The Relationship Between Design and Brand Strategy

Some businesses may struggle to know the difference between Brand Strategy and design. This blog post will explain the benefits and differences for your small business. There’s a saying in Spanish I sometimes heard when I lived in Costa Rica. “Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda.” Roughly translated, “Even if the monkey is dressed in silk, it’s still a monkey.” While the saying is quite funny, the more profound meaning is still valid. Who we are inside, as a person, can not be covered up or changed by our exterior appearance. I like to think of this as an almost perfect example of the relationship between design and brand strategy. I think of design, the aesthetics, as the outward expression of a brand. 

Brand Strategy Looks Inward

A business that has undertaken a Branding effort has worked hard to define the answers to three questions: Who are? What do we do? What makes us different? The answers to those questions help define the brand’s core—explaining things from the obvious nuts and bolts to the emotional, such as the business values and mission. 

Brand strategy can provide several benefits for small businesses. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Differentiation: A brand strategy helps a small business differentiate itself from its competitors by identifying its unique value proposition. This can help it stand out in a crowded market and attract customers looking for something different.
  2. Consistency: A brand strategy helps a small business maintain consistency across all its marketing and communication channels, including its website, social media profiles, and advertising campaigns. A consistent visual strategy can help build customer trust and credibility over time.
  3. Customer loyalty: A strong brand strategy can help create a loyal customer base by developing an emotional connection with customers. This emotional connection can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
  4. Increased perceived value: A well-defined brand strategy can increase the perceived value of a small business’s products or services. That perceived value can allow it to charge higher prices and increase its profitability.
  5. Growth potential: A brand strategy can help a small business expand its reach and enter new markets. A strong brand can also make attracting investors, partners, and employees easier.

Overall, a well-executed brand strategy can help small businesses establish a unique identity, build customer trust and loyalty, and drive long-term growth and profitability.

Once a business has defined brand elements, the next hurdle is “How do we communicate our brand to the consumer?” That is where design steps in.

How Design Works With Brand Strategy

I’ve seen a variation on Ogilvy’s rule of advertising that applies here: “There are no dull products, only dull brands.” His original quote is, “there are no dull products, only dull writers.” The example of the monkey dressed in silk at this article’s beginning comes to mind again. The most outstanding design in the world can’t make a dull or aimless brand succeed in the long term. 

Design plays a crucial role in brand strategy as it helps to visually communicate and reinforce a brand’s values, personality, and positioning in customers’ minds. Here’s how design works with brand strategy:

  1. Visual identity: Design is essential in creating a strong visual identity for a brand. Visual identity includes the logo, typography, color palette, and other visual elements used consistently across all marketing and communication channels. These elements create a distinctive and memorable visual identity that customers can recognize and associate with the brand.
  2. Brand messaging: Design can also help to reinforce a brand’s messaging and positioning. For example, specific imagery, graphics, or photography can convey the brand’s personality and values, such as innovation, quality, or sustainability.
  3. User experience: Design can also impact the user experience of a brand’s products or services. A well-designed user interface or packaging can make a product more appealing and easier to use, creating a positive customer experience and reinforcing the brand’s values and messaging.
  4. Brand differentiation: Design can also help to differentiate a brand from its competitors. By using unique and innovative design elements, a brand can stand out in a crowded market and create a strong visual presence that customers can associate with the brand.

Overall, design is critical in building a solid brand strategy by creating a consistent and distinctive visual identity, reinforcing brand messaging and values, enhancing user experience, and differentiating the brand from competitors.

A good designer will know to ask specific questions to understand better the product, the brand, and the business and may deliver a successful design that resonates with the consumer. In the short run, a design-as-you-go system may work for your business, but for consistent results, a brand that knows who it is and what the end goal is will continually have better results. 

An excellent place to start is to read our previous article: “Seven Questions That Reveal If Your Business Is On The Right Path.” It’s a quick three-minute read that will undoubtedly help you and your business.

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