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Am I Smarter Than A Four-Year-Old?

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“What do you do?” It’s a question I often hear and it’s somehow one I’m still often stumped by. Any time I meet someone new, one of the first questions I hear is one about my job. I typically say “I work at Showcase Marketing as a Brand Developer” or “…I’m a Graphic Designer.” Upon saying that, the other person will either nod their head in acceptance or follow up with another question, “So what is Brand Development?” Every time I hear this I’m reminded of my professor from my Branding class who explained that as designers, we “strive to make the intangible tangible”. While that is a great way to explain it, it’s not the most accessible or validating description for a client who only cares about ROI; or someone at a party who could care less about the intellectual, seemingly contradictory job description, but more about the free snacks in the corner of the room.

“I use colours, letters and pictures to help people understand things.” -Dean Vipond of Dean Vipond Brand & Interaction Design

WHAT!? That’s the most concise description of my job I’ve ever read! How did this designer achieve the seemingly impossible? How was he able to say, in the most simple way, what every designer’s ultimate goal is? How long did it take him to come up with this sentence? How is he so poetic?

If you want to read a description about design and why it’s so important, in a simple, easy-to-understand breakdown (so easy even four-year-olds can understand), take a look at  Explaining graphic design to four-year-olds, on medium.com. The coolest part about this article was how well the children in this classroom were able to understand exactly what the purpose of design is and how they were then able to turn around and design something themselves.ok

The author of the article goes on to say “…for someone who specializes in explaining things to a target audience…it took me doing a talk to children, to force me to confront my own profession, and explain its value in clear terms.”

Sometimes, as designers, we have to take a step back and evaluate what we are trying to say in clear terms. The hardest part about design communication is that designers are given boatloads of information to whittle down into a sharp tool that can cut through the media overload and stand out among the overcrowded sea of countless logos, print design, digital marketing, billboards, websites and more. We have to confront the judgemental nature of the audience, stand out without becoming an anomaly, and be innovative while still remaining relevant.

What if this guy is on to something? What if confronting my own profession and the goal of design as a whole might very well be the most valuable tool I have in my toolbelt? What if it is just that simple?

It makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Most days, it makes mine spin too. So much so, that when I get home, all I want to do is curl up into an introverted ball on the couch, and watch HOURS of television shows of other people exhausting their own mental energy into renovating dilapidated houses or becoming the next MasterChef.

Despite the hard work, the most awesome part about being a creative is that these sort of daily challenges spark a fire inside of my brain that drives me to continually attempt to solve the unsolvable, to simplify the complicated and to “make the intangible tangible.”

So what do we do, you ask? Here’s how we like to put it at Showcase Marketing: We turn great companies into unforgettable brands.