There was a chain of Argentine food restaurants and one day a designer approached, supported by one of the brand’s partners, to propose a redesign. Because the order came from above, there was no other option but to fulfill the partner’s wishes and allow said work, including a significant disbursement from the company. Every month, the person in charge of finance had to make the transfer, be it for the payment of fees or any other issue related to the updating of the brand: the reprint of the tablecloths, the production of the outdoor signs, the production of the uniforms, of aprons and menus.
Each transfer was accompanied by deep regret from the partner who controlled the finances, which remained unexplained what was the gain of having redesigned the image. The designer only proposed a new, more modern typeface and made the image aesthetically comfortable, outside of which the new identity would only work with employees and all those who had contact with the brand every day; For the general public, the redesign went completely unnoticed.
You may be interested: Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Design (Decalogue).
This case perfectly exemplifies what often happens behind the scenes when we return the visiting badge and leave the office of the one we hope to attract to our client base. Experience taught us, for good and bad, that design by itself has no value, as long as it is not attached to a communication purpose; ends up being a totally decorative object whose purpose is only to beautify the environment and in the worst case, get an air sale.
I think this issue is in the collective agreement of the design functions, the problem is at the moment where design does not serve its purpose. If it was designed to redesign a brand, the purpose behind it is to strengthen it, rejuvenate it and put it in, so that it does not go out or strengthen the dynamics in an economic or social environment. A restaurant would redesign its brand to face the competition and remain current in the taste of its customers, to attract a new audience or relaunch it, whether for a new menu, a new atmosphere or a different experience. Corporatively a brand would seek to redesign itself to stay current, to encompass an expansion or redefine itself in or out of the market.
If not, Why hire design? Thinking only of the aesthetic end is a very expensive proposal, especially in today’s market, where one can find logo auction sites, portals to personalize an image step by step or even copy something from the internet.
In the case of the restaurant with which we opened this text, the professional only anchored himself from design as a technical and aesthetic purpose: to fix some poorly created elements in order to make them look good, their sale was justified at the whim of one of the partners who imposed his will — perhaps to do the designer a favor — but the damage was twofold. This restaurant chain will hardly hire services to redesign its image, as long as it is not out of irremediable need.
This designer not only wasted a golden opportunity to have a sexy client to round out his portfolio, but left the entire design industry with one less customer, who simply found no justification in a project that lasted months and cost thousands of pesos.
He design requires a visible process, where the client is part of the process or not, understands and is convinced of the scope of their investment. We, as designers and providers of an intangible service, must learn to justify our work in the commercial field (when applicable), to make visible the value that perhaps is not so clear or simple.