Why Brands Need to Design with a Why

Com­pa­nies and design­ers need to STOP focus­ing on just mak­ing things pret­ty. Apply­ing con­cep­tu­al and strate­gic design — and one that incor­po­rates your mis­sion — has to be a part of your brand process.

why brands need to design with a why

Unfor­tu­nate­ly our indus­try is sat­u­rat­ed with peo­ple push­ing out logos, web­sites and over­all cam­paigns so quick­ly that it can leave you scratch­ing your head as to the con­cept. While not every case is like this, clients are often on short time­lines and design­ers can use tem­plates and short­cuts just to get the job done… yet your brand is the foun­da­tion to every­thing else you’ll build. It should unques­tion­ably be care­ful­ly cre­at­ed to max­i­mize and com­mu­ni­cate what you stand for.

Brands need to express the rea­son why they are in busi­ness, and not just ver­bal­ly, but visu­al­ly!  At NCD we say “Design with a WHY”. Instead of the self-serv­ing “i” in spelling, we use a “y” to help you think about both “you” and incor­po­rat­ing your “why”. This con­cept was inspired by Simon Sinek’s famous quote:

Peo­ple don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it.” — Simon Sinek

Cre­at­ing a visu­al empha­sis on your brand’s mis­sion and “why you do what you do” is essen­tial. Brand for the peo­ple you want to empow­er with your mission.

A great exam­ple of this is Char­i­ty Water. Study their web­site and tune in to what your per­son­al reac­tion is to their words, their images, their graph­ics, col­or, and font.

Design and Col­or: Many of the most suc­cess­ful brands in the world involve their design depart­ment in the brand strat­e­gy. And they should! Design plays a strate­gic and vital role, tap­ping into our basic instincts cre­at­ed from our ear­li­est moments in infan­cy. Read more about that on our post about color.

design, branding, strategic design, small business branding

Visu­als and Words: Some­times brands focus more on the copy and less on their visu­al iden­ti­ty. Both mat­ter… but remem­ber to uti­lize the fact that human beings absorb visu­al mean­ings before what we read.

Each of these ele­ments add into the mul­ti-lay­ered rela­tion­ship you want to build with those you serve. If your brand was a build­ing, you’d want it to last a life-time. Would you draw a pic­ture of your dream home and hand it off to any archi­tect and tell them. “Make it look pret­ty”? Wouldn’t you wor­ry about the qual­i­ty of the mate­ri­als from which it’s being made and that the struc­ture is up to code? Every detail mat­ters in the build­ing, and togeth­er they form a sol­id, struc­ture —just how it should for your brand.

So as you build, focus on com­mu­ni­cat­ing the WHY in your busi­ness and cre­at­ing strong brand con­ti­nu­ity.

If you feel stuck and would like some help, make sure to take advan­tage of our free con­sult!

About the Author

Nicte Cuevas, Principal of Nicte Creative Design, empowers mission-driven businesses through strategic design & branding. Nicte has applied this when working with Adobe Spark and Twitter Business, LinkedIn Learning, Dogs on Deployment and Purina, Girl Scouts, The Houston Zoo and The Contemporary Arts Museum. Her excellence in communication design & marketing has been recognized by multiple national / international awards, including a coveted feature in Graphic Design USA's People to Watch.

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