Spotlight on NW Creative: Designers Don’t Read by Austin Howe

Designers Don’t Read by Austin Howe began as a series of weekly essays sent every Monday morning to top graphic designers. It’s now a 208-page book from one of Portland’s more well known “mad men.”
Howe and Mike Doherty launched the hybrid advertising agency AKA Advertising and Sass (where I showed my book to Doug Lowell in 1995). After selling the agency, Howe spent the next 8 years freelancing as a writer and creative director for firms like Wieden+Kennedy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, TBWA\Chiat\Day and Deutsch.
Here’s a passage from the new book:

Clients are tiring of agency self-interest. They know. Many of them have done time on the agency side and know what drives many of the better-known firms. If the advertising industry does not wake up to its potential role in the entire brand experience (that a customer has with their clients’ companies), those clients will begin to revolt. They will leave their award-winning firms for customer-winning firms; ones that take a more holistic approach to the ongoing brand-customer dialogue, and that get involved in everything from product design to the retail environment to the brand’s approach to corporate responsibility o the customer’s satisfaction long after they’ve purchased their cieints’ products.

I like Howe’s emphasis above. The entire brand experience is something we pursued at BFG and it’s a model I want to build on now that I’m back in Portland. I also smile when I think of the difference in award-winning firms and customer-winning firms. I’m firmly in the camp of the latter.



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.