About design

Design is not advertising

I like designing things for people. I like it when people enjoy things I’ve designed: either because they enjoy the way it looks, or because they enjoy using it and get a good experience from it.

Fortunately for me, I have a job that allows me to design such things and get some enjoyment from it. Unfortunately, I also have to make ads.

I understand the need for promotion and commercialism in today’s economy, but I really don’t like it. To me, designing ads is a waste of time.

First, advertising is not made for the people, it’s not created to serve or help anyone other than the advertiser wanting more sales. Secondly, the functionality behind advertising is driven by the need to fool people into feeling like they need to obey the ad.

We all know advertising creates false needs in order to increase consumerism and feed the world’s economy as we know it. There’s no need to be naïf about it in order to understand that it is wrong. We don’t have to ignore its existence or pretend not to understand its necessity, to dislike it.

So, creating an ad campaign is painful to me. Especially because at where I work, there is a lack of distinction between a designer and an advertising person (whatever they’re called). Just because I can design a space, illustrate an idea, create an interaction, it doesn’t mean I can come up with clever ads. I’m not an advertiser, I never studied advertising or marketing, and worst of all – I couldn’t care less.

So I come up with ads, they get sent up to marketing, and shot down because they don’t fit the company’s communication. And I get pissed.

I get pissed because, obviously, marketing should have their own ad designers – preferably designers that understand advertising – and their own copywriters, and their own people to do all that stuff. Study the audience, come up with the ads that work and so on and so forth. I can design the products – I cannot sell them, to save my life.

The structure is wrong, and that’s a management mistake – nothing to do with me, really – so I understand I will continue to have to work in advertising and come up with ideas to promote products. I have to strongly resist the temptation to be honest: “look, our product’s ok, but it does crash a bit and you might want to try these other guys as well”; and I’ll have to put aside my personal hate of misused exclamation marks; and I’ll have to take deep breaths and wait and hope that one day I won’t have to make any more annoying ads, that people fight to ignore anyway.

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