Why we need to change how we measure success in branding design

Our current methods for evaluating new branding design tend towards the shallow and immediate, says Paul Stafford, co-founder and CEO at Design Studio. Here’s what needs to change

Increasingly in recent years, we, as a studio, have been questioning the notion of ‘success’. What makes a branding project truly excellent? How do others measure our work? We follow the world’s feedback on our industry, screenshotting funny comments, laughing in despair at spicy threads attacking singular design elements (because we know it’s more than just a logo). But it’s worth reminding ourselves that if people aren’t ‘getting it’, we’re probably not telling the right stories.

With awards bodies predominantly using judging criteria better suited to advertising, and our busy calendars leaving little time to evaluate the impact of our work post-delivery, the bigger picture doesn’t always get pieced together. It’s tricky to ask others to accurately judge our successes if we don’t have the answers ourselves.


A recent spec from one of our major awarding bodies showed a clear skew to the ‘gettability factor’ of a project. Good idea, tick. Easy to understand, tick. At least some kind of impact? Tick.

The problem with these proportions, in regards to branding, is that we don’t have a ‘big idea’ – we have several. There’s the big strategic idea that determines the project. There’s the big design idea that steers the execution. There’s all the other big ideas for memorable product features and an overall experience that works. It’s an ecosystem, not a one-liner.