An eye for success: Designing a business brand
Universal Favourite's founder on why brand design is vital for the modern business.
With the business landscape more competitive than ever, and the struggle to gain consumer attention demanding an ever-increasing amount of time and resources, the value of business brand design has never been more important.
Dari Israelstam, founder and creative director at Universal Favourite, recently led the branding and design for Dimple, an Australian contact lens subscription service looking to disrupt the $3.2 billion optical industry. We spoke to him about how brand design helps engage the modern audience, and about always keeping the consumer front of mind.
Why is brand design so important for modern businesses?
"Traditionally, businesses have relied upon brand design to effectively differentiate themselves within the market, helping them to stand out among a myriad of competitors.
"Today, digital technology is shifting the way consumers engage with brands. Differentiation is now far less important than relevance, particularly within the millennial and generation Z market which is highly diverse, due to the motivated and change adaptive audience, that makes up the growing percentage of the marketplace.
"For businesses to succeed, we must approach design as a constant state of beta. Brands that can't evolve as new challenges arise are destined to fail. We believe in designing brands that are relevant to audiences now, with the flex to evolve as the market and culture demand increases.
"Design is a critical part of brand expression, one part of a broader brand system that needs to be considered if seeking to create a successful business. Brands need to consider all audience touch points, and how the design and ethos will permeate throughout. Consistency in design, especially at launch, is critical to build recognition and trust."
What are the consequences of neglecting design or getting it wrong?
"Audiences are becoming increasingly savvier, rather than approaching design with the mindset of how "shareable" or "viral" it can be, brands need to instead consider how they can remain authentic and relevant to their audience. Understanding and catering to what matters to your audience is how you create a loyal customer base.
"Businesses who don't consider relevance and authenticity as critical benchmarks as a brand can inevitably lose the trust of their audience. Businesses who also don't stay true to the design principles of their brand can potentially be in danger of losing trust. Brand consistency with on-brand flexibility to meet cultural demand is a good mantra to live by."
How do you use market research to inform design decisions?
"When approaching a new brand project, we first take a deep dive into existing market research relevant to the category and its audience. We immerse ourselves in research and data companies like Ypulse to better understand buying behaviours and customer interactions to help qualify our approach to building the new brand.
"Alongside market research, we continuously explore global benchmark brands in all categories, for all audiences, so that when it comes to our clients, we're able to effectively recognise and capitalise on opportunities that we see in their market. We help our clients to build brands that are adaptive, enabling them to listen and cater to their customer desires."
What was your aim with the brand design for Dimple? How did you go about communicating that?
"Every piece of design that we created for Dimple – from the brand identity to the packaging and the website – has been created with the consumer front of mind.
"When building Dimple's brand system, we steered clear of the homogenised mono-style that startups have now adopted. Rather than brandishing Dimple in a millennial pink palette – targeting our key audience rather stereotypically – we instead developed a vibrant lifestyle brand that retained the level of seriousness required for a medical product. Our design approach was focused on shifting human behaviour by enhancing the product experience.
"Shareability happened organically with the circle system that we created. Dimple's core audience; female skewed and millennial, want to be seen as individuals, rather than consumers. We answered this by creating a community of 'wearers' with their own unique circle identifiers. We also ensured that the models we selected for the launch campaign adequately represented how wonderfully diverse the Dimple audience is.
"The identity we created comes from the fact that, for the most part, everyone's left and right eye prescription is different. We created an illustrative suite of 60 colourful, complementary circles that correspond to each power number (from -12.00 to +6.00) and combine to show the vast number of combinations of individual prescriptions.
"And the brand system answers a huge flaw in existing contact lens blister packs. By creating these custom patterns (IDs) for each individual power number and displaying them boldly on each blister, it's significantly easier for users to identify the pack that's specific to each eye… especially when they don't have their contacts in.
"The packaging was a hugely important component of this task. As a direct-to-consumer company, we wanted the unboxing experience to be an utterly unexpected delight. From the blister packs coated in our custom pattern IDs to the boxes, mailers, sleeves and monthly information cards, we designed the entire packaging suite with our millennial market at the forefront of our minds.
"Part of creating a consumer-facing brand also meant developing a distinctly Dimple tone of voice that could be rolled out across all product and service messaging and gathered in a guide to be handed over to the Dimple social media team.
"We also brought the brand to life in the digital space, incorporating the key brand assets such as photography, iconography and illustration to enhance the user experience."
How can brand design be used to disrupt legacy industries?
"Disruption needs to come from the business, first and foremost. If you're putting yourself forward as an advocate for change, then it needs to be authentic in your offering, product and service. With a disruptive business plan in place, the application of design thinking is critical in setting you apart from the antiquated legacy competitors.
"For Dimple, we saw a clear opportunity to shift user behaviour in a historically sterile industry. In Australia, four manufacturers control 97% of the contact lens market. With OPSM and Specsavers holding the monopoly, accounting for 40% of industry turnover, there has been little to no effort required to brand their products.
"Packaging has always been designed with the optometrist in mind – storable, stackable – leaving a sea of white, clinical branding that lacks any connection with its consumers."
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Picture: Getty Images