Is there anything new in design?

In business, we all want to be different. We want to stand out, and we want increased market share. We want more sales, more profit; we want it all! 

And we brief the creatives to come up with something fresh, creative, and uniquely different. It’s a tall order! 

And in the creatives’ pursuit of delivering for the client, things often go wrong. So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about how you might go about briefing a graphic designer to come up with some great work that does what it needs to do. 


First, you need to position the brand, so it’s attractive to the right demographic, your customers. They need to buy into the creative output and ultimately buy the product or service you offer.  

And my point here is that in getting things right, trying to be different for its own sake is often not the right approach. Instead, give the creative all the background information to understand the product or service and show relevant competitors. Tell them a little about why you’re different; no, not that you ‘care for your customers and that you’re ‘really passionate about what you do’. 

Keeping a promise

You may find that you’re not any different. Recruitment companies, accountants, pubs and restaurants, garden centres: are you really, genuinely different? I suspect not. 

The point here is that you need to differentiate yourself from the other businesses that you’re competing with; you also need to deliver on the promise that you have given to your customers. 

What do I mean by that? Well, it’s about looking at your business more holistically. From the moment customers encounter your service or product to when they leave satisfied customers and beyond. But, of course, things do sometimes go wrong, and it’s how you then fix the problem that can define your relationship with your customer. 

It’s not all about design

All this might seem a little beyond the brief to a graphic designer, but in my opinion, it’s not. I want to know the whole story, and I want to know about your customers too, not just what you can tell me but about what they say too, including the happy ones and the ones where something went wrong, and you fixed the problem. 

The business world is full of great logos, designs and great creative work, but it’s also littered with catastrophes. And often, these failures result from poor decisions made by those companies where no amount of lovely graphic design will sort out the issues. 

So, where am I going with all this? After all, I asked if there was anything really new in graphic design? 

Before you brief the next graphic designer or me. Firstly, I’d like you to think a little about your business and consider all of the obvious things, like competitors, values and customer profiles. And then have a ponder over the less obvious things, like the customer experience and perhaps how you answer the phone (do you answer the phone? HSBC have a tag line “Together we thrive”. I’m not sure 89% of their customers agree. See below.) 


How do you treat your customers, and what happens when something goes wrong? We all know that our feelings towards a company can go from rage to love if someone cares about us. 

 I don’t think there is often much truly new in design. However, there is originality, there are high standards, great typography and design, there is fantastic messaging, there is stunning photography, and there’s sublime execution too. And then, there’s the bigger picture, which I have just discussed. 

Oh, and before I forget, do remember to give your chosen designer or me the budget, the insight and the freedom to really shine for you!