Design Case Studies: Brands Willing to Take Risks Will Establish Lead in Design Game

Article excerpt

Agencies must beware the trend for safe, comfortable design, and instead make brave choices, writes Richard Abbott.

Attendees at last week's Marketing Design Awards will have come away feeling that the design industry is in rude health, considering the high quality of the work being recognised.

However, while such events encourage celebration of the industry's undoubted creative talent, there was an undertone of cautiousness.

Marketers now expect any decision made by agencies to be completely watertight, with return on investment assured. Few are prepared to accept the possibility of risk, given the wider financial woes that have had an impact on the business landscape.

However, risk is an inherent aspect of design work. One person's idea of a clever piece of brand representation is likely to turn off another entirely. This is why unparalleled levels of time and effort are being devoted to planning, research and testing.

Deborah Dawton, chief executive of the Design Business Association (DBA), the trade body for the UK design industry, agrees that most marketers are 'pretty risk averse at the moment'.

'The day of the hunch is over,' she says. 'It is a risk that businesses aren't prepared to take.'

Dawton adds that marketers are placing agencies' track records under unprecedented scrutiny. 'Clients are looking for those companies that have the ability to effect a change in the marketplace,' she says. 'They are looking for a track record of significant change in the businesses that agencies have worked for.'

Over the next four pages, you will be able to read the thoughts of two of the design industry's leading brains, along with case studies of game-changing work that their agencies have produced for brands.

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