Sustainability Reporting

Are Your Brand’s Creative and Communication Assets Out of Date?

Brand Gold Insights


Are Your Brand's Creative and Communication Assets Out of Date?

You spend a great deal of effort and expense developing creative assets such as designs and logos to support your brand. These assets need to be maintained. If you think of brand creative assets as physical assets, then just as you need to periodically service your car, so you should service or refresh your brand designs. Without timely refreshing, you risk having your designs becoming a liability rather than an asset for your marketing efforts.
We do brand refreshes as a service and find these elements often missed when designs are being refreshed

Hero image still doing the job?

The hero images in marketing collaterals and touch points are often reflective of your target market demographic or their aspirations – hence the use of slim models in weight loss advertising or images of rugged, wide-open spaces in advertisements for 4-wheel drive vehicles.

The self-perception of target markets changes with time and so it is necessary to change hero images in your visual communications as well, otherwise the imaging you use will not attract customers and in fact could even alienate your market

Colour choices in design getting harder

Even the inexperienced designer knows that different colours portray different emotions and the colour choices in your marketing designs were probably chosen for very good reasons in order to invoke the desired action by consumers.

The colour choice can be the make or break of an advertisement and so it is critical to often revisit the colours used in your corporate designs. An annual review is probably the right frequency because our markets have become very demographically complex and are changing all the time. There are two mega trends affecting colour choices and making colour decisions very difficult.

A globally ageing population means that markets for most products have a very wide age range. For instance, a new car model is bought by a twenty-five-year-old, but the same model is also bought by a fifty-year-old and as every designer knows, colour preferences change with age. So, do you use colours aimed at the 25-year-old or the 50-year-old?

The erasure of geographical market borders in online markets has an even bigger impact on colour choice because colours have different meanings in different cultures. For instance, in western cultures the colour of mourning is black but in many eastern cultures the colour white denotes mourning. On-line your product is sold internationally, so which cultures should you aim your colour choices at for greatest effect?

Changing emotions of vocabulary

Everyday vocabulary changes with time. Not only are new words added but the meaning and emotion attached to some words also changes. The classic example is the word, ‘Gay’ which used to mean joyous or happy, but now denotes homosexual or lesbian. As another example, in the 1950s who would have thought that ‘mouse’ would be a computer device or that ‘Sick’ would be an awesome feeling.

It is unlikely that your marketing collateral will have words that have changed meaning so dramatically because surely you would have noticed, Right? Believe me I have pointed out the current meaning of ‘gay’ as recently as 2020! You do need to review the word content of your designs for subtle and recently trending changes in popular meaning – just imagine the deep thinking that the manufacturers of any product that contained the word ‘Corona’ would have gone through during the pandemic.

Look out for any changed emotions or implications attached to words that you use in your PR or marketing designs.

Remember the fonts

Even Fonts change with time – Times New Roman was supremely popular in the 80s, now it would be seen as old or certainly classical. So, if classical or dull is not the mood you want to create in your designs then you may just need to change font.

If you want to have a certain uniqueness of design going forward, then you may even want to create your own font. Incidentally fonts can carry copyright so this is something to be conscious of when reviewing and refreshing your marketing designs.

Key Takeaway

Consumer habits and behaviours are changing constantly and so should your marketing designs; otherwise they will lose relevance and their effectiveness. The total overall effect of a design is what counts, however, there are some key elements which often seem to get dated if they are neglected. The good news is that an outsider’s eye can usually pick up the difficulties very easily and simple changes can give a brand new life to your designs.

Sustainability Reporting

Logos – Simple Is Better

Brand Gold Insights


Logos - Simple Is Better

Branding Gold Insights

If you are designing a logo or refreshing the existing logo of your business, then try to keep it simple in order to maximise its effectiveness. Simple logos have a number of benefits:

1. Simple logos are easier to recognise and remember

Simple logos are easier to recall by customers. In fact, trials have shown again and again, that complex logos, especially those that have words or a tagline, are far less likely to be remembered than simple designs. There are hundreds of simple logos around us that belong to very successful companies: Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz, MacDonalds, Google, FedEx… the list is endless and easy to think of, whilst honestly, I can’t think of any complex logos that are well know!

2. Lose the words

Avoid words in the logo, because having no words in the logo simplifies things. However, you may have to ignore this if your business is very new and the name is totally unknown, In this case, you are almost obliged to have the name of the business in the logo in some way, otherwise the logo will have no meaning to your audience.

If you are at the beginning of your business journey and relatively unknown in your market, then try to create a design that incorporates the name of your business rather than tagging it on to the logo or under the logo as is commonly done.

Alternatively, design in such a way that the name can be removed at some future date, when the business is better known. A case in point – the Mercedes Benz star is internationally recognised – most people would recognise the star without the words underneath. At some stage, your branding will be strong enough in your niche that you can drop the actual name from your logo if you want to.

Looking around, you are sure to find many logos that you have seen evolve over time.

Old Logo

New Logo

The Starbucks logo is the classic example. Until circa 2011, the logo had the business name “Starbucks” as an intrinsic part of the logo.

Now, with the business name no longer in the logo itself, the Starbucks mermaid is no less recognisable.

3. More Clarity of Messaging

Simple designs make it easier to bring clarity of purpose and messaging to your logo. For instance, there is no mistaking what the, “Specsavers” brand is all about.

It immediately tells you that you can buy glasses here at an economic price and save money. A one-word logo, with a glasses shaped background that says it all.

4. Simple designs are more responsive

Logos need to be responsive for different usages across different touch points from stationary, marketing collaterals, uniforms, memorabilia, print, digital, colour, black & white. The simpler the logo, the easier it is to adapt the logo for these diverse requirements.

It is perhaps a little ironic, but the simpler a logo design needs to be, the more creativity is needed not only for the design, but also to instill the other components that make a logo effective, such as immediate impact, recognition, memorability and emotion. If you see a truly simple but effective logo, you can be sure that a great deal of work has gone into its development.

Sustainability Reporting

4 Worst Design Briefs Ever!

Brand Gold Insights


4 Worst Design Briefs Ever!

Branding Gold Insights

Visual branding such as logos, marketing collaterals, websites and advertisements make up a large proportion of the branding and communications of most companies.

Graphic designers are a crucial part of getting these visuals right for the brand and so it follows that unless you can communicate your brand strategy effectively to designers, you will put a large part of your branding collateral at risk – and that’s a huge risk!

The main method of communicating branding objectives to designers is the “Brief”. Get this wrong and it will result in lost time, frustration, cost, missed deadlines and substandard output. Here are the four worst types of brief and you must avoid them with a passion.

The Read My Mind Brief

“I think you understand what we need!” These words are the kiss of death for a designer. Even if you have worked with a design team for years, they still cannot read your mind.

Of course, the words actually used in a brief are not as blatant as suggested here and would usually be couched in terms such as, “design in accordance with our standards,” or “designs appropriate to our branding strategy” or “as explained in previous briefs”. The kicker is that the standards and branding strategy are seldom shared.

The good brief articulates what you want the design to achieve and for whom; otherwise, you are almost certain to get something unusable. It is like expecting an architect to design a house for you, without sharing vital information such as the number of rooms, bathrooms or the age of the resident.

Every brief must articulate, what you need, the objectives, the target market or consumer group for whom the design is being developed and any mandatory elements such as the use of certain words or timing.

The Micro-Defined Brief

On the other end of the scale, is the brief that gives a list of requirements from colours to fonts, to the number of curves allowed and the number of straight lines all detailed to the nth degree. Marketing teams that provide this kind of brief often mistakenly believe that the purpose of the brief is to tell the designer what to do.

This is not true – the design is the designers job and the designer’s expertise. In the brief you need only say what you want achieved, not how. For instance, it is valid to ask in the brief, “The design should evoke a light happy feeling for our target consumers, who are mainly in their 40s, married and have one child and a mortgage and are of xxx descent, living in yyyy” Now it is up to the designer to create designs that achieve the objective of a, “light happy feeling”, using the other information provided to good effect.

The ‘Give Me Some Options’ Brief

Translated this means, “I won’t know what I want until I see it. I am just fishing for inspiration, so please spend tons of time on ideas, of which I will reject 95% or indeed all of them.” This is both inefficient and incredibly demoralising. Much better to spend some time to write a good brief that forces you to think about and define what you want. The required design will appear quicker and more economically whilst retaining the sanity of the designer and the relationship between marketing and design.

The Personal Preferences Brief.

This type of brief is not hard to abide by, but doing so will probably do a disservice to the client. It is not uncommon to get a brief which stipulates, “minimal white space” or “preferred pastel colours”. When these requirements are based on evidence from the target market, then they are very useful. However, if based on personal preference then they could hinder the effectiveness of the design, because the target market’s preferences could be quite different from your own.The takeaway from these nightmare briefs, is that for an effective design brief it is best to explain the objectives of the design to the designer not how to do it. Then provide a briefing about the characteristics of the people who will consume the design. Next, leave the designer to get on with the job and finally and most importantly, judge the end product through the eyes of your target market and not the lens of your personal preferences.

Sustainability Reporting

Graphic Design Risk – Do You Have It?

Brand Gold Insights


Graphic Design Risk - Do You Have It?

Design Risk – What It Is & How to Manage it?

What Is It?

Design risk comes in two forms. Anything in a design that can damage your brand image is a risk, this includes things such as using inappropriate language or images, or unjustified claims in advertisements. All of these can result in serious problems and financial loss.

The other category of design risk is that your branding objectives are not achieved by the particular graphic design. For instance, if you are needing 1200 click throughs from an audience but you only get 100 because of the graphic design not being effective enough to attract people.


The solution for managing both these categories of risk is the same – review and test. In terms of review, the more eyeballs you can get on the design the better. However, the more independent the reviewer the better, because it is very difficult to pick up problems if you have been involved with the design.

Get Everybody Involved

Also, amongst your review team should be a representative from every main section of your company affected by the design. For instance, if the design concerns the advertisement of a new product launch, then in addition to marketing, there should be a review from product development, distribution and sales as well.

Test, Test and Test

A very effective way of testing is to use a pilot group or focus group of consumers or end users. Some marketers prefer to go live with designs without consumer testing. The rationale being that, ‘the best way to test something is to see how it works in the market.’ Unfortunately, with this approach, the damage is already done before a design can be revised. Far better to get feedback and change things before using a design in the live environment.


It is true that testing takes time and money. On the budgetary side, there are some very low-cost alternatives to the full-fledged focus group. A popular method is to see the reactions to particular designs in appropriate social media groups. The members may not be exactly the people you want input from, but if you select the group carefully, you can often get a very good match.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that your insurers who cover you for certain types of business risk, may look favourably at your proposal if you have solid procedures in place for the management of your design risk.

The bottom line is that although it costs to test, it costs even more to fix a bad design that gets released. For this reason, it is good practice to allow for testing dollars and for testing time in your marketing and design budgets

As a design agency we have some clients who live by the need to review and test and others who are difficult to persuade to manage design risk. Which is the right approach? I can only observe that with the design risk managers, the reviews and tests result in at least 5 or 6 revisions based on consumer feedback; with the changes being made in a relatively calm environment – no panic. Those who don’t review and test still have to make the changes but very often after the damage has been done and usually under a lot of stress and pressure.