Introducing Miss Lorem Ipsum

It seems like eons ago, but I still get a good chuckle every time I recall an exchange that took place during a project presentation.

The project consisted of a series of informational brochures that gave the client enough flexibility to adapt them in-house. Since there was no real text, I reluctantly used placeholder text, known as “Lorem Ipsum.” The client stared at the comps with the intensity and curiosity of a teenage boy fixated on his first true love. After a good couple of minutes, he looked up at me and asked what the gibberish text was.

I replied, “Lorem Ipsum.” To which he replied, “Who’s that?”

After some nervous laughter on my part, I explained that it was Latin and quickly moved on with the presentation. It was not until later that afternoon that it dawned on me that for some people, graphic design is still unfamiliar territory. The thought startled me as there is not a single area of our lives that is not directly influenced by it. We know which direction to go in because of it. We can make split-second decisions because of it (restroom, anyone?). We know something is “slippery when wet” because of it.

In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that some of you can assemble IKEA furniture because of it (although I wouldn’t recommend it).

The point is, some people know so little about the role graphic design plays in a successful communications or advocacy plan, we might as well be speaking Latin. As a creative director, I believe that it is this language barrier that can get in the way of developing a great partnership between clients and a creative team in order to deliver the best results.

Case in point: I’ve always felt that when it comes to the three Rs—reading, writing and arithmetic—designers get a bad rap. I suspect that many times “making things pretty” is all that is expected of us and, thus, all we can bring to the table.

Good “creatives” are, by nature, intellectually curious. We will ask questions, probably more than once. We will challenge data, and probably disagree with you a million times as we wrap our heads around it and come up with a solution for visualizing it.

We are translators. Ours is a visual language that codifies information in order to make it relatable, accessible and useful to all. To good creatives, graphic design is the last step in a creative process that begins long before we decide what color works best. That’s what separates creatives from decorators. Our goal is to get our client’s message out while preserving the integrity of their brand.

The client’s reaction to Lorem took me by surprise, as I foolishly assumed everyone knew her. The experience caused me to think about misconceptions regarding the role clients and creatives play in the communications process. We all bring something different to the table, even in the way we express ourselves. The most successful campaigns are those in which both the client and the creatives recognize these differences and use them to their advantage.

Besides, it’s never too late to pick up a second language. Just ask Lorem.

Category: Branding, Implementation, Uncategorized 0 comments