When we approach design as a solution to a particular problem we can partner with our target audience (as opposed to taking advantage of them).
Allow your target market to dictate how they need you. Using target market research to direct the tools of communication is the most efficient and effective route to success. Branding must approach its audience through the lens of the marketplace and in my years of experience working with large companies to build national brands, the audience has been the best guidance system to the solutions that grow a brand's sphere of influence.
Should we use an app or a movie? a pamphlet or billboard? this font or that color? These questions are best informed by the deeper solution itself. What's your message? More importantly: what's your user/customer's biggest obstacle? I’ve learned to be openminded to the unexpected solution to a common problem.
"Listen to the message not the messenger" is a common saying in some circles and I would argue that this stops short of an ideal; the best messengers embody their message so completely that they are forgotten & only the message is remembered. Just as we can't recall the frames supporting the pieces in an art museum, so too should the style (fonts, colors, layout etc) of visual communication be a natural extension of its purpose. Typography is a vehicle that delivers a message. Graphic style, imagery, apps, videos and media have served their purposes best when the pixels are long forgotten and only a profound change, understanding or message remains.
NOTE: sometimes it’s important to break the rules.
The Scientific Method works in design similarly to how it works in a Lab. Testing user responses or conducting target audience interviews are as gratifying as they are insightful - and they frequently result in giant leaps forward, or spectacularly informative fireballs of brilliant failure. As designers, we have a responsibility to allow people to use and break the things we make; thick skin and a sincerely engaged heart are the only defense mechanisms that bring people closer together.
Life is a rush of color and noise, so enjoy the music and keep your eyes open. Empower your team, laugh with your clients and partner with your competition. Adding an unexpected spark to a design can give it life - or ruin everything! One of the most important lessons I have learned hundreds of times is to make mistakes and correct them - don’t be afraid to fail often & fail BIG!
I post my successful mistakes and failures to my blog - Enjoy!
A strange friend to many, & a friendly stranger to everyone else.