Design firms and agencies will tout the number of design and advertising awards they have received as being indicative of good design and marketing prowess. Because they have received "x" number of awards, or they have appeared in "numerours" design annuals, are they somehow more authoritative when it comes to working on client projects? Not necessarily.
Today there are more design and advertising competitions than ever. What this means is that top quality design firms or agencies cannot possibly enter all of them, as the expense in terms of time and money is far too great. With fewer quality competitors, the field of entries may be mediocre work at best. Even mainstream competitions are awarding more and more entries with honors, thus “watering down” the quality of design that makes the cut. “Celebrity” designers and ad executives judge these competitions, meaning the merits of a piece are judged mostly on aesthetic and communicative qualities, instead of being based on overall effectiveness, such as: did the piece connect with the customer, and were the business objectives met?
The truth of the matter is that awards shows, particularly design and advertising competitions, mostly exist to stroke a creative firm’s own ego.
Usually it is only other designers that care about the results, yet a lot of creative shops will use their recent success in those competitions as a selling tool or to coerce the client into taking risks with the design of a new project—to try something “new” or “experimental”. The problem is that sometimes “cutting edge” design can get dull, or the audience doesn’t respond well to it. Additionally, there is a tendency to make everything look the same, because that is what “will win awards.”
This is not to say that winning awards is bad.
There are many positive things that come with winning awards for clients. First, it can increase a company’s visibility and can be an effective public relations tool. Second, it is rewarding for design firms and agencies to know that the work they have developed is appreciated, even by a jury of their peers. Most importantly, however, award winning design and advertising acknowledges the fact that the client values design, and the impact it can have on their bottom line. Effective communication, in addition to excellence in design, should be the goal of any design project.
At Indicia Design, we don’t set out to win awards. Sure, they are nice to receive and we have won our share, but our philosophy is more about modesty and humility through design—we set out to achieve our client’s goals by making meaningful connections with their target audience. We listen to their needs, and ask questions to make sure that we understand their business. After all, nobody knows that business better than the client.
By: Ryan Hembree
NOTE: All names, logos and trademarks used are the property of their respective companies and used for illustrative purposes only.