Why designers should embrace strategy

When I interviewed Andy Cogdon, he mentioned a blog post he wrote. To be honest I didn’t pay much attention at it to start with but recently I have been going through my research and decided to explore this link.

This article happens to be very interesting. It’s more of a wake up call for designers. Here are some of the parts that really impressed me:


When I decided to start specialising in identity design, it soon became clear to me that there was a massive knowledge gap that needed to be bridged. I had a decision to make; either to find a brand strategist to work with, or to learn myself.

Brand strategy is not something that was taught in design school, at least when I was studying. But understanding the relationship between design and business is central to the branding and identity process. I’ve since become fascinated by brands and branding; its mix of business strategy, leadership, psychology, sociology; and the role design has in influencing brand perception and human behaviour.

Brand to me is an organisation’s DNA, all the things that make them uniquely who they are, and what the organisation stands for in the minds of people. Branding is our attempt to frame people’s experiences of that brand in a positive way; reinforcing the brand promise. Identity is the visual styles, devices and guides which govern this framing. Identity also acts as a platform, through which a brand can share its story with the world.

As Steve Jobs said, “To me, marketing is about values.” Markets can change, products can change, people can change; but values should not change. When designing an identity with the intention to last; understanding the values that shape a company help to inform the work we do.

“Do you make things look nice? Do you spend more time worrying about nuance and aesthetic than substance and meaning? Do you fiddle with style while ignoring the big picture? If your answers are yes, yes, or yes, you are a decorator.” – Steven Heller, Design Cult

There is a place for decorators. But when you are a multi-million pound business, or an organisation that serves thousands of people, leaders are looking for something that penetrates deeper. Creativity is not whimsy as some believe. Creativity – to me at least – is an ability to think differently and find unexpected solutions.

At the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, Tim Brown of IDEO said, “Design at its essence is really about being intentional… about how you want the outcome to be.” Design by definition is strategic, it is planning, it is intentional.


One of my favourite parts of this article is the one where he talks about designers not just being decorators. This is a very good point. Sometimes when one designs something it’s really easy to get lost into colour pallets, shapes etc. However are our outputs sending the right message?


Ref: http://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design/why-designers-should-embrace-strategy-11135317

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