Since we have the tendency to follow the Americans at many levels, if we were to go by the Cambridge dictionary of American English, ‘Design’ as a noun informally refers to a plan for the construction of an object (as in architectural blueprint, circuit diagrams and sewing patterns) while “to design” (verb) refers to making this plan. And as per the same dictionary, advertising is an example of a vital design discipline known as ‘Communication Design’. But even the lexicographers would agree that design doesn’t have any specific definition.
It would be safe to say that design is the language that communication must speak, and if communication is an expression, design is the language. While a general mindset looks at design as something separate from communication, but, as a matter of fact, design is a universe in itself, and communication is just a subset of it. Design gives a sense of stature to an advertisement Did you ever notice that design is the fundamental element of anything you communicate! Every commercial advertisement contains more than one aspect of design.
The name of the brand is a part of the ‘nomenclature design’. The content in it is actually designed in a way that it looks beautiful, so that when you see a headline, you just don’t see words, but beautifully written words designed in a manner that they catch your attention. And hence we call it ‘content design’. To incorporate a human being endorsing the brand there would be ‘casting design’, to fashion them in a certain way, you will have ‘costume design’ and to ensure a free flowing sensible script, there will be a ‘script design’.
Last but definitely not the least, the overall look of the commercial would be controlled by visual graphics or ‘visual design’. Take for instance the advert for any juice brand. It’s name is designed in a certain way to communicate the USP of that brand like Real Juice means the juice is real and not artificial, or Tropicana, implying it contains fruits from the far tropics. Then if you look at the way the packaging is done, putting fresh fruits on the packet, with fresh leaves on which the drew drops have still settled, all of this is not just to take you to the dream world of erstwhile years.
It is done to communicate purity and that the juice is made of natural fruits. Now the words which are referred to as the tagline are also well designed; designed in order to communicate that the brand only thrives on what it claims and aspires to achieve customer’s trust while he watches/reads the ad. Design is born out of need Can design skills be acquired or taught? Is it essential in our country, to be an NID (National Institute of Design) or an Art school pass-out, to be an impeccable designer? There might be diverging views on this subject.
Here’s a thought. A Steve Jobs can be called a designer for he created fantastic design using technology and created a marvel as far as product designing is concerned. But he never went to an NID, he never could finish graduation, as a matter of fact! Kurup feels, “It’s not that you have to go to an Art School, you need to be an inventor. You might be a techno-wiz, you can be a fantastic thinker. You can acquire art skills, technical skills can be learnt, but design is something that completely comes from the school of hard knocks, designing is born out of need”
The way we establish a better understanding of design, we realise that it is all pervasive in advertising. But everything that cannot be ignored may not necessarily be worthy of discussing at length as well. So, what more has ‘design’ to offer that would make it a subject worthy of serious discussion amongst arrays of the ad world? Design is a simple aesthetic solution to a problem “At every level of solution”, says Raj Kurup, Creative Chairman, Creativeland Asia, “design is imperative in the name of any action taken to solve a particular problem. Look at every object of use around you, you needed something to write, someone designed a pen, and then someone fine tuned it to make it more aesthetic, that’s called advanced design. You wanted people to stop spitting on walls, you designed a concept of painting God’s picture on walls so that people deter themselves from spitting on walls because in their psyche they will be spitting on God. That’s an excellent paradigm of behavioural design. John C. Jay, Global Executive Director, Wieden+Kennedy says, “I started as a designer, I went to a school that was very Swiss in design philosophy.
But one great thing they taught me was how to think about a problem. I was never just allowed to do something I felt, I had to think through, articulate, do adequate research ;amp; then reach for a solution. It’s all design. ” And if ‘Design’, the element, was that insignificant, it couldn’t have possibly influenced behaviours to this extent. So that makes it a discipline worth celebrating, finally! Design ;amp; the Globe If we take cue from the globe’s perspective on design, design is understood from the point of view of bettering something.
Take for example Scandinavia, where some of the better designers come from. They aim at making everything more ergonomic, a chair is made more ergonomic, or a keyboard is made more ergonomic, not just to make it look good but to make it more convenient, to solve the certain problems for the betterment of the society. Infact Design organisations in London account for 2. 5% of UK’s GDP. Design in the world has grown in the same way as the design of Apple’s first Macintosh PC has transformed to this day’s Apple iPad. “Globally design has become much more sleek, brighter, and definitely more savvy”, adds Kurup.
To this, John Jay adds, “Design is not about getting high on a psychedelic drug, it is a serious science. It is not just pure art or something meant to exercise for the sake of pleasure because it is aesthetic. It is a bloody science to solve a problem in the society. ” Design ;amp; India : Misnomers ;amp; Myopias By now, it is evident that design is an integral part of advertising. But when it comes to our own country’s ad world, many a myths prevail. Kurup entails on one of them and states, “ We think design is purely adding an aesthetic value which is a misnomer.
Even when you are making a flyover, we would make it first and then think of adorning it, but that’s not the right way of doing things. Design is when you start with the idea of making a flyover, you figure out how am I going to circumvent the ecological imbalance it could cause, how can I make sure that the traffic goes correctly, and then it’s a bonus that the flyover also looks beautiful”. There is a perception that the part of making the flyover is construction, but making it look good is design. Similarly in advertising parlance, the ogo is considered a part of design, but when it comes to an ad in its totality, it is termed as layout. Purely a question of semantics, but if you look at it through design’s point of view, communication becomes a lot more interesting. In the same context, Jay adds, “I read a book called Quintessence – the quality of having ‘it’. It talks about the design of objects that are quintessential, things more than simply classic, that have the ‘it’. I’m sure India also has that certain quality ‘it’ in its culture. It might not necessarily be hi-design but it has that sensibility to it that makes it so valuable emotionally as well as physically”.
For decades altogether, advertising has blissfully overlooked the element of design in its debates & discussions, probably because as Shoumitra Rai Choudhary, National Creative Director, Madison Communication puts it, “Design has become a different category now, even in award ceremonies, an agency’s design efforts would be awarded in a separate genre”. But isn’t the design team a part of the creative team? Amitava Mitra, COO (North), Percept H, believes, “In today’s world of clutter, design becomes a rather critical element to get attention.
Most clients first look whether an ad stands out or not and the core design element is what makes it stand out”. What is Overdone ;amp; what needs to be done On an emphatic note, Kurup feels that the biggest problem with the designers in India is that they are very myopic. “Most of them have no clue what design is. They have gone to design school, they believe in having a particular kind of haircut, wear a particular kind of dress, sit and talk in a particular way and have a particular lifestyle and they think that that’s what makes them designers”.
He adds that some of the best designers in the world have not been celebrated at all. The inventors of the most complex machines are fabulous, the guy who invented a car is a designer, the guy who invented a pen is a designer, the guy who invented a mobile phone is a designer. But he never had long hair, or 52,000 piercing and did not believe that I will only look at aesthetics and I will change my sexual orientation to be a designer, which he thinks,happens quite often these days. He also mentions that designers are trying to typecast themselves saying that we are a completely different breed, but they represent only . 002% of the design world, because everything in this world is design. “ Going to an art school doesn’t make you a designer, solving a problem by using your skill sets is what makes you a designer. Just understanding of colours makes you a more aesthetic person, or a painter, but that doesn’t make you a designer. A designer must be able to solve a functional problem in the most aesthetic way, and if you cannot do that, then there’s a problem, and most people in our country are clueless as far as this is concerned”, he further adds.
Though one shouldn’t miss the rising opportunities in the stream of design. Today when people go out to buy a house, they look at something which is more functional, more aesthetic and hence make way for all the better design elements. But the fact remains that there might be too much focus on aesthetics, in the name of design. Functionality has taken a back seat and the creatives might be seen pushing for aesthetics. And that’s simply the reason why such a critical element is still recondite and not everyone realises its significance.
If you are going to get carried away by the functionality, that’s wrong, if you are going to get carried away by the aesthetics of it, that’s wrong again. Balance can only be maintained if you are absolutely honest to a solution. If you look at design as a science, and not just an aesthetic element, probably design might get its due. And that it should, because if vital elements are not given a forum for discussion, it curbs the chances of exploring further realms and thus stuns growth after certain time. In the business of marketing creativity, this would be too much of a risk to take.