During the course of their third term, in the course Big Ideas, Digital Design students are presented with the opportunity to partner with a local or international non-profit organization. Working under the guidance of VFS Instructor/Client Proxy Tiffany Hamilton and Industry Support/Client Proxy Gagan Diesh, students choose one of two briefs and build a campaign solution, which they present in class, and when possible, to the actual client.
In the winter of 2008 I was browsing the web at work in a store with a co-worker/friend. The store was a modern, trendy carrier of over-priced home furnishings, with computer kiosks at which we could sit down with clients to redesign their rooms. These computer kiosks faced out toward the public at all times. We wanted a stylish desktop wallpaper to replace the boring Windows default. After a bit of browsing, we came across a vector graphic of a city-scape with flourishes and paint splatters. My co-worker, Ryan, made a comment, something along the lines of how cool the graphic would look on a shirt.
Pfff… I could do that, I said.
What followed, after some back and fourth, was we agreed to start a t-shirt company. However, the truth of the matter was, I really didn’t know if I could do that. I had reasonable confidence in my abilities, but I’d never taken on a project of that scope. We had some idea about what we needed. Here are some lessons learned:
Design should not be seen as a visual enhancement or afterthought, but a product or service as a whole that combines technology, user experience, and storytelling.
I took the line quoted above from my Portfolio Site’s About Page , because it is something I have always truly believed in. While at school, I always sought to dream up products and services that were not only well designed, but design driven, from the core. Which is why, despite an extreme lack of sleep, I decided to attend a three-day marathon at the Startup Weekend Vancouver right after the graduation of our class from VFS. The Start Up Weekend was the perfect opportunity to experiment with creating a design driven solution to a real world problem.
To my surprise, I was able to team up at the event with two other VFS alumni: my classmate Saadi Alkouatli; and Yu Wen (Nancy) Sun, who is currently working at iQmetrix. After listening to Nancy pitch her idea in front of 150 other “wantrepreneurs”, we teamed up with her and started our Real World 3-Day Slam.
I sat in on VFS Digital Design Instructor Maria Kennedy’sBranding2 class, where students were presenting their work, and I was quite impressed with the results. The presentations were presided over by Digital Design instructor Karen Whistler, Senior Instructor and acting Head of Department, Myron Campbell, and Program Manager, Sholeh Atash. The feedback was encouraging, yet critical in a constructive way, highlighting the strengths of each student’s work and outlining ways to address inconsistencies and ensure more cohesion in the application of the brand essence, while also guiding them in the art of presentation itself.
Fast Company (co.create.com) has a great post by Interbrand‘s CEO Jez Framptonabout branding that presents an intriguing take on the status of Digital Strategy amongst businesses today. The piece is more or less addressed to those businesses, but it is nevertheless a relevant piece for up-and-coming Digital Designers whose focus is on Branding, because it provides insight into the shifts that businesses are going through, right down to the level of the lanaguage (vernacular) they use to understand their business needs. And it behoves a Designer to understand their client as best they can, for it they are to collaborate with them (especially in the age of Crowdsourcing and of business audience and consumer co-branding), then they must understand how to communicate with both them and their audience/customers. Of course, the term “Post-Digital” might seem a bit vague — if not ironic, given the focus on developing Digital Strategies (What might a Post-Digital Strategy look like?) — but the the direction towards better digital communications is worth considering. Have a read and see what you think: Five Ways to Build Brands in the Post-Digital World
Then, if you feel like hearing more from this subject from Jez Frampton, have a look at this video presented by WOBI (World of Business Ideas)