Many of the world’s most successful companies consider them to be amongst their most valued assets. But what are design ideas and why are they so important? We explore the power of big design ideas and the difference they make.
What’s the big idea?
The most effect and engaging brand design is conceived with big ideas. Unlike brands which rely purely on style, big design ideas create a window into an organisation, defining what they do and how they do it. They can even shape culture, perception and provide a road map for success.
Big design ideas are a creative leap of the imagination which reconfigure how companies present themselves in unexpected and illuminating ways. Not only do they attract attention, they forge an emotional bond between customers and organisations.
Without ideas, design is simply a signpost and is shallow and unpersuasive.
The brand constant
Big design ideas are adaptable to the whims of fashion and are a brand constant in a changing world. A good example of this working can be seen with the Vodafone brand (below). The original logo was designed in 1991 and had limited meaning; a line and a hexagon – generic ‘technology’ styling which could be adopted by virtually any organisation. The speech mark logo designed in 1997 contained a big idea symbolising communication. This became a highly distinctive brand equity, so that when the logo required a stylistic update in 2014 the idea was left unchallenged.
Perhaps the most important reason businesses should consider big design ideas is because they are extremely valuable. When conceived and applied with imagination, they becoming corporate assets which command a serious price tag — in 2016 Vodafone was voted the UK’s most valuable brand at AU$36 Billion, an achievement assisted by a the core brand idea.
Ideas create significantly more distinctive brands, which we often describe this as ‘visual equities’. These are the elements of a brand which people recognise and associate with it and they can take several forms; such as colour palette, typestyle and graphic shapes; all of which contribute to the tone of voice and how a brand is received. They are critical components which enhance brands with visual intrigue and the right personality. These are stylistic visual equities, but the most potent visual equity a brand can have is a big design idea, because they blend colour, font and shape within it. The most effective design is a seamless fusion of big ideas and style. One is nothing without the other.
Does your brand have an idea?
A good indication your brand has an idea is the moment you see people attempting to trade off its value. Copycat brands may be an annoyance (and bread and butter for IP lawyers), but it shows your logo has become so well known (and envied) that someone was motivated to copy it.