What does success mean to you?

If there was any doubt of the tonic that is human interaction, a stroll down our local high streets this weekend put it to rest. The buzz, the chatter, the camaraderie – our cities are coming alive again. And to add to the sense of fresh starts, the Bank of England has predicted that UK GDP will see its strongest growth since World War Two. It’s a parallel that brings to mind conversations we now have regularly with clients.

On the one hand, clients are – quite rightly – prioritising ROI, impact and effectiveness. On the other, the very qualities of successful consumer brands – surprise, joy, love, the visceral emotions that lead to engagement and connection – remain stubbornly unquantifiable. The contrast reminded our director of strategy (he went all intellectual on us) of a speech by the presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy in 1968, who said – and we paraphrase – that “gross national product measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Measuring joy

Founders, leaders and brand owners will instinctively understand what brand design can help them achieve. Your challenge is to convince the rest of the business. Be it the boardroom, investor or bank – they want numbers. So, how do you account for the intangible on a spreadsheet?

Modern Recipe, a new brand we created for Sodexo, won the DBA’s Design Effectiveness Award this week. (We’ve given ourselves a pat on the back and you can read the case study on our website). But it’s what we learnt in making the entry that helps answer the question.

The case for design effectiveness is made in three ways:

1. You can quantify success against your commercial ambitions.

Did we achieve what the business set out to do? In the case of Modern Recipe, yes and more. A rebrand of a B2B corporate catering offer into a B2C brand has, within two and a half years of launching in the UK, been rolled out globally in multi-million pound contract wins.

2. You can quantify customer reaction.

If not through intangible emotions, then through the observable actions that it inspires. Put bluntly, we look at how people voted with their wallets. In Modern Recipe’s case, usage rates increased by 45% and revenue increased by 60%.

3. You can quantify the impact on how the business runs.

Has it made operations easier? Have campaigns and marketing been faster to generate and roll out? Has it inspired and galvanised staff? For Third Space, a previous winner of the same award, applications for staff vacancies increased to five times above the sector benchmark.

But what these three measures don’t show is how we get there in the first place. Great hospitality brands are united by their commitment to making life worthwhile – the most valuable and also least measurable ambition, to go back to Kennedy’s point.

In the case of Modern Recipe, this is a simple brand based on food people want to eat, in spaces they want to be. It works because hospitality, in whatever form, is about people. And effective branding is an extension of that: empathy with the way people want to live. Understand this, and the measurable results will follow.

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