So, after a month’s hiatus that involved some cultural exploration in Ireland and London, I’m returning to the US to start a new project that I want to discover what the hype is all about. The guys are clever and creative, but most of all they have a clearly defined belief system that they adhere to. I think that’s important, more important than a long client list, or a detailed case study. I want to know how a company operates, how it thinks, how it feels. Here are some ideas that they thinks are important – they’re beautifully simple and honest to the point that you’ll probably be inspired to invent ways to work with them too.
- No branding
“Branding” is a kind of trendy idea that involves consultants telling you who you are and what you should look like. Companies like Apple or Ben & Jerry’s or Ikea aren’t good “brands,” they’re just good companies with good products. How they communicate is a natural consequence of who they are, in the same way that your clothes, your house or the way you talk express who you are. When we develop identity systems for our clients, it’s our job to help this process along.
- Try a little harder
When you see a movie (or look at art, or read a poem, or watch a tv show) that was made with focus and passion, it’s exciting. Every aspect was considered. Every choice was made with intent. The time and energy put into (http://www.needaplan.com/truck-gps/) it was rewarding for its creators and it’s rewarding for you. After all, if nobody cared when they were making something, why should you care about it later? We pay attention to details that most people will never even notice. Why? Because we know that doing things right matters, and that By making better things, we can make things better.
- Type = words
As designers we make visual things, but most of the time people communicate with words. We talk, we listen, we write and we read. That’s what we do, too. A lot of our work is based on language. By using design to put the emphasis on words, those words have to be meaningful. That way, the messages being delivered become clearer and more direct (and funnier, and more interesting, etc.).
- Smart and stupid
Everyone loves to solve complicated problems in clever ways. But sometimes the best solution turns out to be the most obvious one. You have to be pretty smart to know that the best answer to a problem might actually be kind of stupid.
- All It Is
We like to make things that do exactly what they need to do with exactly what they need to do it. This kind of essential design is both elegant and efficient.
- It is what it is
We like to make things that tell the truth about what they are and how they were made. People don’t like being lied to. So if you’re starting a new company, we’re not going to tell people about its long “heritage.” And if you have a low production budget, we’ll come up with an idea that shows how smart things can be done with very little money.
The way things are made and what they’re made of have their own very specific connotations. Letterpress printing on handmade paper feels one way. This website, typeset entirely in HTML text, is very different. We use this to our advantage when we work, so that each project has its own texture and personality that supports its message.
- Different is good
Despite the best efforts of the marketing industry, people like to be surprised. They like things that are different, or unique, or (sometimes) just plain weird—things that look the way they do for a reason. So please don’t ask us to make something just like something else. It’s boring.
- 100% organic
When we work on a design problem, we try to get all of the information we can up front. That way we can work in a holistic way and come up with a solution that takes every aspect of the project into account. This integrated (http://www.needaplan.com/best-rv-gps/) way of thinking saves time and money and produces results that are more flexible and more complete.
While we sit here working on graphic design projects, there are people all over the world working, playing, buying, selling, fighting wars, living and dying. We are part of all this larger context, whether we like it or not. So an awareness and consideration of what’s going on in the world—and of the effects of what we do—is very important to us. This helps us keep things in perspective and do work that’s more informed and engaged.
- People are smart
The work that we make is for people to use, experience and enjoy. So we make sure that everything we do is based on a clear idea that makes sense and is executed in a way that’s accessible. People are smart. If you keep that in mind, a lot of possibilities open up.