How creative thinking maximises impactWritten by Andy Kirk 3 December 2020
The First Rule of Fight Club (or, more relevantly, Start Up Club) is: Make Your Mark. Be Different. Be Brazen. Apologise For Nothing.
Easy, right? So how should you think about design in helping your startup to do that?
What is the impact of design?
Here are 6 ridiculously simple rules for getting the best out of your new brand through engaging with a different view on what Design can, and should, do for you to aid success:
1. Create a brand. Not a logo. Not a pack. Not a website.
Think holistically so that you can be consistent and cohesive in all of the ways you need to communicate. Build assets that you can sweat (your brand personality will help you to gauge what is right and what is wrong). This is all about thinking ahead and future proofing your brand, rather than using design as a quick fix.
2. Get the story straight (or whatever shape you want it to be)
Understanding the difference between your values (why you’re changing the world) and your personality (who you are and how you do it) is crucial. Your personality will drive how you look and how you speak (See #1). Your values; that you fit into like-minded consumers’ world views. So, you need to appreciate the difference between you, your product (service/widget/app/organisation), your brand character (not you personally) and your mission in life and what, how and where you talk about them. Having a fantastic product is great. Having real confidence and clarity to tell the story makes things even better.
3. Invest in quality – even though you’re on a shoestring
Don’t buy a length of design (See #1). You don’t buy creativity like you buy anything else, you buy skills, relationships, excitement. And thought. You will soon discover that all designers are not created equal. Challenge your designers and let them rise to it, maybe even let them feel like they are on the rollercoaster with you, rather than paid spectators. But do pay them. Design is probably the single most important thing you will invest in after production costs (and you wouldn’t dream of cutting corners on those). If you’re taking a big gamble, well-considered design will reduce your risk considerably.
4. Understand your universe
If your designer can show you the codes of your category or industry, it’s much easier to work out how to break or reinvent them. Or, show you how to ride a current trend, if uniqueness isn’t your bag.
5. Free your mind
Give your creativity the freedom to be different and get talked about (remember The First Rule of Start Up Club?). Excite your creatives and they will excite you. And the world. If you haven’t aligned with your creatives on #1 and #2 (and maybe #3 and #4), you’re going to struggle to get them to match the thing you scribbled on the back of a napkin and you won’t be happy with anything they put in front of you.
6. Think ahead (See #1)
You want the famous Good/Cheap/Fast triumvirate, of course you do. But time is the thing that will make all the difference, so think about Design early on in your journey, don’t leave it to the last minute. If you can allow a designer more time, they might just think about it in between some better paid stuff and play the long game. Most of them work out a project in hours (so that they can be realistic about thinking time and bringing ideas to life) and if you negotiate away those hours, you start taking the wheels off your brand. Be honest, you don’t want to be associated with anything cheap, right?. Unless, of course, you’ve mutually agreed on a suitable length of design and have cut the cloth accordingly (even if it doesn’t kit out your whole wardrobe: See #1).
What makes design successful?
Get a few good brand and design principles that everyone can live by and make it easier for yourself and the partners you work with to talk about and sell your brand. If you can work with your designers to help you do that, it will save you time, effort and heartache and mean that you truly have a brand to reckon with. It will also save you money, because you won’t have to reinvent yourself every time you have something designed for you.