In Cannes I got the question several times why I worked in the design business and not in the advertising business, and for how long I intend to stay. My answer was: I intend to stay with it forever. Regardless of how long I work in “the design business”, I will always keep design as a main focus. I’m in the business of communication, and to me, that business is severely crippled without design. The designer Yves Behar perhaps says it best when he talks about design being the glue that holds all other aspects together. Watch his TED-talk below and be inspired. I would love to work with this guy.
In the talk he also quotes somebody saying that “advertising is the prize companies pay for being unoriginal”. And though I don’t entirely agree with this quote, there is some truth in it. With functionality becoming increasingly similar between products, brand personality is what sets products appart, and design plays a very important role in the building of this brand personality. Imagine for a second two different computers looking exactly the same, but with different brand names on them. It feels cheap and fake. Chevrolet and Daewoo selling the same car with different names on them is a real life example of this.
An example of the opposite is boat outboard engine brands Mercury and Mariner. Two identical products sporting different design and communication, and consequently attract two different target groups.
Another good example of this is Coke Light and Coke Zero. I don’t have to show you this one, but they’ve done incredible work in making the feminine Coke Light macho.
Yet another example that I use a lot to explain how advertising and design should be idea driven and work together is that of naked chips. An ordinary approach for a design agency when presented with the brief to create packaging for the product “chips without salt” would be to take the usual bag, type “no salt chips” on it and make it a different color. Maybe light blue. When giving this product to the advertising agency, they can end up doing anything, because there is no idea in the new packaging at all. Another design and branding approach would be to put a bunch of naked people on the bag and call it “Naked Chips”. Leave this new design to the same advertising agency, and you’ll probably end up with some amazing campaign ideas. Naked chips is a real life example of design found in a London grocery store.
My final example of branding and design driven campaigns is Diamond Shreddies, a Clio winner campaign that was much talked about this year in Cannes. This link will take you to the You Tube search page for Diamond Shreddies. See if you can figure out what’s going on.
My point here is that strong branding and design should be at the core of any communications effort. Like I said – watch the Yves Behar talk below and be inspired. When watching the talk, take special note of the “Why Water” case, and consider if good communication could be made out of this design concept. Myself, I got about ten different ideas instantly.