The Wild West…what does that mean for design?

Cactus on a hill in Tucson
This week I’m in Tucson, Arizona for the world’s largest gem fair. I’m here supporting a client who deals in the coloured gem world and, with 70% of the world’s coloured gems in one place for a whole week each year, it certainly is the place to understand this market.

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.

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