We have been running a design practice, formerly creative agency, formerly design agency for fifteen years now. Our ideology and frankly our approach has never changed, at least fundamentally. So why has the way we describe ourselves? As we reflect, for us it’s about the evolving way in which things are packaged. We wouldn’t want to demonise our friends across the pond but is it why ‘films’ have become ‘movies’? Wherever these evolutions originate it is only the same as why we now ‘reach out’ rather than ‘touch base’, if we even do that any more?
It’s about semantics and labels. It’s not because we are thinking harder about audiences, market places and commercial goals than we ever were. The beautifully crafted soap ads of the 1950’s, the subscription campaigns of the second world war, and the posters bestowing the health benefits of Guinness all intelligently react to the sociology and psychology of the day, and are no less ‘strategic’ than the CGI infused, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ driven communications of today. It is just that the channels have become more complex.
This isn’t meant to scare you off the concept of ‘strategy’ – it’s fundamental to our design approach as a practice. For us however, it’s just repackaged thinking. And thinking is good – if someone tells you thinking is overrated in the creative process, leave immediately and report them to a governing body (is there one?). For us, however, how front and centre the ‘s’ word is, or indeed whether it is present or absent at all is to a large degree irrelevant. There are some amazing ‘brand strategy agencies’, and some equally brilliant ‘design studios’. Just dive deep into understanding them, what they do and how they do it. Take nothing at face value. And look at their work. The value of instinct and creative brilliance very much remains.
The one thing, and this is an important one, that you should be scared of, is when ‘strategy’ is a distinct department to ‘design’. If slightly over simplistic, we have long proffered they are one and the same. Good design is ‘strategic’ and ‘strategy’ in the creative sense at least is of limited value until it is applied verbally or visualised, er, visually. When these two fundamental components are siloed at best the potential of a project isn’t realised, at worst there is a total disconnect.
So this is why we confidently and we think correctly describe ourselves as a design practice. Click here for more about how we work as a practice or email firstname.lastname@example.org to debate further. At the very least give it some thought, sorry, strategise it, at your leisure.