Good Design Cuts Through the Clutter

Episode 8. Today, we’re speaking with Rick Valicenti, Design Director & Owner of Thirst. In this video, Rick discusses the importance of good design, and how it was the ability to engage and cut through the clutter.

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Grab a coffee and take it all in.


[Michael Chase]
Design and content are attached at almost every marketing interaction we have today. In your view and opinion, what’s good content and good design today?

[Rick Valicenti]
I would like to say it’s about meaningful messaging but at the truth of it, there’s only three kinds of messaging that designers get to do. We get to do messages about value; “on sale”, “this week only”, “if you act now”. We also get to do messages of value. Then, we get to design messages of no value; and I think the designer’s responsibility is just to pick one of two of those three. Messages about value and messages of values. Messages of no value have no place but they’re out there.

[Michael Chase]
Can good design cut through the clutter that everybody’s getting bombarded with today?

[Rick Valicenti]
I think it is the only thing that cuts through the clutter. There is such a dim of noise that we’re all experiencing and it’s so easy to push the delete button. I think the designer is that value added, the designer is the seduction, the seducer and the one that brings life to that communication.

[Michael Chase]
Can design stand the test of time today in this post-ordinal, fast-paced, multi-channel universe that we’re living in?

[Rick Valicenti]
Some design does. We see this in the design of film, the design of music, the design of fashion. We actually see it in the design of typography and the design of form. It’s been going on since they’ve been putting paintings on cave walls. I see no reason to think that because we’re in the 21st century and there’s so much of it that none of it will bubble to the surface.

Design is a really unique art form. Like those others I mentioned, it can preserve all the atmosphere that culture has at any given moment; whether it’s in the contour of a letter form or whether it’s in the way light renders an object. All of those thinks indicate the moment in which it was created but some pieces of design, some artifacts left behind by the design process are full of magical something. That magical something does have the potential to endure.

[Michael Chase]
Give me a great magical example. What’s one of your favorites out there where good design really is lasting?

[Rick Valicenti]
I’m a graphic designer so I will have to turn to a more two dimensional playbook. I’ll go back to 30, 40 years ago. The quintessential piece of design that was eye opening for me as a young kid was in 1966; Bob Dylan put out that album that had the Milton Glaser poster. That Milton Glaser poster abstracted Dylan’s persona in a way that if I saw that today for the first time, I would find it fresh.

It’s form is subtractive but underneath all of that subtraction and all of the décor, is something that just keeps lingering. On the other hand, if we look at 21st century design, the smartphone has only been around for a decade yet the interface and the functionality of that device, that has actually become part of our fabric. Part of our way of communicating. That’s all design.

[Michael Chase]
Tell me one thing brands can do today to transform the way they engage with people.

[Rick Valicenti]
I would have to say that if a brand was really being a valued brand, they would have to treat their audience with the upmost respect. If they fail to do that, its just business as usual. And, the civility that we really need as a culture, a 21st century culture that at least where I come from, it’s completely polarized, design can be the mitigator. Brands need to adopt an attitude of generosity, civility, respect. Anything else is “just delete“.

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