Seth Guge Shares Thoughts on Design

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on interviews with Seth. Today he shares his thoughts about the world of design.

Q: Why is design critical to branding and marketing efforts?

SG: At some point there was a breakthrough in the business world in understanding how important design is. Obviously, it was around forever but just since about the mid- to late nineties the breakthrough hit. It was probably associated with what Apple did with the iMac and what Target did with their advertising and branding. People looking at some of these companies were really embracing the creative side of business. At that time, the world started to realize how important design and creativity are in the marketplace in order to sell products. It was always there and people understood that, but around that time I think people really started to embrace it.

Q: Steve Jobs famously said that design is not just about how it looks, but also about how it works. How does the way products work fit into design?

SG: People sometimes pigeonhole designers as people who just want to make it look good. But the reality is that designers are taught from day one that form should follow function. I think it’s a preconceived notion that creatives just want it to look good or be cool, but most of the time creatives understand what the objective is and what the strategy is and execution of that idea comes in second to facilitate what the client is trying to do. Most of the time creative individuals are adamant to make sure it’s working well before it looks cool.

Q: From a design perspective, what is key to creating a strong brand?

SG: Every situation is different. Sometimes it’s about the way images, photography is used. Or, it can be as simple as the color the company is using. What I like is being able to sit back and see patterns. When you look down from an airplane, grids, sometimes you see grids and structure and sometimes it’s chaos down there. Sometimes the chaos is in the manmade pieces and the structure is in the natural pieces – and vice versa.

If you’re standing in a field, you’re right next to everything. You can see a long way but you’re looking out from the weeds. When you’re up high, you look down and can see the whole thing from a new perspective. You get a better sense of how things are working.

I like to do that – step back and look at everything – color, taglines, strategies, vision – and come up with things you might not have gotten to because you already thought you had it figured out. It might have started out as executing. But when you can come in with something bigger and broader, you can oftentimes make it beyond what a client imagined was possible.

Q: With everything constantly evolving and changing, how do you adapt design to accommodate?

SG: One of the biggest changes is making sure with the design that the visual will flow well on all those screens. Fifteen years ago, it was all about print or digital and digital was probably on a computer screen. Then it started to happen on your phone and then on tablets. Within the last five years or so, we’ve had to understand that we need all these devices to work in harmony. Can you actually do one thing that is going to work well on all those devices?

All the devices are different sizes and are smaller, so responsiveness has been a critical issue in constantly making sure things are working well. In the same way, we as creatives need to be thinking in different dimensions. As we think about an idea, how is it going to work on a computer screen and then on your phone? How can we leverage the same idea in a completely different environment? Thinking about all the pieces is one of the keys to success.

Watch for Part 3 in the series with Seth, where he talks about trends and executing with excellence. Read Part 1 of the interview series.