The unofficial award show
Every year agencies spend money and hours on sending their work to national and international award shows. The crescendo is held at sponsored venues with plastic spoons and chicken served cold, watching hundreds of categories on big screens. Like the children’s fishing pond everyone gets at least a nomination.
The real award show is running outside the venue. There’s no commission to participate, no rules on how to enter, no limitations whatsoever. It’s the greatest show on earth.
With only two categories, ’sprint’ and ‘marathon’, this award show is about creating real brand value. The sprint winners set the trends, resulting in a head start of the competition. They will gain followers and media space for free. The marathon winner is the lifetime achievement award, which sums up several years of competing at the highest level.
Everyone knows who the winners are, and even the runners-up. We enjoy them in the streets, and refer to them in new pitches and projects. They stand the test of time for decades. After all, who remembers the Epica Silver winner in the FMCG plastic beverages 1998?
When competing in branding, there is no such thing as preparing for the annual world cup or olympics every 4th year. Brands compete every day.
On strategic design
When practising mindfulness, you can learn how to take a deep breath, enhance the moment and fully become who you are. The same approach could benefit your business. In our fast-paced world, where consultants are offering their services ever more speedily to avoid lagging behind, it’s even more important to stop and ask the right questions.
Digital brands can always update their primary visual assets in a cost-effective way, but a side effect of this is that they all look and feel the same. They tend to follow either established leaders or rising stars. They look anxiously at new trends and technologies, and the questions they ask themselves are too simple — which colours and typefaces are used by competitors? Which UX style is currently on trend? How can we avoid making any mistakes? How can we look like a digital start-up? (The worst one…)
Using design in this way is fine, but it will probably remain at the level of decoration or wayfinding. You then get a sign by the road, and your consumers will maybe find out that you exist and where to find you. But it won’t tell anyone why you exist, who you exist for and what your unique offering is. These are the kind of questions strategic design should answer. A kind of design that serves a purpose and creates real business value. A kind of design that is impossible to copy, showing fully who you are. That is strategic design.
Rendering something pure
CNA is a design consultancy. True to Scandinavian principles we purify brand expressions by shedding excess.