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I, Red Dog

Sep 11, 2020

Posted in

Studio Updates


In recent decades, given the pace of technological advancement, the creative industries have been transformed. And right now, as we all battle through Covid and its effect on business we think now's a good time to talk about it.

When I set up my agency 25 years ago, we had no internet, email, mobile phones, colour printers – can you imagine?!

Back then, if we were designing an annual report for a client, we would have to courier the hard copy to the client, and then wait for them to review it, compile their feedback, and courier it back to us. We would then make their requested edits and repeat the process. There was a lot of money spent on couriers in the 90s!

If we were presenting logo ideas to a client, we would need to have all the mock-ups produced in hard copy and, as we had no colour printer (colour printers were the size of a small car back then!), we were reliant on sending discs to our suppliers for our colour prints. We still have stress-inducing memories of rushing to printers at 2 am the night before an important pitch to finish our mock-ups. Now, we can email PDFs to a client instantly and present a new brand concept to clients here or overseas via video-conferencing.

In many ways, technological advancements have also democratised design, and anyone with a phone and an editing software app can produce something. At a slightly more advanced level, there's also a whole range of graphic design websites that allow you to design a logo, create an infographic, or add some style to a corporate presentation. One such website, Canva, has over 10 million users.

While these DIY design sites can be very effective at creating simple invites for your child's birthday party or posters for your community fundraiser, I believe they will never replace the skill and creativity of the human brain. Sure, you can go online this second and choose your preferred font type and colour palette – but do they communicate what your brand does and who you are? And will your DIY logo last the distance, or will your company outgrow it in six months?

To develop a truly memorable visual identity for your organisation or brand, you cannot beat the training, insights and expertise of a professional creative team. You might be thinking: "well – you would say that, Mary", and you're right – but here's why.

Technology has helped speed things up, and simplify some creative processes, but it cannot yet conceive an idea, design a distinctive brand mark or layout a high-concept annual report. It cannot create a relevant name for a company – or a tagline. It cannot dig deep and define a brand's purpose.

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We work with a lot of companies that are going through rebrands – and every rebrand project we embark on begins with conversations. We speak to the client, their staff and customers about who they are and who they want to be. These conversations result in a document with recommendations for company positioning, brand values, and the most crucial piece – the Brand Purpose. This is the lynchpin: it communicates the reason an organisation exists beyond making money.

The beauty of developing a relationship with a professional graphic designer or creative agency is collaboration. Collaboration is sometimes an overused word in business, but it's something I feel passionately about. A good agency gets to know you, your team, and your brand. You can bounce ideas off them – whether design-related or not – and they'll advise you on what will and won't work.

You won't get that with a machine.

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I hope you don't think I'm some sort of Luddite, going around claiming that 'it was all better in the old days', I wholeheartedly embrace technology – after all, if we hadn't adapted to changes over the years, we wouldn't still be here. I'm grateful for how it's made parts of my working life easier and, as things continue to move at a fantastic pace, I look forward to seeing what other advances will emerge in the coming years.

I read an article in the Guardian recently that was entirely written by a robot. In it, our correspondent claimed it has no desire to wipe out humans and wants us all to get along. I feel the same way about robots. Technology has changed so much in 25 years, and the mind boggles reading about the role robots will play in our lives in 2050. But no computer or robot will ever match the personality, instincts and insights of a trained creative professional.

Besides, even if they could, they'd never be able to get up the steps to our front door!