There’s a beautiful, productive tension between fundamentals and trends. This tension informs everything that we do here at smithHOUSE, everyday.
If we rely only on fundamentals, we ignore great opportunities that are afforded only to the risk takers. However, if we rely only on trends, we will ride those bandwagons to strange and disappointing destinations. It’s only when you look at the tension between two opposing forces that we find anything of worth.
Here are three examples, three productive tensions in Marketing, Web Design, and Branding / Logos.
Fundamentals of Marketing: Ultimately, marketing is about persuading. If I had to sum it up in a single storyline, it would go like this: “I have something that has solved a problem in my life, and I’d like to tell you about it. Can I share my passion with you?” This narrative remains largely the same.
Trends in Marketing: Trends in marketing are triggered by wild, exciting, and often unproven technology. We have dense, powerful, unseen algorithms churning behind our social media channels to pair advertisers with the best audience. Yet with all that power, it’s of no use if your message is irrelevant, or your product is useless. You are serving an ad to a person who doesn’t care and never will.
2. Web Design
Fundamentals of Web Design: At its core, web design is about empathy for your users. It’s about creating a compelling website that solves their problems. It’s about putting their needs ahead of your own. (One line we often repeat with clients: “Remember, your website isn’t about you. Your social media presence isn’t about you. It’s about your customers. The customers you have now, and the customers you want to reach.)
Trends in Web Design: Trends in web design are invigorating, and bring optimism to a trade that is often pounded by compromise and arbitrary restrictions (WCAG 3.0 Compliance?).
3. Logo Design / Branding
Fundamentals of Logo Design: Branding is about making a really good first impression. I’ve created this Logo Scorecard that you can use to judge the strength of your company’s logo.
Trends in Logo Design: There’s always a lot of buzz on social media and blogs about trends in logo design, but you’ll find that a lot of these newest trends are not new, or they aren’t trends at all.
The beauty of a productive tension is that it cannot resolve. One side does not collapse because of the strength of the other. These tensions are what allow us to make difficult decisions and do great work.
Look around you, and you will see productive tensions everywhere. I promise, if you use this concept at home and at work, you will see controversies and divisions dissipate.