This is a rant on the presentation of creativity and how it’s received by people who are not in the business of looking at new ideas. If you resemble any of these remarks—and you’ve sat with me lately—I’m sorry. It’s not you. It’s me.
Some clients ask for startlingly new ideas and then want some picture of what that concept is going to look like or at least some sort of reassurance that the creator has done this before.
But of course there’s no real comfort level promise with new work. Maybe you can see samples of creativity (despite the irony of seeing something that hasn’t been done yet) and you can send the piece around for lots of folks to look at but none of these exercises will give you any indication of what will happen when the idea meets the public. If the concept speaks to you, if it makes the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up, if it inspires you to think of new and exciting ways you can use it, if it makes you feel that you’ll be proud to hand it out, go for it.
Otherwise you’ll suffer from paralysis by analysis. And the creativity will just suffer.
THE CHINESE MENU STRATEGY FOR CREATIVITY: ONE FROM COLUMN A, ONE FROM COLUMN B.
This unfortunate exercise sucks the uniqueness and power right out of creativity:
An agency presents a few different concepts. Of course they each use different components—colors, fonts, layouts, etc., and each has been carefully chosen to work with the specific design.
The client—high on the ether of creativity that permeates the presentation and suffering from the insecurity that afflicts almost everyone presented with new ideas—starts making suggestions: The designer should use the typestyle from one design, the colors from another, and the layout from a third in order to make something even better than what was presented.
But that’s not what happens. Instead, a thoroughbred devolves into a camel because while mixing various and sundry parts may indeed have worked for the duck-billed platypus, it doesn’t work for brand-conscious design.
THAT’S REALLY GREAT, I LOVE THE CREATIVITY. NOW CAN I SEE IT CENTERED, FLUSH LEFT, FLUSH RIGHT, IN 17 DIFFERENT COLORS, AND MAYBE WITH A FEW DIFFERENT FONTS?
Make no mistake—there’s ALWAYS another way to skin the cat.
There’s always another way to look at a concept, too. And sometimes those explorations will produce a good new look. But clients shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that the design they’re looking at is the only one the creator came up with. Before the clients sees the recommendation, the designer has already tried placing the logo, the address, and every other element in lots of different places, trying to find the best way to express their idea.
It’s not for nothing that the client has been presented with the design crafted the way the designer thinks it should be shown. It actually took a lot of painstaking thought and experimentation to get to the recommended solution. To off-handedly suggest that the creator try the design centered, with different fonts or colors just to see how it looks is not the right way to improve the piece, nor will it reassure the client that they’ve made the correct decision. Creativity is not a pizza that works equally well if you order it with or without pepperoni, onions or peppers. Revisions don’t usually make creativity better. They just make it different.