Designing the Truth

by Dustin Britt    February 1, 2013

Truth is black and white. Creativity is not. Can they co-exist? In branding they must.

Companies often come to us searching for the truth about themselves: What do our customers really like about us? Why do they choose us? What makes us radically different?
 
We talk to customers and — assuming they are honest with their opinions — we are left with a truth we then understand, quantify, and document. We define this truth, determine what to do about it, and ultimately decide how to build a brand strategy based on that truth.

The truth is hard to argue with. But expressing truth is not so black and white.

Artist like Van Gogh & Picasso teach us more about this. Van Gogh’s interpretation of sunflowers is radically different than Picasso. Both are true. And both are radically different. Its their unique expression of the truth that captivates our attention and appreciation.

Creativity is a unique expression of the truth.

In order for creativity to be meaningful, it must be based on truth that is meaningful. Anything less and – as Mackenzie mentioned earlier this week – we are only creating decoration. A foundation in the truth allows us to appreciate someone’s creative expression of that truth whether we actually LIKE it or not. The inverse is also true.

You don’t have to look hard for evidence of this. Failed rebrands like Gap & Tropicana were arguably due to a disconnect between truth defined and creative expression. In similar fashion, BP said of their 2000 rebrand, we are “environmentally-aware…we are not an oil company”. Ten years later the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred and revealed BPs true colors.

People are looking to be inspired, but even more so, they are looking for the truth that led to that inspiration.

Enduring brands have a healthy appreciation for the truth, rally around the truth, and are successful because of the truth.

Its the truth that leads a brand toward a successful, enduring design.

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