I love working on brand strategy and design projects, and I’ve always seen the two as interconnected. For me, graphic, web or interior design are all tools to bring a company’s message to life in many different ways. Which is why I am on the lookout for the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to business designs.
Take this one… a sponsored traffic island. Surely, this is a great opportunity for brands to have their company name and logo seen by all the passing traffic. What’s not to like – especially in the centre of Birmingham! It’s a great example of executing a company’s brand strategy and design project in real life – or that’s the theory at least.
Well… I would say well done, and even ignore the fact that the sign itself is not exactly inspiring or eye catching, but definitely not when it looks like this!
You may think what’s that got to do with my brand management? I think it’s got everything to do with it – and whilst it may be a tiny example of a careless approach, it’s a good one for why it’s important to consider different effects of designs on your business and brand building efforts.
It may be that this company has paid to be on the sign on the roundabout, but it’s the council’s responsibility to keep it tidy, but anyone looking at it, whether they are in the brand strategy and design field or not, won’t care about who should have gotten the lawnmower and dustbins out. It just reflects badly on the brand. It also doesn’t help the reputation of the town council, but it’s not their name on the sign.
You wouldn’t expect the brand owners to manage the island themselves, but they could have picked up the phone to whoever sold them the spot and complained. And if that didn’t get a result, withdraw the sponsorship and ask them to take the sign down. I would imagine there must be some sort of clause in the contract that stipulates what sponsoring an island means – and when an island is no longer an island, but a pit.
Looking at it another way, there could be a branding opportunity for someone dealing with waste disposal. It would at least create some connection between the state of the surroundings and the brand advertising on site. You’d just hope there was then a campaign linked to it which meant they would actually sponsor the cleanup after a few weeks and document it on social media and their website.
Working in a design studio in Sutton Coldfield means we naturally become involved in all sorts of marketing projects for local companies that are looking to scale up, reach more clients and improve their services. I remember creating wooden A-boards with protected, changeable information sheets for Lichfield Cathedral. They could have just used on the old, existing ones – but they understood that it all fits together, and having even those external bits of signage or advertising treated like an important part of your brand adds integrity.
Signage in particular is so often a missed opportunity. We all know the box standard fonts, with letters sizes to the max without any breathing space, on glaring plastic shop front panels without any character or brand style. Having been in the business of brand strategy and design for about two decades now, it saddens me to see that we still can’t manage to make high street signage for independent shops attractive.
Talking of Lichfield, here is another lovely little example of an execution that has gone just a bit fishy.
It’s a bit of a giggle, and it’s not the end of the world – but again, it’s a missed opportunity. What else could have been on those doors that actually results in a meaningful message when you slide it open? It could be such a fun detail of brand design and make the business stand out not just with their products…
In my mind it doesn’t matter how big or small you are as a company. It’s good practice to decide on your brand strategy and design accordingly. And it can be fun, creative and innovative even if you don’t have crazy corporate budgets, just by thinking and planning carefully.
As for sponsoring anything – make sure there is a link between what you are putting your name on and what it represents… you may be better off without it.
I am a brand consultant and conceptual designer. I love using creativity to solve problems for our clients. In my spare time, I like jigsaws and probably a bit of a board game geek.