Design helps any brand create a world that customers aspire to live in, but managing that world takes constant vigilance and a few clear rules.
Every now and then, high-end brands go to a place where customers roll their eyes and say, “Give me a break!” How can that happen? After all, your brand has one foot in product inspiration and another in consumer insight. No doubt you have an elegantly written Brand Belief, a compelling Brand Strategy and maybe even a 12-page graphic standards manual.
One obvious reason is that so many people touch your brand image, from creative directors to graphic designers to photographers to digital artists. It takes constant vigilance to make sure everyone stays on brand message, and that the final product doesn’t shoot too high, too low or just miss the mark entirely.
So, to keep the entire team on message, here are a few of the checkpoints I use to evaluate new work:
Your creative talent needs to believe.
Is your creative director trying to put his personal stamp on your brand? Does your photographer or filmmaker buy into the brand, or does she secretly wish to be working for a hipper competitor? This kind of creative tinkering happens all the time, and fresh thinking should be welcomed, but not when it leads to diluting your brand equity.
More is not always more.
Unless you sell exclusively to recent lottery winners, luxury should be a whisper, not a scream. Sophisticated high-end marketers instinctively suggest a certain lifestyle with the subtlety and confidence of someone who was born that way.
Great images tell a story.
Sure, you’ve got a pretty picture of a high-end home featuring your product. Don’t forget the emotion—every good image has a backstory. Creating a story offers the viewer enough depth to make them feel something, and hopefully to imagine themselves in your world.
Boring is just as bad.
All too often, brands are so risk adverse they settle for safe, expected images that don’t surprise or delight. Being satisfied with “good enough” is a waste of money too. While you haven’t harmed the brand, boring your customer means you’ve chosen to be ignored.
When done well, advertising design is a marketer’s best friend. So aim high, but keep your eyes, and your creative team’s, on the brand.