving digital trends and changing how we look at brands in the future.
Consider how you engage with and consume advertising content. It tends to be short form. A skippable YouTube advert, a scrollable Instagram promotion or a promoted TikTok video. It is becoming harder to convey a consistent brand and design strategy across an increasing number of platforms that are of great importance and not owned or controlled by your business. Therefore, it is more important than ever to invest in distinct brand design, yet many executives remain rather unaware of the importance. Fail to own your branding and communications and you will dilute your brand and your businesses as you get lost in the plethora of available marketing channels. Own your marketing, don’t let the marketing channels own your brand.
Beyond the obvious commercial benefits of designing great products and services, consistently realising this goal is notoriously hard, and it is getting harder. Only the very best designs now stand out from the crowd, given the rapid rise in consumer expectations driven by the likes of Amazon, instant access to global information and review and the blurring of lines between hardware, software, and services. Companies need stronger design capabilities than ever before. A problem we encounter rather frequently with clients is their attitude towards branding. Many feel that they pay for one piece of work and that is their “brand” and brand strategy taken care of, however this attitude limits one’s potential significantly. Many clients come to us when they feel they have lost control of their current brand and are looking for a rebrand so they can get it out of the way and forget any design based problems for as long as possible once again. However, we urge our clients to invest into taking command of their brand and communications, in order to maximise growth potential across all consumer touch points with their business.
McKinsey’s extensive research clearly shows that businesses that scored highly in their design index consistently outperform those that scored lower, in terms of revenue growth, and in larger firms, returns to shareholders. The potential for design-driven growth is enormous in both product and service based sectors and there are also many more opportunities to pursue user-centric, analytically informed design today, with customers feeding back opinions, to businesses and each other, in real time.
Overall, businesses that excel at design grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers. This is why it is important as a business leader to ask oneself if you are maximising the potential of your brand and design. Looking at a recent survey with 200 senior design leaders and 100 top executives, it appears that some 90 percent of companies weren’t reaching the full potential of design, even as, in the past five years, double the number of companies have added senior design roles to their organisation. With commerce today, businesses can no longer afford to view branding as an afterthought. Visual communication is imperative to success and brands are worth as much as their image projects. Consumers are consistently aligning themselves with brands that make them feel good, making them worth more.
The biggest brands carry so much weight to their story, legends such as Coca-Cola bring with them over a century of validation and history and that is why it is vital to invest in a brand that is in line with your long term vision and aspirations. Powerful design also adds an emotional element to your brand, this may come in the form of a hero character or a beautiful piece of UX design. Empowering designers facilitates the launch of new, user-centric strategies putting users at the centre of everything the company does.
By elevating the role of the senior designer; and by infusing analytics, qualitative insights, and design tools into the C-suite, executives can unlock a step change in business performance and capture the full business value of design. There has never been a better time to invest in design. Digital appearance is becoming increasingly important and businesses must become more visually appealing to gain advantage over their competitors. Further to this, the CEO of Logitech recently discussed how he sees three broad phases of design for businesses, each of them becoming progressively more strategic. In the first phase, companies view design narrowly, focusing on aesthetics and form: the colour, material, and finish of products. In the second phase, companies broaden their design emphasis to encompass end-to-end user experiences. In the final phase, companies realise that design infuses everything they do; it transforms the entire company. Logitech is itself a company that’s well along on the journey to becoming a phase-three company. Its design-driven transformation between 2013 and 2019 saw the company’s market value increase roughly sevenfold.
Thus, it is imperative that business leaders do not adopt an apathetic approach to design. It is a truly vital facet of any business and its importance is noticeable at every consumer touchpoint. Invest in a powerful and consistent design strategy and watch your business reap the rewards.

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