This morning I had a meeting with a long-time client and friend. We were well overdue for a face-to-face meeting. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time we had connected in person. We are all so busy with our daily business activities, responsibilities, and deadlines (not to mention our families, homes, and hobbies) that it’s easy to forget the importance of just sitting and talking with people. Learning. Sharing. Collaborating. Building relationships.
We had an engaging conversation, catching up on old and new community news. We discussed how both our industries have transformed over the past few years. And finally, we put our heads together about business matters.
In the car on the way back to my office, I considered how our conversation about marketing and design completely differed from how it would have sounded just three or four years ago. Then, we would have talked about maximizing impact with ad placement, brainstormed better solutions for newsletter distribution, and planned gang print runs for a family of product and service brochures. But today, our dialogue centered on a more digitally focused world. We examined the value of committing to social networking, the benefits of blogging, and the accessibility that a content management system can offer.
Looking back over my 20-year design career, there have been similar periods of major change. As I transitioned from college graduate to my first “real” job in a design studio, colleagues were trading in hundreds of thousands of mechanical flats and film transparencies for QuarkXPress, SyQuest disks, and RAM. Several years down the road, the revenue from folded color brochure comps and overnight deliveries dried up as email and FTP mainstreamed. The Internet then exploded, sparking a demand for design that was neither 2- nor 3-dimensional.
Boy, times have changed.
Or have they?
It won’t surprise anyone when I say that the methods and mediums we once used to generate brand exposure, develop new partnerships, and produce qualified leads have evolved. But at the heart of it, what we are still doing is connecting with people, whether through 2,500 copies of an 8-page brochure with pocket folder or a comment stream on a blog post. And as a designer, I am still pairing visual and verbal content to solve communication problems. Through my eyes, much has remained the same, and I am grateful to have been reminded of that today—face-to-face.
History dictates that marketing, design, and technology will continue to transform. What are your predictions for the next big thing?