There has been many articles, conversations, and debates circulating around the internet that center around roles, responsibilities, and services that can be found or is even being built inside the creative economy. “Should you specialize or generalize?” “How can you future proof your creative career?” “What should I focus on as a creative?” These are just a few questions that I run into when I do my daily reading and article hunting, but I haven’t seen much about how certain areas of design and creativity can overlap. Maybe this is because it is probably common knowledge that a good creative, especially a designer, should be able to design or create anything in multiple mediums and genres. That being said there has, like I wrote above, a push to either be a specialist or a generalist and I ask. why can’t we be both? Why can’t a creative specialize in something that umbrellas more than one design or creative discipline?
For example my passion (or even my obsession) is design centered strategy for businesses and the creative problems/needs that they have. Therefore as a designer that is still in a relatively early stage in his career, I have found myself bouncing back and forth between being interested in pursuing UX design and branding and identity design. What should I focus on? The aspiring specialist would ask myself. Again the obvious answer, especially for seasoned designers, and for successful studios or agencies is that you can easily excel in both because there is so much they have in common. But for young designers this may not be easy to see. Therefore let me list some similarities between the two design disciplines:
- Both disciplines are human centered: Human centered design is a popular term these days (one can argue that good design has always been human centered). However, I think it can be argued that there is an extra level of attention to how humanity interacts with a design in the user experience and branding worlds. The key word is interact.. I believe that in both UX and branding, customer, user, and human interaction play a central role in the success and failure of the design.
- Both disciplines are research heavy: While it’s true that good design in general involves good research, UX and branding involve additional research that include user personas, quantitative and qualitative research, and customer journey maps.
- Both disciplines require empathy: Again every designer needs to put themselves in the shoes of their client and their client users. However I think empathy is absolutely vital in UX and branding because both design disciplines are trying to invoke a positive and long lasting feeling about the product or brand.
But how do they differ?
- User Experience is usually about the soul of a product. Branding is about the soul of a business.
- User Experience is usually centered around digital design. Branding touches both the digital and physical world.
- The goal of User Experience tends to be about creating an action. The goal of Branding tends to be about creating a feeling.
To be honest, as I was writing this I was thinking that most of this is beyond obvious to the average designer. That being said I think it’s always a positive thing to take a step back to analyze and observe the way things are, if we do that then we can better understand what we are doing and even progress into new stages of creativity and design. Hopefully this was food for thought and maybe it even inspired you to be as equally passionate about the two disciplines like I am. Do you agree or disagree with any of this? If so let me know by responding this article or find me on social media as zacharyrhill.
Cheers to the pursuit of great design