[ Reflections: Differentiate, Take Risks & Know Your Audience ]
Reflecting on this week’s material, I thought that the most important concepts were differentiation, risk-taking and knowing your audience. While creating a brand that clearly communicates its intentions is paramount, as designers, we must also make sure that we’re communicating these intentions in a way that is unique and differs from the competition.
We live in a world where there is an abundance of choices- for everything. This choice abundance greatly affects how consumers make their decisions. Because most people don’t have the time, funds or desire to research every product that exists, we rely on brands to help us come to quicker decisions about the things we choose. So, even when a brand communicates its intentions well, if it doesn’t properly differentiate, it runs the risk of being overlooked by the consumer.
Another concept that really resonated with me was risk-taking. In the design world, anything that is new, original, powerful or different is often viewed as risky, both by the clients and their audience. However, I feel that as creatives, it’s our responsibility to constantly try to find that acceptable edge. It can be tricky, because the acceptable edge is precariously balanced at the edge of a cliff- you want the absolute maximum innovation that can be accepted by the audience, but you don’t want to go too far and fall off that figurative cliff.
You strike that balance through a comprehensive knowledge of the audience, which is another really key concept. And in order to truly know your audience, you not only have to do diligent research, you have to be empathetic to them. Truly knowing your audience is not unlike truly knowing a friend. You have to know their habits, their likes and dislikes, what they’re feeling, how they interact and perhaps even what they like to eat. With market research, the tools and methodologies are pretty straight-forward and easy-to-grasp conceptually (focus groups, demographics, surveys, etc.). However, the more intuitive, empathetic part can be more difficult to pinpoint, because it involves some subjectivity.
Out of these three concepts, the one that comes most easily to me is probably risk-taking. I like to push limits, question the status quo and exist outside of the box. Research is an area that I could probably be more efficient in- not because I can’t do it, but because I can! I can get stuck in that initial planning phase of a project, wanting to explore every option. I feel very confident that I can streamline my process with some better habits though. I first realized this when I was reading Making Ideas Happen, by Behance founder Scott Belsky. That’s when the light came on for me- process can help me design better, faster and more effectively.
Connect with me on Behance! http://www.behance.net/amyblunden