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How to talk to a designer

It’s really freakin’ hard to for executives to talk about design.  How do you explain the look and feel you want?  There aren’t really words for these concepts, and everyone hears them differently.

Then I got this great advice:  Just explain which car and which magazine we want to be. It works!

What do we want the GasPedal brand to be?

  • Fast Company, not BusinessWeek or Inc.
  • Mini Cooper, not Cadillac or Jaguar

It works because it provides an objective visual that everyone can understand.  Major brands invest a ton in creating a universal brand feeling, you can use that universality to communicate who you are.

(Thanks to Bill Hanekamp for this great advice.)

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  1. oddpodz June 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    We used that EXACT type of language (said we wanted a Fast Company look and feel) with one of our designers and that drove him up a wall – the analogy thing. It has worked very well with others, though. We’ve also used retail analogies – a Nordstrom vs. Wal Mart.

  2. June 25, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Sometimes we get clients describing the website they want using adjectives (“We want our site to present an image that we are sensible, strong and traditional.”) If this happens, we always ask them to provide 2-3 websites they think relate to each adjective. It is so great when clients also communicate what exactly they don’t want or like about websites they’ve visited.

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