Design: Making Business Values Visible Through Identity

Gaultier 7

William Baker, Kylie Minogue, Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, Immaculata gown, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute couture, spring – summer 2007, net lace dress with large patterned embroidery and white linen cut-outs © William Baker courtesy National Gallery Victoria

Design is at the heart of an unprecedented explosion of creativity, with a company and its purpose, values, mission and strategies made visible through identity

A current example of a company identity making strategies visible, where its creative founder is still an active aspect of its growth progress, is that of fashion leader creator Jean Paul Gaultier.

In Melbourne a landmark exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria that plots his own evolution from the sidewalk to the catwalk is currently on show. It reflects a great deal about the art attached to establishing design principles for both personal and professional life. In his case they are inseparable.

Any business and its purpose is made visible through design and behaviour; the people, the communication, the strategies, the philosophy and the product.

The identity cannot simply be a slogan or a collection of phrases; it must be visible, tangible and all embracing.  It must represent consistent standards of quality and in that way encourage the consumer to indulge and participate while building their loyalty.

The visual style of any organisation affects it’s positioning in the market and its corporate purpose really must be backed up by the behaviour of its people on ever level.

businesswoman in officeTo be really successful, a design philosophy must be integral to every aspect of who and what a company is about and what it represents. Above all it must be honest and have a focus on integrity.

For any company there has had to be a beginning. No matter how humble that is, if you wish to embolden your company, the people you work with and empower its growth, then there is a great deal to consider.

A business can be built on a diverse set of skills sold through a consultancy, or products through a retail store. Whatever, they all need a strategy that ensures they are visible, and a company structure helps them shape it if they wish it to have a future. However it is a successful design that will drive it forward.

Identity is first and foremost expressed visually in the names, symbols, logos, and colours – the brand, which encapsulates and makes vivid that whole collective sense of belonging, gives an image to your company, one that gains a purpose for those who work within its structure.

Design is the most significant component and at the outset when we say design this is not just about what you see; it is also about so much more, intangible qualities the eye often cannot see.

businessAny company that does not have a philosophy embedded in its culture from day one, or from a point when it became apparent it is needed to move forward, then they will remain ever vulnerable to attack or collapse at every stage of their evolution.

Establishing a core identity with a clear and concise philosophy behind it has two purposes; to give people within it an understanding and strong sense of belonging and, to become a yardstick against which the company, its people, its products, its behaviour and its actions are measured.

One basic imperative if you wish any type of success, monetary or otherwise is that as well as having a visionary approach, from the outset you need to be able to acknowledge and learn from your mistakes without being too dramatic, whether you are an individual or part of a small group.

Finding the right designer for your brand is important, and it is worth taking the time to find one who suits and even shares your thought processes, otherwise the whole thing can go terribly wrong. As this is one of the key first steps it should not be rushed.

The next level to consider is the communication material; it must have a consistent quality and character, one that accurately and honestly reflects the organisation and its aims. These should be all palpable, visible and professionally designed

Any visionary individual or small group of people establishing and setting the core standard for a company and its operation must work through what is required and present it, as they have done, in a considered way.

If it is a group of people they must be all singing in harmony and tune, sharing both their skills and vision to make it happen, to at first survive and then eventually, to thrive. No matter how humble a starting point, identity should be all about simplicity.

Today website’s give company’s another outlet for informing a greater public about what you do, your product and your philosophy.

A good example of an informative website, one whose philosophy is clearly visible is One Fell Swoop. A Melbourne consulting business providing highly creative skills to solve the challenges ahead for Australia’s senior living population. The site is simple, with a focus on superb design.

Its various components and carefully considered sections explain their professional product and services with great clarity. The imagery used for each page of their site is clever without being in any way trite, and their message ‘one size does not fit all‘ proves their flexibility, a very important component for any consulting business to have.

Tall modern building with curved frontage and deep blue skyBaby with ShoesEverything in an organisation does must be an affirmation of its identity through the products its sells, even the building it is in.

Identity is also about location, about how it your particular product is presented and maintained, all manifestations of the company and the message it projects.

It’s no use saying I have a ‘green philosophy’ and prove it by moving into a highly rated architecturally structured ‘green building’, everything about how you behave and operate within that structure must also be considered and carefully put in place if you wish to ensure real success.

The second element, which although not visible is how an organisation behaves; its staff, everyone its people come in contact, its customers, suppliers and the community at large.

This is especially true in service industries where consistency in attitude, action and style underline the identity. Patronising or ignoring customers never works well. Educating staff is important, if they do not project the image you are endeavouring to achieve through practice, they can bring you down.

In today’s epoch the identity is the single most significant factor in making a choice between one company and its products and another.

Society is becoming increasingly judgmental about the behaviour and actions of corporations as it becomes more closely integrated with it. A company’s identity must always be managed consciously and clearly.

Cafe SetIn a small company such as a cafe, the identity and the philosophy is a direct reflection of the founder’s obsessions and interests, is just as important as in a large one. It’s also about what motivates those who work within it, the service they give and the people who come back often to enjoy it.

Why have a company at all? In this day and age it is always wise to set yourself in business, especially if you are seeking success, by building in the structures and regulated protections you need for future success.

These days that is made economical and much easier by being able to purchase companies on line and because we  have the ability to research and learn all about them in the same way.

People-in-a-REvolving-DoorIt’s all about investing in your own ideas and ensuring that the other people you may call on to invest in your vision will have confidence in what you are endeavouring to achieve.

People-InteractingRemember greed is never good and perhaps a final point to make is about capital; consider the risks and that there may be a point where you have to be prepared to invest everything you own to make it happen.

Group-Business-PeopleIt’s like stepping of a cliff into the unknown, so identity is also about you and your ability to bounce back in the face of adversity.

Once you feel comfortable within your own skin about taking that risk, well then get out there and go for it.

There are no guarantees in life, only chances that allow you to actively involve yourself in it.

In our world today sprawling complex multi national corporations generally have innumerable interests.

There are many huge conglomerates supported by individuals using the freedoms they have as creators, as well as their experience as consumers, to help invent the future of the companies they are loyal to.

This is achieved through by ensuring their identity and integrity remains intact

businesswoman in officeIn a recent essay published by the RSA at London its Director of Programs Adam Lent noted

‘… economic success will be driven as much by the creativity of all, as the creativity of an elite. Competitive companies will be those that offer products intensively shaped by the unique ideas and perspectives of every single one of their customers. Companies and wider economies that fail to grasp this new reality will ultimately be squeezed out of markets by those that do’.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014

*Adam Lent – Creativity the most important political concept of the 21st Century



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