Don’t worry about design – worry about brand.

Design polish used to generate trust, but the creator movement is changing that.

UPDATE: Here’s a vid I did expanding on this topic:

Recently started using twitter again as part of this new effort to reach other “creative lost souls.” I feel like twitter will be a liability for me because I tend to say things I believe to be true but which could be misunderstood out of context. I posted a tweet that I felt needed to be immediately backed up with such context, and ended up having a mini conversation with myself that led me to a new idea, but one which has been pointed to with the rise of the creator economy.

The creator economy, or basically DIY business and production (I guess), has it’s own aesthetics and although there is a design focus, it’s not the design focus of traditional organisations and businesses. Traditionally, the level of polish, finish and trendiness has been a trust signal, telling onlookers that the business behind the thing is well resourced. But being well resourced is not the trust generator it used to be because there are plenty of creators doing things with far less polish who deserve more trust and have more integrity. The act of marketing and fishing for customers in a traditional way might raise suspicion if anything.

(Just wait for bigger brands to start acting like shoestring budget creators…. that should be fun.)

While initially dismissive of ‘influencer’ culture (as an Australian I dislike “tall poppys” and take sinister pleasure in their being cut down), I’ve come to hesitantly respect creator culture and the creator economy. Ive heard some discussions that have convinced me that the movement may become the economy or at least a large part of it as far marketing/advertising goes. (I mean it’s not going to be a core part of any actual economy obviously, you know, the stuff that makes civilisation physically possible.)

I feel bad because from 2009 to 2014 or so, some friends of mind ran a business and website called Vegan Era: a fantastic brand that did so much, but I always internally criticised their design. Dave had a marketing and web background background but was a bit old school in his methods, and I couldn’t see the great things they were doing with brand, all I could see was “bad kerning” and “not enough white space.” Which no-one gives a fuck about except design snobs. I should have been helping do things that matter instead of caring about things that really didn’t.

C’est sera, that was then and this is now. We were the pioneers of creator culture, really … well… we weren’t on YouTube (this was when the videos had to be less than ten minutes) but we helped democratise self-publishing on the internet.

What’s the moral of the story? Well, you can tell I’ve come full circle. I’m into brutalist design now, as fun and garish and… wrong as it is. It suits my mood, which is very much fuck the system (am I 17 or 42?? Either way I’m over it). I guess it’s also: don’t let any kind of need for polish hold you back. Don’t worry about design – worry about brand. More on that very soon.