On My Soapbox

POSTED ON May 19, 2010

Every new client gets the opportunity to witness me on my soapbox, expounding on my views about process based on my years of experience as a motion designer.  I like to share my personal biases with clients out of my deep commitment to provide them with useful, practical designs that endure -- work that is a foundation for future projects. Like all my colleagues here at Marker Seven, I’m a big picture person and I think long term. That’s why I want clients to understand that it’s not  “What can we at Marker Seven do for you today?” but rather “What can we do for you forever?”

When I engage with a client, I start by asking them,  “What is great design?” Then we go through my personal checklist for concept development, which includes the following considerations:

  • Great design needs to solve an organization’s brand or marketing challenge. This means our briefs must resolve unique questions not mundane ones.
  • Great design is timeless. We should create trends, not follow them.
  • Great design is provocative, even daring. I try to provide examples to clarify what “provocative” means in relationship to the client’s brand.
  • Great design should be smart and possibly a bit clever or funny. That’s because I believe that most people are pretty smart, have imagination and are most engaged when communication is sophisticated.  Mind you, I don’t mean communication can’t be simple and to the point, but communication needs to make people think and inspire them, not tell them the blindingly obvious or talk down to their intelligence.
  • Great design should be natural. To me natural means the design should convey that people who have feelings and a connection to the brand created it. (Guess this is why some folks call me an organic designer.)
  •  Great design comes from a process. The process involves taking a critical look at the brand as a unique set of elements. As we  define these various elements, we find clear, fresh methods and images to convey them visually. 
  •  Great design is honest.
  •  Great design is clear and self-explanatory.
  • Great design is comprehensive; it should effectively work for television, film, print and new media. From my point of view, when a design works, it works and works and works. That’s why we test a logo across all media before we call it a wrap.

Great design cannot be accomplished unless we address the checklist issues. Designs created outside of this process may be beautiful, thoughtful and evocative but in the end they may not translate the brand in a useful or functional way. They may be limited, and the goal of course is to be unlimited. 

-Marco North

Director of Media Development

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