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7 posts from January 2008

The Rise of Eco and Indie Luxury

Designers asked to work with a luxury brand know the general rule of thumb: make it look twice as valuable with half the budget and a fraction of the tangible materials.

Designers also know the dirty, dark secret of marketing luxury goods: quality of design can trump quality of materials. Quantities may run low and costs-per-piece high, since you have a limited audience and a limited quantity. Products may be outsourced to factories overseas and only cost incrementally more than their regular brand cousins. The product always includes a premium markup, to create an aura of value.

And that aura of value is morphing into something new.

The idea of Old Luxury (high fashion, high quality, high touch, high price) has fractured over the past ten years into a number of new and surprising categories that make it even harder to market a product as Old Luxury, but even easier to draw an audience into considering a purchase at a higher price point.

With the coming recession, there is going to be a shift from the New Luxury or "masstige" market into Eco and Indie Luxury:

Luxurytypes

Old Luxury will never take a major hit, because people who purchase Old Luxury products have enough wealth to support their lifestyle even if their portfolio drops 50%.

But people who consider New Luxury products as part of their lifestyle will seek a greater meaning for their purchases. The new categories that I've noted, Eco and Indie Luxury, provide that meaning above and beyond what an Old or New Luxury brand can provide.

The old thinking went like this: If you want to simplify your life -- if you really want to do more with less and own things that no one else owns -- then be prepared to spend a premium, have fewer options to choose from, and defend your piece of ground with the (limited) members of your tribe. Go to Wal-Mart if you want to get the most for the least. Never mind that the same factory may have made your fancy Coach bag and those Wal-Mart briefs.

The new thinking is much more complex. And exciting.

Eco Luxury

I recently found myself fingering a Jil Sander wool jacket at Barneys Co-op that I could easily see myself wearing. Ten minutes later, a very similar jacket was at Banana Republic for one-tenth of the JS jacket "sale price". Old Navy around the corner, another similar jacket that was one-sixty of the BR price.

The major difference between the three, other than a slight difference in percentage of wool and the cut? The Jil Sander jacket had no label inside it and was the simplest, most minimal design.

This seems pretty obvious to a New York fashionista--they'd know the jacket was Jil Sander when they saw it because of its styling and notch it in their little mental black book. And when you're in that kind of community, you're part of a semi-closed circle that amplifies the value of your lifestyle choices (or devalues them, depending who you run with).

But then I walked over to the Nau store. Welcome to Eco Luxury. Their black jacket that costs the same as the jacket at Banana Republic was made through sustainable practices. It looks sleek and different from all those other jackets. (Full disclosure: I drool regularly over their clothes but have not made a purchase... yet. I also critique them regularly because it's hard to be play luxury and sustainability at the same time...)

This single piece of clothing brings up all sorts of considerations I didn't have when I was shopping at Williams-Sonoma or Tiffany's. Do I want a high-end necklace that's biodegradeable? A high-heat spatula that's recyclable? It doesn't sound so far-fetched in 2008. In 2018 it'll be an assumed part of the buying decision.

In clothing, travel, and a host of other markets, Eco Luxury is poised in the wings to infiltrate and overtake the New Luxury category. In ten years, it's likely that Eco Luxury won't exist as its own category anymore and will be absorbed wholesale into New Luxury -- only because it can be factory produced and has the potential to be marketed on a mass scale. Call it New Eco Luxury, which hopefully will never go out of style.

Indie Luxury

Generate your own fashion. Design your own products. Take it open source. Generate a global audience in a matter of days. It's all possible and it's happening every day. Products can be priced for their scarcity, originality, and impact, and sold within a community that's outside of the traditional purview of corporations insistent on controlling their brands.

A mere decade year ago, the context of the store environment created the tangible value--that was the only place you could get the product. Is that Jil Sander jacket less valuable if I buy it on eBay? Er... what's eBay? Nowadays, sites like eBay and Bag, Borrow or Steal are hammering down the value of Old Luxury and New Luxury brands in mid-size retailers like Nordstrom and Tiffany's.

The old thinking here:

The story I tell about how and where I purchased the product creates the tangible value. Especially if the product is on parity with others in its market. The tribe protects the brand value. Luxury marketers dictate the rules of the game. The cost of entry is the cost of the product. Don't play the game if you aren't serious about being vocal to protect your "investment." Cults and communities online and in the real world defend or destroy the brand value. This happens quickly in the fashion community as different houses veer into and out of style.

The new thinking:

But for the rest of us, the unwashed, the cost of entry can be seen as a psychological barrier, a badge of your inclusion in the tribe, and the only perceived result of the purchase in the physical store.

The purchase is also influenced by economic and social factors. Right now, there's a buzz in the air as banks and investment firms take multi-billion dollar hits to their bottom line from underestimating the risk of sub-prime investment. Why would I blow $5k on a jacket when everyone is suffering?

The Internet has created many more opportunities to access and purchase luxury goods, but also the seeds of their destruction. As more people create online communities around their favorite brands, these communities will communicate about "online deals" as well and further dilute your product value. These communities will also start producing the luxury goods themselves.

I'm paying more attention to this category than Eco Luxury, because it brings the thinking of the long tail into an industry that's always been tight-lipped and inaccessible. And there are people that are doing sustainable work in this area to go head to head with people like Nau, which is exciting.

Of course, companies will try to monetize Indie Luxury by generating communities that ease fulfillment and promotion of product sales. But Indie Luxury as a category will always resist being under a corporate thumb and will generate its own communities and spin-off products that trickle up into the mainstream.


The Virtues of Great Creative Managers

Optimism. Patience. Willpower. Flexibility. Lack of Ego. Vision.

Notice I didn't say creative. People with a creative instinct, as opposed to a creative impulse, are the ones that will set you free.

Why would you want a creative manager that isn't creative?

I've had a ton of creative managers that are top of their game in design, copywriting, web development, account management, and even project management. All of them had empathy, intuition, and logic in equal measure, and understood how to look at the work and speak to it in a way that made it sing.

However, the best creative managers I've ever had all shared one characteristic: the ability to properly identify and make use of the creative thinking of their staff. Whenever possible, they don't impose -- they expose. They cede control of details to ensure the big picture is still pleasing when the last few strokes are painted into place.


On Saying No

The only major failure you should face in the business of design? The failure to recognize that a client project is something you should decline.

Why is saying no always so difficult?

Because you aren't that busy. It's just a quick little project in an area that you don't specialize in, but you might as well take it so when the next big project arrives, you'll have an even stronger client relationship.

Often, we end up in these situations as designers because we've not properly communicated what we want out of our clients. There need to proper boundaries, and if they aren't described or enforced, then the client often doesn't understand who you are and what services you offer.

These kinds of situations often occur with our clients:

The client thinks you want it, no matter what. This is the beauty of having strong client relationships -- they trust you with their life, their brand, and every project that could benefit from your magic touch. They like working with you. They genuinely care about your success. They just don't realize that what they're throwing your way is not the best fit. This happens often in seeking new clients: right client, wrong project. It's a subtle art to decline a client and still keep the door open for future business.

The client knows you need it. Yes, the studio has been quiet. The client's been aware of your increased focus and attention their business, throwing in bells and whistles whenever possible. The risk of this type of overdelivering is that clients begin to expect more for their money. They also expect that you'll drop anything to help. Smart and savvy businesspeople know this is when they can negotiate hardest on their own behalf.

The client doesn't know that you lack competency in an area. "Yes, I designed your logo and business papers, and I'll be happy to talk with you about building a database for your website." Designers don't like to admit weakness in a specific area, but you'll actually gain respect by bringing in the right professional or agency to support you and/or wholly take on a project you don't have a competency in.

The client wants you to do work that's part of their job role. Most often, designers are hired to do things that are outside the core expertise of their clients. But sometimes jobs come along that are part of a client's everyday work responsibilities, and you don't recognize it until it's too late. The risk with these kinds of projects is that you usually don't get to follow your standard agency process and have to work through the same politics as your client to have work approved. This can be a burn on your time and resources and make your project unprofitable.

The client feels entitled to your help. If you say no, there are plenty of other agencies yearning to get started on this project. And this threat is always halfway true. But if a client threatens to take the work to another agency, they're taking this tack because they want something from you: your participation, your investment, your attention. They know you'll do it better than that other agency. It actually proves that you have more leverage than you think and should talk more deeply with them about their needs.

Often, it's not up to the client. It's a problem that you're dealing with on your end that bleeds into your working client relationships:

You really do need the money. Yes, you need to pay rent. Yes, this work is not beneath you. Yes, the work will hopefully lead to better things. Yes, the Print Regional Annual doesn't accept PowerPoint templates as a category. Sorry. You have staff you need to keep busy. It'll be over quick and then you'll be on to better things. It is a fundamental truth that projects stroll through the studio that are purely money-makers and never peek their head up in your portfolio. But if word gets around that you're really, really good at the things you don't want to specialize in, you'll risk landing those projects over and over again. Like the old adage says, "Be careful what you're good at." Can you afford to promote yourself as an expert in one area and end up spending your time working in another?

And lastly, the most dangerous reason that you don't decline work:

You don't realize what they're really asking for and plan to figure it out while you work on the project. Disaster comes in many flavors, and this is one you never want to inflict on a paying client. Example: You design their identity. They're offering you some motion graphics work to animate it for a video. You've never used AfterEffects or Flash. Now isn't the time to crack the manual and dive in. Too high a risk of failure. Bring in a specialist. Mark up their time. Get it right.

Today's designers are business partners with their clients -- real strategists -- and you're continually thrown opportunities you don't really need or have the depth of knowledge to fulfill well. Be sure to let your clients know upfront what kinds of work you really want. The work that's really going to shine.

If that's not what a client has to offer for you, then be prepared to walk away gracefully. Make a reference to someone in your network who can fulfill their needs and return the referral in the future.


Mastering the Art of Self-Critique

Self Critique Checklist

I've hit the wall. Again. Time for a walk around the block... or maybe a brief chat with my co-workers about the new Radiohead album. Or maybe working on another client project would clear my brain enough give me at least a little perspective...

When I first started out as a designer, the most vexing part of the creative process was knowing when a design was finished. Since I'd migrated to graphic design from many years of working at a magazine, I thought that tight time constraints usually dictated what made a design complete. Since I was always doing page layout to a fast deadline, I would come up with the best cover and spread ideas that I could muster in the time allowed, bounce it off the other editors, make some tweaks, and fire it off to the printer. Every issue had a few strong layouts, some weaker ones, and one or two dogs that I'd try to excise from my mental archive forever.

Fast-forward to working as a designer in a boutique design firm. Now the tables had turned. While creating variations on logo designs, days would pass. We'd spend hours concepting on projects without creative briefs, tasked by clients to brainstorm freely without any real boundaries or methodology.

I began to lose sight of my magazine training and meander through thorny ad problems without a clear path or process to point at a brochure cover and say, "This is done. It's right." It was incredibly liberating, frightening, and beautiful. It also didn't last very long, as I moved across the country and could never find an agency like it again.

After that delicious design experience, it all becomes a blur. At larger agencies, I would enter into a room filled with account people, project managers, creative directors, art directors, copywriters, the agency CEO even. Standing at the front of the room with my lowly design work, I would present the strategy and visual look and feel as best as I was able -- hopefully before they were able to finish sharpening their knives and dig in for the meal.

The joke among my fellow designers was that you were lucky if you heard, upon one of the staff members leaving the creative review/buffet, a belated "Nice work." There you were, nursing your work in shame -- printouts covered in red Sharpie that pooled around the page margins like blood.

"Anything to avoid that!" was my rallying cry for some time. If only the work could be bulletproof, then I could walk a little taller out of the torture chamber, with a mere shred of dignity.

Hence followed a dark period in my career, full of obsessing over the kerning of asterisks on disclaimers, re-re-retouching of Photoshop comps to bring them to a meticulous level of detail, and brainstorming enough ideas to fill a waste bin before I'd even dive into the computer to start the laborious process of executing yet another idea that was on the verge of being killed (in my mind, at gunpoint) before it had a chance to blossom and evolve into something beyond what I'd imagined.

It was that last thought that cracked me upside the head three years ago and yanked me straight out of what I like to refer to as my "I am the work" phase. (That and a generous coworker who pulled me aside and told me to chill out and stop arguing with the account manager about whether the leading needed to be adjusted on the second paragraph of the VW ad.)

Great designers aren't joking when they say "It's about the work." Get yourself out of your work, stop identifying with it, and you suddenly discover that the work is trying to have a conversation with you. It's trying to tell you what it wants to be. Since that day three years ago when I had my touchy-feely design awakening, I've kept in the back of my mind a mental checklist that I tick through before I offer my print layout work for studio critique. The rest I leave up to art and its cagey way of seeping into a designer's rational thinking and skewing it in unexpected directions.

Depending on your process, you may not do sketches. But you'll be ill-served if you don't consider these questions before you dive into your design program du jour.

1) Is the idea and concept sound? Check the brief. Think about your audience. Did you communicate the single most important thing that the brief hit upon? If it isn't clear, then you may need to refine or revise the concept. I try to make sure this one is always covered before even getting into the computer. A rough sketch approved by your team is always good insurance and keeps you from rework. If you can't summarize your concept in a single sentence, then you may need to refine even more.

2) After the concept was nailed, did I really understand the copy direction before I started designing? Did I just go through layout on this project and miss an opportunity to bring the copy and the design into delightful harmony? Get this over with before you get into the computer. Talk with your copywriter (if you have one) or your client if you feel like you grok their thinking and can take the copy to a new place they haven't considered. Most designers have to get started or run in parallel to copywriters, so you should always stay joined at the hip and keep each other abreast of those "Aha!" moments that throw the work into new territory and require revision.

When you get into the computer and start mashing stuff around, these questions always bubble up:

3) Are the layout proportions correct? Is there a proper use of the rule of thirds (or artful deviation from it)? Is there a point of focus and flow, so your gaze moves from the most important content into your supporting copy and call to action? Did you build a grid? Did you ignore the grid and go crazy to artistic effect? Have good reasons for your decisions.

4) Is there something typographically interesting on every page? This one can often be hard to answer when you're working within a tight design system for a major brand. The trick is that "interesting" can simply be an elegant use of balance between larger headlines, subheads, and well-leaded body copy. On more creative executions, you may need to manipulate the type in Illustrator/by hand to get it to look unique, making sure the type that you do use isn't overplayed. (Does your client really want a poster with Helvetica or Times? Enter new territory.)

5) Is the photography or illustration of the best quality? As I've heard repeated again and again, a bad photograph can be massaged into an good design, but a great photograph can propel a design into the stratosphere. There is no longer an excuse to say "There is no budget for photography" when microstock and the prevalence of digital cameras have made it infinitely easier to generate photography for a project. Just be sure that you cover your ass in your contract and license what you create appropriately so the client doesn't own your personal custom photography outright. Then, on the next project, include money for photography no matter what. If the client tries to cut the line item, fold it into something else (like proofs).

6) Are there multiple levels of visual interest? Print designs need texture and variety, as well as an illusion of depth. If a layout has some photos, some solid color blocks, and some type, that can often be enough to get the layout to sizzle. But you may need to work into the layout another level of texture or detail below that to create an illusion of three-dimensional space on the page or on screen. Does the background need a wood texture instead of a brown-colored box? Can you make the illustration interact with the photography that shakes up the grid? Play around with it...

7) Is there a story that sews the piece together? If I can't see and explain the narrative of what I'm working on, I have to coax out the right elements to tell that story. Select a different pull quote or caption. Swap the photos or flop them. Bring in a different texture or pattern that conveys the right emotion.

8) If you say less, will the work function better? You can't cram it all in, so cull out what's unnecessary. Be ruthless about it -- less copy, less photos, less distraction. (Unless your concept is all photos and big headlines and no white space.)

9) Is it produceable and within the realm of reason, costwise, to produce? You can't sell it to the client if it has 14 PMS colors. Get at least a blurry idea of how the work will be produced and develop rough specs. Make sure your design won't fall apart if you remove that embossed logo, foil stamped flower pattern, and the laser-cut fleur-de-lys.

This last question is new to many designers, but thankfully it gets asked all the time now, in tandem with the previous question:

10) What kind of impact will this design have on the environment and how can I minimize it? Can we reduce quantity? Only print using soy-based inks by a printer that uses wind-power and FSC-certified, recycled stock? Can we use an aqueous coating that's water-soluble and avoid the whole varnish taboo? There are a number of important questions to consider here. Don't let your client choose what to do. Give them options that are always socially responsible and sustainable.

If I know I haven't ticked off all these boxes, then I note it in the critique as a point of discussion. I let go of the work at that point and let the team own it and help me evolve it so the design moves forward.

This last point on my checklist is something that can't be quantified.

11) Did I let my design mistakes inform the work in an artful way? Sometimes, it's possible to hold the work too tightly in your hands and craft the life right out of the idea. I liken this to when a studio musician is playing a guitar solo on the new hit single and he accidentally misses a note. "Let me go back and fix that," he says to the producer behind the glass. "No way!" the producer buzzes over on the studio intercom. "That note made the song!" Designers need to be prepared to fail on a layout direction or hit a wrong key and be open to the discovery that comes with the unanticipated gift of a fresh idea.

If I don't take those moments to step back and reconsider where I'm going, then I know I need to actually step away from my desk, throw on my coat, and step out into the winter cold. Maybe I meander down to the Olympic Sculpture Park and watch the crows land on the tree made of polished steel. Or I walk up Queen Anne Hill and leaf through some CDs at Easy Street. Either way, I'm getting far enough from what I'm doing to make sure that I can let it start being.


Ideas Transcend Napkins

You know you've got a decent idea if it can survive a bad sketch.

Awful sketches aren't for your clients. They're for you to prove that your idea can be transmitted without a design execution. Good advertising ideas should transcend media.

I think the worst thing we can do as designers is mystify the design process for our clients. Sure, intuition and creativity are crucial parts of the concepting process -- but if you get seduced by a nice sketch, there may not be a strong idea underneath all that chiaroscuro shading.

Awful concept sketches help bring you down to earth and provide the added benefit of removing the shiny gloss a computer provides. It's a document that you can share with everyone in your place of work to get buy-in. Plus, when the project is over, those sketches makes great kindling for your wood-burning stove.

I gave a lecture at Seattle Central Community College today on the life of a creative campaign for their New Media class. (Thanks Jill!) The room was full of 2nd-quarter design and photography students, and they really seemed to latch onto the above statement, which I followed with a showcase of some of my really bad sketches. I talked through the concept behind each sketch, then showed them concept illustrations, layout, the bad (and good) photos from photo shoots, and the final printed elements as well as any web or video elements that were part of the project.

One student asked what I looked for when interviewing a designer, and I said something like this:

The designer comes in, opens up their book, and starts showing me their work. I listen to what they're saying, and if they communicate their ideas to me in a compelling manner, I look at their designs. If the designs aren't completely tight, I'll still consider hiring them, because they know how to communicate good ideas, and that's what we do in advertising.

But what I should have added was this as well:

If they show me really bad sketches, rough layouts, and decent final designs... then really I know they're business.


The Dot of Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is something you can't escape when you sell a product or service. You're telling other people to focus their attention on a single element of a complicated product or service, all the while attempting to differentiate your client from their peers. When you look at your marketing message in this way, I think it becomes evident why it's so hard for companies to market charitable initiatives, present themselves as socially responsible, or demonstrate true concern about environmental change. You're asking people to look you in the eye and perhaps smile while you're talking, but they can't help but focus on the spot of blood on your cheek.

The challenge of marketing any product or service that includes a social responsibility message requires you to confront what I like to call "the dot of hypocrisy." Your message won't be effective unless you focus on one idea in each communication. If that one idea is a naked social responsibility message, however, you're in big trouble.

Dotofhypocrisy_3

If you lead with a marketing claim that is solely based in a social responsibility message, your audience will pick it apart. This is something that I'll be exploring more in-depth in some other posts, but the short argument is this:

Product claims may seem logical to marketers, but they are emotional in nature to an audience and tied up in a mess of factors that include your brand perception and your product position, value, and quality. You can try to control your brand and your product, but you can't control how people perceive the value of your charitable giving or social responsibility. People nowadays say that they think it's critical for companies to be good global citizens, but that single claim isn't enough to get them to act. Social responsibility has to align with people's purchasing factors to make a dent in the dot of hypocrisy.

Sometimes minimizing the dot of hypocrisy is this simple:

Dotofhypocrisy2_5

Can you think of any examples of companies that have diminished the dot of hypocrisy in an elegant way?


Great Blog on Economics and Design

Pop on over to the Illinois Institute of Technology's (IIT) Economics of Design blog site and read the 11 things you should have learned in “Economics and Design.” It's a great overview of many things that designers learn the hard way during their careers. The blog also has an introduction to design planning, an aspect of most designer's lives that usually takes a backseat to the actual execution of design work.

A few quotes from the piece:

"We rarely, if ever, consider how to apply an incentive strategy along with our new design, or how our new design may work/not work with an existing incentive strategy. Design of incentives is a powerful new frontier for our profession, and should be integrated into our everyday work."

The design of incentives is a classy term for bringing direct response thinking into other disciplines. In plain language, it's not enough to change people's minds. Incentives make people act, and without more people acting, you won't create results. Even when you're working on an experiential project with tons of moving parts, there should be an incentive strategy in place to reward your audience for wanting to interact with your brand.

"We can’t assume that markets and products will work the same other places as the do here (in North America), we need to design these markets, interactions, and offerings to and for each market."

Some popular examples that come to mind are the Chevy Nova that wouldn't go in Mexico or the much ballyhoo'd and perhaps not true "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead."

"As designers, we should pay close attention to this convergence of psychology and economics; it can provide insight into the adoption and use of our offerings."

This is crucial in today's marketing landscape. It's especially painful to watch how purchasing psychology can destroy brand equity.

Many brands sacrifice their longevity of their product offerings in order to make a quick sale, thinking that customers will make a rational choice when confronted with a compelling incentive or campaign. This only holds true in the short term--what Marty Neumeier had termed a "disloyalty program" in the book Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands. If you train your customers to focus on price, your offerings lose value.

A recent example that comes to mind of a "disloyalty program" is the ongoing marketing by Comcast. Their "It's Comcastic!" campaign has had a lot of interesting creative, but it's been dogged by inconsistent messaging across different markets and mediums, as well as "blanket the market with offers" tactics that makes me think the only reason I should switch from Qwest is because they're cheaper, not better. Television or DSL can be almost like a drug--why treat it like a commodity? Couldn't they bring something to the mix that makes them truly different?

A great market position that fulfills this promise is the recent brand launch by Credo Mobile (formerly Working Assets Wireless). At first, I completely disliked the creative for this piece, but after having it sink in over a few weeks in the Seattle market, it's totally spun my head.

The cell phone market full of intense competition. Most of this competition is over selling phones unique to your carrier and competing tit-for-tat over pricing and minutes in 2-year contracts. Credo Mobile changed the rules of the game by making it not about phones or costs, but about how by using their service, they will make donations to lefty causes from their profits. Now that's a position that runs contrary to all the big dogs, and gives Credo a chance to scissor off more progressive, NPR-loving, very well-off customers. (And it doesn't really matter that their phones aren't very good... who cares when you're providing hunger relief in Darfur?)

"...the most potentially devastating risks a company faces (changes in customer preference, market forces, and technological change) can all be managed within the scope of a design project. We need to shift our position from creating risk to managing it.... Designers should be obsessed with creating value; this frame of reference should guide everything we do."

This may be hard for some designers to swallow, but it's true: designers need to hold just as much responsibility as the client when a major design initiative doesn't take future market forces and shifting audience perceptions into account. Design communications depend too much on context to allow lack of forethought. This is most important in technology marketing, where the landscape seems to shift hourly. If you keep the client in business, the client will keep you in business.

"...in order to continue to remain in business, [design] firms have had to shift the bulk of their billings to strategy work, which requires less “horsepower”, and more knowledge and domain expertise."

The flip side of this shift in the marketing landscape: designers don't come equipped with the tools to provide strategy separate of their design education. Designers need to develop methodologies to become strategic partners in business if they want to survive.

Most designers usually gain these methods by working within larger, stable companies that have proven processes. They absorb this thinking and bring it into their own practice when the move onward. It is not actively taught unless it is sought through small programs like the one at IIT or absorbed through reading through as much popular business-thinking as possible -- something that most designers would rather not do. It's very difficult to be a competent commercial artist and a business thinker. When a project requires an even higher level of strategic insight, I know I lean hard on my artistic intuition and then work backward from it to try to find a strategic ground to stand on. It's hard to think that designers will ever find it easy to be strategic partners--but that's part of the fun of the challenge.

The thing that I do love about this shift in the design profession is that designers will, in the future, be seen as the visionaries, providing ideas that propel major change in business. These intangible ideas don't need to be couched as "design work" anymore.

Design will be increasingly viewed as a thought industry that takes ideas and uses stories across different media to create meaning for an audience. We are empowering these tribes to participate in a community with their hearts, minds, and pocketbooks towards a shared goal. Whether that goal is buying a cup of coffee or creating world peace, their actions have to have some kind of meaning. Designers will help shape the paths of people's lives, tangibly and intangibly, by helping align those actions.