concept ≠ design

 They’re not equal. It’s not an either-or decision. You can have both.

Recently I’ve noticed a not-so-invisible line drawn between the strength of an idea and the quality of the design. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this nonsense, let me explain as best I can.

Most, but not all, design your encounter out in the wild started as a rough sketch on the back of cocktail napkin (if you’re Don Draper), or more than likely, a nonsensical typo-ridden iPhone note you have to decipher on Monday morning. In my experience, it takes a long time to get an idea out of this stage of the process. For whatever reason, maybe you just overthink think and it never sees the light of day, you’re working with a small budget, stakeholders don’t buy into it, it could be any number of things. Point being, yeah this part of the process is important, even vital, but it’s not the most important and it’s definitely not where things start to get easier.

Too often, I’ve heard the words “well, we’ve got the concept, so now it’s just fleshing out the deliverables.” Just typing that makes me shudder a little. Here’s three reasons why:

 1 — Nobody’s “got” the concept

Ideas change. And they’re almost always better for doing so. The best campaigns, companies, products, and ideas are almost always the product of a mid-process pivot or change of direction. What you’ve “got” at this point is a launchpad.

 2 — It’s never “just” anything

No part of the creative process should be preceded by “just.” And it definitely shouldn’t be the visual design part. A great idea doesn’t mean shit if nobody’s taken the time to think through how it looks.

 3 — “fleshing out the deliverables” is the HOV lane to failure

I’m not talking about that exact phrase, cause most people probably don’t talk like that, but I’m speaking more to that way of thinking. Looking at any part of a project as a deliverable that you have to flesh out or get done with probably means that’s exactly how someone else is going to see it: a meaningless piece of clutter they can’t look away from fast enough. Working in a field that literally creates things and presents them to the world, comes with healthy dose of moral responsibility. Responsibility to make thoughtful decisions and not simply add to the meaningless clutter.

Let’s create things that make people smile, add the littlest bit of meaning to the world, and happen to be nice to look at.

✨ ? ✨


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