“Pretty” design vs “appropriate” design

Ok, I’m really interested in hearing the feedback of others on this one. I work in a company with a number of marketing managers (as I’ve stated in a couple of other posts)… And we have FINALLY hired a new designer for me to work with. Yay, no more 70+ hour weeks.

But to get to the point of my question. Sometimes MMs will design their own ads/flyers, etc. and then come to me (now us) to make it print-ready (yeah I know…lol). Or, they will come to me with a magazine or brochure they like from some random company and ask me to create the exact same thing.

Which brings me to the point. One of the marketing managers asked us to create a brochure that looked identical to a children’s foundation brochure. We work in the construction industry and even though the brochure is very well designed, I really don’t believe a brochure with giant twinkling stars and cartoon style fonts are best for our company.

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the initial meeting, so I didn’t have any input before the other designer started working on it. I came back to my desk and there she is standing over his shoulder telling him how great she thinks it looks, and I’m quietly banging my head on the desk.

It’s not that the brochure he is creating now isn’t pretty; quite the opposite, it looks great …

It just doesn’t match the branding of our company IN ANY WAY! The first thing that goes through my head, when I see the brochure, is: “Where the Wild Things Are” meets McDonald’s. (Again, construction industry!)

And to be honest, pretty much all the marketing managers I work with are like this. They see something “pretty” and don’t care that it’s completely inappropriate for the company. I try to explain my point and still, I always get back the same “what do you mean, it looks so pretty” response.

Is it me? Am I wrong? Is pretty good enough? Am I being too critical? I’m beginning to feel like such a nay sayer because every time someone comes to us with their own idea, I keep shouting back “BUT WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE COMPANY’S BRANDING?!?!?”

Anyway, sorry for such a long post and if it sounds too much like one giant rant … I swear, if someone comes to me with a flyer for a club opening and says “Can you make my ad look like this”, I am going to walk out the door.


I understand where you are coming from, this is way too common than we would like it to be.

The reason I think this is so common is because, they see something successful and they want to emulate this in order to get those large number of people that like said brochure/logo/whatever OR something is so appealing to them they want to see it everywhere and just push it so that they are satisfied and not the needs of the design.

I usually go about this issue by saying “Do you want to be remembered as someone who ripped off that logo/poster/w.e OR do you want to create something that responds to what logo/poster/w.e needs something unique and beautiful?”; people notice these things and people respond to sincerity.

I’m a freelancer so I don’t have to answer to marketing, but clients have exact same requests.
And you’re not being too critical, it’s your innate ability and urge as a designer to create something that is right for the job. You can try to educate the marketing department and TRY to reason with them (you can do only so much).

I would make what they wanted all together with stars and comics sans (j/k) AND I would create what I feel that brochure needs to be, yes it’s extra hours and it’s way tiresome, but at least you will be at peace that you tried and you stood by what you believe, I mean that’s why you are a graphics designer.

Source : Link , Question Author : kdub , Answer Author : E-1

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