As we live in a society where ‘always-on’ is more than just a buzzword, brands can’t afford to bore people. People will only listen to you if you deliver a great experience, and as a brand you have to speak to their needs, their experiences and their humanity. You need to put yourself in their shoes: what do they love and hate? By doing so, you stand a better chance of getting them involved in your message and making them feel moved.
Our point of view is that brands can achieve this with stories and brand expressions that add value and make meaningful connections. Putting out good creative concepts and authentic execution has never been more important. In other words: design matters more than ever. But how do you recognise ‘good’ or ‘great’ design that stands the test of time and moves people?
‘Good’ is a relative understanding. It is subject to cultural behaviour, personal experiences and trends. But we all want what’s good in our opinion. And for most of us, this is no different in creative (digital) work as we are always striving to get the best results, develop a defying concept and create that next jaw-dropping design. As a result, we naturally prefer to work with clients who strive for that same level of greatness. But how do we define what is ‘good’, let alone great, moving, inspiring or lasting? Well, we do this by rationalising our design intentions.
“How do we define what is good design? What characteristics can we identify and how do we put them into practice?”
By setting up a creative framework, we define the keys to produce inspiring, resonant work and — most importantly — add real value to a brand's audience. It is therefore more than just an aspirational goal. A creative framework is like a compass. It will guide work, giving it an authentic and distinctive signature, and help steer creatives towards the right quality level and, hopefully, some unexpected outcomes.
At iO, we believe that creativity affects and inspires audiences. It influences their emotions and actions. For Verno, iO instilled the passion for artisan framing with ‘Framed with love’, allowing the brand to express its passion and craftsmanship as well as converting people into loyal customers. Another example: with Largo’s website, we crafted an innovative approach to the travel industry by focusing on a luxurious personal experience through storytelling, brand expression, and conversion.
1. Audience — Create for context
A creative idea or a design style is more significant and more powerful if it has an emotional connection or a certain relevance to what is happening in people’s lives. The things we make and design shape the look and feel of every single customer’s journey. So it’s a designer’s duty to make sure that the world they create is aligned with the expectations, preferences, and lives of its users.
2. Commitment — Drive value
The best part about being in a strategic and creative position is that you are in the confluence of art and commerce. In a business challenge, you must find a balance between creativity and business acumen. The work is based on insights, needs and questions that are specific to the end-user and the business objectives of our clients.
3. Execution — Guard authenticity and artistry
In these times of information overload, it is important to be distinctive and emphasise the recognisability of a brand experience. Integrating artistry into our work is necessary to guarantee an authentic experience of our products. It is our weapon against sameness and the marginalisation of design.
4. Motivation — Try to break some rules
Your work stands a better chance of getting noticed if you are able to break with conventions. Not with contempt, but by thoughtfully and critically reassessing conventions of the industries we work in. When we manage to break a rule, we can force a brand's notability.
5. Ethics — Don’t do it by yourself
Creativity often happens in teams, as everyone in their own right is creative. People — be it designers, strategists, copywriters or janitors — inspire each other and come up with different insights and perspectives. They keep each other accountable and support each other. This ultimately results in ideas that no one could have created on their own.
Has your brand a lot to offer and is it time the world notices it? At iO, we’re here to supply you with research, brand strategies, experience building and relationship engagement. Our experts will shine a light on your brand and yours truly.
While the creative principles above don’t always have to be apparent to create the best work, good digital design cannot exist without incorporating them to some extent. Once you have defined your philosophy, you can start using it as a compass for good design. It can even guide you in finding the star players that will help you execute on it. In any case, a creative framework will help guide you to your next level of beautiful and relevant creative work.
Having a creative framework may help steer your work, services, products and business towards greater heights. But applying it, motivating and inspiring the people who execute on it should not be overlooked. Creating an environment of excellence and the right creative mentality is essential to produce that next amazing piece of work.
Calling himself a maker most of all, Sander loves life on the front lines of any project. Whatever you build, it has to invoke genuine feelings and entice the senses - next to kicking ass, on-brand. Wisdom the iO floor often gets from Sander, usually right after solving another client puzzle.