When pretty is pretty useless

22 August 2018

It’s easy for us designers to get carried away and choose a format and design that will look great, but doesn’t always transpire to be the most effective. Not considering major factors like how it will look on shelf, how it will be stored and freighted and will it be easy for consumers to use for example.

Recently I discovered that we were not chosen for a particular project I was hoping to win. The client didn’t say why, but when I saw that they had launched the product my initial thought was that the packaging looked great – he said through gritted teeth. Then on remembering the original brief, how the product needed to be displayed on shelf and used by the consumer it suddenly became apparent that the packaging is actually going to be deemed frustrating and pretty damn useless in the near future – he said with a smirk.

The food products in question were meant to be in a small, lightweight, accessible and sustainable package. Everything their chosen packaging wasn’t. It was clear that the selected agency had gone with style over effectiveness, which may look great on their portfolio and generate some sales initially, but in the longer term, things aren’t going to look so rosy.

The focus of what we do here at Brandality is always on the customer/user. Unlike many other agencies, we take the time to define who your customers/users are, their wants, needs and fears. We even go as far as to build profiles, putting a face to them and what they enjoy as hobbies. This helps provide our designers and strategists with a foundation to create a brand upon and to use as a brand barometer during the brand building process.

I appreciate it’s easy for clients to choose with their eyes and not their head, but if your agency isn’t quizzing you to a point of annoyance about how, where, when and by whom your product or service is going to be used, run a mile. Don’t just select them for their portfolio and designs, choose them for their knowledge and experience.

If they offer to start on the design before undertaking any form of discovery or strategy, kindly decline and find someone who knows what they’re doing, you’ve been warned. Designing before defining the proposition is like asking an architect to design you a home without them knowing if it’s a studio flat in the city or a large mansion in the country.

Remember, design needs to be pretty, but foremostly effective.

Adam Arnold

Founder & Creative Director of award-winning branding agency Brandality.