3 Features of Strategic Design (How Good Design Helps Your Brand Flourish)

I’ve written previously about the benefits of good design. In this article, I offer three additional attributes of strategic design which provides you with even more reasons to hire a professional designer.

Strategic design is captivating

1. Strategic design is captivating…

Recently, I experienced something that caused me to assess the value of good design. Believe it or not, it was a video. More specifically: the title sequence for the Red Bull Signature Series, by Vogner Creative Design Studio. This video caused me to stop channel surfing and watch an actual surfing event.

For most of us, when someone mentions surfing, Jeff Spicoli comes to mind. But it wasn’t like that. As I watched the competition unfold, I began to appreciate the athletic talent, the creativity and sheer guts that it took to do. In fact, I concluded that anyone who would allow themselves to be dragged up the face of a five-story wall of water – that’s poised to crush him – and then stand on a tiny piece of Styrofoam to calculate the most daring escape route, is to be admired.

Even though this video aired only once during the episode, I kept watching in hopes of seeing it again. I was so enamored that I spent the next two hours watching an event, which I knew very little about and had no stake in its outcome. In the interim, I became a fan… not just of surfing, but also of Red Bull.

So how does this relate to your brand? Well if a simple video caused me to invest a couple of hours, how much more would an eye-catching package design, an intelligent user interface or a useful wayfinding system do for your brand?

Strategic design is seductive

2. Strategic design is seductive…

This video has so many outstanding qualities — on target messaging, cutting-edge graphics, amazing post production — but the one thing that immediately stood out, was simply how aesthetically beautiful it was. The entire composition was so much more than the sum of its parts.

While several factors go into any design, when I’m designing, my primary consideration is how best to entice your audience. Because if I fail to draw them in, everything else I do is pointless.

Without an enticing lure, your prospects will never take the bait.

Once you have their attention, It’s up to you to help customers know more about your brand; to appreciate its personality; to reinforce its values and principles. But until your prospect is seduced, he or she will never care about your brand’s other amazing attributes.

Strategic design is an emissary

3. Strategic design is an emissary…

The truth is, I have long admired Red Bull’s marketing tactics. They have a full grasp of their Gen Y audience. They know that members of this demographic want to be involved and love railing against the powers that be. So by fabricating totally unconventional events – Flugtag, Air Race, Stratos — while sponsoring more mainstream events — Formula One Racing, America‘s Cup — Red Bull has been able to engage this highly prized demographic, better than any other brand.

The video — with its kaleidoscopic color palette, malleable triangular grid, death-defying action and inspirational message — epitomizes the Red Bull brand and the philosophical perspective of its audience members. The fact that I — someone who doesn’t exactly fit Red Bull’s target audience — was drawn in, is simply a problem most brands would love to have.

When done right, strategic design symbolizes and even defines your brand. Like other aspects of your brand — essence, commitment, personality, values — your audience will attribute the undeniable impact, that strategic design brings, to your brand.

Let strategic design work for your brand…

So if you’re tired of your brand being a wallflower, in its respective market, then perhaps it’s time to get your brand out on the dance floor. Maybe with a few stylish moves, your brand will begin to attract the right kind of attention. Perhaps prospective partners will begin to take notice, and choose to dance with your brand. Who knows, once they get to know your brand, they may even decide to build a long-term relationship.

If that’s what you want for your brand, then let’s get together. Let me help your brand become the center of attention. Once prospects catch a glimpse of your brand, they won’t consider any other.

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Posted in Branding, Business, Design, Design Thinking, Marketing, Video and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Blake,
    Your insight is an interesting perspective. I don’t know a lot about “Brand Management” though I consider myself a life-long learner of everything retail/business.

  2. Tim,

    I’m a fan of your articles and I’ve been revisiting them when thinking through branding-related issues.

    My background isn’t in design, so I especially appreciate the combination of intelligence and simplicity that your insights on design convey.

    Take point #2 above.

    This “seductive” quality of good design – in fact, your use of that exact term – is especially apt. It’s that “missing piece” that makes so many simple designs the most compelling – our brains keep trying to complete the picture. For instance, all my favorite cartoonists seem to exhibit this attribute in spades.

    • Thanks so much Gogo.

      There are several design principles at play in what you’ve observed: Closure, Ockham’s Razor, Cognitive Dissonance, Continuation, Classical Conditioning – I’ll let you do the research. But the principle that most readily applies, to what you’re speaking of, is termed Aesthetic-Usability Effect. In simple terms, this means that form follows function. So when you see something that fits that particular aesthetic, you’re personally drawn to it. However that doesn’t mean that others will be.

      Only by understanding their audience can brand managers – as well as designers – generate a desired reaction. Only by employing certain design principles, can brand managers – or other stakeholders – entice the kind of audience they hope to attract.

      My apologies, but I haven’t written many articles of late. I hope to get back to it soon. I have lots of interesting points that I want to address, but I just can’t seem to make the time.
      Please keep visiting. Hopefully I’ll have more articles posted soon.

  3. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

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