Graphic design (and branding) is still a matter mainly of talent and creativity

“Some people use the research as a drunk uses a lamppost: for support rather than illumination” — David Ogilvy

(sorry for some english mistakes — english is not my first language)

Whenever I read articles and interviews about branding, I have the impression that the content focus is always on the strategy, and never in the “insight”, in the “illumination”. It is as if millions invested in research and debate about “positioning” and “strategy” could replace the rare ability to make tangible and “compress” all this content in a speech — verbal, visual, and so on — really spectacular.

Much harder than to understand, change or select the right space that a brand will occupy is, after understood the strategy effectively, position it in this correct space with that creative mastery that touches minds and hearts. This space between the strategy and the production of “insight” (and by insight in this case I specifically refer to designs involving a brand) is exactly where it enters the more subjective and difficult fact to be measured and evaluated: creativity. And in my opinion, the most important.

Genuinely bright and intrinsically creative minds are capable of, only with their own individual perceptions, trace unique and targeted strategies for brands and make this tangible in designs of excellence. How to measure if a identity design or packaging is really phenomenal? A Excel table is not able to measure it. We are in the field of culture, and culture is human expression, a much larger and complex field. Not always the increase of sales of a product after a packaging redesign effectively means a relevant solution. The cultural positioning of the package design is also a key factor. Then, there are a zillion more difficult factors to be evaluated and judged.

In the past, there seemed to be unanimity that without genuine creativity, talent and intelligence, nothing much good could be created. But I often have the impression that the new branding speeches took the spotlight from creativity and directed to strategy and research. As if, after built dozens of charts, presentations and spreadsheets on value and strategy of a brand all the symbolism of the brand will be born by inertia.

Far from me to underestimate the power of strategy, planning and research. This is all content, and minds with more content effectively tend to have more ideas. And more ideas always represent more chances to generate those few highly targeted ideas that change the course of things. Those rare and few ideas that “push the human race forward”.

Nothing replaces the creativity and intelligence. And only creativity and intelligence are able to create truly relevant designs. And only really relevant designs are able to raise the brands — or whatever we want to raise — to unique levels. And creativity and intelligence you do not find in research, find in people.

“Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. (…) The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.”― John Steinbeck, East of Eden