We all know that branding is the key to any company, whether it sells coffee, industrial parts or clothing. No matter what you make or sell, you should recognise the power and financial value of good design.

Consider that the Coca-Cola brand name alone is worth $67million and accounts for over 54% of its stock market value. A Coca-Cola executive once said;

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”

A strong brand with compelling design helps to cut through the clutter of the marketplace, create awareness and attract mutually beneficial relationships with customers.

Of course, there are many different types of design, but in this post I am referring to design as a broad discipline, with the aim of creating simpler, more meaningful, rewarding experiences for customers.

Content Group recently blogged that “design is often overlooked and not deemed a priority. Instead, it’s viewed as an ‘optional extra’ that can be tacked on at the end of a project to make it look pretty.” Unfortunately, a consistent, seamless, multi-dimensional brand experience will never be achieved with this attitude.

The best advice we can give is that the clue’s in the name – let your designer do the designing, whilst you concentrate on the message. As marketers’ we must trust in our designer’s abilities and skills to interpret what’s needed but we can definitely help them on the right track.

Not briefing a designer is a common mistake. People get too bogged down with what they want ‘it’ to look like. Whether it’s a logo, PPT or poster, begin by writing a thorough brief outlining the communication needs: What is the problem that needs to be solved? Who is the target audience? What should they feel or do upon receiving the message? Answering these questions is a crucial part to achieving effective communication and will maximise the expertise and impact your designer will bring to the table. Remember it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks, if it doesn’t convey the right message to the right audience.

People often feel the need to recreate their entire brand image, but it’s not always necessary to re-invent the wheel; sometimes you don’t need to be different, you just need to be better. “A good brand is organic” (Content Group) and evolves seamlessly without the need for major revamping and you can update elements of a brand to fall into line with modern standards, tastes and expectations.

Great examples of brand design evolution are all around us:

It’s made clear by these examples that great branding changes with the times. Great designers will be on top of these trends and able to elevate your brand and message to afford longevity, status and recognition without alienating or putting off existing loyal consumers.

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, once said, “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” And thanks to the Internet, that happens even faster now. Within this hyperconnected, social-media-fuelled society; your paid, owned and earned media (both positive and negative) can be shared within seconds to millions of people globally.

Every day our Twitter feed is populated with the latest astounding growth facts about the likes of Apple, Amazon, Pinterest and Air BNB. It is no coincidence that these companies are putting design at the heart of what they do, guiding innovation and continually improving products, service and marketing. They recognise that great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profits.

Customers see these brands as progressive and customer-centric, and it’s no surprise we are happy to advocate and engage with such thoughtful and innovative design orientated brands.

“What is certain is that the design bar has been raised and design-oriented businesses are winning.” (Brand Cell)

So, we’re shouting out for executives to recognise this new era and make the effort to transform even a mundane product or service into something more rewarding and more memorable. Brand design is not a pretty marketing “thing” but an opportunity for competitive advantage, customer and employee satisfaction and, ultimately, a route to higher profits.