9 tips for starting out in design

 

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We ask a panel of top designers: if you could give one tip to a designer just starting out, what would it be?

When you're just starting out in you design career, everything can seem like a struggle. You can ease the pain by having the right drawing tools and learning from inspiring design portfolios, but even so there's bound to come a time when you find yourself asking whether it's all worth it.

Everyone's been there, though; even the mightiest creative director has found themselves considering jacking it all in and running away to become an accountant at some point.

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And so we asked nine leading designers to come up with their top tips for anyone starting out in design. Read them and see your career in a whole new way.

For further career-enhancing tips from more top designers, take a look at Computer Arts issue 250.

01. Know your niche

Creative director Mads Jakob Poulsen says: "Think about what you can contribute to the world of design. What's your niche? What's your special secret weapon? Don't be like everyone else – do what you think is fun."

02. Have a singular vision

"If you make things the way you think they ought to be, they're more likely to be what you'll be asked to make going forward," says Spin's Tony Brook. "It took me a long time to fully understand this."

03. Be versatile

Anagrama's Sebastian Padilla comments: "A designer needs to be versatile, like a Swiss Army knife. You need to be comfortable with working in broad fields such as typography, composition and copywriting."

04. Refine your skills  

"Hone your skill set," says Matt Howarth of ilovedust. "Whether digitally orby hand, work hard on your craft every day and in time you will find a style that you are comfortable with and, most importantly, enjoy doing."

05. Follow your heart

Dawn Hancock of Firebelly says: "None of us really know what the hell we're doing, but if you think with your heart and go with your gut, it will all work out in the end."

06. Lose the attitude

"My tip for a new, young designer starting their career is to lose any sense of entitlement you may have," says Steve Simmonds of weareseventeen. "Just because you've studied for three or five years doesn't mean you can come into the industry and expect it to be easy. This sounds harsh, but I get young designers all the time telling me what they are and aren't willing to do from day to day.

"You must remember that it's not just graduates fighting for their place in this industry; seasoned pros and entire companies are fighting too and good attitudes make all the difference. Be keen and enthusiastic: it goes a long way. Bread and butter work is a staple in any studio, so expect to be heavily involved in a lot of this at first. Don't expect to be working on all the bigger studio projects. This will happen in time; just approach the bread and butter stuff with bags of enthusiasm and make those projects shine unexpectedly. Do this and your rise through the ranks will be swift."

07. Stay the course

Becky Bolton of Good Wives and Warriors says: "Our general tip for people is to just try and stick with it! A creative career is going to be peppered with rejection and potentially confusing times. Without sounding too trite, it's important to try and believe in the value of your work and keep pushing through the times when you feel like quitting!"

08. Take risks

Ady Bibby of True North says: "Stand for something. Take risks. Don't be happy to merge into the mediocrity of creativity out there."

09. Only work with people you like

Designer and teacher Fred Deakin comments: "Biggest lesson: only work with people you like on projects you care about. If you take your time to make great work then eventually the money will come."


DE-BRANDING AS RE-BRANDING AND INTERNAL EQUITY (OR BRAND MYOPIA)

Strange as it may sound, some of the most important work we do does not involve building or even refreshing brands, but simply finding brands to retire.  I hesitated to use the word “simply” because it’s rarely simple. What stands between brand retirement and simplicity is that old bogeyman, Internal Equity—that and the business cultures that create and sustain it.

Internal Equity is often just a euphemism for a non-rational attachment to brands on the part of their stewards. These are typically product developers, marketers, sales personnel and managers of the P&L centers who believe they are dependent on the existence of these brands to meet required business results. The delusion is that the level of awareness and perceived value ascribed to these brands by internal stakeholders is also shared by the market.

To be sure, this is not always a case of brand myopia. Sometimes internal stakeholders do have very clear, accurate and evidential knowledge of a brand’s true worth or market value: the internal and external attachments match. But more often than not, the phenomenon of Internal Equity is rooted in phantom logic.

Such delusions are easy to come by. Saturated day in and day out by the same brand messages, names, logos and even by regular contact with the product itself, brands take on a life of their own. From there, it is easy to project value unwittingly, outwardly. The world, however, may see things quite differently (or see them not at all).

The late Wally Olins, of Wolff Olins and Saffron, sums up the issue with characteristic concision in his posthumous book, Brand New:  “How do businesses assimilate the companies and brands they acquire so that they fit comfortably into the whole without losing the characteristics for which they were acquired in the first place?’’

We might go further and ask,  should they assimilate them at all, or is it better to allow them to persist on their own, tethered to the parent by a long, thin, invisible thread, if only for a time? And with that we are in the realm of brand architecture—how to manage and deploy one’s valued strategic assets to catalyze business performance and/or achieve certain strategic ends.

What we have found in our work with clients is that quite often the majority of acquired items in a portfolio are not (nor ever have been) brands in any robust sense. They are usually mere trade names (sometimes trademarked, sometimes not). They have no marketing budget, effort or apparatus to support, manage or grow them. While they may be bought and sold by customers, they have no inherent brand equity; they are not actively marketed, advertised or otherwise promoted. They are not brands. It’s at that point of discovery that we invoke and apply one of branding’s cardinal rules:

The Brand Parsimony Principle: create and manage the smallest number of competitive brands that you can actively and effectively manage, leverage and grow.

Which brings us to the nub of the matter: how one determines—effectively and economically—whether a beloved brand truly is a brand or is a counterfeit, a mere trade name, not so well-known beyond the halls of the business it originates in. The obvious but expensive answer is to conduct formal research into what customers and prospects know, don’t know or think they know. Budget constraints often rule out this option, especially if the need is to make determinations about a large number of brands.

So, while quantitative testing, with statistically significant sample sizes, is almost always preferable, it’s also expensive. So what’s the alternative (apart from blissful self-delusion)? BrandingBusiness has developed a brand research instrument to answer the Internal Equity question.

Based on logic and experience, we have identified a set of dimensions that help us assess brand status (awareness and equity) indirectly.  To get to such a point, we do not ask for judgments, estimates or best guesses about a givenbrand’s market value, level-of-awareness or equity. Rather, we ask questions which admit of quantitative answers, along dimensions that we think can tell us something significant about brand status, things like: product history (number of years in existence), clientele (number of active customers); competition (total number of competitive products in the market); promotional support (whether or not a brand has a dedicated marketing/advertising budget or not—and how much, etc.).

We used these dimensions with success for the Process Systems (PS) division of Saint-Gobain’s global Performance Plastics business. PS designs and manufactures fluid management technology—advanced tubing, pumps, valves, manifolds, gaskets and seals—for highly specialized, often demanding applications.

Using the BrandingBusiness equity protocol, we assessed their portfolio of over 50 SKU’s and identified just four genuine brands around which the total offer could be organized, simplified and more effectively marketed and sold. In the end (or in the new beginning), we re-purposed them as functionally defined lead (line) brands, refreshed their individual identities, and assembled them into a new, more equitable and navigable architecture.


Copyright infringes are all too common, not cool to steal

This post is short and sweet to outline the fact that copyright, stealing and borrowing are all too common nowerdays that we're simply not taking the time to look at how things have been made and what sort of complexity goes into each vector you spend 2 minutes to download and slap into your mates flyer design.

someone, somewhere has taken time to create this particular vector from the stroke up, check out the Infograph below to see the final piece being dissected. 

Copyright to pixaroma.com see link below for download
Copyright to pixaroma.com see link below for download

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