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Simple Design is Hard

Brand, Creativity, Ideation Comments (4)

“I want it clean, simple, and professional.”

“It doesn’t have to be complex. Make is simple.”

“I want something that is simple and memorable.”

“Just spend a few hours on it. Nothing too complex.”

Yes, most people seeking new design work want it simple. I don’t blame them. Many of the great design work created by leading brands like Apple, Target, and Starbucks are simple. Why wouldn’t you want design that it remarkable (i.e., worth talking about)?

Here’s the catch…

Most of these brands have spent significant time and resources to create their design direction. It’s hard work to make something simple and remarkable. This is where there’s often a disconnect between a client seeking design work and a creative. The common presupposition is that simple means that the design is easier to create and/or that it will be quickly delivered. It’s actually quite the contrary.

Capturing the essence of a brand, campaign, or product through design is a intentional process that takes time to deliver. It requires comprehensive assessment, exploration, strategy, and creative integrity. Good design strips away the non-essential clutter that often attaches itself to creative work. Finding simplicity in our designs requires us to “de-sign” the unnecessary.

But I need it now!

I completely understand. You want it yesterday. Sorry, that’s not realistic if you want something remarkable. I’m not saying it’s going to take years, but it will take time to develop something that will rightly capture your brand. Good design is birthed out a clear sense of a company’s brand. If you don’t have a clear sense of your brand, your design work will be hit and miss. You will find yourself a the mercy of a creative or you will find yourself frustrating your creative(s) working on your design. Yes, branding and designing are not the same thing. A good brand provides guidance and creates a less subjective environment for design. [Search for “brand” on this blog for some other posts about branding.]

Want simple design? It’s going to take hard work. Nevertheless, it will create long term benefit for your endeavors including clarity of identity, more intuitive communication, and sparking memorable conversations. If you’re looking for a creative to work on design, be sure to find someone who gets this and will offer you a creative process that gives your project the attention it needs for long-term impact.


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» Brand, Creativity, Ideation » Simple Design is Hard
On October 10, 2012
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4 Responses to Simple Design is Hard

  1. Josh says:

    Reminds me of Pascal’s quote that’s something like “I wanted to make this letter shorter, but I didn’t have time”.


  2. Kyle Reed says:

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

    Reminds me of what my boss says, “we can do it fast, great and cheap, but you can only pick two of those”

    He has started saying that in our organization and it has helped people see the process.

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