August 5, 2019

How wrong design choices kill brands by Jenny McMillan

/ thinking / trends

Marketing has always been a tough discipline, but today’s marketers face an unprecedented, almost bewildering, level of choice. And not just in things like comms channels, digital tools and distribution strategies. Accessing a plethora of creative talent and resources is now easier than ever, or so it seems.

It’s a situation we sometimes face when clients ask why they should work with us rather than, say, their colleague’s daughter newly graduated from design school. After all, she’s got a Mac and some programs and top marks.

When so much about design choices can seem so subjective; and given we know the cold, dead hand of focus group research can prove fatal to genuine creativity, how does one make the call? And does it really matter all that much anyway? Surely giving a brand’s look a bit of zhuzh-up can only be better, right?

Yes and no. Sometimes, a brand or packaging is so bad it can only get better. But a lot can go wrong in the process. You can kill off valuable equity or lose something important to the brand. You might end up saving a few bucks on the design, but you’ve still made an investment which you want to hang on to – a potential stumbling block if you need to make hard choices later. Your new design might look more contemporary, but that also might mean it looks like everything else out there and gets completely lost.

These are just a few of the pitfalls we’ve seen clients encounter before they come to us. The value we bring is a synthesis of market and design understanding, letting us create design that stands out and sells. It’s not easy, and it’s not easily taught either. Rather, it’s the product of years of doing it for real on top of the best training.

So, for marketers feeling daunted by the potential choices for their next design project, I have two really strong recommendations. One, definitely include a respected, professional design group in the process. And two, remember that being bold is not the same as being reckless.

Article published in July 2019 issue of Supermarket News.