The advertising agency business has gotten terribly conglomeratized and consolidated, and I don’t think that’s doing the agency, the employees of the agencies, and the clients of the agencies’ business any favors.

In the world of super-modernity, a bus ticket can’t be just a bus ticket. It has to exhibit the branding of the bus company; it might carry an advertisement; and it will use sophisticated computerized tyopgraphy.

It’s only a bus ticket, yet we’ve turned it into a scrap of commercial graphic theatre that utilizes the brainpower of designers, marketing people and IT people.

(Design) mends the broken relationship between brands and people. Designers try to mix and match human sciences and intuitive innovation in order to understand market realities and bring a level of inventiveness back to the marketplace.

Brand Jam by Marc Gobé

Build expertise rapidly.

You should be twice as smart today as you were a year or two ago, and I don’t care how long you’ve been in the business. And if you’re not, it’s not because you’re stupid, it’s more likely that you’re just too broadly focused.

Interrogating clients is an essential part of being a designer. If we don’t learn to ask questions, we run the risk of never getting to the heart of what good design can be. No question is ever too dumb to ask, and if we are frightened of exposing our ignorance we will never understand anything.

There are dominant emotional and behavioral currents that run through society, and designers often have a knack of being able to read these cultural waves. Each generation has its own, and like a baton in a relay race, it gets handed on to the next generation. Yet each time the baton is transferred, it changes.

We don’t have to immerse ourselves in it, but we have to be able to spot it.

Designers as a whole, unlike advertising designers, are not concerned with ‘selling’ a product, service, or destination. Designers are primarily interested in creating a solution that will benefit the end user.

Clients have a habit of failing to explain the stuff that to them is grindingly obvious. They are quick to accuse designers of failing to understand their business, yet they often make the mistake of not explaining what they understand implicitly. They just assume everyone knows what they know.

Consumers seem increasingly resistant to modern selling strategies. Cold-calling, most forms of direct mail, and the ubiquitous spam are imprecise, intrusive, wasteful, but, most of all, resented.

There’s a rough magic in the word ‘no’. Clients often react badly at first, but they usually end up respecting the designer who says ‘no’ to unpaid pitching more than the one who says ‘yes’.

There’s no need to go into complex market research analysis or sociodemographic categories in any detail. This is all about drawing on your knowledge of people in your life, or even people in movies, on TV, or online. You want to distill the essential characteristics of the specific types of people so you can find a common ground in terms of their attitudes and beliefs.