A few weeks ago I got carried away and wrote a spontaneous reply to a LinkedIn post about the new Johnson&Johnson logo.
Normally, I don’t really care very much about the shape of one logo or another, but that particular project reminded me of the decades I spent designing brands, the fights I had had with clients and colleagues about why we did what we did and why it mattered that we found out what our clients really needed, not simply executed what they told us to do. I suppose I am too old for this fight now, but now and again something awakens my old rebellious spirit.
Of course I don’t know the full story, all the obstacles that are a reality when working for clients. But some of them are only excuses, and we need to remind ourselves that we don’t get hired to agree but to think different, even and especially when that is difficult.
So here is my rant on LinkedIn that started quite a wave of reactions:
I’m so fed up with marketing people running projects without acknowledging that we designers might have an idea or two about what communicates and what doesn’t. They’ve been told by tech guys and lazy designers that things have to be simplified to work on screens. This is knowledge from the 90s and not true anymore. Risk and guts have been replaced by bullshit “narratives” invented by people who’ve never taken a risk in their lives. This is the blandification of our world, where fun has to be taken out of the equation because it cannot be quantified. No consumer cares about a company’s internal reorganization, they want to like a brand. When all brands are beige, the beigest one will not win but will be forgotten. The enshittification* of our world is run by people who read spreadsheets in bed and look at their smartphones to tell the weather instead of sticking their heads out of the window.
Sometimes I’m glad I’m old and don’t have to take orders from gutless employed managers anymore. My best clients were those I could argue with. It wasn’t about winning or being right, it was about doing the best work.
Thank you Audi, Deutsche Bahn, BVG, Bosch, Ottobock, The Economist …
- *That word was coined by Cory Doctorow. Do follow him!