How Design Can Help With Brand Building?

We invited Peter Allinson, Head of Design at UKTV, BBC to discuss “Why it’s so important to build a great brand that is as distinctive and memorable as possible.”

Design and Brand Building

Peter Allinson

Who did we interview?

Peter is an award-winning Head of Design at UKTV Creative, working across their portfolio of brands. UKTV is also part of BBC Studios which opens up even more creative opportunities across the BBC network.

Peter is responsible for creating all the on and off-air branding and advertising campaigns for our portfolio of channel brands, including Dave, W, Gold, Alibi, Yesterday, Eden, and Drama.

Peter along with his dedicated design team works across everything from visual identities to motion design, print to digital outdoor, social media to live events… and everything in between. His career spans design, branding, and creative marketing, with expertise in developing design and innovative strategies that push boundaries and challenge the status quo. Last year his team was named "Brand Team of the Year" at the CreativePool awards and he has recently been named in the Top 100 Creative Leaders of the Year.

Let us quickly get to our expert's point of view.

  • Ques 1 : How can design help with brand building?

    Ans : A strong brand is about more than just a name or a logo. For some businesses, creating and implementing a cohesive branding identity and strategy often comes as an afterthought — or sometimes, not at all. Yet, research shows that companies with strong brands and consistent brand building generate much higher sales and profits. In other words, taking the time to define and build a brand can give you a huge competitive advantage; and design is a critical part of that process.

    A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers. Design can help to build a brand identity and define a set of brand assets. Brand assets let you create customer touchpoints that are immediately recognizable. Amazon packaging, the Pixar lamp, or Apple's minimalist design are all design choices to build a strong brand identity.

    Brand assets are recognizable elements that embody a company's identity. From logos and typography to taglines and color, brand assets make it easy to identify a brand, help it stand out from competitors, and cue customer associations. Brand assets are the combination of several elements that come together to create a unique, distinguishable identity. If well executed, brand assets can build brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and give you a competitive edge in the market. It will also help you deliver a consistent, unified experience and bring your brand to the top of customers' minds.

    Long-term brand marketing is also necessary to raise your brand equity and build your brand. Ensuring that all design and brand assets are used consistently and correctly at all times and across all touchpoints to continue to build brand awareness.

    Short-term demand marketing is designed to answer immediate consumer demands and encourage them to watch a show, or to buy a product immediately. However, long-term brand marketing is all about building up your brand’s authority, reliability, and market share in the minds of your target audience.

    This long-term brand building will provide advantages for you in the long haul. It may take more time to measure, maybe up to several years. But when done right, and when executed well, long-term brand building can be even better for your company than any short-term gain.

  • Ques 2 : What are your thoughts on brand experiences in order to make brands come alive?

    Ans : Brand Experience is the lasting impression customers have of your brand. This may include thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and reactions to everything from direct marketing to large-scale ad campaigns to product launches. Brand experience describes the tangible and emotional experience consumers have before, during, and after interacting with your brand.

    Phase 1: Framing Perception also forms a key part of the experience. This includes things like audio, visual, and tactical interactions that allow customers to connect a specific sense to advertising campaigns. In much the same way that particular smells can bring back memories of childhood experiences, brands that successfully target people's senses with marketing can create connections that drive sales and positive brand association.

    Phase 2: Empathizing It’s also more likely that customers will walk away with a positive brand experience if they’re able to participate in some way rather than simply watch.

    Phase 3: Translating UKTV Creative has experimented with brand experiences in the past.

    Phase 4: Testing A recent example was for the Alibi channel, in which we wanted to engage with the curious-minded fans of crime drama, by creating a real-world experience that offers something unexpected and challenges their perspectives.

    Phase 5: Determining Using the optical illusion of anamorphic type, we developed a large installation that can only be seen and deciphered from a certain point of view or perspective.

    This installation allowed people to engage and interact with our brand and was created as part of a wider brand campaign to show that on Alibi there is always more going on than meets the eye.

    It’s also important to understand that brand experience is subjective. While it’s possible to create experiences that target a specific audience, individual users will have different reactions to each and every experience. As a result, the goal isn’t to create a universal experience - but rather to create one that resonates positively with the largest number of target customers.

  • Ques 3 : What brands inspire you the most and why?

    Ans : There are many brands that I admire and have done for years. Brands such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple are all brands that have built their fame and reputation over many years of brand building. Brand we all know and love.

    Lego is a particular favorite of mine as they are so clear about their brand values and what they stand for. Their brand values are based on imagination, creativity, and fun. Truly understanding that ‘Free play’ is how children develop their imagination – the foundation for creativity - and how that can be a positive influence to teach children that learning is all about being curious, experimenting, and collaborating with others.

    Their brand mission is to ‘inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow’, and I particularly love that their brand belief is that ‘Children are our role models’. Brilliant! But the brand that has probably continued to influence and inspire me throughout my life, is Disney. I used to watch all the Disney movies as a child and have vivid memories of going to the cinema to watch the original Lion King and Aladdin animations. Now that I have kids myself, I can relive the magic all over again. The term ‘Disney magic’ is thrown around quite freely these days. We almost take it for granted. But it was only on a recent family trip to Disneyland Paris, that I truly understood it and witnessed it for myself. My children spent the weekend smiling, and laughing, eyes wide open. My wife was even found crying with happiness once or twice. We were all dancing in the street during the big show on Main Street and generally had a great time for the entire trip. No squabbling. No fighting. Just joy. I witnessed this ‘Disney magic’ so many times over our long weekend. I saw how it truly affects so many people on such an emotional level. It was quite incredible. It made me really appreciate what Disney as a brand has managed to achieve over the years. It gave me a new perspective and appreciation of the power of a brand and how it can be a powerful and positive influence on others of all ages.

  • Ques 4 : How do you balance imagination and intellect in your work to drive results?

    Ans : Working in the creative field you have to be very mindful of how you balance imagination and intellect through your work. Every decision should be led by the brief, the challenge, and the target that needs to be met. You have to consider the balance between creativity, in the ways you stand out and get noticed; and effectiveness, in the ways you target consumers and drive positive impact.

    It also helps to strengthen your brand impact and allows you to stand out in the market. But critically, it helps to establish a distinctive tone of voice that will be associated with the brand for years to come.

  • Ques 5 : Your thoughts on the importance of Storytelling in branding?

    Ans : Storytelling is an art. Like art, it requires creativity, skill, and practice. Storytelling enables creatives and marketers to develop a deeper connection with the audience. It’s a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger, deeper connections. From the earliest recorded history, storytelling was a method used by cavemen to communicate, educate, share, and connect. It’s a moment around the campfire to come together and build connections with others.

    Storytelling is also a powerful method for learning. We learn from observations, first-hand experiences, and by sharing those experiences through stories. They bring people together and inspire action and response. Whether that’s through a TV commercial, a marketing campaign, or a single image that represents a show or a product. Storytelling isn’t just a creative approach to marketing. It gives your consumers a totally different entry to your brand.

    Take Apple, for example. Computers and smartphones can be complicated topics to describe to everyday consumers. But Apple often uses creative ways to tell stories to explain exactly how its products work and benefit users. It uses storytelling instead of relying on technical jargon to convince consumers to buy its products over a competitor.

    As a child, I was obsessed with stories and had bookshelves full of books. I was obsessed with The Hard Boys and Willard Price, adventure books. So much so that as a young boy, I wanted to become a librarian.

    But my love of stories quickly moved into film, and I soon became completely obsessed with movies. It was a real escape for me and I was lucky enough to be a child of the classic Steven Spielberg era; growing up on incredible stories including Indianan Jones, Jaws, ET, and The Goonies.

    This passion soon made me want to become a film director; something that has probably stuck with me ever since and led me to where I am now as a creative leader in the TV and entertainment industry. A storyteller.

    Storytelling is an art. It’s also a process worth learning for both your brand and your customers. Stories bring people together and inspire action and response. It helps you communicate the "why" in a creative, engaging way.

  • Ques 6 : Advice about how to succeed in design?

    Ans : A key bit of advice I try to remind myself (as I get older) is to never lose your child-like imagination. The sheer naivety, curiosity, and recklessness we used to have as children is often lost as we grow up and gain more responsibilities. We are lucky enough to be in an industry in which having fun and trying new ideas should be encouraged, so don’t lose that childlike enthusiasm where creativity has no bounds.

    The key to greater creativity is to not take your work, or life for that matter, too seriously. To lose some of your inhibitions and start creating work you can be proud of. The best leadership advice I’ve received was during an executive leadership course at the Royal College of Art, where we discussed key leadership principles of Creativity, Clarity, and Empathy.

    Creativity: in the ways we experience the world and create better work.

    Clarity: in the ways we communicate and gain better understanding.

    Empathy: in the ways we treat others and always listen.

    Three very simple values to lead your team and live your life by. The creative industry needs more leaders who put people first, and strategy second. Leaders who believe that diversity enriches organizations and that impact is not just about money.

    However, my biggest personal learning was something incredibly simple - to listen more - and to help understand the meaning behind what people say. ‘There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak’ - Simon Sinek.

    There are a lot of designers and creatives looking to come into the industry and I’m always excited about finding, discovering, and nurturing great new talent. But sometimes the work ethic just isn’t there.

    It frustrates me that some people clearly have an amazing talent, but don’t put in the extra effort to demonstrate that. Oftentimes we’ve only got one opportunity to impress and create an impact. That’s true of anything in life. A pitch, a new job, a first date - anything. So make sure you’re prepared and ready so that you don’t feel disappointed in yourself.

    If you try your hardest and do yourself proud - that’s all you can do.

  • Ques 7 : What inspires you?

    Ans : My wife and kids inspire me every day. They are my world and I’d do anything for them. I feel more of a responsibility to work hard; giving me an extra level of determination to perform well at work and progress in my career.

    I’m inspired by designers such as Saul Bass and Kyle Cooper, innovators and intellectuals such as Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek, and film directors such as Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. Just a small selection of the creative individuals that have inspired me, opened my mind, and fuelled my imagination throughout my life.

    I am inspired by brilliant brands such as Apple, Nike, and Channel 4, and their creative work constantly motivates and inspires me to do better.

    There are also many great creative agencies, and talented in-house creative teams that continue to push me to work harder and work smarter. However, exceptional creative work can only be achieved with strong leadership; so I also have a passion for building teams and fostering a creative culture of high-performing individuals.

    I aim to create work that inspires others and encourages my team to do their best work and feel proud to come to work every single day. My team continues to inspire me and I work hard to offer them the support and leadership that they deserve.

    My greatest passion and inspiration are all areas of design that involve creative thinking and innovation, with a particular interest in branding, marketing campaigns, and motion design. I’m passionate about all areas of design that strengthen brands & produce engaging content that will make others sit up and take notice. I’m keen to understand the impact of what we do and remember that we all have a responsibility to do great work that is worthy of people's time.

    I saw a brilliant quote on the wall at the Design Museum in London, which reminded me of why I love Design and why it inspires me every single day: "Design is everywhere. It's the alarm that woke you up. The news app on your phone. The tea bags used for your morning brew. The card you tapped on the bus. The glasses perched on your nose. So embedded in our lives. We almost forget it's there. Design. Humanity's best friend.

Aman Maan

Senior Consultant

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