Monday, March 2, 2009

Recession Proof Design

A Time to Sink or Shine

The more I read about about this crunchy recession (which to be frank its hard not to) and previous ones, the more and more it starts to sound like an unavoidable natural economic process (with the unavoidable part stemming from the predictability of human greed). Companies slowly charge more and more, companies get bigger and then bigger through growth, but growth eventually has to stop due to resource mismanagement. One companies domino knocks over another, and another and it's all reset to ground zero. Its a like an earthquake waiting to happen with pressure building up at the faultline then BOOM, a seismic 7.8 on the rictor scale, everything flattened.

However.. for smaller studios as ourselves it can be a time of fruitful endeavor.. let me explain... Lets say the average budget for Joe Bloggs project is say £100K, he normally goes to CompanyX for his design needs. CompanyX is ten years old and has managed over that time to command a hefty fee for its works based on its track record. They are probably over charging a little but they have the portfolio to warrant that. Wallop, along comes a recession, Joe Bloggs marketing budget gets slashed into a skinny wedge. CompanyX is so used to charging 100K they cant even think of backing down to 50K ESPECIALLY in such a short space of time, they dont have time to adapt, backing down too quicky may show cracks in their previous pricing and they have racked up such overheads they CANNOT afford to drop their prices too much. So CompanyX cannot respond, they lose most of their clients and the gravy train days are over, by not willing to (and not being able to) lower their costs they commit business suicide by lack of choice. By the time they realize what has happened they have probably dismissed most of their staff. They do well to survive if they can but the clock is reset. This is where the lower run studios can then jump into those still warm shoes (Lets call them DesignInc here). Whereas a budget cut for CompanyX from 100K per project to 50K per project may be unbearable, for the smaller studios its actually an increase from maybe 20K (this is especially relevant as a Nottingham based studio touting for London work). Here both parties are happy, DesignInc now get all the work and even though Joe Bloggs budget has decreased they get more work than they did with CompanyX because DesignInc is getting paid more than they usually do. And thus the cycle begins again... DesignInc then start employing staff, expanding etc etc etc.

The point is times of recession are in many ways unavoidable and in many ways necessary (new tech sweeps in as does different process and thinking in the newer companies). The recession can actually serve as much as a purpose as a natural forest fire (thousands of tree perish but its actually a much needed process to naturally revitalise the soil, split the new seeds open and start anew). The businesses existing within recession act within darwinian rules of survival of the fittest, ie those that can adapt win, the dinosaurs die. Recession can be a time of positivity for smaller businesses who have a chance to step up and shine.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bill Hicks - Advertising - Back on Letterman?

Persuasive Communicators in Consumer Culture

After hearing about Bill Hicks originally censored routine reappearing on Letterman 15 years too late I was reminded of an old Hicks routine which plays forever on loop in the collective designer conscience (play the video above). As designers we have an intrinsic need to make 'things' look better. The way we make a living is by people and companies paying us to make their 'things' look better. They want them to look better so they can sell more of their 'things'. As graphic designers we are not changing or improving the function of the product most of the time. Usually the companies with the most money get to make their "things" look better than the other "things" which are actually exactly the same or worse. Hence the designer must live with conscience beater that we are part of the problem of pulling the wool over peoples eyes and not the solution. There are ways round this.. ethical client vetting. This would involve a battle with greed though for many as the paycheck would be so big the lean to say yes would be so great. It would be hard battling a conscience that essentially tells you if you don’t do it someone else will! Is this excusable? Who knows? I can tell you now I wouldn’t do it but then I haven’t had that 12 kilo gold carrot dangled in front of me.... yet. Until that point I cannot really judge anyone else. As of yet we have not worked with any unethical companies but we know the time will come and a decision will have to be made. The compromise we make is to try to balance our work of working for small companies with large companies, 50/50. Experimental with the corporate. To feed our bellies as well as our souls.

Another solution?… no design. A sort of tesco value packaging for all so visually all businesses are on a level playing field and only judged on their products merits and value. What would a world like this look like? Very bland indeed. People would actually be more confused as the reality is people like to be told what to buy rather than think what they actually need, it takes less thought. So all we ask of you is to be aware of imagery that you know is targeted at you, look past the packaging.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Designers Republic - TDR RIP

The King is Dead Long Live the King

Its sad news that one of the uks (if not the worlds) most innovative graphics studios has ceased to exist. The recession has taken a victim in the form of a much loved and often imitated visual powerhouse. You may retrospectively go look them up and you may even think some of their work looks a little passe, but the only reason you would think that is nearly every other design house has plagerised and aped their work so ferociously (consciously or not) its hard to recognise they were the true innovators. Sorely missed, forever remembered, often copied.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Itunes Graphic Design Surprise

Our Artwork Ends up on ITunes Front Page

...that is if you have very good eyesight. But still we were pleased when our contact at Paper Records got in touch to tell us the good news. Happy accidents like this are good exposure as it was up there a week and considering the millions of hits per day it gets maybe just a few peeps might even have a butchers. Click to see the cover artwork.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Le Book Design Connections, London

Its Good to Talk

Over the last few months we have realised nothing is better for getting new clients than face to face contact. Connections by Le Book was our first real networking event and one made purely for "creatives". I suppose from the start its going to be hard for a smaller studio like our own to break through based purely on the fact we dont have a 6 figure bank balance to afford our own stand. However even if we had, the very mood of Le Book was one of niche and that niche was photography. Unless you were mixing in the circles of fashion photography your footfall here was a little redundant. Yes we did meet a few graphics people and yes even a few motion based but most were phased by us trying to sell them something rather than the other way round. I would like to see this event become more diverse in its future years. However the business cards are in and the "connections" are made so maybe the next few weeks may prove me wrong.
As well as writing this blog you are looking at we also run a design studio. We produce graphic design, web design, motion graphics and video. If you would like to work with us visit our website by clicking below, get in touch

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