Monday, July 25, 2011

Politically creative.

No matter where you reside within an advertising agency, you're going to need some political prowess. Trust me, I'm a creative incumbent. You need it. Internally and externally. Like it or not, you are being judged.

How do you masterfully persuade a room? Can you command respect from your team? Do you effortlessly inspire action?

Much like a hopeful politician, the optimistic creative cautiously begins a new campaign. Carefully crafting strategy. Aligning personal belief. Preemptively asking questions and preparing for debate.

I've written about the art of selling before. It comes down to your own authentic endorsement. There's a difference between passionately standing behind the work and apologetically running through creative you wish could have been better. Your audience will sense it. Go in there unprepared and prepare to head back to the drawing board.

As a creative, I feel your pain. Our tendency is to dwell on what could have been. 

Sometimes, we're too close to it. Or maybe there were too many obstacles. Either way, we have to ignite the spark. The one that shows up in our eyes when we present work we're truly excited about. The unmistakable glow surrounding a passion project explanation. The unwavering confidence reassuring your direction. The contagious charisma leaving your audience wanting more. Maybe even without revisions.

Creativity is not really measurable. It's subject to popular opinion.

Back your work with research. Emphasize why it speaks to your audience. Be ready for an opposing view, or ten. And, most importantly, make sure you are an avid supporter of the work. And yourself.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rethink your thinking.

What inspires you? It's different for everyone else, right? …or, is it?
What?! You mean I'm not the only one inspired by advertising, creativity, culture, design, and observation who admittedly has a slight music and film addiction? Do I have a doppelganger hanging out in a coffee shop somewhere getting excited about random things like this or that. (I won't go into all my what-I-thought-used-to-be-original intricacies, but yeah, it turns out they're really not. Sorry hipsters, you're probably not alone either.)

No matter how eclectically specific your interests are, you have a tribe out there. My advice? Find them. It will save a lot of time and inspiration hunting.

As a pursuer of patterns, it's getting easier to find like-minded people. 
Though I have only started playing around with the nuances of Google+, the platform seems primed for combining the best of all social connectivity. All in one aggregated place. And let's face it, Google already knows everything about you anyway. Maybe someday you can just have Google auto-update your status for you. You'd probably have to set some ground rules for that to work. "No Google, you may not post my social security number or +1 cat videos while driving my online persona. Thank you." (Okay, if the cat videos are indeed hysterical, I'll go either way on that last rule.)

The question is no longer "What inspires you?" It's, "Do you actually have time to pay attention?" Because if you do, inspiration is everywhere.
An engineer may not care about an art installation. But, what if that nonsensical sculpture inspired a legitimate structure solution. And then what if a surgeon thought like that engineer? The most phenomenal development of the connected world is the immediate access to so many perspectives.

Inspiration is a catalyst for rethinking your thinking.
We're really not that different. It's amazing how small the world is. And I'm very excited to hear some of the world's most connected digital planners, instigators, and creators address this issue at next month's Boulder Digital Works workshop. In person. I'll have updates on that in future posts. And, if you're going to be there, say hi. I'll be the one that is, well, probably like everyone else there.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Is this good design?

Poster designed by Bibliotheque.
Before complete brand integration, Dieter Rams feared the world was becoming “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” A very prophetic statement from the early eighties. 

Everything good is usually designed, but not everything is good design.

We have a tendency to influence each other. Brands fall victim to 'me too' design and strategy. Especially among like-brand competitors. We must always ask ourselves, "is this good design?" And, if it is not, how can it be?

Design is a cross-platform discipline. No longer does it only apply to artists drawing pictures. Writers, programmers, engineers, and strategists all must be fluent in design. Good design results from inspired collaboration.

Anyone creating anything should take a minute and familiarize themselves with or revisit the 'Ten Commandments' of design. Human-centered in philosophy, the thinking ventures well beyond art alone. Whether you create products, campaigns, or identities – this list thoughtfully explores why design should and does matter.

Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design

1. Good design is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Good design makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

3. Good design is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Good design makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

5. Good design is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Good design is honest – It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good design is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

9. Good design is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the life cycle of the product.

10. Good design is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
“I think that good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times,” he said in a speech to the Braun supervisory board in 1980. “They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.” – Dieter Rams
For more inspiration, read Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams and check out Objectified.

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