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  • Writer's pictureBrian Creath

Building The Brand: Design Focus vs. Strategic Focus

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Communication on-the-whole (and marketing in particular) is increasingly driven by visuals and not words. This is not to diminish the power, nor the importance of the written word, but simply to state the obvious fact that the model has flipped from ‘words first’ to ‘visuals first.’

Globalization, multi-language organizations, the web and a pervasive belief that ‘people don’t read anymore’ have all contributed to this trend.

Most organizations bought into this thinking years ago...because they had to. The advent of technology has created new marketing complexities that need to be simplified and explained. And pictures just do this better than words. Which is why we have seen the rise of tools like infographics, visual language systems and animated videos.

But here’s a glitch: As brands have adopted visuals over words, many have come to rely on "design" as a proxy for brand vs. strategy-driven brand principles.

Which is akin to painstakingly choosing paint colors for a new house without ever creating the blueprint.

Strong brands — indeed, TRUE brands are built on a foundation of three (3) elements: Strategy, Messaging and Visual Expression. And while ‘Visual Expression’ may now be the lead and/or preferred tool, it is no more important to the overall foundation that Strategy or Messaging (though it may be arguably more important to the outcome).

(Example of Brand & Messaging Architecture. Click to view more.)

The Unbuilt Brand.

Unfortunately, many organizations now ‘skip’ or altogether deny the strategy step and short-sell the messaging step. Down the road, many of these organizations find themselves painted into a corner with brands that have been half-built; brands that now need to spend significant dollars to rebuild.

Perhaps you face the challenge of a brand, or brand architecture that has been incorrectly or partially built. If so, we should talk.

To learn more about how Cohesion, can assist with your efforts , email Brian Creath, president, at, or schedule a 15-minute call with him, here.

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