Advertising promises, design delivers
Jaid Hulsbosch, Director of Hulsbosch – Communication by Design, the branding company behind Woolworths, Masters, Virgin Australia and many other big Australian brands, says clients are increasingly relying on designers to orchestrate all the brand executions – including the advertising.
A leading Australian agency has been invited to pitch for a massive piece of advertising business. It’s a competitive pitch against archrivals whose agencies are being buffeted by the winds of change and the economic vagaries of marketing 2.0.
The agency’s MD and CD arrive at the brand’s headquarters with their iPads and killer Keynote credentials in hand. They’re whisked into the boardroom to make their pitch to the CEO, the Marketing Director and …. the brand designer.
Just a few years ago, the idea of having a “graphic designer” sit in on the agency pitch would have been dismissed by advertising industry as mere folly. But it is something that more and more Australian clients are asking us to do as they seek to ensure the brand idea is consistently and powerfully applied to all consumer touch-points – including the advertising.
Having immersed ourselves in every facet of our clients’ businesses, getting under their skin, understanding their markets and defining their very DNA, we feel we have earned our place at the table and are relishing the role of brand custodian, designing or overseeing all the brand’s marketing communications.
Finally, everyone has woken up to the success of brands like Apple, Google, Nike and IKEA – brands that comparatively little advertising and buy virtually no traditional media.
Marketers now understand it’s all about the brand; having a big idea and brand vision that is consistently executed through all consumer touch-points – including the advertising.
The truth is, advertising has always been great at defining and creating a need and then describing a solution to that need. However, the solution is only described – it is not delivered. Advertising is about making promises whereas design is about keeping them. It is the tangible delivery of a brand promise defined by advertising.
As people tune out to advertising, design provides a powerful opportunity to create dialogue because people touch and use design in multiple ways, every day. Structural design plays a huge role in capturing the imagination and creating that dialogue; it is the physical manifestation of the brand and a key interaction point.
As opposed to advertising, which continues to shout it messages, design communicates through a universal language of signs and symbols. Specific devises such as color, line and shape help consumers decode products and services and create a sense meaning – something that consumers now expect from brands.
To put it another way, a well-designed product doesn’t scream “choose me, choose me” – it chooses us.
For design and advertising to be truly effective, there has to be a big idea. This is the turf on which ad agencies and designers are now competing, but the truth is that designers are just of capable of generating those big ideas; indeed, they may be more media neutral, focused instead on creating solutions that touch all five senses.
Designers are well place to orchestrate the brand vision because they can see the whole picture. They understand how all the brand executions talk to the brand and how the brand talks to consumers through a consistent brand language.
Advertising and media still play a crucial role in creating anticipation and desire – which drives sales. However, both need a design agency to create the over-arching vision and to ensure that the brand idea is fully realised in the advertising. Otherwise it is destined to fail.
In the 1980s our agency’s founder, Hans Hulsbosch, suggested to his ad agency bosses that they open a design arm because it would secure their business for longer “if we were considered custodians of the brand”.
They just laughed and told him to stop being silly and focus on the ads.
Instead, he went out and started his own design agency and, 26 years later, we believe that clients now get it – it’s all about the brand.