Grow your market by design, not chance

What can you do to make sure your brand stands out?


That is a top concern for most businesses when they think about the next marketing brochure or ad or website. As a designer, I am often asked to “make it really stand out” – whatever it is that I am designing. Of course that is my intention, but it’s not quite as simple as that. 

So this Del Monte ad would really stand out today I think. But perhaps not in a good way. However, back when it was actually in circulation (circa 1950s), it was standard practice to take this approach towards women. In fact, back then, this ad would NOT have really stood out.

There are three questions you should be able to answer before you design (or have your designer) create any marketing materials:


1. Who is your audience?

Who specifically are you trying to reach? You know that “Everyone” is the same as “no one”…right? So from a design point of view, understanding whom you are trying to reach is vital to creating a message that will resonate with them.

This Rainier Beer went for the “good for everyone” approach to marketing. (If you have an hour to kill, spend some time searching “real retro ads” online…. entertaining to say the least!). Was it targeted to the moms? Pick up a six pack for the next time Paw Paw comes to visit.

So just like when you are writing your marketing plan, you are supposed to know your target market…now think about them as actual people. If you plan to do any kind of social media (and of course you do) it is IMPERATIVE that you know who your target market is. Write out, in detail, the profile for your perfect client. Think about things like: values, age, gender, culture, career, family life, activities they may be involved with, type of entertainment they spend money on, goals, fears etc. If you are targeting both men and women, make two lists. The idea here is to find these things out if you don’t already know. Your Branding should take these things into consideration because it should shape the design of your communications.

2. How can you show you value and appreciate them?

This may should a little on the warm and fuzzy side, but really it’s just about getting to know your market and paying attention to them…as people, not just statistics. Look at the big brand’s advertising…they go for the emotions, the human connections. These companies go to great lengths to make their markets feel like they really “get” them. There are many ways to do this on the marketing side, but in relation to design, we want to look at how your next ad or brochure or website can show your market that you value what they value…or even better, you value your market on a personal level. In this day and age of 24/7 mass-marketing, it’s the personal touch that stands out.

3. How can you deepen and strengthen your relationship with your market?

You may wonder, “How can design affect your relationships?” Today’s branding focuses on making your brand relatable and relevant. Face it, we are all busy and we are all overloaded with marketing messages every day. It’s when that message transcends the rest of the marketing clamor and becomes something more important than a sales pitch (in the eye of the target market) that you have a chance of creating a “relationship” status. That’s why companies have twitter accounts and not just a Facebook page or website. It’s why social media is so powerful…. it’s all about the relationship. But people (especially those who have grown up in the digital era) are savvy when it comes to marketing messages, so if your social media comes across as salesy in any shape or form, you will lose that person. If you have invested time to figure out the first two questions above, you should have what you need to deepen this budding relationship. The way you present information to your market, whether it is through your website, printed materials, social media, video or in person should reflect what you know about them and what you know matters to them.

The bottom line is that marketplace relationships flourish by design, not by chance. Marketing pieces should stand out in the right way to the right people if you want them to be effective in your overall branding. That’s design strategy at work for you.

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