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The I’s Have It

As this site has been assembled over the years, it has lacked focus.

Although it is a personal website, being that I am one of those people who is strongly defined by their work, it has needed that glue to hold it all together. I’ve been stewing on this for a while and I am finally ready to move forward with a philosophy, a cohesive thought about what I do and what I had to offer the world as a Designer.

I used to think I made logos, ads, movies, websites and other sundry things. That is true. Along with that simplistic view on my work, I have also proclaimed that it’s the act making these things that gets me out of bed every morning — the challenges that keep me interested in the things I do. This has been truly a simplistic way of looking at things and entirely wrong.

So I dove into the deep end. Pulling a Simon Sinek, I asked myself “Why?” over and over again. Much like a scene out of Ant Man and the Wasp, I’ve gone deeper and deeper down inside and found an answer to all those why’s. I was looking for answers that were not about me, why design, and how I can help make the world a little better than before.

Over the past few weeks I have been working in earnest to compile work I’ve created over the years. It now populates this site. Not everything, but numerous pieces that represent this philosophy and shows the world what I actually design:

Identities, Information and Influence.

I’ve looked at a number of other words to describe what I do, but all those words merely describe things. For me, Identities, Information and Influence are not things, rather they are outcomes. These are what I strive for, toil over and pour myself into so that together with my clients we will  make the world a better place.

Not only are Identities, Information and Influence outcomes, this is also a flow. A way of looking at design in total.

Identities are the most basic building block of communication, the starting point to broadcast who you are to the world.

Information design helps people you are trying to reach make better decisions.

Influence is the goal — to encourage change and make it easy to take further action.

This is a simple yet rich view of Design, one which I will continue to explore conceptually within this site and practice with my clients for years to come.

Crazy Dream

As of this writing, 10 millions views since the ad broke last night.

 

So I have seen the ad, all two minutes and five seconds of it. Same messaging you always get from Nike: Hard to argue with, nice sentiments, blah blah blah. Until you get to the spokesman.

Yes, you have this figure that “gave up everything” to pursue something crazy. Something he believed in. But let’s put this in context:

Kaepernick “sacrificed” his NFL career? Hardly! He lost his job because he sucked – he couldn’t make the cut in the NFL. Had he not pulled this stunt, he would already be long forgotten. And that’s where this ad goes off the rails.

If Serena or LeBron, mentioned in the ad, sacrificed their career to pursue something bigger than themselves, something extremely difficult but an idea they believed so passionately about that they had to choose between the belief and their career, then that would be a brilliant ad.

Think about Patrick Tillman, who gave up his NFL career to go do something incredibly hard, and paid the ultimate price for following that idea when he died in Afghanistan.

THAT is a crazy dream, one I CAN believe in. One I can respect.

Kaepernick is a punk, who a savvy group of writers wrote some beautiful words to put into his mouth. Talk about inauthentic.

Phewy.

Don’t Do It

I go to great lengths to not be political with my blog. There are many issues I feel quite passionate about and a blog is a perfect place for me to express my views, but I choose not to.

The reason is simple: This is a blog about ideas on branding and marketing, creativity, leadership and design. The last thing I want to do is run people off, start an argument or open myself up for attack. The very last thing I want to do is polarize and piss off potential readers.

Pissing people off should not be the purpose of an ad campaign, but that is exactly what Nike has done this week. In one fell swoop, they’ve taken their brand to a whole new level, and depending on who you ask, it is either elevated to new heights or plopped in the toilet.

If you’ve read other posts of mine, you have seen me call into question the validity of brands taking on social issues. Making commentary and judgements on the morals of those who do not believe like some corporate giant is just plain wrong. I am 100% a believer in free speech, and I do not want to tell any media department how to spend their money, but this move certainly cannot be good for business.

Especially for a company like Nike who in the past has been accused of all kinds of heinous acts.

If you are a for-profit enterprise with shareholders to answer to, you are irresponsible for picking a side in an argument. By taking a side you are consciously choosing to alienate the other side. That’s bad for business, and you’re in business to make money, not political statements.

Full disclosure: I have been a fan and ardent defender of Nike for years. As noted, Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog was one of my favorite books. I’ve run in various Nike’s for years. And I have always loved the notion (because it’s more than a slogan) of Just Do It. Not so much any more. I will not be burning my running shoes, shorts and such. But if they are trying to create change, they’ve done it. I won’t support them any longer.

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Lego brought creative in-house a few years ago to ensure creative has “a seat at the table” and improve transparency, productivity and innovation.

Why Design Thinking Works
Occasionally, a new way of organizing work leads to extraordinary improvements. Total quality management did that in manufacturing in the 1980s by combining a set of tools—kanban cards, quality circles, and so on—with the insight that people on the shop floor could do much higher level work than they usually were asked to. That blend of tools and insight, applied to a work process, can be thought of as a social technology.