Category: design

Week links, #06


Who Is Robert Cialdini? Meet the Master of Influence and Persuasion
Dr. Robert Cialdini is the mind behind Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the great and enduring works of social psychology, along with a number of other books, including Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Cialdini’s work is among the world’s best resources on how we persuade others and how we are persuaded.

New study reveals why some people are more creative than others
It’s not just your ability to draw a picture or design a product. We all need to think creatively in our daily lives, whether it’s figuring out how to make dinner using leftovers or fashioning a Halloween costume out of clothes in your closet. Creative tasks range from what researchers call “little-c” creativity – making a website, crafting a birthday present or coming up with a funny joke – to “Big-C” creativity: writing a speech, composing a poem or designing a scientific experiment.

The One Thing You Need to Generate Great Ideas
A drawing is worth a thousand words. That’s my version of the age-old adage. When it comes to expressing the functional and emotional merits of a new idea, I firmly believe you have to make it visual.


Check Out Adweek’s Instant Reviews of Every Ad in Super Bowl LII
See all the spots again, plus our thumbs up or thumbs down

It’s Time to Stop Devaluing Creativity
TBWA Worldwide’s CEO reflects on how tech is creating more room for big ideas

The IAB says blockchain technology “is a natural fit for the digital advertising supply chain” with potential to increase efficiency, reduce costs and eliminate fraud. Blockchain can also significantly reduce the number of queries that ad-tech systems need to make each second; ensure that premium video inventory is bought and sold reliably; reduce the number of suppliers and increase transparency, according to the IAB.

Far Too Many Creatives Are Wasting Their Energy on Drivel
Need I make any additional remarks?

As far as creatives were concerned GGT stood for ‘someone beginning with ‘G’, Someone beginning with ‘G’ and DAVE TROTT’.


The Future of the Chief Procurement Officer… Is already here.
CPOs (Chief Procurement Officers) is the function in charge of leading this transformation. Many leaders within the procurement world are ready to realize the change that lies ahead. This much is clear after hearing about the CPOs that praised coming disruptions and transformations within procurement at DITx. This is a new breed of CPO.


Becoming a More Thoughtful User Experience Designer
The difference between creating good experiences and amazing experiences often comes down to how thoughtful we can remain during the design process.

The ultimate guide to user experience
The secret to a good UX is not to make users have to think about what they’re doing: it should come naturally to them to find what they’re looking for and interact with your site. In a web design agency, user experience may be the responsibility of the team as a whole or a specific UX designer. There are even entire firms that specialise in user experience consultancy.

Interview with Barry Katz, IDEO first Fellow, on Design Thinking.
Barry Katz is IDEO’s first Fellow and Professor of Industrial and Interaction Design at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and Consulting Professor in the Design Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Stanford. He is the author of six books, including (with Tim Brown) Change By Design, and most recently, Make it New: The History of Silicon Valley Design (MIT Press, 2015).

Future of Print: How Design Brought it Back from the Dead
When we were sitting on our family computers in the basement of our parent’s Midwestern homes, downloading music from Napster, Limewire, and, we had no idea we were part of a revolution—a way of getting and hearing music that would fundamentally change the industry forever. We eventually quit because it was illegal and not worth the viruses, but not before that fundamental shift occurred. Nearly twenty years later, we don’t even bother with owning digital files, we stream them from various services. And we collect vinyl.


We Are Our Own Typos
As Wired summarized the problem a few years ago: “The reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” They go on to explain that one of the great skills of our big brains is that we build mental maps of the world, but those maps are not always faithful to the actual world.

Quick side comment about typos: I accidentally left a typo in an article I posted on LinkedIn last weekend. It made me eternally happy when I got a note from someone notifying me of my mistake. Someone actually read what I wrote!


When I grow up

This past week I listened to a lengthy interview with Paul Weiland. If an interview is a good one, it gets you to thinking. About the interviewee’s life and yours.

I heard a number of parallels between me and Weiland. A passion for advertising, hard working and asthmatic to name a few. But I also heard differences.

He talked a lot about wanting to be a director, even from early on in his career. This got me to thinking about why I got into the business and where I want to go.

I never wanted to be an artist or a photographer or illustrator or painter or printer or anything else other than a designer. Part of it is that I’ve always had a passion for ephemera and communications that are of a graphic nature.

Ahhh … a page from the 1977 Letraset catalog. Heaven!

The other part of it is that I could never be an artist. Really.

I could never be an artist because I’m not particularly good at initiating a project out of me own head. Yes, I have inspiration and I think about things all the time — like a series of t-shirts I have in mind at the moment — but I’ve never have this burning urge to express myself that way artists do.

Latest idea rumbling around in my head – a series of t-shirts.

Rather, I take immense pleasure in helping other people realize their vision and bring their ideas to life. Even better, if someone tells me what they are wanting to do and they let me go figure out the best way to achieve it. Problem solving.

I’ve always wanted to be a designer, never anything else.

Sure, I might call myself (and even be) an Art Director, a Creative Director, Production Artist or a Webmaster, but at the heart of it all I will always be a capital “D” Designer.

This is mainly because I have a very designerly approach to life and work. It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a new ad campaign, a fresh graphic identity or writing a business proposal, I use the same methods every time.

Charles Eames, considered one of the greatest designers of the 20th century, always thought of himself first and foremost a craftsman. I’ve always liked that. Too many creative folks struggle with who they are and who they want to be. If you want to make art, grow a pair and get your art out into the world. If you want to write novels, get out of the agency biz the Peter Mayle did.

Be true to yourself and you will come out in your work, even if you feel you have nothing to say.

Week links, #02


Here’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression
There’s a stereotype that mental distress is an almost inevitable part of being highly creative. But is there any substance to this idea, or have we been misled – by biographers drawn to artists with colourful and chaotic lives, and the conceits of cultural movements like the romantics?


Design in 2018 – what will graphic design look like?
As part of our series on the future of design in 2018, Standards Manual and Order co-founder Hamish Smyth looks at what will happen in graphics over the next 12 months.

Designers Finally Have A Seat At The Table. Now What?
Companies are finally listening to designers, writes Google Ventures’ Kate Aronowitz. Here’s what designers need to do now.

You’re not a designer unless…
Remember when you were learning design and your tutors told you that all you needed was was Photoshop and some ideas? Well, it turns out that there’s a whole heap of other stuff that you simply cannot call yourself a designer without.

2018 Is the Year of the Intangibles
At the Stanford we practice “design abilities” to navigate today’s incessant murkiness.

Gordon House: Designer to The Beatles, ‘Groovy Bob’ + London’s Swinging Sixties
House was an artist himself, in addition to designing for some of the most prominent figures of the era. How had we not heard of him?


The Death of Advertising
Given the contrast between the recent success enjoyed by companies like Google and Facebook and the utter paralysis being undergone by CPG companies and advertising agencies the world over, I felt this article was worth republishing. Advertising will not “die,” per se, but what will are the brands that succeeded in a world without the unparalleled access that Facebook and Google afford consumers and producers to each other; brands that succeeded precisely because Facebook and Google did not yet exist. The advertising that emerges in tandem with the new — brands borne out of the existence of Facebook and Google — is already different enough so as to warrant penning an obituary for the advertising that emerged in tandem with the old. This is that obituary.

Hands up who’s heard of TOM McELLIGOTT?

More brilliance from Mr Trott: SHOW DON’T TELL

Return on Influence, the New ROI
The more marketers accept the concept of measuring influence relative to reach, the quicker social media industry standards will surface. Social networking revolves around the art of people interacting with people, not logos. People have influence. Things do not. Ultimately, influence is power that differentiates.

How to Build ROI and Accountability into Your Marketing Plan
While determining the right marketing mix can be a significant undertaking in itself, some of the biggest challenges associated with building a strategic marketing plan include assigning accountability and resources for each task, staying on track throughout the year and demonstrating your plan’s impact and ROI.

Is Jeff Goodby the Best Copywriter at Goodby Silverstein & Partners?
Why Specialization isn’t the secret to success

Time is on your side. Or should be.
For about thirty years, I’ve regularly done “The New York Times” crossword puzzle. For about the last ten years, I’ve confined my efforts to the Sunday puzzle. I’ve always regarded it as a reward for the week gone by, and a way to relax and unwind.


Are You Having Trouble Focusing? These Simple Strategies Will Help
In today’s always-on, information-overloaded world, it can be hard to stay focused throughout the day. How often do you find yourself distracted by inner chatter during meetings? Or how often do you find that emails are pulling you away from more important work?

How to Become More Productive Using the Pomodoro Method
It’s deceptively simple and hard to wrap your brain around if you’re like most people, working hours on end without allowing yourself to stop (because you think you can’t). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Designing Your Life Through Design Thinking
Design thinking has helped me create new products, imagine new retail concepts, & solve other abstract challenges. It has also helped me to design a better life for myself. In fact, I believe design thinking may have helped save my life and that it has the power to save the lives of others.

Being a chameleon

I have no style.

As I’m writing this, I am wearing a pale blue oxford cloth button-down with gray slacks and black loafers. There is nothing special about the cut, the quality, the material, the tailoring, the brand names, nothing. As I sit here to today, I have no style.

But that’s not what I’m getting at. The style I’m talking about is my work.

Back when I was in college, in my Intro to Design class, we were working on one of those conceptual projects where you were limited to using very simple images. We were a couple of months in and had moved well beyond the simple “black square” projects design students know all too well, and we could use more literal imagery to help communicate the idea. My concept was “compress”, and to show it I did a very graphic drawing in two panels of a hand squeezing a tube of tooth paste. The hand holds the tube in the left panel but grips it in the right hand side and toothpaste oozes out. The pencil drawing was right on.

When it came time to paint it, because that was what you did back when I was in art school, I chose a color palette that had a definite 8o’s flair. This was unlike me, but I had been spending a lot of time in the Print Regional Annual and decided I needed to start pushing myself into a more stylistic direction. I was particularly fond of the burgeoning scene in Dallas. Not a pastel as Miami Vice, colorful. Smarter looking. I wanted to be one of them, and by using their color palettes, I’d be on my way.

Prior to this act of artistic independence, all my work had been primary or bold colors. 100% Cad Red Light, for example. I’ve always had an affinity for color, especially ones that stand out. I looked at the “compress” project as a chance to break out of that mold and start down a path to stylistic salvation. So I painted my 15” x 15” board in soft pastels.

When it came time for the crit, all the students lined their work up on the rail along the wall that circled the design lab in the basement of the art building. Our profs walked around, looked, didn’t speak for a bit, soaking in all the work. Then the floodgates opened.

Jane picked up my board and asked who had done this one. I proudly raised my hand. Being an illustrator, she appreciated the drawing and commented that it successfully communicated the “compress” concept. But what was with these colors? I remember it like it was yesterday:

“It’s so pasty. I look at this board and it makes me feel like there’s this film on my teeth…”

While holding the board in one hand, she uses the other to scratch her teeth like a dental hygienist scraping schmag at your six-month check up. It was humiliating, but an important lesson.

The color selection, the choice to inflict a stylistic approach to my concept, totally disrupted the communication. Sure, the pastiness of it was indicative of tooth paste, but while doing the project that was not on my mind in the least. The drawing wasn’t about the tooth paste, it was about the action of squeezing the paste out of the tube. The style hindered the communication, made my audience think about something quite different. And gross.

This lesson has stuck with me for years.

If you look through my book, at all the design I’ve done, you’ll not find a single style. My intention is always to approach the project from the client’s perspective, not mine. At the end of the day, it about what they want to say, not me. I don’t want to impose my aesthetic on them, my mission is to help them to be themselves. The only style I strive for is “Good”.

Is the {logo, ad, poster, site, etc.] well designed? Does it communicate in a smart fashion? Does the design reflect the client’s values and beliefs? Is the design appropriate? None of these questions nor their answers should have anything to do with style.

That approach makes me a chameleon. I am not a slave to style or fashion.

I like looking at the logo trends every year. What are we seeing on Dribbble and elsewhere? (This is dangerous when you think about it.) Not only do you see so much sameness, you also see work that the logos are firmly fixed in a point in time. For a logo, that is the death nail. More than anything, a logo should be timeless. If someone is going to invest the money and time into making a logo, they will want it to last and be relevant for years to come as their business grows.

Adverts are interesting because they can and should be a reflection of the time and current culture. That is part of how they work. Tap into the zeitgeist, use it to your advantage to help communicate, and don’t worry about longevity. If the ad clicks with the audience and in a brief moment delivers the message, that’s a win.

But what that requires of the creative professional is stylistic acrobatics. You cannot hope to survive in the business if you hang your hat on one single look. You have to be nimble enough to adapt to changing times and tastes and clients and markets.

If you plan to have a long career, you’ll want to become a chameleon, too.

Re: Measuring a Graphic Artist’s Performance

Below is my response to a discussion that started over the weekend on LinkedIn:

This is a problem I have been struggling with for more than a year. A couple of review cycles ago, my boss challenged me with trying to assign criteria for the creative staff’s annual reviews that would measure quality. We had spent about a year shoring up our project management and intelligence gathering systems as well as refining our processes to make our group more efficient. That’s all swell and dandy when capturing hard metrics, like volume of work, total number of hours on a project, and other data points, but it leaves out quality altogether. So he asked me: How do we measure quality?

Particularly in a large corporation, this is next to impossible. Or, at least I still have not found the answer. The How article mentioned above listed some suggestions, but my problem is that things like reputation and aesthetic appeal are both subjective. Incredibly subjective in fact. So much so that I do not feel comfortable putting these sorts of requirements into a person’s annual objectives because what looks and works for me might not work for someone else.

Unfortunately, it can get even murkier. One of our segment marketing managers initiated a project that should have been able to generate enough quantifiable and qualifiable data points that this would be a slam dunk for the creative team. But, the strategy was pushed to them but the segment and they were simply asked to contribute to the functionally and the graphic design. The look and feel. They did an outstanding job but the project is a huge failure because the strategy was flawed.

The only way I have been able to objectively evaluate the creative team has been when they truly push the envelope on a project. Did something from out of left field. One of my GCDs took a lead on creating a virtual tour of a well site, then created a campaign to promote it and show it off to customers at a trade event. His strategy drove the design and execution. The project was a huge hit and his annual review reflects that success. He used many of the same people and tools to execute the project that the above mentioned team used, but because he was driving the bus it worked like a dream. But how would have I assigned that as an annual goal the year before?

I read a really interesting article at The Atlantic on Google X last week and it got me to thinking about this subject. As an organization, all they are about it coming up with innovative ideas. I got a good sense of how they determine success — whether the project gets funded or not, then whether it performs in the market. But I wonder how a group like that measures success of the individual contributors?

Not sure if any of this helps, but know that you’re not alone.