Wisdom and experience often only provide polished iterations. In order to do something new, it's best to forget the rules long enough to break the old ones, subsequently creating new ones. Technique is making the perfect mistake. Play allows for this.
I think it is okay. We have enough critics as it is. ;)
I think most do not comment for fear that said marketer or creative agency may one day be their employer.
A rule (in my opinion) that I try to follow, as is the case with any critical critique of creative; if you have a complaint or issue with the work, be sure that your critique is part of a solution. Let it be well thought out, not impulsive and arbitrary. If you do not like it and can not formulate a reason why, it's best to not convolute the information used to shape the work. Ultimately, this undermines the talent and help of everyone involved.
I do not believe you can instantly teach design. I do not think a few workshops will help either. Not without repeated practical hands-on demonstrations (a class). Subjective thinking versus objective while ultimately dealing with an individual's ability to remove themselves from all other types of communication (what one has previously been exposed too) in order to objectively review the work being presented–that's buddha style.
In my experience, information gathering prior to beginning the project is extremely important. This also means involving all decision makers initially and early on. Everyone who believes they have a stake in the execution should be involved initially, not at the end. Predispositions can not be brow-beaten, reversed/opened up, within a budgeted timeline and deadline-driven project scope. You risk going upside down with your client and team, financially. You may also creatively bankrupt your team because of multiple iterations.
An important factor while reviewing work is in evaluating the information initially provided and used to create it. Half a question will yield half an answer. Half an opinion is not a whole solution. Work is created based on the truths used to inform it. If that information changes in midstream, the work may need to be re-evaluated as a whole. For example, the sentence; Mary had a little lamb, would not make much sense with the words rearranged like this; Had Mary lamb little a. While you the reader may understand what the sentence is trying to communicate, you can only do so because you already know the correct order of words in which the sentence should be written. Familiarity in this case, corrects the mistake cognitively.
If I were to present the common surveyor with a new sentence, never before seen or read, such as; Brick more round, the one world making time a we're., you'd clearly have an issue with how this reads and what it's trying to communicate. Understand that design works in the same way. It's difficult, almost self-destructive, when you think it's okay to simply move, change, revise, edit, modify, marry, merge, eliminate, add or blend–things within a design solution. You are affecting the greater whole of the work and the greater whole should be re-evaluated because of the change to a small sum. We're making the world more round, one brick at a time.
An arbitrary comment, supported by verbal affirmation does not automatically improve the visual problem. Think about that statement for moment. Verbal comments designed to fix a visual. Verbal automatically correcting visual. It's a problem, for sure. Facts can guide creative design, but under no circumstances should it dictate the design. Changing one word in a sentence can affect comprehension of the sentence. The same thing happens with design. We're not all designers because we've seen design. And we're not all writers because we've read books. But of course, we all have it within us to be one and honing these skills start with looking at design and reading more books.
A simple rule that I use when working with non-designers or clients that really don't gravitate towards visual comprehension is: show a visual competitive analysis. Present the work against a back drop of your competitors work. This is a very simple frame of reference that leverages the surveyors knowledge more effectively. You'll get simple responses that aren't over-convoluted diatribes meant to sound intelligent–an honest reaction versus someone trying to respond without being embarrassed. This also allows the designer to evaluate the surveyors responses in relationship to the larger context.
In this case, I can validate my shade of blue against something more tangible that you consider to be a true blue, instead of mixing thirteen different shades and waiting for you to point at one. Money and time are lost for both of us. With visual competitive analysis, we leverage your knowledge ( or inexperience ) against many iterations of work produced by other companies (what you've been exposed to already) while I avoid billing you for an endless loop of revisions. We narrow things down perceptually, based on what's existing in the market and what you want to do in order to stand out.
In saying this, lets also assume that people aren't arriving to the table with preconceived notions of what the work should be/look/function like. By doing so, it inherently becomes brow-beating again.
Design is subject to what has been done before, nothing more. You can only evaluate my work based one the work you've seen by others. This is were the challenge starts and ends. Creating something new means not having a deprecated system to gauge the work against. Even (what may be considered someone) poor design can work effectively if it remains consistent and true to it's purpose.
Today, branding can instantly be restructured based on a participant's contribution. Wether positive or negative, a brand can react to the sentiment. I realize that latency in correspondence and response times vary from brand to brand, but eventually (and I hope soon), brands will be operating their own portals. Social networks are obviously too rigid for brands to fully express there ideas, products or services. I've written about this a few times over the years. By nature of the advancement of the mobile space, people spend less time in front of the big screen and more time being mobile. That's the point of smart phones. Subsequently, we may find ourselves with passive media entertainment again, while everything we think about the entertainment or even how we react to it, will be sent to the cloud for aggregation and observation. Creepy. 'The more free software we use, the less free we are.'
Mobile technology is/has closed a small gap between the dichotomy of web users; Searcher and Escapist. In doing so, people do not spend as much time in front of their computers, unless they're working or specifically tending to a few critical tasks. In a sense, they're there to get something done–use the machine as a tool. This gap will be widened again when retail and experiential spaces re-merge as a more engaging way for brands to communicate their ideas and services. Technology will take its place by our waist side. Like most new things, once we've figured out the practicality of the new, we'll begin to reshape it to function more like ourselves versus dealing with the awkwardness of new. I'm not suggesting that the terminal (TV or Computer/Set top box) will lose its place in the home.
Another thing to consider regarding technology as it applies to branding is that the learning curve associated with previous generations, will be almost non-existent in the coming years. I do not mean to say people will not need to learn new things, but they will certainly be less resistant to the act of learning something new. In most cases, it is almost unnoticeable for most power users today. People will most certainly be comfortable typing a message, installing a new update, modifying some HTML themselves and generally just comfortable with new software and hardware upgrades. The learning curve associated with the challenges of the technology industry 20 years ago will seem archaic. People are trusting technology and hardware as it becomes a part of our daily lives. New systems or methods of communicating a message, idea, product or service will either be remarkably new, mundane and unnoticeable or discreet and automatic. And if this becomes true, security might be the new commodity after transparency.→
As the technology and marketing converge; we slowly go from observation, participation and reciprocation through a permissions-based system to an almost eerily automated anticipate and delivery mechanism. Which would then make most of these anticipate and deliver mechanisms destructive to the greater whole of innovation and collaboration.→
An example could be;
RunKeeper→ has been tracking my runs for a few months, maybe even years. Throughout my membership on the site, I've posted a few updates regarding purchases of new shoes. RunKeeper has figured out that, on average, I get a new pair of shoes every 3-5 months. Saucony→ has (hypothetically) been a partner or sponsor on RunKeeper. Saucony sees an opportunity to serve me an ad, link, email or in-window pop-in (some interactive mechanism) for a new pair of shoes.
Anticipate and deliver through aggregation of sentiment. It's very close.
My thoughts on the title, wether implicitly used or discreetly managed, on working with Junior or Senior creative people; Seniors provide well-reasoned and rationale solutions based on strategic thinking. Often times, they can handle many projects at once, while collaborating with others on their respective projects.
Juniors explore and iterate, while learning the nuances of solving different problems within different types of mediums and client's respective markets.
This however, does not denote that any one person is more talented or has better ideas, than another. It is more suited towards those who can execute multiple ideas and work more collaboratively with others.
Semiotics and it's 3 branches;
Relation between signs and the things to which
they refer; their denotata, or meaning
Relations among signs in formal structures
Relation between signs and the effects they
have on the people who use them
I've written about and explored this subject a lot over the years.→
It is the end-use of the visual element that defines its position within the broader visual language known as graphic design. So when the Jedi jargon starts flying, just look at how the components are being utilized and communicated to the prospect. End usage will help you refine and define its usage and place within the branding.
1. Gather insight(s), which include the client's objectives and a competitive analysis. Your solution is dependent on the initial input used to guide it. Know your mediums thoroughly, too. Meet with a client, establish a relationship. You'll be dealing with a lot of narrowed perspectives: Your client, the market and any other estranged opinion(s) that may need to see the work. The relationship is critical. You're part of a larger team, even though you may be the wrist, there are many heads.
2. Iterate, but keep it collaborative–at the least, without driving yourself insane. Be confident in what you present and provide well-reasoned and rationale explanations. Some clients see it, others need to hear it. A good presentation supports both parties.
3. Establish timelines, milestones and cost of everything before hand. Granted, you can't scope a project without knowing the details, but once you've figured out what the project requires–forecast a timeline. You would be surprised in how easy it is to lose money at the end of the year. Your client should be aware of the time allocated for every step. Including a set of guidelines for revisions or when/if a project exceeds the initial launch date. Also, don't be afraid to implement a kill-fee.