Companies are increasingly embracing creative and innovative designs, but they still fall prey to familiar misconceptions. Knowing some of these common design mistakes that companies make will help us make better choices and avoid such pitfalls.
Design for your target audience instead of yourself
Overlooking your target audience’s tastes is one of the most common mistakes that companies regularly make. Naturally, we like to think of our preferences when selecting when we choose designs. Yet, designs are ultimately produced on goods that the target audience – not the company – uses. Most often than not, our preferences would likely differ from our target audience. For instance, you would not use light, pastel colours to attract elderly businessman, even if these colours appeal to you personally.
Let us examine Tropicana, a fruit beverage company, which underwent a serious rebranding exercise in 2009. The company spent $35 million to replace its signature packaging. The company executives desired a more modern look, changing the focus from “pure premium” to “100% orange”. At the same time, the packaging featured its main product – orange juice – more explicitly. However, they failed to take into account the strong emotional bond customers had with the old packaging. Customers failed to recognise the new packaging, and complained that it now looked cheap and inauthentic. This resulted in a 20% fall in sales revenue in the following two months. In the end, Tropicana had to revert back to its old packaging.
Realise that you get what you pay for
As cliche as it sounds, this time-tested saying proves to be especially true in the area of design. “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design,” Ralf Speth, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Jaguar Land Rover, famously once said. Having a good design is just like any other form of investment – the more you put in, the higher your returns. Engaging a professional graphic designer will reap far greater rewards in the long run. On the contrary, a cheap and inferior design can put off potential customers or clients easily.
Worse still, it might create further financial drain when you have to go for a redesign. Effective designs require the undivided attention of a dedicated designer who is able to come out with something creative that showcases your brand values. Eventually, you will be glad to spend that initial sum of money on designs that work.
In fact, there are many horror stories behind cheap designs. Sacha Greif’s attempt at getting a logo for just $5 is one such example. Not only were the logos she got lackluster in quality, the designers used ripped off logos from online stock libraries.
Stay away from overly popular design trends
It might be tempting to choose popular designs that other companies use. After all, it seems like a safe decision to copy existing works that have been tested and proven. However, in the world of design, this can actually backfire considerably. For example, if a logo becomes too similar to others, it simply loses its purpose. Furthermore, trends come and go quickly, due to the short attention spans we have. There is not much point creating a design that would be obsolete soon. A good, memorable design should be unique and a true representation of your brand values. It allows you to differentiate yourself and stand out from the rest of the competition.
Take a closer look at Coca Cola’s distinct branding. The soft drink company has kept to its original logo, which Frank Mason Robinson created in 1886. This 130-year-old logo is a stark contrast to competitors such as Pepsi and Snapple. In addition, Coca Cola has retained its iconic bottle design till today. Concurrently, Coca Cola has adapted such designs to modern societal changes. The logo has been adapted in viral marketing campaigns (Such as Share a coke & the Coke Happiness Machine) while the material of the bottles have changed to recyclable plastic. While the other competitors have embarked on multiple re-designs, Coca Cola have chosen to stick to its traditional but highly recognisable roots. Instead, the brand have decided to modify their marketing efforts around its designs. This has caused them to remain the market leader till today.