Design Skills Needed

Bruce Nussbaum, assistant managing editor at BusinessWeek, gave a speech on innovation and design at Royal College of Art in London recently.
Here’s one of the ideas he offered:

Design is so popular today mostly because business sees design as connecting it to the consumer populace in a deep, fundamental and honest way. An honest way. If you are in the myth-making business, you don’t need design. You need a great ad agency. But if you are in the authenticity and integrity business then you have to think design. If you are in the co-creation business today—and you’d better be in this age of social networking—then you have to think of design. Indeed, your brand is increasingly shaped and defined by network communities, not your ad agency. Brand manager? Forget about it. Brand curator maybe.

Nussbaum’s argument takes me back in time to an embarrassing place. Several years ago I saw graphic designers as hired hands, like photographers. It was the art directors who had the big picture in view. Maybe there was some truth to it, but I like Nussbaum’s expansive version of reality much better. Design is now the core discipline and we must all–copywriters, account execs, clients, media buyers, planners, etc.–become fluent in it.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.