Design powered by an idea
Does all design need an idea? In short no.
For example, something like a business card does not necessarily need an idea. It’s a functional item that is generally used in face to face interactions. If the person handing you the card hasn’t given you the right impression then it doesn’t matter how clever or engaging the business card is, it’s very unlikely to change how you feel.
However, the design of the business card should at the very least be derived from the idea of the brand. The core idea is one of the most important aspects of any brand. It’s the single organising thought that everything about the brand anchors to, affecting the organisations communication, behaviour, environment and product or service. Too many times we find that this idea is neglected with companies opting for something that looks professional or something they have seen before.
We are constantly surrounded by successful brands and the power of these brands is founded in their idea of who they are and why they do what they do. Look at MacMillan Cancer, Nike, M&S Food, John Lewis. These brands stand head and shoulders above their competitors, they intrinsically add value and connect with their customers on a deeper level and evoke a deeper commitment.
Technology and software have made it easier for people to put together a very clean piece of design very quickly, but it hasn’t taught us to start with an idea. The consequence of this is copious amounts of poorly designed and ill-conceived communications.
Idea based design will always yield the greatest returns and responses. We can all think of great design and ad campaigns such as Honda’s Cogs, Saul Bass’s Man with the Golden Arm poster, Ikea’s Van Der Puup campaign, the LSO logo… all these have delivered significant returns for the services and products they promote.
The best and most effective design has an investment from the client and designers who are both willing to push the boundaries and challenge the norm. Understand and believe in the idea, stay true to it and let it run.