We need to shift our thinking because we want to create and maintain long-term relationships with people... beauty needs to be more than 'skin deep'.
In the past we were designing brand communication, or simply just print advertising that was pretty and appealing to their specific target markets. The ads were at times not even relating to the brand or product, but just looked pretty. It may have made visual impact and grabbed attention, but it didn't sustain any long-term benefits or value for a company's brand. Aesthetics were king then. It is interesting that beauty pageants often use the "Beauty with a Purpose" mantra to add relevance beyond appearance. We are always looking for that unquantifiable substance below the surface that will make us cast an approving vote.
Today we need to shift our thinking because we want to create and maintain long-term relationships with people. We all know that it is more expensive to recruit new customers vs retaining the current ones. We want them to be loyal, that's a problem these days - brand loyalty in itself. Loyalty comes from trust and trust often relates back to shared values and believes. This means that lasting relationships come from sharing a common purpose between brands and the targeted consumer.
This is the substance we are talking about and should be inherently designed into the product or service. What is the purpose and why are we as an organisation doing what we are doing. Once we have established that we can put together a strategy to map out how we are going to achieve this purpose.
Each category and environment has its own problems; some more than others, like Africa for example. IDEO, global industrial designing firm, uses design thinking, which is a concept that focuses on human-centred design solutions. IDEO together with R&D attempted to solve an African-continent sanitation problem in Ghana. They developed an in-home sanitation solution by creating a portable toilet. This is a great solution as people had to walk far to use public toilets.
So firstly, we need to define the problem clearly. For example, when a client launches a new product and is in need of a corporate identity, we need to define all the barriers. It may be awareness, a target market that suffers financially under an unstable economy, cluttered product space etc. There are several things playing a role in designing the corporate identity. We cannot just design something pretty, without purpose that is not solving the current brand/product problems.
Ultimately the insights from strategy should be transformed into criteria that should be used as 'design purpose' guidelines to ultimately solve the problem(s) pointed out. If done properly with the purpose permeating throughout the process we will resonate at a deeper more meaningful level with our intended target.
This approach is objective and requires much harder work to reach the tip of the iceberg. We would rather work harder at designing solutions than the "obvious" traditional way of solving brand problems.