The Power of Design to Breathe Life into Corporate Messaging and to Boost Competitive Differentiation

Profile of Yuliya Kim

We humans have always communicated visually. Whether through  45,000-year-old cave paintings or today’s AI drawings on DALL.E and Midjourney, art and design have underpinned the stories that we tell each other. We interact with design at every moment of our waking lives from the displays on our alarm clocks to the signs on the subway and the apps on our phones.

A staggering 90% of the information that we process is visual and our brains respond to that stimuli 60,000 quicker than reading text. It’s not surprising then that design elements generate some of the strongest business return on investment.

However, some organizations persist in misunderstanding how they can best benefit from using design. One common misconception they still hold is that design’s primary role is simply to ‘make things look pretty.’ What this mindset fails to acknowledge is that design can function as a highly strategic pillar of your content, marketing, digital, HR, operations and other teams. I fundamentally believe that coordinated design efforts can single-handedly extend the lives of past, ongoing and future projects.

If your team is pouring time, money and resources into a survey report, also invest early on in design to ensure that the most compelling findings come alive through the use of animation, illustrated explainers, shareable social graphics and videos. Each piece of art can help your content reach a broader mix of different strategic audiences across websites, social platforms and other channels. Similarly, if your company just went through a major rebrand and website redesign, take the opportunity to reintroduce the organization visually to old and new followers. Through engaging design, you can share your core values and brand personality, while also  cultivating a stronger community.

<split-lines>" I fundamentally believe that coordinated design efforts can single-handedly extend the lives of past, ongoing and future projects."<split-lines>

Effective Design Requires Thoughtfulness and Empathy

As the world grows ever more cluttered with content and our attention spans decrease, doubling down on design has become one of the most effective ways for companies to stand out from their peers. Visual communications helps our brains to process and retain a vendor’s message, while also making us feel more connected. Among Gen Z and Millennials, 61% believe that video and photos allow them to best express what they want to say in ways they can’t with words.

We are visual creatures and rely heavily on authentic, visual storytelling to process, connect and potentially change the behavior of our peers and of ourselves. But simply applying design to improve a situation or to help solve a problem isn’t the answer. We’ve all experienced examples of  ‘bad design,’ which fails to be inclusive and lacks thought and empathy as well design that, while aesthetically pleasing, falls flat, lacks substance, and fails to fully engage our attention.

The key to harnessing the power of visual communication is to lead the creative process with empathy. Our creative team at Mission North loves to get to grips with understanding our clients’ pain points, desires, big-picture goals and key messages. We dive into our clients’ personas through brand guidelines, but also through the lens of their values and how they want to be seen online and out in the world.

We work to discover who their audiences are, what genuinely interests them, what their needs are and how our clients’ products or services can help to improve their lives. We focus on creating content that enables companies to connect rather than just sell to their audiences. Brands need to meet people where they are—to be relatable, cultivate authentic relationships and conversations online, listen to followers’ comments and feedback and continue to let all of those interactions inform and evolve your storytelling. 

<split-lines>"The key to harnessing the power of visual communication is to lead the creative process with empathy."<split-lines>

The Power of Design in Action

We leverage the power of design for our B2B and B2C clients across many different industries. For instance, we have worked closely with a life sciences company to launch its rebrand and to tell incredible stories of breakthroughs in science and the future of food. We have also transformed one of our fintech client’s social platforms to become a source of educational and fun content for life’s biggest moments. Our creative and digital strategy resulted in a 32% increase in total engagements and grew the company’s follower base by 50% in a single quarter.

For us, one of the best (and most fun) parts of our client engagements are the processes of finding a company’s voice and its social identity. We encourage our clients to explore and embrace their clever and quirky personas. Our team has found impactful ways in which our clients can participate in important conversations and trends through the use of illustrated carousels, dynamic videos and even memes, riddles and puns.

With the rise of accessible visual communication tools like Canva and expanding creator functions on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snap, it’s critical that companies start developing and refining how they express themselves visually. Design is quickly becoming everyone’s common language and I welcome more people having the tools to empower them to become more design-literate. As designers, we can help our clients take the initial ideas they may have sketched out and then allow those buds to fully flower to drive more customer engagement, education and retention.

My design philosophy is rooted in the concept that everyone is capable of creativity. Opening up design tools to more individuals also encourages the power of play, which is so important in helping to spark new art ideas. If ‘everyone can be a designer,’ professional designers, like myself, can then focus on the upside of teaching the creative thinking that we’ve harnessed and practiced throughout our careers to a whole new group of eager learners.

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