Comment On : Bottom-line Design

While the economy has thrown down the gauntlet to New Zealand business across the board, design shouldn’t be casualty. But it does need to do the business…
The role design plays in business has become increasingly important. Now, more than ever, companies need to maintain their profile and communicate effectively with their stakeholders. It is not the time for razor gangs to slash marketing and communications budgets, but rather to review where and how money is being spent, and what you’re getting in return.
The response to design in the economic downturn has been clear flight to quality – and companies want more than just good-looking creative. Quality in design embraces strategic ability and sound understanding of client’s business, packaged up in solid creative that delivers results – bottom-line results.
Successful companies recognise that to build and maintain profile, you need to invest in your brand. Rather than companies looking for where they can trim creative costs, the focus is actually on gaining demonstrable value from creative spend.
Brand differentiation by design is critical to the bottom line. Your brand essence needs to be crystal clear – so people understand what you’re offering and what they’re buying. ecostore, New Zealand’s leading manufacturer and retailer of ecologically sound products, has successfully developed its brand and introduced new products while maintaining its brand distinction – and its customers love the company for it.
Even in the current economic climate, where some FMCG manufacturers/retailers are experiencing difficult times, ecostore customers’ behaviour has remained consistent. ecostore’s brand development and new packaging design hits the spot with its customers and the company is seeing results.
In short, getting your brand communications right can mean the difference between customer and client loyalty, or not. And that’s where having good design partner is worth its salt.
In taking up the gauntlet, the objective is to embrace forward-thinking. Plan to position your company where you want it to be when the market corrects itself. Surviving and succeeding in the current economic climate requires ‘smart’ communication. Achieving front-of-mind status with your customers and clients boosts confidence – and in tough times, winning confidence is half the battle. Project the strength of your company through all avenues available to you – whether advertising, product packaging, or stakeholder communications.
Never underestimate the power of good story. And when it comes to telling yours, no one else is going to do it for you – that’s your job. Go back to your core values and identify what makes you unique player in your industry. Your design and brand communications should reflect this. If your company is taking new approaches, creating new experiences or generally being innovative, then tell that story. Take every opportunity to leverage the ‘good stuff’.
In tightening economy, resist the urge to slow your communications. Instead, be prepared to move with the markets. The challenge is staying on top of industry change and the subsequent changing needs of clients and customers. This may require repackaging or repositioning your company to meet market conditions. As consumer behaviour changes, be prepared to change your communication delivery with it. You need flexible strategy to quickly adjust to both good and bad times.
In this climate, power is with the people – and they’re looking around. Where will they be looked after best? One thing that hasn’t changed is that customers still want to feel special. They want to know that their preferred brand, product or service is looking to create an experience for them; that they’re going to deliver the goods. Make sure they know you’re the one.
And for opportunists and entrepreneurs, there are plenty of missed opportunities and lost ground out there. Position yourselves into the gaps. The successful entrepreneurs will likely be the industry leaders when the market corrects itself.
So with one eye on the bottom line and one eye on the customer, make your marketing and communications budgets work for you. Review the market you operate in and where your business fits. Sit down with your design company and get smart on your plan of attack.

Katie Rebairo is the design director with Insight Creative.

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