How Good Design Is Like Underwear

From social media to user experience, brands need support--but nothing too constricting.

Design is guilty of a number of things:

  • Cosmetic cover-ups without addressing the real business problem;
  • Making things pretty or chaotic or whatever just for the sake of... whatever;
  • Trying to be authentic as a "corporate initiative";
  • Being done for the sake of who knows what, resulting in branding solutions and strategies whose purpose is to eliminate problems brought on by poorly conceived design, and of course;
  • Letting a committee guide the process at all. (No list would be complete without this last one, which causes more ineffective decisions reducing brands to the point that vanilla seems like an exciting taste alternative).

Like it says in the video above, design is like underwear.

If a brand is to have underwear, it should function first, be practical first, and be comfortable first. Design should solve those issues before it solves anything else. Which does not mean b-o-r-i-n-g. It just means, know your target and use design to help your brand meet that target.

Don't get me wrong--design is a powerful tool. Branding is a powerful tool. Together, well-orchestrated, they are pretty much without equal. But branding is like software: Just because you own it doesn't mean you should use it.

And the same goes for branding and design: Don't put either in the hands of those who are better off doing other things (like things they actually know about and can effectively perform).

"If you're using clichés, you're promoting your category, not your business."--David Brier

The secret weapon to successful businesses and cities that can't stand complacency or me-too, vanilla branding, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity specialist, package designer, and branding expert. David is also the author of Defying Gravity and Rising Above the Noise. David's series of videos shed new light on real branding in these short TV interviews; find more thought-provoking videos on his YouTube channel, or request a free copy of David's eBook, "The Lucky Brand" here.

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