Signs & stories – choose both for marketing

Tea BarbieIn his excellent “Metacool” blog Diego Rodriguez writes:

“If you’re only designing the object and not paying attention to the story surrounding it, you’re abdicating your opportunity to craft something that’s truly infectious.”

Design is mostly communicated in space, stories are communicated (told) in time. This is why design has traditioanlly been biased towards communicating with signs and not stories. However, what are stories made of if not signs composed into a narrative?
(yup, this is the old paradigm/syntagm difference)

There is a gap in traditional marketing communications, an unecesary dichotomy between sign-led design and narrative-led advertisement. Recently, these walls are coming down and “narrative marketing” is a much discussed concept.
However, the most succefull exmaples around us (ICQ and iPod to names just two) show that impact is greater when your design tells compelling stories, while your stories have an overarching design that creates a rich, consistent & economic sign system.

You need both true meaning and a well made structure behind the work. Otherwise – it’s not well made marketing (or branding), it’s either making things pretty or ill articualted concepts.

Form & Meaning – that’s the way poetry works, that’s the way science works, and that’s what marketing should aspire to.
Oh, and it’s practical as well – it’s the best way to communicate, as we’re all such sophisticated and rlentless pattern recognition and meaning inference machines.

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