Jacqui Wilkins, of brand specialist Visual Identity, reflects on lessons learned in three decades in the creative industry.
I HAVE achieved a personal milestone this year: continuous employment within the design industry for 30 years. During this time, I have seen many significant changes. Trained without the aid of computers, I am proud to say that this milestone has been achieved by not only embracing change but, more importantly, through my absolute belief that the power of design will always provide significant business benefits.
But one question for me still remains unanswered: how can my industry prove that unique thought and bespoke creative design can be measured in terms of real valued business metrics?
The recession and technological changes have seriously undermined the integrity of my industry. Entry level costs and no requirement for proof of ability sadly has reduced the quality of delivery and encouraged an attitude driven by cost rather than effectiveness.
This dumbing down has left many businesses looking and sounding bland, with their brands undifferentiated and struggling to articulate their uniqueness against a myriad of competitors. With the internet effectively being an open shop window to any business, this has allowed competitors an opportunity to plagiarise rather than be unique.
There are many examples of design used to positive effect. BritishAirways built a business strategy around increasing its long-haul international flights. The company looked to change the interiors of its planes to offer more comfort to its customers. The result was the first seat in the industry that could be reclined completely flat, allowing customers to sleep comfortably.
This unique thought led to a significant increase in sales and profitability for long-haul international flights. In this example, design alone made the difference.
Extensive experience has earned me the opportunity to deliver a number of design strategies and guidelines. These have included the principles for typography, colour, photography style and iconography, as well as a platform to standardise the approach, minimising development time and greatly reducing costs.Research has found that businesses rated as having good design are stronger on virtually all financial measures from a practical, managerial and statistical perspective.
Companies that consider their reputation for innovation and quality as paramount have their use of design as a core strategy. They know that creative design can contribute positively to their brand image, provide invaluable prestige and bolster their corporate reputation.
Managing design is a strategy as well as an art and requires the integration of both.