reason 57

Reason is a monthly missive from the partners of Essex Two, a vertically integrated communication consultancy. We invite our readers to think in new ways about their business, their customers and the opportunities for meaningful communication between them. Joseph and Nancy Essex

A Critical Difference  Would you want your family doctor to perform your heart transplant? Would you expect to arrive safely if the same pilot that dusts your crops flies you to Hawaii in a 747? Would you feel comfortable if the general contractor that built your vacation home were to build a nuclear power plant? On some occasions the critical difference between similar disciplines may not be as obvious.

There are different kinds of designers. Like doctors, pilots and contractors, designers may encompass a much broader range of skills and abilities than you might think. The work of an artist/designer represents his particular vision, the work of the planner/designers serves the communication objectives of his clients and their customers.

The individual standards of performance that guide each artist/designer are shaped by their desire for originality. The planner/designer are committed to a process that will accomplish their client’s goals.

Looking Good & Feeling Good  The creativity and imagination of each artist/designer may not be much different from those of the designer/planner. However, because the success of the planner/designer is based on accomplishing the client’s specific goals, creativity and imagination are ingredients of success, not the sole objectives. Because of their client-focused process, the performance of planner/designers will almost always be more measurable and potentially more valuable than those of the artist/designer.

Products Versus Performance  Mass-producing a beautiful dinner plate using a plastic too soft to resist the inevitable scratches from every knife and fork is aesthetic arrogance. Completely redesigning an existing trademark without seriously considering the communication equity it has with the company’s customers is equally arrogant. Regularly applying the same visual elements and techniques to every client’s project, so that the only real difference is the individual trademark is profoundly arrogant.

These and many other examples are the result of the assumption that appearance alone, no matter how imaginative or aesthetically pleasing, will always be successful. When the criteria for judging quality is performance, success is obvious to everyone and imagination is its conduit.

Essex Two is in the business of translating information from content to communication. Visit our website for case studies that demonstrate our ability to connect our clients with their audiences both logically and aesthetically.


Worth your time:  Furniture Meets its Maker is an exhibit of finely crafted furniture reborn by Gord Peteran at the Milwaukee Art Museum running through the first week of January. The work is reborn because Peteran has refashioned classic antique American furniture with wit and charm. Like the work of Claes Oldenburg, where everyday objects are recreated 100 times their actual size, Peteran’s reconfiguration of familiar objects commands a second look.

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