How to win a Brand Impact Award

The best branding catches the eye of its intended audience as well as the jury on prestigious award schemes like our very own Brand Impact Awards (BIAs). This year marks the 10th year of the BIAs, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look at what makes branding award-worthy. 

To find out, we spoke to some of the agencies that did exceptionally well last year, Design Bridge and Partners (formerly Superunion), Magpie Studio and UnitedUs, to get their top tips on crafting standout branding. To see last year's full list of winners, see our Brand Impact Awards 2022 winners post, and to find out more about the awards, and enter for 2023, visit the Brand Impact Awards website.

How to win a Brand Impact Award

01. Keep it simple

Seed Library by Magpie Studio

Seed Library by Magpie Studio won the Best of Show at the Brand Impact Awards 2022 as well as a Gold award in Bars and Restaurants (Image credit: Magpie Studio)

Be careful not to overthink things, and make sure your idea can be distilled in a simple way. "If you can't explain it in 20 seconds, it’s too much. Be generous to your audience," says David Azurdia, founder and creative partner of Magpie Studio.

02. Find innovative ways to engage

China Duty Free: Surreal Island by Superunion

China Duty Free: Surreal Island by Superunion (now Design Bridge and Partners) was Shortlisted for the Best of Show and won a Gold award for Illustration (Image credit: Superunion)

"There are many brands competing for your audience’s attention, so it’s crucial to find innovative ways to capture their imagination and inspire them to action," says Greg Quinton, CCO of Design Bridge and Partners. "Consumers are smart and we must respect and engage them on a meaningful level."

Don't forget that consumers aren't static though, "As consumers change and adapt brands need to be able to develop new personalities. We as an industry must dig deeper and find new aspects for brands and stop copying each other."

03. Embrace new technology

The Circle by UnitedUs

The Circle by UnitedUs won the Social Impact award, and a Bronze award in Not-for-Profit  (Image credit: UnitedUs)

"This year, we are seeing the opportunity to utilise technology like never before. The progression of AI-enabled technologies is a double-edged sword of risk and reward,” says Luke Taylor, partner at UnitedUs.

"Brands need to consider the role that authenticity and authorship play in their comms, and educate their audiences on when and where they are using technology to aid the brand narrative." Although Taylor describes AI as a positive tool in the brand designer's toolkit, he points out that it is just a tool.

“A brand needs to be founded on a solid strategic foundation, with understood frameworks for growth and clear guidance on how the brand evolves in line with the aspirations and needs of the organisation it serves. With the solidarity of a founding brand principle, new technologies can only benefit the creativity that brands can dare to dream of."

04. Be brave

The Circle by UnitedUs

The Circle is a collective space set on achieving a fairer world for women and girls globally. Branding created by UnitedUs (Image credit: UnitedUs)

"Bravery in branding is essential to making lasting impact, but bravery needs knowledge to underpin it and give it the strategic rigour for success," says Taylor. "Focus on the small details that enable the bigger picture (and the braver creative) to come to life."

05. Trust your emotions

Straits by Magpie Studio

Straits by Magpie Studio won a Silver award in the Illustration category (Image credit: Magpie Studio)

"When it’s good, you know it’s good," says Azurdia. "Not because of the years of experience. Nor the 10,000 hours you’ve spent pouring over The Brief, pencil sharpened and poised. But because it evokes an emotional response. A tingle. A smile. A human connection." And trust that if it affects you, it’ll affect others too. "If you’re loving it, other people probably will too."

06. Tell a story

Shelter by Superunion

Shelter by Superunion (now Design Bridge and Partners) won a Silver Social Impact award and Bronze in Not-for-Profit (Image credit: Superunion)

"Make sure to tell a compelling story with a beginning (challenge), middle (the thinking) and an end (beautiful execution and some results won’t hurt)," says Quinton. 

07. Consider brand impact

The Circle by UnitedUs

Bold typographic statements reflect the courage and the rallying cry of The Circle (Image credit: UnitedUs)

"Consider the impact of the brand you’re delivering at every stage of the project," says Taylor. "Don’t leave it to the end of the project when you’re looking for ROI for the client; instead focus on it from the first meeting. How and where can this brand project make a difference, and to who. By understanding that question, you will craft a brand experience that writes its own case study."

08. Ask the right questions

Straits by Magpie Studio

With an 'S' curve that mimics the body of water from which the restaurant takes its name, the Straits logo mark is delivered via a bespoke 'chop' – used as a seal of quality or authenticity in Asian culture (Image credit: Magpie Studio)

Make sure that you’re asking the right questions. "The wrong question is, 'is it good enough?'", says Azurdia. "The right question is, 'how can I make it better?'"

Crif Dogs by Design Bridge

Crif Dogs by Design Bridge (now Design Bridge and Partners) won Bronze in Bars & Restaurants (Image credit: Design Bridge)

Whether designers should follow trends is an age-old question with no easy answers. "Our industry is in perpetual motion because society, and the attitudes that surround consumption, are constantly evolving. Our role is to help brands to remain relevant to an ever changing audience," says Azurdia. "So, as designers, we need to remain connected to the world around us and judge which way the winds will blow, today and tomorrow. Which means that trends matter, because they act as micro-indicators to broader shifts in consumer behaviour. The trick lies in understanding what’s informing the trend."

Don’t forget that great branding is distinctive, though. "You don’t want to follow trends or you will end up blending in to the crowd," says Quinton.

Scott Lambert, creative director of Design Bridge and Partners Singapore studio agrees. "The risk [of following trends] is that in the eyes of the judges, your work could recede into the pack, even if you have a great idea behind it. Creative impact is driven by a great idea, having the courage to find a style that is driven by the idea itself, as opposed to what is trending, helping to create timelessness design that will win."

10. Bring the client on the journey

The Circle by UnitedUs

The Circle's mark is freely available to the global feminist community, providing tools at grassroots level to amplify the message (Image credit: UnitedUs)

“Great brands are a collaboration between agency and client,” says Taylor. “Without a client who’s willing to take the calculated risk and be brave with their project it’s an uphill battle to craft a brand that is truly unique. All clients want and aspire to build a brand that has meaning and makes a positive difference, it’s down to the agency to help them realise that through collaboration, support and positive leadership…. When the client and agency are pushing in the same directions, amazing things happen.”

Brand Impact Awards banner - 10 years of the best branding - entries now open

(Image credit: Future)

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Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is Creative Bloq's Deputy Editor. After beginning her career in journalism in Argentina – where she worked as Deputy Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires – she moved back to the UK and joined Future Plc in 2016. Since then, she's worked as Operations Editor on magazines including Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw and Mac|Life. In 2018, she joined Creative Bloq, where she now assists with the daily management of the site, including growing the site's reach, getting involved in events, such as judging the Brand Impact Awards, and helping make sure our content serves the reader as best it can.