Authentic Graphic Design: Why It’s a Business Investment

Artist creating a design

Consumers want authentic brands. Ninety percent of millennials, 85 percent of Gen Xers, and 80 percent of baby boomers say authenticity is an influential factor when choosing a brand to support.

To capture consumers’ attention, businesses are tapping into design practices that communicate authenticity. Capturing your true identity, keeping it real and human, and eliminating non-essentials in your marketing are ways to have more authentic designs.

Capture or re-capture your true identity

At the heart of authentic brand design is a business that knows its identity and is able to communicate it clearly.

In 2016, just five years after modernizing its packaging design, Budweiser redesigned it again because the modernized version did very little for the brand. The more recent redesign was closer to the original and used Budweiser’s 1860 brewery signage as inspiration. Likewise, Kodak was tapping into its age-old reputation when it revived its famous 1971 “K” logo for new product launches in 2016.

A brand sometimes revives an old logo or design to recapture something that may have been lost or forgotten along the way. This is especially true for old, iconic brands. 

If you’re a new brand and you do not have something like this to bank on, ask what makes your brand different and unique. You don’t need to pretend you’re someone else. Instead, tell your audience about your brand story. 

Make it real and human

Getty Images has a term for photos that are intentionally made awkward and unprofessional-looking: New Naivety. According to Getty Senior Art Director Guy Merrill, consumers today prefer this type of images and shun the overly curated ones. 

In an age of photoshopped images and sponsored reviews, being real and honest may be the last thing on a marketer’s mind. But today’s consumers are more discerning and less tolerant of misleading messages. Consumers crave honest brands, and they reward these with loyalty.

In line with this, hand-drawn and rough-edged typography in graphic design have become in-demand. Consumers are looking for that human touch that makes artworks feel special.

The Mandate Press, a letterpress studio in Salt Lake City, Utah, finds the revival of letterpress printing in line with this consumer need. Business cards, invitations, and stationery printed using this method have an added level of authenticity because of the mild de-bossing effect it makes on the inked area, and the richly textured or heavyweight stocks it usually uses.

Other than opting for this mid-15th-century technology for your marketing materials, how else can you convey genuineness?

 Trim down excesses, highlight essentials

Female graphic designer with tablet

At other times, authenticity requires you to cut back on the excesses to let what is essential come out. This is similar to flat interface design trend among software and applications, which rids screens of unnecessary details and focuses the audience’s attention on what’s important: content.

Over the past years, UX design has transitioned from 3-D and skeuomorphic (i.e., textured, beveled and drop-shadowed) to flat and minimal design. Now, modern UX design is zen-like. It’s simple and easy to navigate. It also makes poor content or functionality harder to camouflage.

Authentic designs are simple, real, and honest. If this is what you are as a brand and your products and services testify to that, then use authentic design to stand out. Today’s consumers are looking for you.

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