People need to visualize in some way what they tell us in order to understand it and truly integrate it into ourselves. Design is a great ally to provide a description that avoids particular interpretations, building greater consensus, and better recallability. Thanks to design, it is easier to arouse emotions and experiences that help describe what a strategy is after.

 

What is design?

Design, as a concept, is not exclusive to designers and in its strategic dimension it can permeate any department. In the more professional environment, it is a discipline that can be applied to various areas: identities, products, spaces, organizations, etc. And more specifically, and in this case, design is responsible for translating branding strategies into specific identities, evocative images, suggestive products and unique experiences.

 

What is branding?

Branding is the discipline that allows us to identify and associate a meaning to an organization, company, product or service by creating and configuring a brand in the minds of the audiences of interest. It is a structured process, in which a set of factors intervene that must interact in full harmony to help people quickly recognize and experience the brand, and give them a reason to choose it over the competition.

 

What is a brand?

This brings us to the need to also define what a brand is: A brand is what others think you are. An informed perception of how they see you, what feelings you awaken inside them and what they say about you. And branding is responsible for the strategic and creative management of the brand. And creativity needs design to be captured. Here is the relationship between all of them.

To the extent that brand strategies need to be put into practice, design is responsible for transforming the concepts proposed in the strategy in a way that facilitates the brand experience. It could be said that design objectives are brand objectives (later also business ones) expressed to promote a positive perception and a certain behavior on the part of the audience of interest.

 

Strategic Thinking

As we have seen, design and, to a greater extent, creativity, are not exclusive to designers. In the same way, strategy is not exclusive to consultants or planners. Both are disciplines that can and should permeate any department.

Let’s start from the premise that an analytical mindset helps designers develop a creative strategy framework that contributes to achieving results aligned with business objectives. Whereas, on the other hand, an open mindset greatly facilitates the development of any business or brand strategy.

Strategic thinking is often confused with strategic planning and vice versa. But they are different concepts. Strategic planning involves collecting data and deciding the path the project will take to achieve goals. Strategic thinking involves all levels of the organization, including the design team, finding new ways to solve the various challenges that contribute to the organization’s success.

Thinking strategically means answering questions like: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How will we get there? When we think strategically, we focus more on problem-solving, develop clearer strategies, and promote proactive behavior.

 

Translating Strategic Thinking into a Design Strategy

From a design perspective, strategic thinking allows designers to look at the design process as a problem-solving mechanism, starting with identifying the problem and working alongside the strategy team to solve it.

Creating and executing a strategy is as much an art as it is a science. There are 4 stages involved in the process:

    1. Evaluate: it is necessary to understand the project in a holistic way, including an analysis of barriers and opportunities, contemplating a double perspective: from the business and from the client.
    2. Understand: Get a clear idea of the main objectives. Formulate the elements of the strategy that directly support these objectives.
    3. Execute: act according to the strategy achieving the best approximation to the final result.
    4. Check: Evaluate the effectiveness of ideas in achieving intended goals and outcomes.

 

Strategic vs. Strategic Design Design Thinking

Design Thinking focuses on empowering the team to think like a designer, while strategic design goes beyond the aesthetic extreme and incorporates designers into strategic areas of business development. With the emergence of Design Thinking as a methodology, organizations have begun to understand that design can be a great collaborator in solving problems. And as it gains prominence, the idea of incorporating creative profiles in decision-making is reinforced.

Using Design Thinking methodologies as a basis, business objectives are mixed with creative solutions that go far beyond mere aesthetics. It is a process of learning and discovery, which facilitates a greater understanding of the business, of the customers, of the competition, of the possible opportunities to achieve the objectives, always focused on the user and focused on driving innovation.

Design Thinking is inherently a process of developing prototypes, where once you have an idea, you build and test it very quickly obtaining immediate responses. The objective is to get the best approximation to what the final result could be, obtaining feedback that facilitates the work and rework towards the best solution.

 

Design without branding?

There can be design without branding, simply for the purpose of conceptualizing new objects, spaces or specific identities. Also with the aim of improving the functionalities of products or services. Which leads us to say that being a design professional does not directly imply being a branding professional.

But branding grows with creativity, and more specifically with design, as a vehicle to make strategies tangible, whatever the format, via identities, products, experiences…

From this perspective, the design integrated into the concept of branding must respond to these basic principles:

    • Aligned with the brand strategy. Acting as a visible response to specific concepts and personalities.
    • People-centric. Starting by understanding customers’ needs, motivations, and problems before looking for solutions.
    • Simple and clear. Solving complex problems with simple, intuitive, logical and straightforward solutions.
    • Attractive and seductive. Empowering emotional connections and delighting customers; based on the data and insights provided by the strategy.
    • Contributing to the overall brand experience to build trust with customers.

Aligning with these principles will help to provide value from the customer, also reinforcing the value of the brand and contributing to consolidating the defined strategy, which undoubtedly has an impact on the business. Design turns strategy into something to be lived.

 

Tomorrow is too late

The market is constantly evolving, your strategy must change in the same way. It all goes back to the fact that, in order to really raise the level of innovation in organizations to a strategic level, it is necessary to use new tools that facilitate better understanding, help to understand that you are on the right path, and all this in an agile and fast way, before it is too late.

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, the problems also become more advanced. Strategic design is the natural evolution of these types of problems because it is the first design movement that is configured to pose both problems and solutions.

 

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward