Design is not a competition. It is not about ego. It is about doing the best job possible for your client. If winning a competition helps the client (or helps you keep your client) that’s fine… but it should never be the primary goal of the work.
I’ve both judged and won competitions, and, although it feels good to be appreciated, the platitudes I am most proud of are the surveys in which our ads were the ones that stayed in the minds of the readers over all others in that particular publication. It told us that we were doing the best job possible for our client.
And that, in the end, is the point.
(this post was inspired by a rather gloating post on Google+)
Jannette La Sota is a personal trainer and fitness coach in Queens, New York, who decided the time had come for a fresh new brand for her business. She contacted tiny little mind and after a meeting to learn as much about her business, clientele, target audience, and hopes for the future of her endeavor, we created a logo and began the process of crafting a brand that would fulfill her needs. If you are looking to get in shape, look no further than “The Fitness Detective.”
MK Vision Center, a terrific purveyor of glasses in the area of Queens where I live, was kind enough to be a booster/sponsor for my son’s school. As a thank you, I created a web ad targeting parents that appears on the website of the Parent Association stressing their children’s related eyewear and optometric services.
tiny little mind was contracted by Gotham West Realty to design a direct mail campaign showing that, by using marketing techniques such as interesting photography and custom sales copy, sellers would have more tools with which to move their homes. Below is an example of the postcards created to entice sellers to work with Gotham West.
Borrowed interest adds nothing but confusion to marketing. If something doesn’t relate to your product, service, or company image, it doesn’t belong.
Borrowed interest belittles your product by showing that you have nothing to make yours the best of the lot and insults your true target audience by promoting fluff over substance.
This morning I read a point/counter-point style article that came my way via Twitter (thanks to @boxofnuts22) talking about the difference between branding and marketing. Here’s the gist of it:
The first person’s explanation was long and winding, full of MBA-style doublespeak and overly complex sentences. Boiled down he says that branding is company reputation and marketing is everything else – from logo design through advertising, etc.. The second fellow wrote short, simple statements claiming that branding was what makes you different from your competition, logo design, color schemes, etc.; and marketing is how you sell your company’s product or service.
Now if the description of the styles of explanation didn’t tip you off, second fellow is correct (I’ve no idea where the first guy got his ideas).
Branding is what helps the audience know who you are without explanation. It exists to make it possible, at a glance, for a potential client to say, ah, this is a Spacely Sprockets product, not a Cogswell Cogs one. It encompasses logos, color schemes, typeface choices, and the style that makes a company recognizable (think Apple’s simplicity and penchant for black, white, and aluminum).
Marketing is how you use your branding to get the message out there – whether it be advertising, PR, social media, etc..
Very simply put, branding defines the topic and marketing is the message.
MaxWell Medical wanted to give their front doors a classy look while still showing what they do (and make it easier for clients coming off the elevator to tell what door they were supposed to enter). The other requirement was to maintain privacy for the clientele and office staff. Here’s what we came up with.
Context is key.
You get a lot of people who feel that Helvetica makes everything better and Comic Sans is the typeface of the devil. Here are two designs that follow different philosophies… one based on flat design and Helvetica and one based on a more dimensional design and Comic Sans. I asked my two-year old (who would be the target audience) which he liked better… guess which he chose? Everything has its place. It is vital to consider the tastes of the audience.
Whether it be typefaces, copywriting, or design style, it is all a question of context.
(Note: these weren’t done for a client… they are quick and dirty designs for illustrative purposes. Although I do like the bear).
That’s what advertising is about. It is about telling a story. A story of boy has a problem, girl has the solution. Boy meets girl and she solves his problem.
Substitute boy with your target audience and girl with your company and you have an ad.
You are trying to convince your target audience that your product or service is the very thing they need to solve their problem or meet their need. It is as simple as that. If you don’t engage your target by making them empathize with the story, you aren’t engaging them. A list of your product’s benefits simply isn’t enough. It won’t compel your audience to put themselves in a position that makes them want to come to you. People are convinced to act based on need or perceived need. If you can’t make them feel that conviction, that need to have a problem solved, then you have probably failed to get a customer.
And without your customers you don’t live happily ever after.