Getting the right idea...
A great idea. That spark, that moment when you know you’ve got something right, that ‘Smile in the Mind’. My Foundation Degree in Graphic Design at Somerset College was a strongly ideas based course. My tutors Rob Watts and Malcolm Swatridge (Co-Founder of The Partners) drummed this into us from day one. It’s always about the idea first, get that right then focus on the design. Form follows function, the number one rule from the Bauhaus. As eager students wanting to learn technique and skill we just wanted to get onto the Macs and start designing. However in our first term, we weren’t allowed anywhere near one. A bold move by the tutors? A clever one more like. How wrong we were and how right they were. With hindsight looking back now I’ve a few years under my belt as a Graphic Designer I am so grateful that this is the way we were taught. Whenever I am given a new brief I’m instantly excited, I look forward to getting that designers buzz, that moment after lots of research when you get a great idea in your mind.
Having not been allowed on a Mac for the first term, we could only become engrossed in getting our idea right. If it wasn’t a good idea it didn’t matter how prettily we dressed it up, it just wouldn’t have the same or more importantly the right impact for what we wanted it to achieve. When we entered the second term and were allowed to create visuals on the Macs our first thoughts were to get the idea right before we even sat down at one. Their plan had worked, none of us went near one until a clever idea popped into our heads.
I’ve been to quite a few talks now, The TypoCircle, The Glug, D&AD and more. Recently I attended a talk hosted by Dave Trott at the TypoCircle. There was no on screen presentation about the work he had done, instead he sat and chatted to us for over an hour about ideas and thinking creatively, what he calls 'Predatory Thinking’. I found this incredibly refreshing to hear his many stories which made us rethink how we think. I bought his book and had finished it within two days. It’s all about the ideas.
Branding, advertising, it’s a medium we encounter many times over on a daily basis. We can’t avoid it. Yet which ones from yesterday do you actually remember? I bet it’s the one that had an idea to it, not just something that looked nice. It has become apparent to me that sometimes that ideas moment never seems never to have occurred with some of the designs I see when I’m out and about, and as a designer this annoys me. Designs that have no idea behind them. A logo, a colour scheme but no brand experience. As Simon Manchipp says, it’s 'blanding, not branding’. Given the opportunity with a new project, as designers it is our job to find that clever, unique pin point idea for a brand, not just to create something pretty. When rushed for time of course this can be a challenge but still, let’s take that time to search for that 'idea’ rather than just jumping straight on a Mac to prettify a logo or mock up an advert. Clients of course need to realise this also. It’s about the idea, the experience of the brand. Cleverness.