• Transform magazine
  • August 18, 2022

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How brand and design are powerful tools for growth

Jovan Buac

Jovan Buac, executive business director of consumer brands at Landor & Fitch, explains why brand and design absolutely cannot be taken for granted in the modern day.

Brand and design have the power to affect a share price, equal to any other business function. Design is not a nice to have, it is not colouring in, it is not fluff. It is critical and crucial to business success. Now more than ever.

We all remember the classic textbook marketing from years gone by; things like product, price, and communication. Brand and design are just as vital. You can have a great product but badly packaged, or a great ad campaign but a terrible brand identity. Not investing appropriately (and strategically) can be as detrimental as getting the price or the audience wrong.

Engaging with consumers goes beyond just a cool logo – the notion of a brand identity has moved on. It’s about how a brand sounds, moves, speaks, where it shows up, where it doesn’t, who it hangs out with. These are all interlinked.

It's no surprise that brands which dominate a category, or transform or challenge it, are often brands that have a unique, distinctive, and highly recognisable brand identity. We all hold Coca-Cola as an exemplar brand for its timeless logo and distinctive advertising campaigns. But also McDonald’s, which has distilled its iconic assets down to a simple palette, but also know how to play, have fun and remain relevant with the shifting times and culture of today.

Design evolution

Emerging modern-day brands, established within the last five to 10 years, have not only put design at the forefront, but have exploited it as a tool for growth. Think of Monzo and that distinctive coral-coloured card, Air BnB and the story displayed within its brand icon, or Oatley with its anti-category approach. For brands like these, it’s a no-brainer to use design to stand out in a very crowded and competitive landscape

These are often the brands that take more risks, don’t test every detail, and believe in themselves. As a result, heritage brands are playing catch up and some are still behind the curve of maximising powerful design for growth.

Purposeful connections

In today’s world, it’s imperative to communicate a brand’s purpose through design; ensuring audiences can feel it in some way, big or small, at every interaction. And if a brand says its purpose is to make the world a better place, consumers will ask: how is the brand contributing in a positive way, what’s their sustainability initiative, its people policy, how does it treat the communities it works with? Whatever the purpose is, customers will make sure you’re living it.

When it comes to the role of design and purpose, if a customer sees a brand on shelf in a supermarket, or walks into a branded store, or even seeing the brand’s Instagram – the customer should get a feel for what it stands for.

Patagonia is a particularly good example, with sustainability at the heart of its DNA and so obvious and translatable across its channels and touchpoints. Cosmetics brand The Ordinary shows us that we can still have sleek packaging design inspired by minimal luxury, but at an affordable price, with the ingredients transparent across its product ranges. Design is the pivotal way brands can ensure their purpose is expressed across all elements of the experience.

Omnichannel approach

Brand and design shouldn’t be a straitjacket for businesses. Quite the opposite: it should be liberating.

Gone is the world where you had a pack on a store shelf and an ad on TV and that was that. Now we have online retail, social media, partner websites, pop-ups, direct to consumer, the metaverse – so many more places where people can interact. It’s tougher than before, and no sector is exempt.

But brand and design is the glue to hold it all together. In reality, there are only really one or two assets that make brands iconic. For example, the Selfridges yellow, the Virgin V, the Coca-Cola script, the Guinness harp – unless brands invest in transformational design, it’s difficult to elevate and become iconic. Our analysis shows that brand (and so brand design) is a critical growth driver, representing roughly 33% of business value.

Brand really does have the power to inform and shape the trajectory of business performance today, but also tomorrow. Give brand design the credit it deserves: a powerful tool for growth.