GoodThinking the masonbaronet newsletter

How design makes
the difference

Design is more than decoration – it's the difference buyers look for when it's time to make a choice. In our last newsletter, we asked a simple but powerful question: “Is your brand a commodity?” Unless consumers see clear and meaningful differences between competing products or services, they’re forced to choose based on attributes like price. When that happens, brands lose in more ways than one.


For a brand to be recognized and remembered, it must be different. Equally important, that difference must be clearly communicated. And since people remember 40% more of what they see than what they hear or read, the job of communicating critical differences between brands comes down to design.


Defining design

Just as a brand is more than a logo, design is more than colors and typefaces and layouts. It’s the process by which information about a brand is conveyed to the consumer. It’s about using elements like color and imagery to separate a brand from its competition — and to communicate value to its constituents.


Who are you (visually, that is)?

The way a brand looks and feels is its “visual identity.” The logo and color palette are only the beginning. It’s the way a brand shows up at every point of consumer contact. First impressions matter, and nowhere else is this more true than in branding. A strong identity does more than command attention — it quickly sends a message about what the brand has to offer.


No design is scary

For some businesses, the idea of creating a completely unique visual identity is more frightening than the thought of public speaking. Humans naturally fear the possibility of rejection. But good design isn’t “different for the sake of being different.” Quite literally, the word “design” means “to plan.” That means the best-looking brands weren’t just born that way. In reality, positioning a product or service in the marketplace is a carefully managed, strategic process. Even more comforting, investing in design is far less risky than no design at all — because good design works harder to define the brand’s image and to advance its message.


Less (design) is more

Effective communication is all about eliminating noise and letting the message come forward. That means reducing the number of messages in a single medium. It means using design not for decoration, but as a tool to support the logical flow of information. What designers call “white space,” many businesses see as “empty space.” Good design resists the urge to measure communication by the square inch.


Planned surprises

Even the most “conservative” brands can be made more human. And since consumers are people, they appreciate being surprised and delighted once in a while. Design can strike just the right chord with the right customer.


When all else fails, look at your iPad

Perhaps no other brand wields the power of design better than Apple. The look of the marketing supports the look of the gadgets — and vice versa. Even the store design works to communicate value to the consumer. As a result, Apple is much more than a product manufacturer or even a technology leader. Their brand is something greater. And that’s entirely by design. In summary, good design:

  • Differentiates brands in the minds of consumers
  • Defines and communicates value
  • Adds value when competing options are similar
  • Reflects and supports the brand’s unique identity
  • Makes the right first impression
  • Helps with recognition and recollection

Good branding requires good design. And good design starts with good thinking. Let’s talk about the messages you want your customers to see, hear, feel — and believe.

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