Do you believe?

Design is like magic—it takes two to be successful. It takes a designer (magician) and a client (audience). Both have to be believers. The designer has to believe in his own inventiveness—to routinely make something that’s novel and unpredictable. And the client has to believe implicitly in his designer’s abilities to show up with something new—it's part of the equation. Like the magician, a designer’s performance gets better with practice and experience. Think Houdini. Audiences go to see magicians to be amazed, to see unreal things happen before their eyes. It's a certain mindset of the audience that produces success for the magician. Just the same, the client has to take partial ownership in his designer’s failure or success. Doubt is the enemy of both magic and design. A client’s reluctance to believe fosters narrow vision. A client that looks through the lens of doubt only sees the expected and misses the improbable and the unusual. On the other hand, the client that is a believer will see the magic—and witness the surprises that can change perceptions and opinions. The goal is not to be safe but to be transported—and that takes belief. Like the magician that is applauded, the designer that is supported will continue to amaze his client and his client's audience.

Optimism can be designed.

Design, by nature, is optimistic. At its best, it is determined to move ones’ perception from an existing place to a preferred place. The mere idea of attempting to create an effect is a hopeful endeavor. We often say to our clients “if this works, people will be beating a path to your door.” The fact is we design to make things better—move things forward and upward—with no scientific guarantee of results. Though advertising and politicians often attempt shame to motivate, it has been proven that optimism is far and away the most reliable tool.

It's easy to make design ‘appear’ optimistic with the superficial treatment of type and color. Warm colors are naturally positive—think happy-face yellow. Serif fonts tend to be friendlier and cursive even friendlier—think wedding announcements. But that’s expected deliverables. Real optimism deals with the viewer's brain—and that’s with content—words and visuals. The goal is to tickle the brain from its resting place and appeal to its sense of curiosity and natural desire to learn. A stimulated brain is a happy brain. Two of the most effective weapons are wit and humor. The active brain (and ego) loves to solve riddles. Give a brain a conundrum and it’s interested—give it one it can solve and it learns. Make it laugh and it wants more. So, if for only a moment in time your design can transport someone’s brain to a new place by means of reorientation—you have successfully practiced optimism. Drink up.