A Sustainable Design Blog
Don’t Get Distracted By Beauty — Think Brand
The tricky thing about the design process is that there are so many different forms beauty can take. For example, one hundred different designers could come up with one hundred equally beautiful, but quite different solutions to a brief. Some of them might achieve the business goals. Some of them might be on brand. Some of them might even save you money. So how do you avoid getting caught in the tractor beams of all this beauty in order to find the solution that really works? You put on your branding cap, that’s how.
Branding As a Tool
The brand process is essentially a filter. You take everything the product or company stands for, what it does, the price, who buys it, who should be buying it, the story of it’s creation, the reason for existence — everything, and you distill all that down to the most important elements. You’re essentially figuring how to tell the story in as authentic a way as possible, with the target audience in mind, and in such a way that acts a promise to all who experience the brand. “Hey world, this is what our thing is, this is what we stand for, this is how we’re unique, and we won’t let you down, we promise” (which is why it’s important to be truthful).
Let’s face it though, designers, business owners, consumers, we’re all attracted to beauty. It can be hard for designers to filter out our favorite (most beautiful / unique) ideas in exchange for the smart solutions. We also know it’s tough for business owners to pick the smart ideas mixed in the beautiful ones. And it’s all too easy for consumers to be sucked in (for quick moment) to read something, click on a button, or drop into your shop (and then leave because it wasn't what they thought it was). But design isn’t art, for beauty’s sake. It’s not a flashy curtain you use to cover up your mess. Design is a tool to solve complex business problems, in beautiful ways.
So when you’re presented with a range of beautiful options, put on that branding cap and ask yourself which solution is upholding my brand promise, solving the business problem, and effectively communicating the brand while speaking to the intended audience (note that brands can shift a bit when talking to different people, just like you when talking to your boss vs your childhood friends). Whichever idea hits those marks is probably worth pushing forward. You can always polish it up and make it more beautiful later. In the end, a beautiful veneer on the surface of a poor idea will never be as valuable as a solution that’s smart at the core and beautiful all the way through.
Good luck out there. It’s a beautiful world. Try not to get distracted.
Gage Mitchell is the Principal / Creative Director at Modern Species. For more posts from him, click here.