The importance of design in storytelling
In 2019, traditional marketing tactics telling your customers that they should “buy your product because it’s the best” don’t work. Today’s consumers are more demanding. They want to know the who, what, when, why, and how of your brand.
Unsurprisingly, your branding strategy should focus on answering these questions.
This is where brand storytelling steps in. Your brand stories don’t need to be elaborate and promotional. They need to be meaningful. You should focus on explaining your brand’s core values, missions, and goals through engaging narratives that evoke emotions and build trust.
Most importantly, you need to insert these brand values into all aspects of your brand’s story. One of them is design, as the visual representation of everything your brand identity.
Know your brand’s story
Think about what inspired you to start a company in the first place. What are your brand’s missions and goals? Based on your industry, target audience, location, and values, you should build a strong and passionate mission statement. Don’t focus on pleasing wide audiences. Instead, focus on a specific audience segment and send them an authentic and honest message through your brand storytelling and design.
Let’s take the example of Nike. They made Colin Kaepernick a new face of their “Just Do It” campaign. Remember, Kaepernick was a quarterback in the NFL and is famous for sparking controversy by kneeling during the national anthem. Combining his photo with the “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” motto, they positioned themselves as a socially responsible brand that promotes racial equality.
Monitor your competitors, but focus on your uniqueness
Irrespective of your industry, the only way to survive in today’s overcrowded market is to research your competitors. Given that you’re probably targeting the same audiences, competitive analysis is a great opportunity to understand your customers and see what branding tactics resonate with them.
Still, just because something works for other brands in your industry doesn’t mean it will work for you, too.
Let’s look at these two coffee shop brands that belong to the same industry and yet, use completely different storytelling and design tactics.
Office Coffee Supply’s goal is to position themselves as the first choice of business people and offices. To illustrate their company’s purpose through their design, they’ve chosen white packaging and a logo that represents a coffee cup and a paperclip. Such minimalistic design stands for trustworthiness, simplicity, and ease of use – everything a modern office needs.
On the other hand, Atlas Coffee Club is a subscription-based coffee store, striving to provide its users with the world’s finest coffee. They offer coffee from countries from all around the globe, including Colombia, Nigeria, Brazil, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Indonesia. Believing that every cup of coffee sends a user on an exotic and exciting journey, they designed their packaging accordingly. Their logo and product names are large, bold, and prominent. Moreover, based on the origin of coffee, they’ve created personalized, vibrant packaging designs that celebrate local customs, landscapes, and textiles.
Determine the key elements of your brand design
Every aspect of your company’s presence (both online and offline) needs to contribute to your consistent and trustworthy brand image.
Start with the basics of any solid brand:
Statistics show that 85% of consumers believe that colors are the main reason why they made a purchase. That’s not surprising, given that each color triggers particular emotions. Yellow is often associated with the feelings of happiness and friendliness; red stands for passion and anger; orange is a great way to build an energized and playful brand. Blue is great for brands emphasizing serenity and trustworthiness, while green is often linked with growth, prosperity, and organic qualities.
Why do we add logos everywhere – from designing personalized payroll cards to our websites and TV ads? Because logos are synonymous with your brand. They are the first thing people will notice and remember when interacting with your brand. That is why they need to be aligned with other brand elements and reflect the emotional appeal of your business. Look at Disney’s logo. It shows everything the famous brand stands for – playfulness, magic, happiness, and nostalgia.
Typography is another central aspect of your brand identity and, as such, it needs to work in harmony with the abovementioned brand elements. One of the most common mistakes brands makes is using complex and fancy fonts. People love simplicity and trustworthiness. So, always go with fonts that are easy to read, memorable and that look professional.
Your website design should reflect your brand story
Building a solid, user-friendly website is the backbone of your business. It tells your audience who you are, what services you offer, and why you’re important. It builds trust with them.
To get the most out of your website, you need to make it fully transparent. Establish your tone of voice, have a detailed “About” section, publish user testimonials, and let prospect customers meet your employees. Most importantly, your website design should reflect your major brand values and uniqueness.
Let’s take Juicy Beauty, a natural cosmetics brand, as an example. Their goal is to create chemical-free cosmetics and they emphasize this through their logo and colors on their blog. White backgrounds combined with green buttons symbolize health, purity, and simplicity. Their website images also stay true to their brand story. Photos of nature and snippets of the ingredients they use reflect the same “organic” message. You don’t need to go to their products page or blog to learn who they are – it can be easily concluded from their website.
Work on consistency between online and offline brand design
Combining your online and offline branding efforts is an effective way to target wider audiences. Still, you need to ensure that your brand is presented consistently across all channels you use.
- Deepen relationships by engaging users offline. For example, stats say that 85% of consumers remember brands that give them a cap or a shirt. So, why not invest in on-brand promotional items? For example, if you’re selling office supplies, then creating branded notebooks, pencils, or USBs with your logo and brand colors may make your company more memorable. You could also use QR codes to inspire people to visit your online channels, providing a holistic brand experience.
- Set brand tone of voice and use it consistently online and offline. People should be able to recognize your brand messaging irrespective of the channel they use.
- Pay attention to the use of fonts online and offline. For example, most people like reading serif fonts offline, as printed materials usually use Times New Roman. On the other hand, sans-serif fonts are more pleasant online because they’re more legible.
- Make sure your logos and imagery remain consistent, whether online or in print. Let’s get back to the Juicy Beauty example. If you look at their product packaging and offline brand materials, you will see that they look exactly the same as online ones. This way, they help their customers recognize their brand immediately.
Make your design work for your brand
Now that you know what it takes to craft a spotless brand image, it’s time to hire an experienced designer that will bring your brand story to life.
Brand storytelling and design are two sides of the same coin. They need to work together in order to help you create a recognizable and memorable brand people will come back to. And, this is possible only if you use design to build a unique and cohesive brand story both online and offline.