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Let’s Just Be Friends!

There has always been the proverbial line in the sand that has divided the
advertising strategists from the designers.

For some, the line is more visible
than for others; but regardless, there has always been this underlying struggle
between the two.

Off
the bat, everyone wants to divide the two into their separate parts. Graphic
design is thought of as a composition of elements played out through the use of
color, typography, imagery, shapes and patterns. Advertising strategy, on the
other hand, is the message that positions a service or product to a consumer or
business and is rooted in a marketing strategy with a definitive objective. So
the question remains, which discipline takes the reins when it comes to tapping
into the human emotion: the visual appearance or the message itself?

This
has been debated as industry professionals and researchers seek to better
understand the purchasing habits of consumers. The position that an ad’s
message gives it its persuasive power has been challenged by studies that show
that building strong relationships between the consumer and the brand require
more focus on the emotional and creative side rather than a rational message of
features and benefits.

Such studies
aside, we can look at the idea of form and function in other areas. Look around
the room where you are sitting and the chair or couch you are sitting on. The
design of that chair is representative of form. Comfortable or not, that chair
was designed to fit the style of a particular room and have a certain aesthetic
appeal. The function is serving its purpose in keeping you off the floor; keeping
you comfortable is its second functionary ? whether or not that is working is
decided by you. Regardless, the idea is to combine form and function to achieve
a common goal: appealing to your emotion and sense of design and maintaining its
objective of keeping you off the floor and hopefully comfortable.

So
why can’t it be like that in advertising? Why can’t designers just shake hands
with the advertising strategists and just be “friends”? The truth is that one group
can’t live without the other. A simple look at form and function, as elementary
as it may be, carries with it significant weight. Design for the sake of design
is pretty, but doesn’t have the legs to stand on. Initial emotional connection
may be achieved, but maintaining an open line of communication is where visual
design alone falls short. The message can build upon the relationship initially
established by the overall appeal. So, before I start sounding like a dating
coach, let’s just say that one can’t work effectively without the other. Designers
should stop complaining about good design being sacrificed for the sake of the
message and advertising strategists can accept the fact that without solid
design, the delivery of the message falls short.

Having been in the advertising business
for many years now, I have seen the success when the two disciplines of
advertising strategy and design work together. With creativity establishing the
brand platform and advertising strategy beginning the line of communication,
this can be a comfortable marriage . . . if we can keep our egos in check.

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Working Together

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