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1/23/2017

Good Design is About Strategy.

To say we live in disruptive times is an understatement. It seems no industry is immune. Take traditional television for instance, we now have scores of content options that are not even listed by your cable provider. As a matter of fact, we are no longer required to have a provider, and can now view content from several different sources including our smart phones. Which leads me to ask: do we even need a TV anymore? Come to think of it, with Uber, do we need taxis anymore? Or secretaries? Job recruiters? College professors?

The obituaries for already defunct or dying professions can fill many pages and will soon be added to the list of the extinct, like travel agents, typesetters, switchboard operators and toll booth attendants. Times are changing whether we like it or not, and with the speed of technology, the timeline is becoming increasingly compressed.

As a creative director and graphic designer by trade, I ask myself, am I on the list?

Without a doubt, the digital world has made a crater-sized dent in traditional advertising and communication. And, now thanks to the internet, photography, illustrations, logos, templates and designs of any kind are readily available for close to nothing. For this reason, I believe good creative is more important than ever. Here’s why:

Recent studies have revealed that the average American is assaulted by 500 to 1,000 marketing messages a day. That’s an average of about a message a minute during your waking hours. There are so many brands being thrown at the consumer that competition for attention is tighter than ever. More importantly, they are not only being courted while sitting on the sofa watching TV, they are being targeted on the street, by internet, by phone and by texts when they least expect it. Many of the barriers of traditional advertising have been broken. This means that brand recognition has become increasingly more important.

Here’s where the value of good creative comes in. Now when I say, good creative, I’m not only implying making a pretty impression or being clever, I’m talking about creating messages that resonate with the audience. In other words, good creative is about strategy – the type of strategy that differentiates the brand and positions it above others within the segment. This is creative’s true value. One that cannot be obtained from a pre-designed template or logo from the internet. At its core, it must come from the unique voice of the brand. One great (and overused) example is Apple Computers. Every part of their brand is unique, focused and beautiful at the same time. This ultimately elevates their brand and creates an “I must have this” feeling with each new release. Good creative permeates every aspect of the company, from their product design, to packaging, to their retail presence, to every communication. The result: one of the most successful computer companies in the world.

But you don’t have to be Apple to benefit from good creative practices. Any business can benefit from good strategic creative. Think of it as having a good sales representative. Take a business’ website as an example and ask: Does the audience feel welcome when they first make contact? Is the level of business or service best represented? Is the tone correct? Now, if you were to ask these same questions to a customer about a salesperson and any of them came back with a “no,” then perhaps a sale was lost, or worse, a bad reputation has been created. In most cases, the website is the first interaction a customer has with a business and the general “feel” of the site may determine whether the potential customer’s confidence in the company is established. Everything about the creative should work in unison to secure a sale and be the best possible sales representative. This is especially true in crowded markets when the customer is moving through several websites in order to find a service or product. In this scenario, the least effective approach would be to look like every other company and start from a website template available to anyone. Therein lies the value of the creative.

This basic premise can be applied to other elements of branding and design including the interior design of a retail store, product design, brand identity and advertising. All of which should have a united brand voice and personality, one that cannot come from a cookie-cutter approach.

-Juan Carlos Alonso, Creative Director

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