The Brand Gap has remained in my library as a staple for years. Like Zag and The Designful Company, it’s an insightful read for Designers of all industries, particularly for those in UX. Being marketing savvy, specifically brand building, positioning, and the consumer psyche is an invaluable skill set.
In the book, author Marty Neumeier writes, “Companies will create wealth from the conversion of raw intangibles–imagination, empathy and collaboration–into finished intangibles–patents, brands and customer tribes.” Just to be clear, I’m not celebrating, nor am I condemning capitalism; that’s another post for another day. In highlighting this quote, I am merely drawing similarities between these companies and designers.
Many perceive designers to be folks who simply make things look pretty. We’re asked to make logos bigger, add some sizzle… make it pop and somehow, with a few clicks of a mouse, you magically have a client deliverable. When in reality, the design process, moreover, design thinking, is far more complex than that.
I always like to say that designers make the esoteric, tangible. Those raw intangibles that Neumeier refers to—imagination, empathy, collaboration (and I would also add, iteration) are our tools. We use these tools to strategize and create real, physical pieces of art that have the power to evoke emotion and influence behavior. This specialized talent is truly extraordinary, but I am biased… and I digress.
The premise of The Brand Gap is that charismatic brands (those that consumers are genuinely loyal to and are considered indispensable) are those who effectively bridge the gap between strategy and design. That intersection is where the magic happens, it’s the consumer experience. Charismatic brands excel at providing a superior consumer experience, they also understand that their brand is not what the company says it is—instead it’s what consumers perceive it to be. And that's critical.
Essentially, Neumeier is describing the role of a good Creative Director—one who expertly “bridges the gap”, consistently weaving the brand story through various consumer touch points to define the optimal experience. If you’re a designer or a creative entrepreneur, I highly recommend The Brand Gap. Now on my summer hiatus, this one will definitely be on my list to re-read (pool side of course).