Design and packaging are sometimes seen as the icing on the cake. Tell that to Coca-Cola. They’ve been selling brown fizzy water to billions of people for nearly 130 years. What’s on the outside creates an impression of what’s on the inside. Good graphic communication can make all of the difference in bid world.
Your bid needs a visible theme, feel and message to bring the words on the page to life. It’s not about presenting your corporate brand and sticking to your brand guidelines. You need to present a tailored visual bid brand, differentiating your responses with a polished and strong look and feel, representing your bid strategy. It’s not about flashy graphics, it’s about presenting your offer so it’s easy for the reader to navigate, recall, discuss and explain – especially if you have dense technical submissions.
How to develop a concept
A bid brand will create a whole set of associations rooted in your win strategy, making your bid stand out in every way. Don’t design too early, or you end up spending time-consuming concepts based on an undefined story. You get your story from the intel and win strategy. Hold a briefing session for your designers with the bid team – get them to summarize the project context, key requirements, and most importantly your big sell and win themes. Your design team need to turn the big sell story into a more creative set of brand messages and visual designs, ones that make a buyer engage with the story. Here are examples of design concepts based on an undefined and defined story.
Big Builder is bidding for a £50m a year construction framework contract for a council in London. They have been the incumbent supplier for the last four years, and their contract is now up for renewal. Our client is shortlisted alongside six other companies of similar ability.
Undefined story + no win strategy
If the big sell story isn’t well defined, by default your option is to go generic focusing on the Council or Big Builder. This approach isn’t targeted and is a missed opportunity for some clever messaging. This approach doesn’t demonstrate that they understand the needs of the Council on this particular contract. It doesn’t show that they have considered the competition and that they are thinking about what pain the Council are in and how to solve it. Here’s how the undefined story plays out:
Design Concept 1: Big Builder has recently invested heavily in Research & Development (R&D) so our design is futuristic, has a running theme about research and why they are the most modern and innovative construction partner. Our design will use hi-tech styling with geometric patterns to give a feeling of them being a cutting-edge company.
Design Concept 2: Big Builder is one of the most experienced in London, so we are having a London-focused theme. The Union Jack is used, along with major landmarks and a tube map icon system throughout. We want them to know about our long history in the city so at the start of every section we will have a photograph of one of our London projects with some key achievement statistics.
Defined story + win strategy
Now, we have our big sell, which is based on our intel and understanding of the buyer wants. We know what’s important to them, we know what makes their decision-makers tick
Design Concept 3: Building Momentum - Big Builder have been the incumbent framework supplier for four years. We know the Council like Big Builder but are also looking for new ideas and approaches. They have recently started to appoint other competitors for similar works. We need to show that we have fresh energy, fresh ideas and that we are treating this contract renewal like they are a brand-new client, except with all the advantages that come with familiarity. This design concept will have punchy language and big messages. We will use bold typography for impactful headings and to convey that Big Builder is a partner that will continue to challenge the status quo at every turn. Our executive summary will also be structured page by page as an on-going journey. Each page completes a piece of a jigsaw that starts from ‘where we were’, to ‘where we are’ and ‘where we are going’. No other contractor can do this. The early section of the executive summary will set the scene on how challenging things were before we arrived. ‘Where we are’ will show all of our big-ticket statistics that show where we have hit their targets or exceeded expectations, and the latter pages for ‘where we are going’ highlight our ambitious goals and what the benefits are to the Council.
Design Concept 4: Inside Track – As the incumbent, Big Builder are also in a unique position where for the next few months they can make additional impact during delivery, they have mature relationships in place to hit the ground running and they know the Council so well that they are more or less an extension of their team. This concept is about reminding the Council that choosing Big Builder means the lessons that have been learned together lead to better performance, cost savings and more innovation from the start. These are lessons about their culture or how they operate that won’t need learning again. Lessons that a new contractor will have to learn from scratch. This design focuses on collaboration, insight and speed. We can use rich photography that shows Big Builder people with their people and in their community. Warm colors and softer typography will be used to focus less on bold and disruptive change, and more on continuing our collaborative journey of progression.
Print and packaging
If the bid requires print in final production, then consider the packaging and document format early during the concept design stage. This is also the case if the submission is digital and needs unique parameters set up or interactive features incorporated. Without a doubt one of the greatest challenges in the design process is the limited time there is to produce the design. However, this doesn’t have to mean you are limited in how creative, bespoke, professional and premium bid documents can be.
- Develop a tailored visual bid brand, differentiating your responses from your competitors.
- Create your bid brand once you’ve developed the win strategy to avoid a generic design.
- If you have a defined story, you can use your bid branding to convey key messages.