Traditional graphic designers, endangered species of modern day

fossils pattern designIn the beginning businesswo/men created products and services, but unfortunately, on the seventh day they couldn’t rest.

They had to find means to sell their products.

And at the core of the tools employed to move their products off the shelves, lied the expertise to; attract attention, present content and to persuade, using visuals — the bread-and-butter of a graphic designer.

Amongst other disciplines, design was used and products moved.

As times progressed, the number of businesses competing for the same customers increased, immensely. Prior to that, a company would win a sale purely based on proximity or price. Until these two ‘USP’ lost their effectiveness, as more and more businesses got easily accessible and a lot cheaper.

It then became very hard for companies to preach a valid reason as to why a customer’s sale should fall on their side of the fence. Out of that inevitable business challenge was born a discipline that now rewards those that invest in it, branding.
Branding gives people reasons other than price and proximity, to buy from company x instead of company y and company z.

Graphic design played, and still do, a critical role in moving products off the shelves. Through their expertise, graphic designers created things like logos for products identification, packaging and marketing materials to help sell the products.

Before branding gained momentum as a discipline, graphic designers where only required to focus solely on layout, typography, colour reproduction ect. But things have changed and approaching graphic design with a mindset of yesteryears prove futile.
Today, consumers people’s purchasing and choice of brands are driven by branding not design.

Though, thingss like a product’s packaging can attract a prospect buyer’s attention, it’s rare that the person would buy the product because of the great use and choice of typography and colours on the package.

Graphic design that is solely focused on the beauty of the layout is becoming more and more useless for businesses, esp. those whose competitors have a sound branding strategy in place.

This only means one thing, the creators of such designs pretty pictures’ days are numbered. Not that I’m trying to play prophet, but, in this day and age markets dictates that graphic design be driven by a branding strategy.

Graphic design is not only required to communicate and present content, it is now also expected, through branding know-how, to articulate brands.
Without branding and a brand strategy at the core of a business/plan, graphic design is nothing but meaningless decoration.

The ignorance of branding was shown by the vast number of graphic designers whose criticism on Pick ‘n Pay‘s rebranding efforts,  was solely focused on the beauty (or lack thereof) of the brand visual identity.

It was hard to come by commentary that mentioned (whether praise or criticism) the marriage between Pick ‘n Pay’s new branding strategy and their attempt to articulate the strategy visually, through design.

In the context of consumer goods, graphic design that isn’t backed with a solid brand strategy is fruitless.

(By the way, rebranding goes way deeper than just redesigning a logo.)





  • Kyle Rolfe Said:

    This is a great article, I 100% agree with everything you have said strategy should determine creative not the other way round!
    — On April 27th, 2010 at 9:27 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Kyle Rolfe,

    Well said. The challenge, however, is that that makes it almost impossible to credit design where it’s due.

    But a good strategy will, without doubt, get suffocated should a brand attempt to articulate it by inferior design.
    — On April 28th, 2010 at 1:45 pm [permarlink]
  • Luvuyo Booi Said:

    The one thing that got me to the bottom of this article was the words “simplicity addict!” It brought sanity to my perceived insanity regarding simplicity. How I wish chance-takers could read this article and hope that they can decipher the teaching herein.

    Graphic (not Crapic) Designers should also understand that it is our duty to teach our clients about such things as branding, branding strategy/ development thereof, marketing options etc. as these are the structural bones of any business’s face…Thanx 4 da informative article. Just in case you wondered, my website is under construction. Thanx.
    — On May 24th, 2010 at 2:39 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Luvuyo Booi,

    The pleasure is all mine. Thanks for stopping by, and sharing your points of view. Please do let me know when your website goes live.
    — On May 24th, 2010 at 8:56 pm [permarlink]

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