The Intersectionist

A blog about the intersection of design and everything else

Month: December, 2010

Why crowdsourcing creative projects doesn’t work (and crowdfunding does)

I don’t think I can say it better than Maria Popova does here.



Everyone wants a brand these days. It’s usually thought of as your visual identity—the “look and feel” your customers judge you by. Or, a brand is equated with a logo. Just slap it on your products, and you’re legit.

But people often miss the fundamental reality of branding: it isn’t so much something you do as something you are.

Branding campaigns—logos, ads, taglines, etc.—just tell people who you are. That’s valuable in its own way, but what it doesn’t do is change who you are. If I always have a bad experience when I go to Kinkos (which I do), then no amount of “branding” (great identity design, slick presentation, etc.) will solve the fundamental problem: they just don’t seem to care about me or my printing needs. I’m sure there are great people who work at Kinkos, but based on my experience, their beautiful logo just puts a face to a bad name. On the other hand, if I always have a great experience when I go to Trader Joe’s (which I do), their visual branding reminds me of that experience and increases my loyalty.

As much as it pains me as a designer, I have to say I’d rather have a great experience tied to a bad visual identity. In the end, customer loyalty will stand or fall on the experience they have when they interact with you, your employees, or products. Shouldn’t “branding” start with making sure your customers’ experience is one you’d want to have?

You already have a brand. The question is: do you have a good one?

Does the universe really need another design blog?

Maybe not. But there are things that need to be said about design that I don’t see anyone else saying. So I’m in.

This isn’t meant to be just another link collection, or image gallery, or philosophical musing on design thinking. I love those things, and I have plenty on my RSS feed. But I think there are better ones than I’ll be able to provide here. I’ll recommend my favorites sometime.

I’m writing this blog because I think we need a more rigorous discussion of how good design functions—in the “design” world and the rest of the world.

Designers and non-designers need to make a clearer connection between design craft and design strategy. Non-designers need to understand the design process and the difference it can make for them. Designers need to learn how to articulate the rationale behind supposedly subjective choices, and think through the ways design strategy intersects with business strategy. More than anything, we all need to learn how empathy and honesty empower great design that really matters. I’m convinced that design has a much bigger role to play in the future. Design is really just getting started.

While I’m at it, I’ll throw in some thoughts about business culture and strategy.

I’m a professional designer and communicator—mostly graphic design and communication strategy, but I’ve also done my share of copywriting, photography, music composition/arrangement/recording/production, sound design, video editing, video shooting, interaction design, and branding, among other things. I love this stuff, and I want to see the principles I’ve learned applied at the next level.

I’m writing to think hard about hard problems, and figure out what design has to say about them. I hope you enjoy it, and join the discussion.