Success By Design: 7 Keys To Improved Brand And Marketing Returns


They say content is king.

But if that king looks like a pauper, how much respect will he get?

To get the best returns on your brand and marketing spend, you need to have the respect of your target audience.  Whether we like it or not, people will almost always ‘judge a book by it’s cover’.  If you want people to ‘read your book’, then it needs to be visually appealing and portray the appropriate level of quality and professionalism.

To help you in your mission to improve your returns, here are your seven keys to success:

1.  Build A Complete Visual Identity

It’s difficult for people to visually represent your brand if they don’t have a clear idea what it looks like.  Review your brand manual (if you don’t have one – get one) and find the gaps in your brand.  Approved logo and variations, fonts, brand elements, colours, basic messaging and image selection criteria are all important in painting a complete picture for your designer to follow.  Once this is done, ensure you have original ‘vector’ files of your logos and brand elements, plus all of your brand fonts.  Package these files up with an electronic copy of your brand manual and you can easily supply your complete visual identity to any supplier or media outlet.

2.  Systemise For Efficiency And Quality

Time (is money) efficiencies and improved quality assurance can both be created through the correct application of design.  The foundation stone of this is the systemisation of your brand and visual identity.  From here, you can create a number of standardised design elements and templates for regularly re-used materials.  Done right, you will end up with a design toolkit which allows for a great versatility of design within your brand guidelines, without having to reinvent the wheel all the time.

3.  Remember: Good Design Is Only An Amplifier

Great design on it’s own, more than likely won’t make you a leader in your market.  It takes a combination of a complete (and appropriate) brand, a great product/service, solid systems, a wonderful offer, etc, etc.  Getting your design right will be the difference-maker with competitors on a similar level to yourself.  Don’t sacrifice the rest and hope design alone will get you to the top.  A lemon is a lemon, no matter how pretty it is.

On the flip side – bad design alone can torpedo your chances of success.

4.  Design For Your Target Market

With all the market intelligence and customer insights available to us today, and the (positive) peer pressure to be more customer focused, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘the marketing’ and forget that design is a part of that marketing.  You’ve put in all this time and energy to make sure your product/service, brand values, messaging and promotions are just perfect for your target market.  So don’t drop the ball and settle on a design just because it appeals to you (unless of course you are the ‘ideal customer’ – then you’re onto a winning formula).

5.  Be Willing To Experiment

As with the way you try different promotions, and test the same promotion with different groups and at different times of the year, it is also beneficial to be constantly testing your designs.  Regularly make small changes to find out how it affects your promotion results.  As with promotions, it’s the measuring and analysing of the results that’s important.  Without measurement (and action on that measurement) it’s just change for change’s sake.  Remember: adjust the promotion OR the design, not both. Otherwise you won’t know what results they each produced.

6.  Avoid ‘Design By Committee’

While getting plenty of feedback is great and securing buy-in from people through consultation is vital, it is important to keep the decision making circle as small as possible.  It is the decision-maker’s job to take all the feedback and recommendations received, and action those that are appropriate.  This maintains focus on the brief, plus can save a lot of time and money.

7.  Find A Designer You Can Trust

Your brand and marketing are vital to the success of your business.  Make sure you put them in the hands of someone you have faith in.  There will be times when you just don’t know how to go forward and you’ll need some advice you can trust.  You also need to know that they are willing to advise you against something if they believe it to be an incorrect decision.

Go forth and conquer with your command of the Seven P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence – and your secret weapon – the eighth P: Presentation.