Illustration of the branding tug of war between design and business strategy, that exists in most companies

Are you in a branding tug of war?

It’s a battle we all know too well, design versus business strategy.

Designers don’t want to clutter up their designs with marketing mumbo jumbo.

Marketers don’t want to water down their messages for the sake of design. The problem is that many times brands will be stretched by both parties in different directions until they are completely unrecognizable to consumers. (How do you like the drawing I did this morning to illustrate this point? I’m no Hugh MacLeod, obviously, and this isn’t the Gapingvoid, so it’s unlikely to see many illustrations like this here.)

So, who’s right?

Designers hold the secrets to what visually stimulates, and delights the senses. They know the power that pleasing design can have in taking communication to the next step, leaving consumers on the edges of their seats wanting more.

Marketers hold the secrets to finding target markets, positioning, differentiating products and communication methods.

In order to create a solid brand, the gap MUST be closed. I believe that the answer is collaboration. The earlier in the process that marketers and designers can brainstorm and collaborate together, the less likely there is for a tug of war to occur. This gives everyone a chance to start with the same focus and goals in mind and also helps prevent ideas from being crammed in later on.

The Brand Gap is one of the best books that I’ve read on this subject. There are a lot of books on branding but very few make the any connection to the power that aligning design and strategy has on a brand.

Marty Neumeier has a long history of involvement in all areas of design, marketing and branding, making him the perfect voice on this subject. He has worked on the branding of high profile companies like Apple and Netscape.

This book has made its way around the blog world once already, but I think it is worth mentioning again. This will give some of you slackers that haven’t taken the time to read it yet another kick in the butt. It’s perfect for weekend reading, since it is only a little under 200 pages. It’s also full of illustrations, fun graphics and type treatments so that appeals to both designers and marketers. I read it in a little over an hour one night at the gym while I was on the stationary bike.


What experiences have you have with the brand gap?

What’s your answer to the gap?