The skeptical designer

Ewoud Faber
Sep 10, 2019 · 3 min read

It’s already been six months since I started Maibru with Dave. In that time you get to know each other well. Yes Dave, you can’t escape from it. I like you, but you are so skeptical. But then I read an article that skeptical designers are very good designers. Your personality fits in perfectly with the growth of our brand. That’s why the article got my attention right away.This is an article with a bit of a different view about designers. Because I’m a bit done with the articles about what a good designer should and shouldn’t do and “10 rules for a good designer”. But I’d never read an article about the importance of a skeptical designer. While you, Dave, certainly apply for that “label”. So fasten your seatbelts. Here we go. My takeaways from the story and the translation to Maibru.

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But first, let’s debunk some misconceptions about skepticism:

Skepticism is not cynicism.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, skepticism is certainly not cynicism. Cynicism is based on the attitude that shows disbelief in values or good intentions. Meanwhile skepticism assumes nothing, but requires evidence to support arguments and claims.

A skeptic is not open-minded.
The skeptic is willing to let go of even the most cherished and convincing beliefs when confronted with conflicting evidence. So in fact skeptics are very open-minded, but only when confronted with the evidence that support the claim.

Okay. Now that we’re clear on that, we can continue. No more misconceptions. Well, there are probably a couple more, but we will continue anyway. In the recent months we’ve spoken a lot with each other and further explored each other’s way of thinking. And I told you regularly: “don’t be so skeptical”. Not always in those exact words, but that’s what it came down to. But I’m taking it all back now, because skeptical designers are good! Jackpot!

But why? You, and apparently many other skeptical designers, don’t take things for granted. Even if that’s sometimes difficult to understand for the less skeptical people among us. Sometimes, and pardon my French, it’s just a pain in the ***. But in the meantime it has helped us a lot in our work method. Because it’s true that what clients say and what they do are often two complete different things. And that this, in fact, has a major influence on their brand. We also have take a good look at the ideas and strategies coming from people in certain position. Of course, we take their advice serious and treat it with respect, but as stated before: as a skeptical designer you have to keep looking for evidence. That is why the diagnostic phase is so important in our method. Yes, your assumptions could be right, but let’s test it to make sure. Nobody wants to send their brand towards the wrong direction.

I do want to end with a warning. It’s not always easy to work with a skeptical designer. It would be nice if they would just answer a question with “yes, we will do that”, once in a while. But on the other hand, that would be conflicting with our own methodology. Because you won’t make a real impact if your work is based purely on assumptions.

Curious (or skeptical) about our work? You can check it out at maibru.com

Maibru, a brand strategy design studio.
We create ideas, services and products that bring people and brands closer to each other.

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