WESTPORT: Design is central to a consumer's brand experience and has moved beyond traditional visual cues to embrace behavioural, sensory and digital aspects, according to a panel of industry figures.

In a roundtable discussion at The Hub magazine, Jay Gillespie vp brand marketing at tools business Fiskars, explained that design principles shaped the entire experience, from viewing a digital ad to seeing a product in store.

And Randall Stone, a senior partner at brand strategist Lippincott, said that the role of design had broadened and now helped to define "the multi-dimensions" of a brand experience.

It was broadly agreed that design was more important now than ever before, as it helped to differentiate a brand and as consumers were increasingly drawn to good design. Stone also observed that marketers were paying the subject closer attention as a way of enabling their brands to make an emotional connection with consumers.

Scott Moffitt, evp sales and marketing at Nintendo America, highlighted the importance of what was left out. "It's making those hard choices of what's essential to the experience," he said, "and having the discipline to eliminate those things that aren't essential." He held up Google as an example: "Simplicity is sophistication sometimes," he suggested.

A separate aspect of this issue was explored in an essay recognised by the WPP Atticus Awards, where Peter Buckley of MEC considered how brands communicate implicitly and argued that they needed to ensure that these signals reinforced their values in every way possible.

The point was echoed by Sheryl Adkins-Green, CMO at beauty brand Mary Kay, who said that customers now expected "a flawless experience" and design was vital to achieving a consistent look and feel.

But achieving that goal remains difficult. Adkins-Green said customisation was the hardest thing to get right. Others pointed to the problems encountered in attempting to make design user-centred, or in balancing a brand's core values with new developments that were relevant to customers.

Data sourced from The Hub; additional content by Warc staff