Developing a brand and designing for your customer (not yourself) can and does add to your businesses bottom line. Aesthetics should be carefully crafted with your client, customer, or consumer top of mind. Removing yourself from the equation isn’t always easy, but is essential to ensuring your product meets the needs and desires of your customer.
Know your audience.
Knowing who to design for is half the battle. Take time to do the research and understand who you’re designing for, what they care about, what they value, and what resonates. Consider crucial design decisions like typography, layout, color, and navigation, and calls to action. What do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel?
Personal attributes of your consumer is important, like their age and gender, but it’s also important to know about the current buying habits. Where do they go? Do they primarily shop in store or online? How do the behave online? What do they care about and connect with? Understanding the psyche of your client or customer is imperative in ensuring that your design and creative hits the mark.
Define your perfect customer.
Recently, Proof developed award-winning branding for The Monroe – a residential property in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood. In the early stages of our work, we developed a unique and specific customer persona, who we named Cason Thad Grey (long story, don’t ask). This persona profile looked something like this:
“Cason Thad Grey is in his late twenties or early thirties, and recently moved to Nashville. He has a steady job in PR and is successful early in his career. He works hard, but has plenty of time to build a life beyond work. He lives alone, but has a dog he walks around the neighborhood before and after work. He enjoys saying hello to the other dog-owners, exchanging brief pleasantries or commenting on the weather as they pass. Cason has a gym membership, and has tried running groups on and off to try to meet new people. He recently joined a kickball league that plays down the street at Morgan Park on Wednesdays. He loves the creative vibe of Nashville and even plays guitar in his apartment when he has the chance. You’ll find him checking out local eateries or bars a few times a week, especially if there’s live music, trivia, or if it’s a good spot for a first date. He’s single, but looking. He’s on Match, and enjoys meeting new people and having a reason to try new restaurants and bars in the neighborhood or around town. We values experiences over material things, and explores everything Nashville has to offer regularly with friends and connections.”
Taking this (very specific) persona into consideration, we developed The Monroe brand to be timeless and sophisticated, while also focusing on a visually immersive and nontraditional experience, especially through the online creative deliverables.
Review the competition.
Evaluating the competition is one of the first steps in our process of working with any client. In this example, from the name of the property and ensuring it felt like a part of the surrounding Germantown neighborhood, to the overall branding and creative approach, we put Cason in-focus throughout, and thought about the other options and properties that exist throughout Nashville, and how The Monroe could truly stand out. Most importantly, we steered clear of any “music city” themed approaches, a successful, but over-played approach to properties in the local market. We approach our review of the competitive landscape optimistically, thinking about what others do well and what we can champion as distinct advantages for the brand(s) we develop.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Understanding your target audience is half the battle. Putting yourself in their shoes, thinking as them, and making creative decisions as them – for them – is a little tricker, but incredibly important to ensuring the brand you develop is focused on what they want/like/need, not what you want/like/need. The latest design trends may be beautiful to you, but a huge turn off to them. Eliminating personal preferences allows you to hone in on what is best for your consumer.
In every creative decision you make, design for your audience (not yourself).