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Design’s Glass Ceiling
By Rob Bennett

Having spent the last six and a half years working in-house for financial services companies, I have seen many sides of the relationship between design and American management. One things that’s clear is that management sees design as a service rather than a collaborator to the business process, thus the value of design is frequently discounted. (If you are, in terms of the P&L, just an expense you’re not valuable). Too often I’ve been told it isn’t important for design to be in initial marketing project meetings with a client. Important enough for the writer to be there but not a designer? As I don’t agree with this at all, I’ve had to push my way into these meetings and, personally, I’m a little exhausted from what’s become essentially a solo effort.

When I started with my current firm, design was considered an important part of our business strategy. There was a sound business rationale provided any time our team pushed beyond the “given standards” and developed solutions more applicable to the needs of our business line and its goals. The key was that this relationship was with our branding group in London. While I haven’t measured the ROI of our efforts, circumventing the perceived design illiteracy of American management proved a worthy effort. The most rewarding example was our divisions’ pocket folder redesign.

Our clients were asked to adopt the standard blue on blue (PMS 286) pocket folder with a blurry globe with the center being the only part that was in focus (the particular world region). Concerned that this solution wouldn’t work for our American retail audience, I presented an alternative design, first to our sales group (they “liked” the color better), and then to our branding group in London. The standard layout guidelines were followed but the folder was a flood of PMS 877 with an image of planes, buildings and financial symbols.

The comp was sent to London for approval. The approver of materials was about to reject it (for being out of standards despite our business rationale) when the global head of branding saw it, read our rationale and thought it worked and approved it for us. More importantly, our team no longer had to send London our designs for approval. We had earned their respect as designers who understood the needs of the business and could be expected to create work that met those needs.

When I moved to the institutional channel (my retail team was wiped out by a merger), things changed. London was out of the picture and all the decision makers were US executives. I had to become not only a design educator to upper management, including our head of marketing, but even to my own boss. My mission to “sell” the power of design internally has been a two-year project.

A couple of weeks ago the ignorance of design(ers) in corporate America once again made itself apparent. A headhunter contacted me about a ‘marketing’ position with a major US mutual fund company; the position would oversee the creative efforts and coordinate with sales in a specific sales channel. Based on my experience in the financial services industry, the headhunter told me I was a great candidate for the job. The outcome was the hiring managers didn’t feel I was “senior” enough, which the headhunter put as “your resume is all design.” Peter Phillips, of the Design Management Institute, pointed out the thinking of American management when he wrote, “hearing from the non-design managers, who said they did not understand design well and therefore did not value it.”(1)

Even as ‘Design’ has been pushed into the American conscious, or at least the mainstream media, with articles in Business Week, Fast Company and Time, the many of corporate America’s management does not value the role of design in their organizations. (It is interesting to note that most of these articles or special issues rarely mention graphic design.) And I’m not sure this will change soon. Kathleen Formosa, of the New School, and Steven Kroter, former Chair, Design and Management Department at Parsons School of Design, researched how future business leaders were being educated in terms of the role of design in business. The y found that “According to our recent review of top-tier American MBA programs we found that not a single one addressed or incorporated design into its curricula in any significant way. Even in those programs focused on marketing and branding, curricular attention to the principles or theories of design is cursory, at best. We view the result of this omission to be an epidemic of design illiteracy in the ranks of mid- and upper-level (sic: management).”(2)

But it was not always this way in American business. Recently Design Observer wrote a post about a time when large corporations encouraged and supported the use of design. In 1946. Walter Paepcke, the then CEO of Container Corporation of America (CCA), wrote:

“[A]rtists and businessmen, today as formerly, fundamentally have much in common and can contribute the more to society as they come to complement their talents…It should be made easy, remunerative and agreeable for the artist to ‘function in society not as a decorator but as a vital participant.’ The artist and the businessman should cultivate every opportunity to teach and supplement one another, to cooperate with one another, just as the nations of the world must do.”

Thirty-one years later, Walter Hoving, then chairman of Tiffany & Co., attempted to bring the most influential designers, business leaders, and educators of that era to an understanding of their interdependence. His vision of design was that while it may not be obvious, design had a direct impact on a corporation’s bottom line. In order to further this vision, he organized a lecture series at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. It was his hope that this series would “serve as an inspiration for business leaders, students and all of us concerned with promoting the highest standards of excellence.”

What has led to the negative change in the attitude of business leaders in terms of the value of design? How did we get from the Paepcke’s and Hoving’s of the 20th century to today’s brand sensitive but design ignorant business leaders? Clearly there are firms that value design, including Tiffany, Apple, Nike, Target and others. But why do they seem to be in the minority? Have we as designers failed to build the case for the value of design in the top-floor offices of corporate America? Is there an inherent problem with understanding design and its value in the minds of American executives? And if there was a more thorough understanding of the power of design in the past, what happened? How did the “knowing what design does” become such a mystery to American management?

These are problems that we all face. We need to find a way to solve them and raise design’s standing in mind of American management. And that’s what we do best, solve problems and deliver solutions. Here are some suggestions to get things started:

Have clients complete design briefs. This allows them to appreciate the process of design and realize it’s not a case of, “let’s jump on the computer and see what happens.”

Use the brief to tune designers into the business goals of a project. And make sure that presentations are in the language of business and not design-speak.

Spread the word of successes outside one’s immediate group.

Ban the word “like”. Present solutions in terms of the goals setout in the brief and that the solutions work in terms of the needs of the business.

Utilize a charge-back system, which brings something to the table that all business people understand: monetary value. (I have not always been a fan of this but I am beginning to feel that design costing something and viewing design as something of value, are intrinsically linked. Of course, the quality has to be there too.)

Finally, and most importantly, the name of our department does not contain the word “Art”. We are called the Strategic Design Group and we work to remind every time we can that, without design, most corporation’s aren’t much different than their competition.

Notes

1. “Lessons from the Trenches: Insights from Design Management Seminars,” Peter Phillips, Design Management Journal, Summer 2002

2. “Toward Design Literacy in American Management: A Strategy for MBA Programss,” Kathleen Formosa and Steven Kroeter, Design Management Journal, Summer 2002

Rob is currently the Lead, Strategic Design for Institutional Marketing group of Deutsche Asset Management. Prior to that he was Head of Design for Deutsche Asset Management Mutual Funds which encompassed over 60 no-load and load mutual funds. Rob lives and works in Baltimore. He has a BA in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and earned his MA in Publication Design from University of Baltimore. He is currently on the executive board of the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists and is an adjunct design instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He also speaks on design and branding issues, most recently at the IIR Brand Business Forum in 2003.

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PUBLISHED ON Jul.14.2004 BY Speak Up
WITH 30 COMMENTS
Comments
Schmitty’s comment is:

Design as a valued skill and process is overlooked by middle and upper management marketing/executives for the following reasons:

1. People in those positions are concerned only with numbers and percentages relating to the sales of a product or service. What percentage of the widget marketshare did we gain this quarter? What were the sales numbers relating to the release of our low carb widgets? Have you ever seen an ACNeilsen Brand Rank or Item Rank Report-nothing but columns of numbers and percentages. Yet if used and interpreted correctly, it is the life or death of every sales manager.

2. Many companies shell out big bucks for print ads and TV/Radio ads without any way of measuring response other than "Sales of our low carb widgets were up 3% this quarter and it could be due to our new ad campaign." Or it could be due a leading competitor slipping on the ice in front of one of his stores and dying-who knows? If I were a top exec in charge of a large advertising budget, this would make me weary of the effect of advertising and design with regards to sales and marketing too. This is why the Direct Mail industry has grown by something like 200% for the last 7 years. It's not about "getting the word about widgets out", it is about "getting the word about widgets out to the right people". It's results are trackable and therefore the money spent is justifiable.

3 For the most part, we don't wear suits to the office, we sometimes have funny colored hair or wacky eye glasses. We are proud to show our tatoos. Our cubicles contain tons of wierd items. We KNOW how to use OUR computers and we use words like "Tweening" or "Stochastic" in our everyday vocabulary. When we disagree with someone we let them know it. We are a pretty well-educated group when it comes to politics and current events.

DANG IT THEY ARE JUST FLAT OUT AFRAID OF US AND DON'T TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND US OR WHAT WE DO!

On Jul.14.2004 at 05:49 PM
Rob’s comment is:

DANG IT THEY ARE JUST FLAT OUT AFRAID OF US AND DON'T TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND US OR WHAT WE DO!

Schmitty, sorry to ask but since it's difficult to read tone, this was sacrcastic, right?

It's funny that you bring up the quarter issue. I've always found it amusing how much financial services loves to preach long-term investing to its clients but when it comes to its own business, it's driven by quarterly returns and performance, investing not by long-term shareholder but speculators, and everything we do is aimed at raising the stock price. People are laid off just to bring up the stock price. It's a pretty sick game that affects the lives of many.

But I digress, do you have any theories on why today's executives are so design illiterate in comparism to their counterparts from the past? And do you find it at all surprising that today's business schools, especially considering the strong focus on branding, can't seem to address the visual aspects of building a brand (graphic design, web design, package design, etc)?

On Jul.14.2004 at 07:09 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

As the author of the post on Design Observer that Rob mentioned, I'd like to clarify something. I didn't say, and don't feel, that there has been a "negative change in the attitude of business leaders in terms of the value of design." There were only a handful of corporate design patrons back then, probably less then there are now. Their names get invoked over and over again (Watson, Paepcke, Miller, Stanton and a few others.) Oddly, they seemed to go to the same designers over and over again (Rand, Noyes, Eames, Saarinen, and a few others) as well.

The difference is that yesterday's design patrons were likely to be just that: patrons. They supported design not just because it was good business, but because they thought it was the progressive, public spirited, "tasteful" thing to do. For many, "good design is good business" was a bit of a rationalization: at Paepcke's Container Corporation, for instance, the corporate image ads were beautiful, but the overwhelming majority of the stuff they actually manufactured was rather crappy.

I think that there are more design-conscious business leaders today than there were then, but they are for the most part all focused on the bottom line. They view themselves not as patrons seeking to collaborate with artists, but responsible decision makers who realize that design, in some way, provides some kind of competitive advantage. Jobs at Apple, Schultz at Starbucks, Davidson at Harley...these guys are true believers in the power of design as a business tool rather than as a magic trick. I suspect that most of us designers prefer to practice the latter rather than the former, which is why while design is powerful, designers, alas, are not.

On Jul.14.2004 at 07:57 PM
Rob’s comment is:

...didn't say, and don't feel, that there has been a "negative change in the attitude of business leaders in terms of the value of design

Michael, my apologies if I implied that this was the tenor of your post on Design Observer. But having read your post and the follow-up research I did do, I believe that at least, designers themselves are viewed with less value (negatively) than they were when they did have those powerful patrons.

suspect that most of us designers prefer to practice the latter rather than the former, which is why while design is powerful, designers, alas, are not.

Clearly, in order to succeed, "at the top" or at least earn their respect you need to have a shared language. Peter Phillips in his course "Managing the Corporate Design Department" (I think it's been renamed since I took it) for DMI talks about how necessary it is for designers to be able to speak the language of business, if they want to gain the respect of business executives. Even in the world of Pentagram, I would think, you must be communicate with your own clients in a similar way to sell your solutions. And I'd be curious to hear if this not true, or if you have a different viewpoint.

There probably is a case to be made of executives in the FMCG world that realize the power of design in terms of giving them a leg-up on the competition. I'm not sure this attitude is as prevelant in the service industry where more often not, the leading collateral/sales tool is the PowerPoint presentation. And trying to convince bottom-line conscious executives that choosing to print on a #3 coated sheet instead of a #1 is more likely to leave a negative impression about your brand, or at least, your financial stability is an uphill battle. (This last comment is based on real life experiences.)

On Jul.14.2004 at 08:51 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

Even in the world of Pentagram, I would think, you must be communicate with your own clients in a similar way to sell your solutions.

Rob, I promise you that Pentagram's clients are just like anyone else's clients. Some are smart, some are not so smart, some are secure, some are not so secure. I was amused to read Paula Scher's description of her talk at the upcoming AIGA Gain conference:

Paula Scher will discuss the pitfalls of working with PEOPLE—fearful people, indecisive people, people in complicated corporate hierarchies, people with odd preconceived notions about what something should look like.

That sounds about right to me.

I think that there are two reasons it seems like there is less support for design today than in the golden age of design patronage.

First, design management has become professionalized. The design patrons back then were acting on their taste and personal conviction. They were supported by people who may not have understood much about design, but made it their job to figure out what their boss liked. The select designers who found themselves working in this environment found themselves with more power than today, where your new assistant marketing director has worked on a "branding program" in a previous job and knows for sure that white symbolizes death in Korea. More people today have a little knowledge, and you know what they say about a little knowledge.

Second, I think more designers are more ambitious today than they were fifty years ago. The AIGA was small. Art directors clubs were dominated by advertising types. The people who knew and cared about contemporary design were fewer and farther between. The great mass of commercial artists were doing renderings of Coldspot refrigerators in tempera paint and comping Brush Sans with chisel-point No. 6 pencils, not brooding about having a seat at the table with the big shots.

So I think the bottom line is more clients + more designers = more frustration. And, to be optimistic, more opportunity.

On Jul.15.2004 at 06:47 AM
Gahlord Dewald’s comment is:

Most of my clients are newish businesses... three to five years old. I'm constantly educating them about the value of design. It's part of our job.

It doesn't help that, as mentioned above, the measurements can be fairly subjective (or at least more subjective than calculating the margin on regular widgets vs low-carb widgets).

Ultimately, the bean-counters and decision-makers have to trust us. We build that trust with every interaction; at the water-cooler, at the company picnic, at the bar, at the meeting, etc. We build that trust with every success and every failure that's pinned to our work. We have to be honest and not take credit when the success is not ours. We also have to have the guts to stand up when the failure is not ours alone.

It's just about trust. And "they" don't have to trust us if they're making money already.

On Jul.15.2004 at 07:36 AM
nick shinn’s comment is:

>The great mass of commercial artists were doing renderings of Coldspot refrigerators in tempera paint and comping Brush Sans with chisel-point No. 6 pencils,

..which at least was a skill with a bit of mystique, as those tools were not ones that clients were intimate with. Now that clients have software that typesets, and can go to getty.com and choose pictures for their brochures if they don't like ours, what is it that's so special about what designers do?

In becoming more conceptual and less of a craft, what designers do is becoming harder for the lay person to grasp, and is disappearing.

The new ywca logo (note lc usage -- must be getting through to me), is a clever and useful design because it is so easy for anybody to work with and replicate. But at the same time, it's giving the shop away.

On Jul.15.2004 at 08:19 AM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

I think that there are two reasons it seems like there is less support for design today... ::snip:: The design patrons back then were acting on their taste and personal conviction.

Isn't that at odds with the author's suggestion to ban the word "like"?

On Jul.15.2004 at 08:28 AM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

I suspect that most of us designers prefer to practice the latter rather than the former, which is why while design is powerful, designers, alas, are not.

Michael, well said. I think the only solution here is for design practioners to do the homework necessary to talk to clients about the R.O.I. that an investment in design will bring — in real terms, not just in over-generalized "good design is good business" platitudes. It's not reasonable to expect non-designers to all of a sudden have a design epiphany, or to even suddenly have good taste. What's possible is to convince smart business people that this is an area where you have special knowledge, and just as they listen to their attorney or accountant — even when they are told things they might not want to hear — they should listen to you, a trained, experienced expert.

It's important to frame this in the right manner, not as a "I like it and you don't, but I'm the designer so I win" kind of way. Successful design solutions aren't about who likes it, but about how well does it work and why. If a designer can't articulate this to the client they don't stand much chance of getting past subjective decisions made by the uninformed.

On Jul.15.2004 at 08:36 AM
Schmitty’s comment is:

DANG IT THEY ARE JUST FLAT OUT AFRAID OF US AND DON'T TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND US OR WHAT WE DO!

Rob-yes I was being sarcastic with this statement but I think there is some truth in not understanding what we do. For once I would love to have a client that does not think "Bigger is better" when it comes to their logo. Or a client that doesn't think "whitespace=wasted space". I made the logo small to draw attention to it and I put a lot of whitespace around it to also accomplish this-look how noticeable it is.

I think Nick Shinn was right in that our industry has become less of a craft-a pitfall to computerization. I once had the owner of an agency that I worked for state in a newspaper about his agency

"Why should I charge my clients for artwork when it is something they can do on their home computer"

Sure, they may be able to learn the applications, but they won't learn about color theory, composition, typography etc etc. And now with the computer, they don't need to learn how to cut ruby or spec type.

Though I intentionally stereotyped graphic designers (for the sake of humor-hopefully), I do feel that we are a little "different" and that is why we are drawn into this industry.

On Jul.15.2004 at 10:26 AM
Joseph’s comment is:

This is not so much a comment as it is a . . . question?

I work at a ad agency part time and also work as strictly graphic designer the other part. Most of my clients on both jobs are medium sized businesses. The area where I do business is sort of behind the times. Anyway, I have tried time and again to implement creative breifs with little to no success. I find that when I sit down with the client the questions take them off guard. For instance, "what you feel is the desired outcome?" and thier answer always is "Make money." This goes on through out the whole brief. When all is said and done, I have no real understanding of goals or objectives. The only thing i can say is that i do know who their market is. Is that enough? Without goals, I really cannot measure success. Has anyone had experience similar to this?

On Jul.15.2004 at 12:05 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Designers themselves are entirely to blame for the perception that corporations have of them and its their fault for not bothering to change it. While I'm generalizing (to a degree), designers do several things consistently that prevent them from achieving the power and recognition they crave. First, we consistently treat our profession as part of the service industry rather than something like...manufacturing. Which is a hell of a lot more relevant to the design business--for instance, we make stuff. Wotta concept. We make stuff that performs a specific task and accomplishes a specific objective, not unlike a car, or a toaster. The only way you can logically look at design as a "service," is if you consider its service to be like that of a car or a toaster. The point is, I know exactly what I'm getting from those items.

I'm not advocating any change in how we do things, I'm proposing that we actually look at our activities a little differently. Because, as we all know so well, sometimes its more HOW you say something than WHAT you say, and our "we're a service industry!" blather clearly isn't working as well as we'd like it to.

Here's why this is relevant and worth exploring: in the service industry, you RESPOND to what someone requests, and you're judged on how responsive you are. The problem is, designers don't command much respect at all--we justify executing a client's bizarre requests because they pay the bills way too frequently. It's all in how you set yourself up; position yourself as an expert dealing with a delicate, intense, complicated process, being objective in rationalizing your decisions, and then accepting responsibility on performance and, well...businesses might actually respect you.

Think about it from a client's point of view; if a firm insists on doing things THEIR way, but can't justify it objectively, that's wasteful. If a firm does what a client tells them, the client will lose respect for them because they're too easy to manipulate. Paying clients need to see a return on their investment, and clearly, good design and advertising is worth it (as long as the product is good, of course). Not enough design firms argue that point because I don't think they understand how they provide value.

I've talked quite a bit, for quite a long time, about looking at design as a profession along the lines of accounting or law, both of which command a lot more respect and money than design. Curiously, I repeatedly encounter resistance from designers on this subject, who then turn around and wonder "gee, why don't people respect us?"

I can only imagine why that might be.

On Jul.15.2004 at 02:22 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Here's why this is relevant and worth exploring: in the service industry, you RESPOND to what someone requests, and you're judged on how responsive you are.

Bradley, I think you should give up flogging this horse that was beaten to death in your earlier thread on the subject. Your example is simply too narrow. There are many service providers who bring special expertise and technical experience who also command high prices and respect — think attorneys, physicians, technology experts, scientists, financial analysts — the list goes on and on. These service providers are not judged on their responsiveness, but on their ability to deliver what the project needs. They gain respect by their ability to understand a problem fully and to articulate the reasoning behind their decision making to stakeholders. Too often designers don't win this respect because, irrespective of the brilliance of their design, they fail at this critical part of the job.

On Jul.15.2004 at 02:46 PM
Schmitty’s comment is:

Joseph,

I think your experience is pretty standard. What we want to accomplish is easy to determine. How we want to accomplish this is hard to determine. If you come away from a meeting understanding the client's market-that is the most important aspect. Then it is time for you to tell your client's "Here is your market and here is how we are going to appeal to it" and then lay out your master plan.

On Jul.15.2004 at 05:29 PM
Spencer Cross (5000!)’s comment is:

There was an article in Communication Arts recently on the same subject that everyone might find interesting.

On Jul.15.2004 at 08:13 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

I've talked quite a bit, for quite a long time, about looking at design as a profession along the lines of accounting or law, both of which command a lot more respect and money than design. Curiously, I repeatedly encounter resistance from designers on this subject, who then turn around and wonder "gee, why don't people respect us?"

Curiously both accounting and law have, at the very least, a large service component. I would go as far as to say that they are entirely a service industry as much as graphic design is. And I don't know when accounting has ever commanded a "lot more respect."

Various professions in the service industry make a lot of money and get a lot of respect. So I don't think that playing with semantics until graphic designers are in a product industry is going to fix anything.

The essential difference between law and graphic design is that a: no one but lawyers understand the law (everyone thinks they understand design) and b: when you require the services of a lawyer it usually means you need to take care of some serious shit...and people don't often see design as serious shit.

On Jul.15.2004 at 08:38 PM
Shahla’s comment is:

Awhile ago a faculty member at Art Center brought a promising project to our graduating class. It was a Business Outreach Program by AIGA in which the work myself and four others did, was to be produced as a CD and presented to UCLA's Anderson School of Business for use in their marketing classes. According to our instructor, the MBA faculty lost interest and the project was to continue without them but she assured us we would have the multimedia CD for our portfolios.

Unfortunately disappointment trickled down to us as -or rather speaking for myself only, I -did not receive a copy of the CD. In my opinion, if higher education is a business, then in a case such as AIGA's failed educational outreach involving ACCD and UCLA, the product two entities were developing had no buyer. The talent paid heavily.

Sure, we had Kit Hinrichs come to our class, view our individual work and comment on the state of graphic design. And I admire alumni who stay close. But tangible benefit did not materialize. Wishful thinking leads me to believe this can be rectified and I can one day have that CD with the four other [we'd socialized ; ) ] designers' work on it.

I'm just kidding about the socialization. We had no time for it -with all the work we had to do.

To be able to discuss my work in relation to the whole would have been satisfying given the struggles with authorship that were going on among us students, namely Lars Dahmann who was designing the interactive shell containing 4 case studies and felt his work would be overlooked.

Competition is so over-rated.

Sorry about the rant.

Yet, I have a somewhat related question. Why are the names of student medal recipients and their schools not listed on the AIGA website?

On Jul.15.2004 at 09:36 PM
Tom Dolan’s comment is:

Woops, Bradley not Brady. Nevermind.

On Jul.16.2004 at 08:42 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Rob:

Great Editorial.

Why Designers aren't offered a BIGGER SLICE of the PIE.

GOOD DESIGNERS MAKE TROUBLE.

Statement by Tibor Kalman.

You can put me in that category multiplied by 100 times.

Not because I think I'm a Good Deigner. I don't jump through hoops for my clients. I'm HONEST, STRAIGHTFORWARD, SINCERE, Direct. I'd much rather tell my clients the truth even when its not to my Financial Advantage.

Others may choose a different route. If something is wrong and will not work. I tell them it's wrong.

Often times you have to remind clients why they selected you and/or continue to partner with you.

It's because of your expertise in a given area or discipline.

Forty years ago, as you referenced to Michael B.

(aka Michael Don Vito Corleone)The GodFather of American Design.

Design was in it's infancy. Marketing Departments were relegated to providing research only.

Marketing Departments Didn't have much of a voice.

It was also an era when Designers could talk to the Head Man (CEO) acquire commissions get things done.

Today the Hiarchy is quite different. Marketing play a much greater role. No smart CEO will commission a Design or Brand Revitalization without the full support of his/her key departments, Marketing, Communication, and Public Relations.

Thus the CEO need majority support from these departments to successfully implement Branding and Corporate Identity.

Most will relegate the authority to their Marketing, Communication and Public Relation Department.

In reference to the Golden Era of Design.

Mention the name(s)

Walter Paepcke= Container Corporation of America.

The Great Ideas of Western Man,

Perhaps one of the Greatest Campaigns ever. In the use of bringing Design Awareness to the Community.

As well, Container Corporation of America had Great Designers working with them.

Herbert Bayer was hired as a Consultant. Walter Paepcke commissioned him to Design Buildings and create Environmental Design.

Certainly, Bayer's work has stood the Test of Time in Aspen Colorado.

There were others involved such as , Egbert Jacobson, John Massey, Ralph Eckerstrom whom founded on of the Great American Identity Consultancies Unimark International with Massimo Vignelli.

If you research the annals of Design. Container Corporation of American is associated with Innovation of Paperboard Fiber. Several Divisions existed within Container Corporation. Design, Scientific Research, and Graphics.

I'm afraid Michael B. is correct. As Great as the Container Corporation Ad Series.

Great Ideas of Western Man.

Work from their Graphic Department was not as Great as the Wester Man Ads. And compared to noted Packaging Conglomerates of the time. Such as, Jerome Gould, Frank Gianninoto Associates, Lippincott & Margulies, Walter Landor Associates, Donald Desky Associates, Henry Dreyfus, Raymond Loewy, Dickens Design Associates. (others)

Certainly, Thomas J. Watson of IBM and Frank Stanton of CBS were conscious of the role Design played within their Respective Corporations obtaining sighted goals.

Moreover, they were catylist for other Coporations to learn and take their cue.

Sought of Philanthropist to springboard other Designer(s) Ideas.

Example, Frank Stranton, Invested in several of SAUL BASS' Independant Films. I can sight other incidents were the aforementioned help other Designers. Will not due to Time Constraints.

Today the probability of a CEO giving CARTE BLANCHE to a Designer or Consultancy without the full support of Marketing, Communication, and other key people within the organizaion. It's a

failed attempt.

FYI, for Comic Relief, I was going to post something to illustrate whe Designers are not given a bigger slice of the pie or invited from the onset. The site I have to get the information is having problems. I'll post it later if I can find it.

On Jul.16.2004 at 10:59 AM
Rob ’s comment is:

Great Editorial.

Why Designers aren't offered a BIGGER SLICE of the PIE.

GOOD DESIGNERS MAKE TROUBLE.

Might Maven, thanks for the compliment. It's interesting that you should bring up the point about 'making trouble.'

I think that it's a very good point but it can also bring a designer to a point of getting tired of trying to do the right thing and just moving on. Because design is so subjective, computers put the tools in the hands of anyone who can manipulate the keys and mouse; everyone has an opinion. And as Michael B. suggested, they have worked on a branding campaign, and for sure know that what they did there was the most correct way of doing it and the only way. Like the boss (head writer, believe it or not) who insisted on using a different image for the invitation and save the date for a conference despite the designer urging the use of consistency in the branding of the event. Sure, you could use different images, nothing wrong with that, but then it becomes a less cohesive package, weakens the message and is more likely to get overlooked when you do send the invite because you've lost the unconscious hook of visual recognition of the image. (Of course the designer was just being difficult and causing trouble)

Today the probability of a CEO giving CARTE BLANCHE to a Designer or Consultancy without the full support of Marketing, Communication, and other key people within the organizaion. It's a failed attempt.

I agree but it's not what I would want. I think it's important for the designer to work with those groups because they are all important parts in crafting the messages to drive the buiness strategy. Having said that, I think it's vital to the success of the business (FMCG or Service industries) for design to have a seat at the table. And if design isn't at the table, or you just send them copy and say, lay this out by the next day, then you are doing your business a major disservice.

On Jul.16.2004 at 11:44 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Rob:

You're Preaching to the Choir.

I bring up Marketing, Communication and the relationship Designer(s) had with the CEO.

To remind everyone forty to fifty years ago and less Designer(s) were invited to sit at the Head of the Table. We were within the Initial Stages of Planning.

It's only during the last to fifteen years or so that's changed.

Case and Point. When John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted Air Force One Designed.(1963) He contacted Raymond Loewy himself. Invited him to the White House to discuss Design Objectives.

Today that will not happen. Because of the Politics of Design. Different infrastructures within the party pushing their own interest.

Thus, my point Marketing taking a larger role and having a larger voice.

Can you imagine DUBYA trying to find a Consultancy to Rebrand Air Force One.

He'd have to ask Dick Chaney. I'm sure Dick Chaney would have to confer with someone.

You get the picture. I'm sure after they all confered with family and friends. The internal White House Graphic and Design Department is the last entity they will consult. Sad but true.

Essentially Marketing Departments had nothing to do, except research. Without the elevation to be inclusive. Marketing would not exist.

Marketing now sit at the Table that were once reserved for Designers.

You can view it as a Glass Half Empty or Half Full

depending on one's few.

If one is building a house. I would think the architect would sit at the table. Not the gardener, trash collector and the next door neighbor.

It begins with Respectability. Which is why I try to only work with clients that respect my capability and input.

You have to start with a modest franchise of respectability and build upon that.

The issue is like beating a Dead Horse.

Even Designer(s) get tired of getting beat on.

Sad to say it. Some Designer(s) will do anything to get the job. That's a game I refuse to play.

You'll better understand when I find the comic relief from the other site.

Personal note:

Not to denegrate Marketing with I'm not.

Designer(s) had always enjoyed Carte Blanche with the Top Man.

It's unfortunate that doesn't exist anymore.

We now live in an era where everybody crunches numbers. And the number crunchers other than accountants are the Marketing Departments.

Now-a-days Ideas live or die by Marketing Analysis.

On Jul.16.2004 at 12:55 PM
Chris Conley’s comment is:

Hey everyone,

I haven't read all of the comments, just the original post and I got all giddied up. This topic is one that I have both experienced and reflected on for some time now. I can't argue that the majority of business management is naive about how to use design to their advantage -- that much is true. But the blame doesn't lie in their ignorance or allegiance to the fabled bottom line. The blame lies with Design which has never built a respectable academic community for the discipline. We are plagued by excellent professional practitioners who need not explain design and the less talented who argue against the understanding and explanation of design. What's the solution? I have an article coming out in the summer issue of the Design Management Journal where I take an initial stab at this thesis. In a nutshell, designers must realize that the "design department" will remain a service organization. Design departments and design consultancies are service organizations. Whether or not one is invited to meetings early in a process, the fact is that decision making about what will be created and ultimately require design, does not lie in the design department. It lies in marketing, product management, strategic initiatives and other places where people are held accountable for the results of their investments. The calls for design to understand ROI is a necessary step. More importantly, designers must give up the "us and them" mentality that is so destructive and become "them" if they wish to become more than a service. You heard me. Designers need to become business people. An indication that this is happening is when designers leave the design department and go into marketing, product management, strategy, or senior management. This is where they are able to fully leverage intelligent design. It is also a place where they will test their own ability to manage risk and reward. How many of you have hired a designer for a major project where you will be investing your own money and require a positive result? There are no patrons when one is responsible for the growth of a business -- only customers who determine if you are providing more value than what it costs to acquire your product or service. Its a really pure place to play because you can't argue that customers don't understand how brilliant you are.

Forgive me if I have been redundant or skew to the thread of comments above. I'll catch up on the posts now that I've belched a response to "Design's Glass Ceiling." It is a good title because it is design's glass ceiling, not management's glass floor.

On Jul.17.2004 at 08:01 PM
graham’s comment is:

i'm surprised that no one seems to have picked up on what seemed to me to be one of the main points of the initial topic-american management in contrast to management in other parts of the world. i'd be interested in more on this.

ultimately, if one person is talking (really talking- only talking one human to another) to another person on a subject and endeavour they are committed to and passionately believe in, then all (facile) divisions and game-playing go out the window. intuition, belief and trust become the driving forces and everything becomes subordinate to the innate momentum that the work itself posesses -any interference in these forces (out of fear, second-guessing, laziness, inattention, careerism etc.) only wastes this energy and results in (at best) a brief fulfilled. which is not enough.

if there is any blame in this (as mentioned in chric conley's post), it would be apportioned equally everywhere; at designers for falling for the myths of modern business, for forgetting what they do and how many ways there are to do it-from poet to thief to barrow-boy to priest, at business for the acquiescence in the construction of those myths (research, aversion to learning, short-termism, forgetting, the elasticity of physics, the idea that everything in business is a thing of business).

only when, through talking as one human being to another, there is no more need for either understanding or explanation does the real work of creating meaning begin.

On Jul.18.2004 at 05:13 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Hello all.

Only when, through talking as one human being to another, there is no more need for either understanding or explanation does the real work of creating meaning begin. good point, Chris.

For what it's worth: About a week ago I happen, by accident, to be seated at the table of a CEO and his wife during a restaurant grand opening. (I did the logo for the place: Coyoacan, here in New Orleans). And during the meal this rather pleasant and well educated CEO talked about his art collection and extensive world traveling. He was, apparently, one of the American businessmen who opened trade with China back in Nixon's day. His company owns companies and from the impression I got, he was way up there in international business circles. He explained to me why he thought that design and advertising were good, but not essential. His analogy was that the better the company the less it needed to advertise. That most advertising was "for show" more or less. And conversely, the worse the company or product the more advertising it needed. He talked about how anti-business some designers were in their attitudes and that is why he disliked all the fuss. He designed his own brochures with an assistant, and had some West Coast type pitch designing his web site but didn't think his company needed the bells and whistles. What surprized me most was that the perception from this gentleman that designers were just not essential at all unless you had products sitting on shelves. What I explained was to him was that I thought, in his circumstance, a good designer was as important as his tailor at least: A good cut of suit brought prestige to his established reputation. A diamond cutter brought brilliance to his wife's big diamond ring. Emphasizing the skill more than the osentaciousness of advertising. As the meal proceeded distinguished VIPs came up to shake his hand and then leave. I got the idea he was more powerful than I had assumed. He liked analogies and the fact that I could talk so comfortably with him about his impressions of business in China, etc. that we exchanged business cards before we left.

Designers may not always get an opportunity to just talk with executives, but it has moments of insight when it does.

On Jul.18.2004 at 08:10 AM
Tan’s comment is:

>He talked about how anti-business some designers were in their attitudes and that is why he disliked all the fuss.

Designers definitely tend to be business bigots. There's widespread cynicism, disrespect, and general intolerance when it comes to the word "corporation." To be fair, in some cases, it's justified. But in most cases, it's not. Most designers don't care to differentiate the two.

You say you want a seat at the executive table? Then you have to earn it. In your business relationship with the client, look for ways to create trust, form mutual respect, add real value to the equation as a designer.

Don't just assume your opinion is more valuable b/c you're a designer — or that business people are incapable of understanding creative work. Or that all businesses are out to make a buck at all costs.

That anti-business attitude does a disservice to us all as a profession.

On Jul.18.2004 at 11:08 AM
graham’s comment is:

willing credulity (in the name of the "goddam it this is a christing business leverage risk reward scenario" approach) does a disservice to the human spirit.

unless they want to, designers do not need to become business people. business people do not need to become designers. accountants do not need to become chefs. ducks do not need to become bunnies. this is because one thing is as necessary (or not) as the other-it depends on the situation. are we saying here, for example, that great business acumen is gained by being best mates with the band who you're doing a cd cover for-perhaps it is, because after all in this example the designer is sitting at the "executive table".

perhaps the conundrum here is that, in many cases, businesses approach designers to make work (in the most general of senses) for them. in this situation, the weight is on who is approaching who. to be approached to make work (pitching, recommendation, saw some work and really wants to work together) and then to find that the situation is more complex (or arse before elbow) can be disconcerting and influence following relationships to their detriment. just like love.

there will always be relationships that go pear shaped: to attempt otherwise is to be false to oneself and the task at hand. there will also be relationships that last and blossom-sometimes unexpectedly, and at the best with mutual intentions towards broadening and deepening what a client can do in partnership with design.

thankfully, there is not just one way, one client, one brief, one designer. the greater the diversity of approaches, the richer we will all be.

On Jul.18.2004 at 12:44 PM
Rob’s comment is:

Whether or not one is invited to meetings early in a process, the fact is that decision making about what will be created and ultimately require design, does not lie in the design department. It lies in marketing, product management, strategic initiatives and other places where people are held accountable for the results of their investments.

Chris, this is the very thinking that I find most bothersome. Your suggestion, or the way I'm reading it, is that design has no bearing on the results of the business, or at least that designers are less accountable than marketing, et al.

I'd argue that design should be as accountable as those other groups and should be a part of developing the strategy. If it's not then companies are doing themselves a disservice.

I don't think the overall business strategy, even on a project basis, can be fully realized unless design is a part of the overall process in developing that strategy from stage one. Comnunicating key messages needs both visual and word developement, and all involved need to on the same playing field to get that information.

I agree with Tan, when he wrote, "You say you want a seat at the executive table? Then you have to earn it. In your business relationship with the client, look for ways to create trust, form mutual respect, add real value to the equation as a designer. ". And in order to achieve this, designer's need to speak to their clients in terms of business and not designspeak. Designers need to show the understand the goals/needs of the business and arent' just about 'art' or this color or that type size. I'm not saying that those things aren't important but that they need to crafted and presented in a way that addresses their importance to the needs of the business.

The challenge, as I see it, is for designer's to be heard in this way. Or at least get the opportunity to be heard. Sure, if the company is fairly design savvy, then the opportunities are more sure to be there. But in companies that aren't the challenges and hurdles are that much higher for designers to overcome.

On Jul.18.2004 at 03:52 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Tom D.--yeah, maybe I should. At least here. But I've been having success with it with my clients at work so we'll see where that goes over the next few months or so.

The essential difference between law and graphic design is that a: no one but lawyers understand the law (everyone thinks they understand design) and b: when you require the services of a lawyer it usually means you need to take care of some serious shit...and people don't often see design as serious shit.

I agree that law is largely service oriented--the difference is, people understand the results created by the service offered. And who's to blame that everyone thinks they understand design? Way too often, we let them and do as I've mentioned previously, which is to allow decisions to be made based on personal tastes rather than objective rationale.

Am I crazy for believing that design is treated and talked about in terms far too esoteric?

On Jul.18.2004 at 06:24 PM
Josh’s comment is:

Being a recent graduate is hard to completely immerse or understand the breathe of what has been written. As little as I can say, while doing my internship at MetaDesign in Germany, Meta has a great process for approaching a client and is obviously successful in what they do having maintained Volkswagen, Audi and Siemens as clients for years.

They bring clients in for a brand workshop and simply find the essentials without bending toward a client's ignorance. They empower the company to make decisions on how they see or wish to see their business, yet make their case for the power of design.

I haven't worked for or know many design firms processes very well, but I think there are some similarities, but distinct differences on the processes by which some approach clients. This may ultimately affect the perception and success of each individuals workplace.

I didn't want this to come off as an advertisement, but just thought I would share a seemingly, successful business model.

jp

On Jul.19.2004 at 05:12 AM
Jonathan Ames’s comment is:

ROI & BusinesSpeak

I agree with the comments that American management is likely more design-savvy today than in the past. However the real question is, how do we continue to cultivate that appreciation in the executive set? May I suggest two linked solutions?

1. Designers need to learn BusinesSpeak. We need to take the first step and learn their language. As we do so it is much more likely that they in turn will begin to learn a bit of ours. How do we do it? Well, read what they read. Perhaps a sprinkle of the Wall Street Journal and a visit to the AMA website might help. Soon we might start learning to translate our ideas into the lingo that all Business-types love to talk about...namely ROI.

2. ROI is essential to business and too few of us in design work to track our ROI in terms the suits will appreciate. You can see it in our awards. How many CA awards or Gold Lions got handed out on the basis of the campaign's performance or the design's impact? Now you can see why the suits think of design as a service and not a profit-generator. How often do our portfolios note actual numbers tracking the effects, tangible or otherwise for the client? Agreed, some projects produce results that are difficult to track in a traditional manner. But we are creative minds right? So let's start putting those strategic brains to work figuring out creative ways to track our results and then walk into the suit's offices on a regular basis with reports on our ROI. What will be the results? Massive pay raises in the creative department? Newfound respect for the oddly dressed ones? Realization that design has an ROI? Greater self-confidence among designers? Who knows until we try?

Jonathan Ames

On Sep.09.2004 at 06:08 PM