Making it recognizable is one of the most critical steps in establishing a successful startup. A powerful brand is one that is distinct and is acknowledged to be serious and trusted by its consumers. This is where having a solid branding strategy becomes crucial in earning a good first impression from the target audience. And by branding, creating a design is where a significant part of the work goes into.
What is "design"?
There are many meanings of design but what most people would agree upon is that it is a process of creating something that solves a problem. It involves a set of actions that leads to executing a plan. To put it simply, a design is a plan to create.
A design starts with an imagination or a preliminary plan of a certain form or structure. It is a fundamental human capability in the sense that humans have been designing and devising tools that were perceived to be beneficial thousands of years ago.
In marketing, design is a crucial practice that creates a brand. It is the act of shaping a distinct brand or the set of activities that creates a unique visual identity. Its purpose is to highlight what makes a brand unique and better so that it becomes more desirable than its competition.
Other fields of design include, but are not limited to, industrial design, engineering, and brand strategy. What you can instantly notice is that these fields are all somehow related to solving specific problems. In engineering, for example, designers are tasked to create designs that will make a building look good but also sturdy. The common ground of these industries is that they use design as a systematic approach to solve problems and validate solutions.
So what is “good design”?
Basically, a good design makes something understandable and useful. If it is a product or a service, the design should comply with certain criteria in order to satisfy those who were identified to need such a product. The design should prove that it is functional and can be effective at fulfilling a purpose.
Today’s consumer market is very discerning. It has something to do with so many startups vying to win the public over their revolutionary designs. Because of the fierce competition, it is never enough to only be innovative with your design. It should also be aesthetically pleasing and must not offend so that it will be chosen by the audience. Consumers choose products that do what they are supposed to do but they will most likely pick one that looks more pleasing than something shabby.
It all goes down to the fact that design can be both a solution and a source of inspiration. Your design can go a long way if it will make the customers happy while using the products.
Basic guidelines for design
Putting up pictures together and arranging them to create a story is not design. A design is produced only when the three key concepts are achieved, which are:
· Logic - This refers to the technical aspects that would support the solution to function. It is the rationality behind the solution so that you can prove its reliability and efficacy.
· Ethics - A design should follow all ethical considerations including sustainability, safety, reliability, and fair trade.
· Emotion - More than fulfilling a function, a design must have the ability to form an emotional connection with the audience. The elements should be directed to emotions, imaginations, and even sympathy for this to happen.
These concepts are crucial in both marketing and advertising. They are otherwise referred to as the “Modes of Persuasion” where the concepts are used to effectively convince the audience to align with the designer’s way of thinking. By applying these concepts, you are technically trying to make your design more appealing by establishing credibility, fostering a strong emotional connection, and showing that the audience can trust you with your methods.
Principles of “good design”
Contrary to what many people must think, a good design is not a result of a great idea. What makes a design good is a calculated plotting of elements that visually represents the idea and imagination. It is the harmonious arrangement of elements that make the final product look outstanding.
Considering the design concepts above, here are the ten principles for good design, as expounded by Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer in the ‘70s:
1. It is Innovative. One must find possibilities for innovation. Technical development offers new opportunities to improve existing designs.
2. It is Useful. The design should satisfy the criteria to be functional. It must emphasize how the product will be useful and why it is the best solution to a problem.
3. It is Aesthetic. A solution that you use affects your well-being. The design should be executed in a manner that is simple yet exudes sophistication.
4. It Makes a Product Understandable. The design must explain everything about the product at a glance. It should be self-explanatory and should dismiss the need to explain the product extensively.
5. It is Honest. A good design does not attempt to offer promises that can’t be kept. It puts on display its benefits and should not fluff up its value with manipulative jargon.
6. It is Unobtrusive. Although you need to consider the aesthetics, a good design should fulfill a purpose just like tools. It must not be regarded as either decorative work of art. The design should be neutral and restrained so there’s room left for self-expression.
7. It is Long-lasting. A design should be able to transcend through time. Unlike being fashionable that lacks its luster once the trend dies down, it will last for many years and will beat the current throw-away society.
8. It is Thorough. Care and accuracy down to the last detail show respect to the consumer. It will be disappointing to have a product that is devoid of a basic feature that will completely affect its function.
9. It is Environmental- friendly. It should contribute to the aim of preserving the environment. Aside from conserving resources, the design should show how the product can minimize both physical and visual pollution and encourage recycling and upcycling.
10. It is as Little Design as Possible. It must highlight the essential aspects of the product and nothing else. As what would Dieter say, “Back to purity, back to simplicity.”
Learning by heart these principles of a good design is one of the best ways to ensure that you will create a design that does not only look good but will also produce an optimal user experience.
Different kinds of design
Another thing to remember about design is that it is a collaborative process. Startups should recognize that technical know-how is important, especially if you are diving into an unfamiliar venture. You have to understand that, although design being a solution to a problem is a general concept, there are different kinds of design. You need to understand that there are different approaches when it comes to achieving success in brand creation, product development, and shaping the user experience.
Brand design for startups
As per its definition, design is the process of creating solutions to certain problems. When it comes to designing brands, the main problem is how to make the brand stand out so that it will be favored by target consumers. The solution to this is to create visual compositions that would not only make the brand appealing but also communicate more effectively to its audience.
The first thing to learn with brand design 101 is that it is essential to do thorough market research. The purpose of this is to gain a better understanding of what the customers want and identify competitors in your niche. This would help you design a brand that will be a hit and at the same time let you create products that stand out.
Identifying your own values as a brand is also essential. This would allow you to create an emotional bond with the audience. Be guided in designing your brand based on the values that you share with your target users. Acknowledge what excites you to do, what you value the most, and what lines you would never cross. It will make the brand appear authentic and will you will also find it easier to develop new products.
It is also crucial to create a distinct visual identity when designing a brand. It is the personality, tone, and essence of the brand. You have to design visual elements which act as the face of the brand to communicate those intangible aspects. Upon doing so, you have to also consider a lot of elements, such as color psychology, shapes, iconography, typography, and a lot more.
Aside from the creation of visual assets for the brand, you must also identify the tone of voice or the manner of your message delivery. Does your brand have to be funny or serious? Do you need to have content that sounds formal or casual? Will you be respectful of other people or do you prefer throwing witty digs? Are you going to be intellectual in your approach or would you rather be enthusiastic? Deciding your tone will not only make it easier to communicate with your target audience but also helps reinforce the message or the brand that you want to sell.
Product design for startups
In most industries, designers prove to be integral in the development of new products and services. People have come to love using products that are both easy to use and are visually pleasing. Designing helps define how a product works, what users can expect out of using it, and how users can explore its functions and features. It allows you to offer beautiful, useful, and more improved products.
For startups to create a good product design, you need to think and behave like a user or characterize your target market. Learn everything about what they do, their needs, and preferences. You will find it a lot easier to design a product if you are clear about what they want. Gather as much data as you can and let it guide you in identifying which benefits will most likely be valuable to the customers. This will be the focal point of your design and should lead you towards the next steps in product design.
Ideally, you also need to consider the help of a credible team. It is a logical choice for startups to outsource both manufacturing and design. If you have a pat-down on the design and are ready to manufacture the product, you have the option to either invest in machines, creatie prototypes, and carry out trials or outsource. Either way, do remember that designing products is like couple’s therapy. You need to consider different approaches until you achieve success.
UX/UI design for startups
A user experience and User Interface (UX/UI) is basically how a user interacts with a product or application. A UI design aims to provide a user-friendly UX. In the context of graphic design, UI is all about enhancing the visual experience and giving the product an aesthetic appeal while preserving its technical functionality. UI designers mostly work on desktop and mobile apps, web apps, and games. They work hand in hand with UX designers whose job is to determine how the app works and with UI developers who are tasked to write the codes and make the apps work.
Generally, startups have to learn about UX and UI design before designing a product. There are many elements to consider ensuring that the products will be easy to use and that there will be a higher chance that the user will continue to use and even recommend them to others. By having a well-designed UI, meaning that the design is reliable and usable, the product will have a streamlined interface that does not frustrate users.
As for the UX, users will choose to continuously use a product if it provides a meaningful and relevant experience. You have to focus on keeping the users motivated as they try to complete their tasks using your product. Understand their needs and emotions and let those factors guide you in providing a fully encompassing experience while using the product.
How deep does design go?
At first thought, one would say that design is all about creating beautiful visuals or innovating products. For startups, however, it is more than that. Design is a state of mind. It is a solution to a problem that will defy earlier solutions. It is a meaningful and deliberate action to execute a great plan.
It may refer to the wide variety of graphics that you use to promote a brand. It can also be about the interactive quality of a product as it satisfies the needs of the users. Design can be the creation of products that are intended for mass consumption. Generally, design is all these and more. It represents not only the actual products but also all the qualities that are not explicitly mentioned, such as the message of the brand, the impression you want to create, and the ingenuity behind the creation of such solutions.
Mastering design 101 is a challenging task but is highly doable. It is through getting your hands on the fundamentals of the design process that you will be able to create a world-class design, one that easily communicates with the customers and can forge a deep emotional connection. It is not only about reading the basic elements of design but more about knowing how you can apply them during the actual design process.
One can definitely say that design is like a structured method of advancing from being unknown to known. People are mostly concerned about their problems and not about the solutions that you propose. This is why you need to thoroughly focus your research on designing solutions that will matters. Startups who are able to look over their design 101 research will most likely to succeed because they have higher chances of creating valuable designs for better products.