Design And The Marketplace

On Friday we had the first lecture for our Design And The Marketplace module, with Mike Press. It was for the most part an introductory lecture, but a fair few really important and key points were made. Last semester my Advertising & Branding module put a design studio’s output into context, making you think about what a client or potential client needs, how to treat your approach to concepts, advertising and corporate identity. This module feels like it looks in the opposite direction, more of an internal view of a design company. It focuses on how to go about getting business, doing business, and the manner in which all of this happens.

We got a good lengthy list of suggested reading, one of which was the Fast Company, a website and online publication which focuses on design and business, often linking the two. I was particularly impressed and interested by this recent piece on providing services versus providing products. It’s very much one-sided, but has an interesting attitude.

Jan 20th - FastCo

Courtesy of Fast Company. Read the article here.


Overall the writer tries to emphasise the importance of one’s attitude to what they give the customer. For example, you don’t buy Cadbury’s because they make chocolate, or are a family favourite. You buy it because it tastes (addictively) delicious. People don’t buy the product, they buy what it provides. The writer then jumps to this making services a more viable way to conduct business. Charge people for the result or benefit of the product rather than the product itself.

However, design is all about creating products. Through a service. So it’s a complicated grey area that seems to dodge the article’s focus. It seems to cover both areas. If you were to follow the advice of the article it would feel incredibly risky on if you would get assured payment. The example in the article of Rolls Royce charging companies for how much flying time their engine does is a stroke of genius, a promise to the company buying it, but also relatively reassured pay for Rolls. If they give an airline an engine of course it will fly, and they’ll consequently get reimbursed. Design on the other hand is trickier to measure. What is needs to achieve depends entirely on the client. Overall it should spread awareness and boost their revenue. Yet professionals warn us young un’s that accepted a pay cut is a classic client trap.

So it’s maybe worth revising what a rebrand should achieve, summing it up in its purest form. But that’s a pretty big task. I think I’ll mull it over.

Courtesy of FormFiftyFive

Additionally we have to, in groups, find companies we’d like to investigate, interview them, see how they conduct themselves professional and approach promoting themselves. However graphic design is a broad area to try and approach. One suggestion I might make is FormFiftyFive, a blog based here in Scotland, started up by graduates from Duncan Of Jordanstone, I believe. It’s become incredibly successful, gaining dozens of thousands of subscribers and interviews with design giants like Erik Speikermann. They feature a broad variety of design on their site and may have insight into current professional trends.

However, they are most likely inundated with people wanting to be featured, promoted or to have their say. Anyone worth approaching may take some effort to get the attention of, as last semester an illustration group created a lovely video which caught the attention of LittleWhiteLies publishers Church Of London. We might as well get a few interviews worth. You’ll indefinitely find them crop up here as we go. But I’ll keep you updated.

Listening to: Steede Bonnet by Tarentel


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