Assumption: after is always is better. (Of course that also assumes that you're involved with the after.)
It's an assumption that good designers struggle with. How do you ensure that "after" is always better? And that it stays better for a long, long time?
3 considerations in “before” to yield success "after."
1. Collaboration. Why? Because it engenders a sense of authorship. Those who contribute must do so from a foundation of understanding. Engagement yields ownership. And when people are vested, they typically are motivated to continue to strive for success.
An appreciation for the difference between branding and marketing.
The term branding was born in the wild west, as ranchers burned indelible marks into livestock.
Marketing is defined by the many activities surrounding transactions between people.
The former is about the long-term. The latter is focused principally on impacting movement. They're not the same and each is more powerful when it recognizes differences and harnesses the synergy of the two.
Branding requires discipline and a sense of restraint that can be difficult to practice when marketing experts move across business units, navigating a world that rewards short-term results.
3. Consistency. The insight that successful brands are more than a creative logo or an epic TV spot.
It begins with a vision that addresses logos and commercials and everything in between. It considers a business organization and how people experience products and interactions in their daily lives. It's about designing with purpose—tools that organize, elements that are flexible. A combination of components that provide consistency and inspiration for new application.
Without these three things as a part of the “before” process, "after" isn't always better.
Note the first two examples at the right. Classico and SmartStart - classic example of how growth often waters things down.
What’s needed after “after”, to make sure “after” stays better?
1. Strong clients.
For the “after” to remain strong, it requires vigilant protection and nourishment by clients who understand that brands ideals are timeless and that consistent doesn’t mean static. That new expression should come from a brand’s foundation vs. starting anew. (Note this is the long term benefit from collaboration in the “before” as well.)
An objective review of the brand in the context of changing business and culture. An ongoing critique of heritage and elements that are valuable vs. baggage. And a discerning eye for the need to evolve to maintain relevance. (Note, that balance is in many ways the flip side of timeless and consistency.)
Following are a few examples where we were proud to have been involved with the first "after." And are equally pleased to see those brands grow with the inspiration of the client teams we worked with in subsequent expansion they drove.
Aveda Men Before, After and Expansion - the addition of shave care products, designed by Aveda's internal creative team, as an extension to this successful brand franchise
Herradura Before, After and Expansion - a custom bottle lead by Brown-Forman's design group
Innisfree Before, After and Expansion - new collections designed by Innisfree