Perfection of means and confusion of ends seems to characterize our age.
We once sat in on a pitch where one of the world’s leading brand consultancies was talking with a software company about what should happen with the company’s brand. The consultants discussed the importance of making the brand part of the overall culture and not just the domain of marketing and communications. To make the point, the consultant talked about the impression he had while visiting the Nike campus (corporate headquarters). From the other side of the table, one of the executives from the software company cut in and said, “I was a creative director at Nike. Wieden+Kennedy owns the Nike brand.” No engagement came out of the pitch. Another larger software company bought the first software company a few years later, and the latter’s brand was fully digested within the acquirer.
We have always liked this story. We aren’t saying it’s true that Nike’s brand is owned by an agency, but we believe that as an example, it’s illustrative of the kind of relationships that exist between a business, its brand, and how it approaches working with design. We think business will always benefit from a relationship with design. The question is: What underpins this relationship, and how does it help create more value from the collaboration, rather than a potential asymmetrical relationship where either business constrains what design can really do to help create value or where ...