Stop shallow design: use the art of conversation

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Stop shallow design: start conversation

This world is swamped with content, it’s impossible to escape it. We see soulless, disconnected advertising and brands everywhere. Aesthetically they are beautiful, but they are talking to an audience that has been created through perception, over conversation. But is it the brands fault, or the big creative agencies that are swamped with work, pressure and deadlines?

We are huge advocates and adopters of a human focus for all our projects, services and relationships. We pride ourselves on empathy and conversations. However, as a small business we often come across large agencies that eat studios like us up for breakfast. But we don’t feel threatened, because we are authentic, surrounded by talented and like-minded creatives, we choose projects we fall in love with, say no to projects we don’t, and we care. This is hard to replicate in a big agency.

We recently came across this awesome blog by Martin Wiegel of Wiegel and Kennedy that we strongly relate to: ‘Escape from Fantasy. It is well worth a read for anyone looking to use their brand to authentically connect to their audience (which every business owner should strive for). Wiegel goes on to say that a lot of big players do not have the time, skill or resource to understand/speak to the clients audience, which in turn means that a lot of work created does not connect to the audience, it just looks pretty. ‘We have a generation of planners who simply do not have the skills to facilitate group discussions – and if they are talking to real people in the real world it’s invariably of the ‘quick and dirty’ kind for pitches or to prove some creative wheeze the client isn’t buying.’

We must stop relying on intuition, and get out there and have real conversations. Too many brands are being created under time pressures, meaning they are missing the connection with the audience. Agencies are promising impactful work but time to innovate, listen and come up with meaningful concepts isn’t priority; because of time constraints, large overheads and staff to keep busy. Creating work without real conversation, and on perception or personas risks disconnect with the audience. It’s time to stop saying we have ‘processes’ that work (every project is unique), stop with labels and categories, stop creating ‘personas’ based on our own experience and judgements, and stop creating for audiences that may not even exist outside of our own minds.

‘You do not understand the world of the consumer-you just understand the presentation.’ Martin Wiegel

Let’s start working from the inside out, engaging with people, and falling in love with the work, the audience and the client: start being human-centric. Get outside. Learn from people and culture. If agencies don’t start doing it, they will get left behind.

‘Journalists, documentary makers, those embedded within communities we wish to understand, artists…. they all offer us new eyes, new perspectives, and new ways of experiencing the reality of our audiences.’ Martin Weigel

Soulless advertising is contributing to global warming, consumerism, and austerity. Escape adland. Wake Up. Interact, ask questions, listen, be curious, engage the community, and create work that matters. Make people care. Make them feel part of something, or better: make them part of something. Never underestimate the power of conversation.

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