One of my clients once said that they literally thought I was going crazy when I presented the first sketch round for their event rebranding. This particular part of the branding and design process is my favourite. It takes courage to leap to the unknown and design the future today. That’s definitely not an easy thing to do but when it happens, it’s so worth it.
Almost every client starts the brief by saying that we want something unseen, something outside-of-the-box, something absolutely mind-blowing. But when that mind-blowing, outside-of-the-box is presented, almost as many backs up and starts to hesitate.
“Is this a bit too much?”
“We are not sure about this, it seems a bit odd.” “Maybe we should do more similar than we used to do?” “Can you make it a bit less intimidating?”
When we see something for the first time, it looks different than when seen again. Human brain loves similarity and comfort and tries to avoid the odd by default. (It might be dangerous, yells the caveman inside your head!) Repetition and time help the brain to adjust. Good example are all those trends that look so odd at first but the more we see it, the more we get used to it and eventually it becomes mainstream and normal.
After several sketch rounds, also the client got used to the odd design and we continued to develop it further. Still, just before the final launch of the website we have been working for weeks, there was some hesitation. What if people think that this is too much? What if they think we all are crazy?
Focus on the future
Yes, it is too much, that’s the point of outside-of-the-box design. Yes, it’s scary but that’s part of the process. If I design something that looks nice and familiar today, it will look already seen and old tomorrow let alone next week, month or year. The design process itself already takes months before the whole thing is even launched so we really need to focus on the future and not be stuck in this particular day.
Horrible or genius?
For the client I told that if someone really thinks it’s crazy, it’s only because we actually managed to do something really hard. To design the unseen. After the launch we got a massive amount of great feedback. One I still cherish after all these years is the guy who told me that he was struggling to tell if the design was absolutely horrible or absolutely genius. And that is exactly the place where I want to stand as an Art Director and a designer. Right on that sweet spot between those two.
Where do you want to stand?