Thursday, June 3, 2010

Design for the Why

Recently I watched a TED video about how great leaders inspire actions. One of the things he said really struck me about advertising. We shouldn't design for the “what” but for the “why.”

I also watched “Art & Copy” which is a movie about advertising and inspiration. As I watched it I noticed that some of the best advertising campaigns and tag lines hit the “Why?” on the mark. A couple of the ads they talk about are the 1984 Apple ad, Nike’s “Just Do It.” and “Got Milk?”

The Apple ad is a classic. Not once does it show the product in the ad but it does show the logo and introduces us to the resonating idea behind the Macintosh, a change, freedom from one system the ability for anyone to use a computer. The rest of the Apple ads hit the why also; i.e., "Think Different" and the "Get a Mac." The why of what they do is behind all their ads.

Nike’s “Just Do It.” got to the core of what they, as a company, are about. Getting people out and exercising, preferably wearing Nike shoes. There ads focused on people doing not on what they wore. At the very end of the ads they showed the shoe. In “Art & Copy” they discuss how the “Just Do It.” phrase effected people and how it gave people the courage to make a change. It motivated them to get up and do “it.”

The third slogan “Got Milk?” goes to that fear you have each morning with a bowl of cereal or in the evening with a rich slice of chocolate cake. The original ad of the guy getting the prize phone call and not being able to answer because he is out of milk hits the mark. They do mention the product but they get to the “why” of the “what.”

Too often as designers we focus on the “what” when we should be focus more on the “why.”

Low Country Gold

I'm on a BBQ competition team and every now and than I get to do some design work for it. Recently we decided to custom label a sauce and I designed the label. Projects like this are great, as I love both design and BBQ and can do my own thing. Ultimately the owner of the team has sign off so I do have to make sure my design fits his vision.

Once we decided to label a sauce we had to come up with a name. We had chosen a mustard style sauce that fit well with the low country style of the Carolinas BBQ. We suggested names to each other as we brain stormed some were decent, Carolina Gold, some not so much, Butt Juice. We finally settled on Catchafire for Q Low Country Gold.

The name sounded good and I figured the hard part was done. I was wrong.

As I approached this design I wanted it to be specific for the product but generic enough to use the design with other possible BBQ sauces, rubs and hot sauces. I also wanted the design to stand out among other sauces. Many sauces have a similar look to the label design so they don't differentiate themselves when sitting on a shelf. Buyers shop with their eyes first.

So I turned to my sketch book. I find I have better results if I work in analog before I go digital for this type of work. I also find I am working through various designs in my head too. During this project I had a brilliant idea for the label when I woke one morning. I sketched it out and then created on the computer. It didn't translate well for the look I wanted.

After a couple more days of sketching and letting the ideas percolate, it hit me. I did rough sketch of my idea so I wouldn't forget it and when I had time later I created it in the computer. At first it wasn't working for me but after looking at it and tweaking it here and there it started to coleus into what my vision was.

You may purchase a bottle of it over at the Catchafire for Q web site