Why Design Matters?
7 Indisputable Reasons. THE LAST TIME you were invited to a party, what did you do to get ready?
Did you just walk out the door and go on over without glancing in the mirror? Did you keep your dirty jeans with which you had been working in the garden this afternoon? Did you care that you had not washed your hair since Tuesday (of last week)? Did it matter that you smelled like you just took out the cat’s litter box?
If so, then you can stop reading immediately.
The reality is that in most cases we do care how we look. We want to look our best, smell our best, and give a good impression. We want to arrive at the party and be greeting affectionately by our friends and meet new people – not watch people fleeing in front of you like thousands of helpless Japanese from Godzilla.
Design, in a way, is like grooming. It is how our work makes its first impression. This is important in so many different ways and with so many different kinds of design. It could be your new product, your website, your presentation to investors, or your display on a retailer’s shelf. It is in your logo, your packaging, and your marketing deck too. Anything that you want to present to people in whatever form needs an element of design. Design makes it stand out, gives it new dimensions, and adds an attractive layer of meaning.
Without good design, you might as well stay home and play with the cat.
Although there are countless reasons why design is important, we have chosen the following 7 Indisputable Reasons to demonstrate why it would be a mistake to overlook design for your brand, your company, or your projects.
#1. Your Logo is Your Smile
It is more than likely that the first sign of your brand that anyone ever sees is your logo. Your logo is like the smile on your face when you arrive at the party. It is where you make your first impression. The logo tells you what you can expect from the brand and sets the tone for discovering the product that you have branded.
To make a good first impression, your logo should be simple, clear, and communicate something about your brand. It does not have to be a literal representation of it, but the consumer should get a positive feeling from it, a desire to go further and discover. It should be simple in the sense that it should not try to do more than it needs to – a logo is only an indicator or a signpost that point to your brand, not a full PowerPoint presentation in 239 slides.
The creativity behind a logo is indispensable, but design helps in other ways too. According to Dr. Gitte Lindgaard in Behaviour & Information Technology, attraction or revulsion from a visual image takes no more than 50 milliseconds. The eye can discern disproportions and odd angles even without communicating it overtly to the brain. Inconsistencies in proportion, in color schemes, in resolution, or in any number of other small ways can turn off a potential consumer before he or she even is aware of it.
#2. Your Packaging Counts
Anyone who has bought a Hermès scarf or a piece of jewelry from Tiffany knows that the package is important. The signature orange boxes of Hermès do the same job that a logo does. They light up the eyes in anticipation. And the little blue box from Tiffany & Co. very often signals the arrival of an engagement ring.
If we go back to the party for a moment, think of the packaging for your brand as the outfit you choose. Many times we will choose our outfits according to our moods – all black is trendy and sexy, red indicates energy, orange is creativity and out of the box thinking. But no matter what we choose, it is usually in line with our personality and character.
Packaging, in the same way, helps reinforce the brand. It communicates on a different level than the product, partly practical and partly a marketing tool. In branding, product packaging is vital in reminding the consumer of their brands and helps them return to them easily. A package can be simple like Hermès, just an orange box with a logo, or it can have a lot of written content and information on it. How that content is laid out is a question of design.
The shape of the package also helps distinguish it from other brands. When Tetra Pak was first introduced in 1969, the idea of buying milk or other liquids in a box and not in the cold section was unheard of! Now when we see that familiar Tetra Brik, we immediately know the brand and what it stands for. By the same token, a fine French wine sold in a Tetra Brik might just remain on the shelf because the packaging suggests that the contents are low quality.
#3 Ringing Bells and Blowing Whistles
Web developers and IT professionals know that the more complex and intricate their programs are, offering more and more features and tools and bells and whistles, the more important it is for the User Experience (UX) to be intuitive and easy to grasp. UX design is all about simplifying the process for the user without losing any of the functionality that the IT guys have programmed in.
If you have to scroll around the page for five minutes just to see what the product is, your design may need a little work. As we have seen, the eye works fast and your designers need to anticipate its needs.
Good design is essential to help us decipher the complex and innovative ideas of an app or a software (think of Windows and iOS) and make us “see” how it works.
#4. The Power of Invisible Design
Has it ever happened to you to read a book and suddenly, on page 329, you see that the word “the” was doubled? Or a spelling error cropped up on page 408 that leaps off the page and slaps you in the face? Typography is a thankless job and we only notice it when there are mistakes.
The best design does not call attention to itself. We can call it invisible because when it is working, it helps us get to know and understand the brand better. In most cases, we notice the design when things go wrong – a broken line, bad image resolution, inconsistent colors, too many fonts, or anything else that offends our eyes. What we are supposed to be noticing is the content and not the design that holds it all together.
#5. Design Distinguishes
Despite the old adage, we DO judge a book by its cover. Each and every time. Design is essential to help us makes choices in everything we do as consumers. If it is a brand we already know and love, we are attracted to it immediately by its look. If it is a product we have never bought before, the design is what helps us choose one over another.
In the US, the aisle for cold breakfast cereals in a supermarket is often vast and packed with products. When children are in the cereal aisle, they can sometimes be stuck for hours (if we let them) just looking at all the packaging designs. Why? Because each of them is working hard to attract their attention with bright colors, popping fonts, and delicious looking images. Cereal boxes are in fact designed in such a way to appeal to your kids on a deeper psychological level, as suggested by a Cornell University Food and Brand Labs study.
Brand design sets you apart from the crowd.
#6. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Keeping a consistent image, look, or feel to your brand is paramount in branding. And design is the keeper of the keys. One of the main (and largely unseen) parts of brand design is the creation of a set of rules, or a Brand Book, that specifies how a logo must look, how it must be executed (and how it should never be used). The Brand book will layout the exact CMKY values for the brand’s colors, the dimensions of any geometric devices used – all of which must be strictly followed so that the consumer recognizes the brand every time.
Picture a Nike shoe where the swoosh is drooping in the middle. Nike would never allow that to happen, but if they did, the consumers would immediately think it is a fake or a knock-off brand. The brand’s design in all its parts must be consistent every time to ensure trust and authenticity.
#7. Hitting the Right Target
Let’s go back to the cereals in the supermarket. What if, in the middle of the aisle, there were a completely black box with the words “breakfast cereal” inscribed in a tiny, gold font just under the center line. The children, more attracted to bright reds and yellows, to pirates and magical creatures, would gloss right over that box and perhaps not even notice it at all. From the look of the package, they would rightly identify it as an adult product and therefore boring, not for them, and worst of all it could be good for them. Yuck!
Although any adult’s eyes would be drawn straight to it, the target market is about three feet tall and reaching for the multi-colored Froot Loops.
Design helps establish the right target and should appeal to its sensibilities, proclivities, and its habits. A good design will make sure that your brand attracts the right people and for the right reasons.
If these seven reasons are not enough for you, remember the party you were getting ready for at the beginning of all this. Neither you nor your brand will get a second chance to make a good first impression.