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It occurs to me that established brands have a very difficult time playing on anti-establishment themes. Apple is one brand that, though it is the definition of "establishment", has maintained the perception of being anti-establishment. By comparison Facebook is losing its battle with conventionality, Google has lost it, Microsoft lost it in the 1990s, IBM never fought the first battle.
We're talking, of course, of perception and not reality. These are all gigantic, publicly traded corporations with legions of executives, employees, and shareholders. Yet I have a very personal feeling about and relationship with each -- in the case of Google, almost as if I could get on the phone and talk to Eleanor Google and give her a piece of my mind if I wanted to.
To me, that's the power of a brand.
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I did not know the "i" in "iMac" stood for "internet" (and more)...
That's just one of the revelations of an interesting look into the process of branding between Apple and one of it's advertising agencies, Chiat/Day and its creative director Ken Segall.
Segall recounts how he came up with the iMac name in 1998 and convinced Steve Jobs not to call its groundbreaking computer, "The MacMan."
Seems to me, it's a great lesson in leadership: That leadership is not about being the person with the big idea -- it's about finding, directing and motivating people with big ideas. That's what Jobs was a such a genius at doing.
Steve Jobs Almost Named The iMac The MacMan, Until This Guy Stopped Him... Here
An interview with Ken Segall on CNBC... Here
Segall's Observatory blog... Here
Ken Segall is the author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success... Here
Graphic Designers: How do you deal with a difficult client or their intermediary?
A friend recently asked me about a problem every designer has struggled with...
You have acquired some design business and the interested, engaged person who awarded it to you has handed you off to the person in charge of managing the project. The problem is, the manager has no design sense or any of the enthusiasm for your work that the high-up did. To compound the problem, they want you to, in essence, carry out their vision for the design which is, in your view, off the mark. What would you do?
If this is a decision-maker, I'd blame myself. It's my job as a designer to produce work that wows my client. If I can't figure out how to wow the intermediary or at least satisfy their need, I won't have the account long.
If the decision-maker is knit-picking the design, I try to communicate Article 7 of my Design Constitution about Aesthetics. Again, it's on me. Once they understand where I'm coming from, if I can't make them happy, no matter how difficult they are to please, it's on me. (I'm not suggesting you send your client the Design Constitution, just that you incorporate it in your thinking.)
If, however, this is a person between me and the decision-maker (an intermediary), I'd try to (subtly) get the decision-maker involved. I would copy them on emails to the intermediary and explain what I'm doing and why I'm doing it in genial terms (it's very important to avoid being confrontational - that demonstrates an inability to successfully cope with everyday difficulties). Then, if the intermediary makes tries to muscle their way around, the decision-maker can see who's being unreasonable and who isn't and, hopefully, wave them off.
All that said, a great designer will find a way (in most cases) of satisfying everyone's primary need. Design is opinion and part of being a designer is recognizing that others have opinions as well. The question becomes: How can you move forward in a way that respects the opinion and acknowledges the needs of everyone involved. That's called leadership.
Your turn: How would you counsel this designer?
Please comment here... Here
The Design Constitution (160KB PDF)... Here
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Is there an alternative to pitching accounts?
If you've watched The Pitch on AMC you've seen a little slice of how advertising agencies go about pitching accounts. It dresses a very complex process in deceptively simple clothing. While most designers will never lead a team of executives into a board room and pitch a multi-million dollar account all designers do, in their own way, struggle with many of the same issues.
To that end I invite you to read (along with me) an interesting book about the pitch process: The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns. Yes, I have not read it, but I have done enough research to know that it is well thought of by those who have. Right or wrong, this provocative paragraph from the introduction convinced me it was worth pointing to:
"The forces of the creative professions are aligned against the artist. These forces pressure him to give his work away for free as a means of proving his worthiness of the assignment. Clients demand it. Designers, art directors, writers and other creative professionals resign themselves to it. Trade associations are powerless against it. Consultants and outsourced business development firms earn their living by perpetuating it. And conferences put the worst offenders from all sides on stage and have them preach about how to get better at it."
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts (use the "Comment" area below).
Introduction to The Win Without Pitching Manifesto... Here
The complete book online... Here
Blair Enns talks about taking control... Here
In case you missed it, The Pitch on AMC... Here
The hardcopy version of The Win Without Pitching Manifesto... Here
You're not special: a pep talk from an unlikely source
As you know, my posts are always design-oriented. This may not appear, on its surface,to hold to that rule, but I believe the message is as appropriate for seasoned designers as it is for the students for whom it was intended.
It is the transcript of a commencement address by high school English teacher David McCullough Jr. to this years graduating class of Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It struck me as something every designer (and human being) would profit from reading.
Why? Because we're growing a culture that's getting ahead of itself and, as designers, understanding such shifts is paramount. McCullough says, in part, "No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it... Now it's 'So what does this get me?' As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors..."
Stick with me here, you're going to see the connection.
Thanks to my friend Ken Cheetham for pointing us to it.
You're not special... Here
An indepth look at product photography and post production
I'm guessing most non-designers don't realize the amount of work it takes to photograph and edit product shots. It can take hours to shoot and edit a single image.
These videos reveal the reality of, first, the lighting and photography of a wristwatch, then the cleanup and editing.
Behind the scenes of product photography by Alex Koloskov (yes, the audio is poor)... Here
A time lapse of the post production of the same photograph by Genia Larionova... Here
Some background on the videos... Here
What are the most popular typefaces?
Here's Myfonts' current TOP 50... Here
The what, who, where, when, and why of email design and marketing
Email design is a world unto itself. You'd think it would be easy, but as anyone who has done it knows, it is a format fraught with all types of issues - there's the marketing side, the design side, and the technical side. There's lots to know and lots to try.
My son Jeff Green specializes in email design and knows lots of the technical ins and outs. Recently he shared a couple of links that caught my attention and have gotten me interested in delving deeper. Hope you find them as interesting as I do.
New school marketing... Here
Example of one of many full-sized images... Here
The Retail Email Blog... Here
From my Facebook and Twitter conversations...
New from Hoefler & Frere-Jones: Idlewild, a rare, wide typeface... Here
Haha... great retort -- someone was saying their adversary had taken charge by saying, "The rabbit's got the gun."
Is it me or are the prices of royalty-free images going through the ceiling?
Can anyone explain the purpose of this series of ads? Here Want to comment? Do it here...
Some inside baseball: Here's a good summary of prescribed sizes for Facebook images... Here
Some very different, interesting icon designs
I appreciate a good icon - simplicity is tough to achieve. I'm impressed by these. I think Tim Boelaars has created something very much out of the ordinary.
The icons... Here
A recent interview with the designer, Tim Boelaars... Here
Some shop talk
You may have noticed that you now get two versions of this briefing. One this week and an "encore" the week that follows.
Let me explain the reason why. I started experimenting with the idea of sending the same mailing twice to see, overall, if any more subscribers would open the email simply because it was sent on a different day at a different time. As you can imagine, preparing the briefing and managing a big list is no small task and no small expense -- naturally I want it to be seen by as many folks as possible.
What I have found is as many as one third more people are now opening each issue. Wow, I was surprised too. Needless to say, I plan to continue the practice but I wanted you to know the reason behind it. I also want to thank you for putting up with an extra email in your inbox and I hope you'll stick with me going forward.
Have a question or comment? You can always reach me here (at firstname.lastname@example.org). Know that I value your support. -- Chuck