Making it memorable

Danny Carlsen
March 17, 2021

When I was 8 years old I remember being dragged to the Auckland Museum on a rainy winter's day to see some exhibit called ‘Centennial Street’, yawn.

Arriving, I remember walking through the entryway into a rather darkened space.

A historic environment in the form of a network of streets lay before me. Small narrow lanes with gas lamp street lights illuminating old shops from last century Queen St (think Diagon Alley, Harry Potter).

My imagination was sparked. I wanted to know more.

Bolting from building to building, I explored the jail, the toy shop and the confectionery shop. I was spellbound.

There were massive jars of lollies in the dairy, scary mannequins masquerading as store owners and best of all, places to hide.

I felt fully enchanted by the whole experience, I wanted to know more, I wanted to revisit every weekend.

Little did I realise at the time, but I had been fully immersed in my first design experience. It captivated me in a way that I still remember to this day.

So what are the ingredients that make up successful and memorable design communication?

Paul Rand once said ‘Design is the silent ambassador of your brand’.

To be captivated or compelled without often realising, great design has the power to shift an experience.

A great idea is transformative.

I asked my 9-year-old daughter the other day “hun, what makes good design?”

“It needs to be meaningful Dad”.


9 going on 35.

How do you make something meaningful?

A great idea has the ability to solve a problem, connect with hearts and minds, making something accessible, memorable and recognisable.

Sometimes it takes something as simple as a passport stamp.

In Palau, a Micronesian nation located in the western Pacific Ocean, tourism was becoming an escalating issue, with 160,000 visitors flocking to the island each year. They were polluting the area, damaging its coral reefs and poaching tropical wildlife.

With a population of just 20,000, Palau's small infrastructure couldn’t withstand the incoming tourists.

Enter The Palau Pledge which is stamped into tourists' passports.

Visitors are also required to sign an agreement not to damage or exploit the natural resources.

Design can assist with a meaningful change that can lead to social change. It can reflect who we are, influence positive behaviour and reinforce the values that underpin our culture.  

Craft is king.

Successful crafting, adds immense value in the form of beauty, balance and cleverness. It is the skin that brings the idea to life.

Brands can be expressed through interactivity, packaging, advertising, photography and architecture. Every element has the power to tell a larger story about the brand truth. For example; the direction an ad is constructed using colour, typography and photography, has the ability to make something accessible, memorable, loved or loathed.

From the detail and craft behind some of Nike’s most iconic kicks

to the design of the Sydney Opera House brand

Fantastic crafting has the ability to add a visual authenticity, reinforcing the design idea, purpose and storytelling of the communication.

Effectiveness, the cherry on top.

In its simplest form, the effectiveness of a great piece of design communication is a culmination of clever design thinking, blended with stunning craft and execution.

It is how I define the success of the design.

This can be measured through a market lift in sales, an uptake in recruitment and Google analytics tracking.

Creating business-building ideas for your brand, company and industry by upturning and challenging the conventions of your business, will allow for growth in the market.

In 2017 the Designers Institute published an article on the value of design in NZ.

Through this study, it was calculated that the contribution of the design industry to our annual GDP was over $10 billion - meaning that if design were to be treated as a stand-alone industry, its contribution would be greater than that of agriculture and on a par with retail trade.

Businesses that are embracing design as a component of their thinking, expression and communication make for good business.

May we be led on an adventure to recall something memorable.

Be engaged, challenged and have our imaginations captured.

Great design has the power to shift an experience.

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