Branding culture at the point of delivery.

coloured pencils arranged to form a light bulb from the negative space

Firstly, I went into a chain-restaurant at lunchtime to book a table for Tuesday night. I asked, “There will only be 3 of us but would it be possible to have a larger table, as we might have laptops out?

The reception I had was frosty to say the least. I understand I was asking to take a table that could make more money, but I’m a regular customer and didn’t expect the abrupt response.

All this was after waiting 5 minutes to be dealt with – although plenty of staff had seen, and ignored me – and no apology for the delay.

Was I wrong to be asking for a little more? Was I wrong to expect a little better customer experience?

Today, I went into an independent sandwich shop where I was acknowledged immediately with a smile and a bright hello, even though both staff were serving others. When it was my turn it was a friendly yet prompt exchange – I was in and out quickly with exactly what I wanted.

I have no doubt that the big retail chains invest heavily in staff training, and they certainly spend big on design to draw customers in. But, in contrast, the sandwich shop has invested in – you’ve guessed it – a simple sandwich board. Is this design thinking that reflects their brand?

Or is the difference training, or even the wider question of culture and employee engagement?

I’ve looked at the numbers on investment in training and subsequent returns. HR Magazine in the US has research that shows investment above $1,500 per employee can increase profits by 24%. Staggering!

You might argue the restaurant was simply following training that focuses them on the value of each cover. I would then argue the case for customer loyalty and life-time value, but that’s not my point today.

I personally think it’s the latter – culture and employee engagement – and it’s not a project or programme that will ever stop.

Of course it’s much harder to control a national workforce and you can’t account for someone simply having a bad day. But as more and more businesses invest in technology to speed up the customer transaction time, it should free up time for better employee engagement, brand culture development and even simply, the person serving.

Digital templates – revolution or evolution? Our top 3 arguments for revolution.

Divi builder page view

But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of web design and development, recent software innovations have made my life much easier – and here’s why.

Fewer people – faster results.

In the past, to develop a website that supports a simple awareness objective, I would need to work with a coder, UI and UX designer, a client brand guardian and then me, as the designer. That’s potentially 5 high-value professionals.

But now the beauty of the open source community is the freedom and flexibility they offer, all because of the huge strides taken by the likes of WordPress builders (Divi/Visual Composer), SquareSpace, Macaw etc. Their code is now leaner, so one simple benefit is that the pages load quicker, and this makes them a viable development platform for us across a variety of clients. This also drives new value, speed and output for our clients.

We can also easily support a complex digital strategy, including social media and conversion, all while leveraging the vast library of best practice now available to me.

Knowing your customers is easier.

Some things will never change. Knowing your customers or targets, and what their behaviours are, is a rule to live by.

Not to over-simplify this but, all I have to say is ‘Google Analytics’. We’ll discuss ‘revolution’ on this subject another day. Review your website regularly, a website should evolve over time and never remain static.

Nothing stands still, but that’s OK.

This new-found freedom also means that as the digital strategy evolves, we can evolve the experience for customers faster. These new platforms and their flexibility means that new themes and frameworks are easily updated and evolved for your overall customer experience.

These drastically improved frameworks are not only allowing the likes of a small start-up in Windsor to take advantage of the best UX, good iconography and best practice user-journeys, they’re helping the likes of Dunk Design working with multinationals.

So, we create a huge range of websites – from the simple with content-only pages, through to expansive eCommerce sites with complex functionality, visited by hundreds of thousands of people a week – all as a small team that is part of a hugely talented community of thousands. Power to design people!

The Wild West…what does that mean for design?

Cactus on a hill in Tucson

I’m looking at market scoping, understanding how things are changing and how the UK differs to other geographic markets.

It has also got me thinking about the role geography plays in marketing.

We all know about geographic segmentation and the ongoing revolution that is location-based marketing, but how does ‘geography’ impact design?

This week I can see that simple business communications are vastly different for every team we meet. I can tell you that everything from business cards, to point-of-sale, to retail packaging easily identifies their cultural background before any words are even exchanged. It also makes you feel more comfortable as a buyer, when you identify with the graphic design of those you’re dealing with, regardless of which geographic location you find yourself in.

So with gem dealers from all over the world and every culture you can think of, not just the USA, you soon see that how you present yourself can make a big difference in attracting the audience you want.

Graphic design IS culturally sensitive and can be even more powerful in the right location. It sets us apart, and not just from our competitors.

I also now know why the design team at Dunk work so hard to keep every design-brief different and sensitive to the location and cultural representations, whether it’s an Italian restaurant brand at the O2, or a Danish bakery in Victoria Station.

So looking at the cactus here in Arizona, I have realised our proposed communication plan for this client is very British. This could mean they’re like prickly-pear to some cultures here in Tucson, while to others it could be like a cool Pimms and lemonade on a warm desert evening.

Dunk Design white crest

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