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‘Chronicles of a Head of Digital’ – 23

Beware of focusing on the wrong things, which can happen all too often if you aren’t careful.

You do not always need to go full bleed, glorious widescreen parallax technicolour to deliver comms. It’s the idea that needs to work first, not the visual. The visual is there to dress the idea.

The design is important, but needs to work with the idea, not drive it. Anti-design can be as strong as über-design.

If the base idea is rubbish, no matter how ‘designed’ you make it look, how pretty it gets, it’s still a rubbish idea.

A rubbish idea with a fancy hat on. And a rubbish idea with a fancy hat on will not work. It’s still rubbish, it just happens to have a nice hat on.

A great idea can work with or without a fancy hat. It should be able to stand on its own two legs regardless. Whereas, a hat on its own is just a hat, no matter how fancy.

I’m not saying all visual design is a waste, far from it, just be sure to design the visual to work with the idea, the words, the concept, the delivery and the audience. It is supposed to be a complete package. If it’s (for example) ‘home made’ black and white A4 grunge, then photocopy it. If it’s (for another example) all Hollywood glamour, then make it so. But don’t go Hollywooding the former, or photocopying the latter just coz it’s in the studio. Simplicity is often far harder to pull off than the complex and glossy.

Take the ‘home-made’ A4 black and white idea above.

As soon as it gets ‘designed’ and colour is added, a graduated background, some drop shadows and a fancy font, the next step will be artworking the dog-eared, ripped and folded bits so they are part of the layout. Next, there will be a coffee ring vector added… (dear God no…) and then printing it A1 or bigger and all glossy.

And the idea is gone. It’s no longer ‘home made’, so there is no point running it.

Go with one of the others that was a big glossy poster from the start. An example of focusing on the wrong thing when getting a job out the door.

Focus on the idea, and the comms. Don’t start with the hat. Find a hat that fits the idea. Make the idea work. Focus efforts on the right thing please.

Saying that, I do love a hat.

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