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Walking through the busy streets of St. John’s one will undoubtedly witness design on many levels - the flyer offering specials at so-andso, the concert for what’s-his-name and let’s not forget the advert for that new thingamajig that will make your life so much better. But those are only one aspect of design. The daily newspaper has to be designed to effectively use space to communicate as much, or as little, as is necessary. The road signs, license plates, and building information all had to be designed. Good design always communicates a clear message to a desired user group, and designing for different groups usually calls for different approaches. A quick testament would be to look at a financial magazine and then to a sports magazine. The layout, type, context of the adverts, and even the length of the articles will be different. However, there are many other misconceptions to design. In Antigua, and other places, there is a strong belief that knowing how to use software automatically makes you a designer. Imagine what would happen to if such thinking was applied to other trades - I can use a knife, would that make me a surgeon? Sadly businesses are slow at realising the difference between the trained designer and ‘Photoshop user’. Designers have an understanding of how to communicate your ideas and technical aspects of the media that will allow for the most effective results. A trained designer should also help the client to develop a concept into a much better result. That’s the value of a designer and good design work. While companies may decide to go with the cheaper ‘Photoshop user’ and sometimes get good results, too many times companies have had to run to a trained designer or firm to save a 8|

BusinessFocus • August/September 2011

deadline or redo the artwork to a particular quality standard, an effort that’s both costly and time consuming. On my travels, I’ve learnt that companies are becoming very conscious of their brand value and the resources available in such. Though Coca Cola sells millions of bottles/cans of drink every day, their brand value – value of merchandising, selling/buying power, influence and reach – far outstrips this income. Currently Apple’s brand is worth US$153 Bn, and it can be said that is sells a fair number of ‘i’ products to have this worth. But consider that second place goes to Google with a brand value of US$101 Bn, a company that doesn’t ship tangible products. Added to this is that Facebook was the biggest grower for the past year and now has a brand value of US$19 Bn, how is that for a free online social media network? For companies in Antigua, and for Antigua & Barbuda to be competitive, they need to first figure out their brand worth. The days of mass marketing are coming to an end and the era of customisation and specialisation is here. Look at our telecoms industry and you will get a good idea of what I’m referring to. However, these companies are supported by very good design firms and brand managers and marketing teams who have planned and forecasted – and sometimes reacted to – the changing market needs. Being competitive has always been the mainstay of business. However, with easier travel, online accessibility and more competition offering better ‘value for your money’, isn’t it time you sat down with your designer and reconsidered your brand value? As Facebook, Apple, Google and Coca Cola has shown, there is more to gain than lose. By Harold S. Dickenson Jr.

Business Focus Antigua Issue 40  

As 2011 comes to a close and we enter 2012, the forecast for the world economy continues to be news of job cuts and hints of a "double dip"...