STAYING IN TUNE
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As consumers continue to adopt this new wave of technology and, in some instances, have been forced to do so with remote schooling and virtual graduation ceremonies, brands (and the designers who support them) will also need to consider these new platforms to connect with their audiences and create brand experiences.
The world of design and branding is one of never-ending changes, but that’s what keeps it so exciting and challenging…in a good way! Over my tenure, I have worked for a range of agencies and clients, and all of them have pushed me to address and adapt to their various business needs. What I’ve observed over the past years is how the design industry has collectively shifted towards lower budgets, faster timing, and agency downsizing. Due to the confluence of these changes, here are the three most significant trends I’ve observed.
Design is an ever-evolving discipline with many facets. They are informed and feed off the technology, trends and culture of their times but are all united by the need to tell a story about an object, whether physical or metaphorical. In terms of graphic design, this discipline is rooted in visual storytelling and communication with a history stretching back to hieroglyphics and the first cave paintings like those in Lascaux, France. Primitive, yes, but through and through the start of iconography.
Every career has at least one defining moment. For me, it was reading Graphis Ephemera. I was stunned! Not bound in the standard minimalistic black, this book was unusual and square with images of ripped paper on the cover. There were pages and pages of all things short-lived: self-promotion projects, event tickets, announcements, cards and mini-posters from the late 1950s to the 1980s from all over the globe. One look and I immediately knew: I had made the right career choice.
Flipping through these samples or scrolling through the digital ephemera of our contemporary life, I find myself asking the same questions as I had early on in my career. Why does design so often fail to impress? Do throwaway items merit only throwaway design—or do they require the same level of creativity and care as architecture and art? What is our graphic responsibility?
Staying inside and working remotely has pushed all of us introverts further into our introversion, and those who were extroverted or straddling the line between the two have waded deeper into their own internal thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, professional communication and conversations have become constant albeit distant as we incorporate technology such as Slack or Teams into our day-to-day. So, how do we as introverts live in a world of endless communication but still have the energy to devote to those we are leading?
Once upon a time all a brand needed to do was attract attention to itself by pointing out the frailties of any given category, scream it from the rooftops and, hey-presto, you were a provocative upstart brand.
Most categories, at some point in time, have been impacted and influenced by consumers’ changing interests or needs.
With the growing breadth of variety, is there room for all these products to compete at shelf and in consumers’ minds? Can they all be successful? While consumers will never abandon their beloved brands, there is always room for small batch, “hand-crafted” niche products that consumers love to discover and share.
Too often companies look at customer acquisition too narrowly and place them into two categories: retail-only or direct-to-consumer.
While this may sound gross, dogfooding-or eating your own dog food-is a way for brands to use their own products and services in real-world situations and test for quality control or other issues. This mindset is vital to the success of challenger style startups.