How strategy and data can influence your visual design

October 27, 2020
4 min read

Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, data influences and affects the decisions you make for your company. You want to make sure you’re hitting the mark with your target audience and demographics and your design should follow that, most of the time. Let’s get into how data and the strategy around it works with your brand’s visual design.

Data is quantitative, design is qualitative

Data will always be quantitative in its purest form. It follows a very binary system of it either being correct or incorrect, thus leaving very little room to debate. Design on the other hand is mostly qualitative and subject to a more opinion based approach. One person may think a font is bold and professional while the other may believe it’s too relaxed. It’s important to make this designation here so that we can understand how these two areas coincide with each other. 

Design is mostly qualitative and subject to opinion, however there is something we can do to make it more direct to the brand at hand. Holistically, design is a solution to help individuals and the public with any given problem. It’s not always graphic design or web design as we know ‘design’ to be. Design is to help solve a problem through the ideation and creation of items, processes, objects, etc. Each of these solutions focus on a goal or objective and use the problem as criteria to see if it has been solved. We can apply the same principle to data to ensure that the design is objectively hitting the target set by data. However, data shouldn’t always lead design, otherwise your brand will end up chasing numbers and statistics and miss the big picture. See Reason #1 in our article 3 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Your Brand for a deeper insight towards focusing on your brand.

Strategy should lead design (and backed by data)

And if you didn’t want to read the aforementioned article above, then here’s your TLDR. Most times the efforts you see put into a company rebranding are accompanied by a strategy built for that business. This strategy focuses on the goals of the brand (or rebranding) and lays the foundation for the respective teams to act upon. If you focus too much on just the numbers, you've lost sight of your brand's big picture goal.

You could build just any strategy and set a target for yourself, but it wouldn’t be much if it didn’t have concrete goals though, right? This is where your data comes into play. Your data should inform your strategy that you base your decisions on. Just as strategy helps make design more objective, data helps make your strategy more goal-oriented. 

Your company wants to break into a younger market for your personal care product. The goal is to have more new customers in this audience group; and that volume of sales is not crucial at this time. Currently your brand sells the best to an older demographic based on your sales reports. You would build a strategy based on known information and then challenge it in various ways, typically through marketing and design. You find through A/B marketing tests that high quality photography and bright colors appeal best to a younger audience. You agree with the data that the new visual design feels inline with your brand as well as the customer base. Rinse and repeat until you have met your goal or objective. Congratulations, you've just reinvented your brand's appearance while validating it through data! 

Data shouldn’t be the end all, be all

It’s easy to see how much data can influence your decisions, so it’s important to know when to let it do so. While it helps influence and validate your design, it shouldn’t always be the judge, jury, and executioner. Your brand serves more purpose than being a style guide, whether you know it or not. It helps influence interactions, feelings, and cognitive approaches to your operations -- things that are subjective and can’t be driven by data. There should be a healthy mix for your business, and it’s tough to say what the perfect ratio is since every company is different.

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