It is important to understand that branding is much more than a new company logo and new colours for your packages. Branding is, by definition, a marketing practice in which the company creates or develops a name and a strategic image that becomes identifiable with the company and its services. So, it is the spirit behind the marketing practice what gives branding its power.

The Design Difference

Graphic design is an integral part of this process as it creates images and icons that provoke instant reactions in communication with the target audience. The images are, in reality, created by the designer and should allow the target audience to know what to expect from the company and why the company is a better solution for their needs than the competition is.

The graphic designer, working in collaboration with the marketing team, recognises the need to put effort into the whole customer experience to improve brand loyalty. The recognition and identity of how customers perceive the brand can drive new initiatives in the building of a brand’s culture and intensify brand awareness.

 If your company is ready to invest time and resources into a revitalisation process, then ensure that you integrate the guiding principles and practices of graphic and web design into the process. If your marketing team is working to develop your brand, then professional graphic and web designers should be involved in communicating your brand to the prospective customers. This collaboration is part of the successful performance process – marketers need designers and designers need marketers.

Different Perspectives, Same Goal

Both marketers and designers have distinct behaviours in their professions. Most people consider branding the same as designing. Actually, the difference is subtle and not easily recognizable. To analyse these differences we must consider first the products or services that your company offers. They need to be of the highest quality or otherwise no amount of marketing strategy nor designing efforts will satisfy the client. Truly, the whole process would be a lie. Nobody would desire to put effort into promoting a product that does not deliver their promise.

Having a good product or service to promote, you still need traditional marketing to tell the story to the target audience, but when you add the skills of designers you will visualise new ideas, new images and new characters to promote your brand and build your brand’s culture. It will not matter if both types of profession do not think alike. Their aim will be the same. Marketers and designers will use different ways to reach the same efficient communication with the user, the specific person to whom you have created the product or service.

A ROBUST APPROACH

One of the best ways to approach this collaboration happens with the use of design thinking. Design Thinking is an iterative process through which we try to understand the user of the product or service we offer and through this understanding, challenge and redefine our own strategies and solutions to solving problems.

“IT’S EASIER TO LOVE A BRAND WHEN THE BRAND LOVES YOU BACK.” – Seth Godin

Design thinking is not just good marketing or good design. It is, in reality, a process to approach problems or visions within a company. Or, in other words, use of cognitive, strategic and practical ways to understand users and create innovative solutions that can be prototyped and tested.

DESIGN THINKING PHASES

According to Stanford d.school, Design Thinking phases are:

  1. Empathise with the users
  2. Define the users’ needs, problems and their insights
  3. Ideate innovative solutions and ideas by challenging assumptions
  4. Prototype alternatives to create solutions
  5. Test the solutions
five design thinking phrases by d.school
Design Thinking phrases
Getting outside the box to reach solutions = Design Thinking

SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GRAPHIC DESIGNERS AND MARKETERS


Marketers Graphic Designers
Market group, focus of people willing to pay Individual users, focus to discover needs and solutions
Find a group that will buy the solution because of a problem Solve users’ problems elegantly and creatively
View the content of their strategy and build empathy with the user group View the hierarchy, purpose, emotion and experience of the user
Based on fundamental human behaviour and how it affects decisions but it can be still creative in their approach View the future trying to solve unmet needs creatively
Validates specific target markets using tested techniques. Relies on the analysis of data and metrics to validate their methodologies. Involves tests of presentation or solutions which can be iteratively improved
Need to establish their capacity, boundaries and perspectives to define their strategies Works very well with startups, being constantly exposed to different issues that come with growing pains

DESIGN & MARKETING, TOGETHER

Marketers and graphic designers have to work together to produce a beautiful result. Even though there will be differences in the method both professionals use to focus on the problems and the way they assess problem-solving and validation, they should consciously embrace their tensions and join efforts to lead to a creative marketing solution.

The graphic and web designer will be at ease to create and promote the message and identity of the company through visuals and forms to make to company unique and recognisable. Chris Ames uses a creative metaphor to define the key difference between graphic design and branding: graphic design is the skeleton and branding is the body and soul.

figure of circle of fire

The visual signals created by graphic designers like company logos, business cards, websites, etc are the first impression or the “basic skeleton” of a strong brand. These vivid images project the company identity using many types of elements in a consistent and persuasive approach to communicate with the prospective consumer user.  When well done, the skeleton will be effective to hold the company’s identity and its brand’s culture.

This skeleton though cannot exist by itself. It needs a body and a soul (branding) to produce life and inspire emotions. Body and soul represent the promise the company is making to their customers that physically and spiritually they can be trusted because of who they are and the ideas they stand for.

These two parts are compelling to each other and produce a living result that has aesthetics and function. The complete living result will be able to communicate with the audience, understand their behaviours and personality and consequently offer customer support and understanding.

THE POWER OF BRANDING

“FOCUSING ON THE CUSTOMER MAKES A COMPANY MORE RESILIENT.” – Jeff Bezos

As we conclude, branding is one of the most important parts of marketing strategies. Graphic design is the process to bring visual enhancing to branding and guarantee its consistent and clear message in visual forms. A graphic or web designer that understand the power of branding, ie, the spirit and the ideas behind the products or services will be able to communicate well with the consumers and connect with them to create instant reactions and call-to-actions that could be the sign of brand loyalty and the action to create a whole new customer experience.

Sources:
https://www.peterjthomson.com/2009/08/difference-between-marketing-and-design/
https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/design-marketing-collaboration/
https://dschool.stanford.edu/
https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular
https://www.emotivebrand.com/graphic-design-branding/

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Cidinha Moss