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3 Design Musts For B2B Brands

By Michael Dula

The Brand That Is Paris

I just returned from Paris and am reeling once again from visual euphoria. Each year, my family makes the trek to the “City of Light” to roam, explore and experience the richness of Parisian culture. My wife cooks perpetually with a smile. My daughter and I paint on a old dining table, which overlooks a city abuzz with energy and style. Music flows through our apartment. Our senses are heightened. I’m in heaven. What I love about Paris is the “oneness” — the cohesive cultural and visual fabric that ties life, food, style, art, and design seamlessly and effortlessly together. The visual sense and pulse of this city in motion is vibrant, expressive and palatable. Like a kid in a candy store, what I love most about exploring Paris is literally seeing how the city communicates on all levels.

When it comes to Paris’ graphic design vibe, ‘alluring,’ ‘evocative,’ ‘quirky,’ ‘whimsical,’ and ‘challenging’ are the words that come to mind. Whether it’s the panoramic scale and boldness of the posters and environmental graphics that adorn the walls of the Metro; the way-finding signage that darts in every conceivable direction, at every location; the over-sized billboards communicating artistic, cultural, fashion events or environmental causes that snap your head back in admiration or delight; the brand identities with their whimsy, dash, and cleverness (GDF Suez or Le Tour de France), the richness of the “Paris Brand Scene” and the brand image of Paris itself, never fails to astound (and inspire).

Returning from Paris to the proverbial (professional) drawing board, I keep thinking about lessons I can draw and apply from that experience: the importance of visual and sensory impact, originality, consistency, and how these things are absolutely essential to creating a cohesive brand expression even in the ‘quieter’ worlds of B2B branding and corporate identity. Truly powerful brand images ignite pride in employees and capture the attention of prospects and clients.

So, my 3 design musts for B2B brands are:

1. You must have your own, distinctive visual style. Be yourself. Avoid a slavish subservience to fit within a defined category fit. There are plenty of cues to category membership. Your brand needn’t be one of them.

2. You must not shirk from bravado or vibrato. Project your own voice. Me-too-ism is too high a price to pay to establish immediate familiarity. The world is small. Words travel fast. Don’t use somebody else’s words.

3. You must never be boring. Consistency doesn’t mean rigidity. If you think B2B branding is all about conservatism and quietude, you’ve got another thing coming—and it’s likely to be a brand image that fails to motivate employees and customers alike.

Read more about Building B2B Brand Trust Through Communication.