Vox pop – January 2007

Predicting the year ahead in Design Week, John Allert of Interbrand wrote: “Design can no longer be defined by the visual. 2007 will be the year of words used wisely”. Do you share his optimism?

Freddie Baveystock, Strategy & Communications Director, The Nest

“Yes and no. Certainly all the designers I know love working with writers, and looking around me, I see more brands taking care over their words. So in theory, spirit and practice I’m with John. In outlook, however, I don’t really share his breezy optimism. This year I expect to have just as many vapid political communiqués, frothy free magazines and dull DM thrust through my door as any other year. Ditto for pointless point of sale and screaming sale graphics. Culturally, we still have a mountain to climb.”

Fiona Thompson, Wordspring

“I’d love to think that 2007 could be the year of words used wisely, but remain a touch cynical just now. Perhaps designers could take inspiration from the recent ‘Literary Constructs’ exhibition at England & Co in London, W11. There, a range of artists cut up and manipulated words on paper in fantastical and beautiful ways. Chris Kenny takes disembodied phrases such as “Spikey blushed with pleasure as he shook Mrs Fieldmouse” and “Jack plunged in at once” and pins them to a board as though they were butterflies, creating witty poem landscapes. Meanwhile, Georgia Russell dissects books, often French classics, and displays the flayed results in acrylic cases or bell jars.”

Neil Taylor, Creative Director, The Writer

“Finally, someone running a big design agency who gets it. Thank heavens for John Allert. But it’d be great if design agencies didn’t just worry about the words they use when customers finally get to read their sometimes finely wrought websites, brochures and ads. What about the words they use to describe the brand before it hits the outside world? The language of brand models, essences, positionings, matrices, keys, and yes, lozenges is still woefully bland and uninspiring. So woeful that they’d be too embarrassed to ever utter them to a normal person. So why is it any different internally? As Scrappy Doo would say, let me at ’em. Let me at ’em!”

Jim Davies, totalcontent

“It’s certainly not the Wild West it was when 26 set up four years ago. There’s more of an appreciation of tone of voice out there, and a realisation that a story well told can give a brand that little something extra. Having said that, more often than not, writing still comes a poor second to visual content. It’s often left to the last moment and people aren’t mad about paying for it. And the paper stock is still more likely to get a credit than the writer. We’re at base camp – there’s still the best part of the summit to climb. Now where’s that crampon?”

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