I hate titles

Why design titles are just like toothpaste.

February 14, 2019

A LinkedIn connection of mine posted a document yesterday asking what titles his connections give themselves. The post contained 20 different variants of designer titles, here are a few:

  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Design Researcher
  • Creative Director
  • Design Lead
  • Senior Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer


Oi vey. That's only half. And he didn't even cover all of the options out there. You might be thinking, isn't the point to distinguish ourselves from people? Yes, it is, but it has to be done in a way that matters to the people that make the purchasing decision. Most business owners don't know the difference between UX and UI, hell most people who ascribe the title to themselves don't even know the difference.

It's like the pointless variants of toothpaste:

  • Anti-cavity (shouldn't all toothpaste be anti-cavity?)
  • Breath freshening (no shit, is the alternative a toothpaste that makes my breath smell bad?)
  • Fighting Gingivitis (isn't that the job of floss?)
  • Daily Repair (what else is it supposed to do?)

The only variant of toothpaste that makes sense to a user is when it speaks to a particular need of theirs. Like sensitive teeth being addressed by Sensodyne, who focused on people with this issue entirely.

Now let's apply the same thinking to some of these design titles:

  • Design Researcher (shouldn't all design be based on research?)
  • Digital Designer (if you use a computer and you're a designer, you are a digital designer)
  • UX Designer (99% of the world doesn't know what you do and the term user experience is applicable to everything)
  • UI Designer (isn't this the same as graphic design except digital?)

Here's the thing: these titles do nothing for the person on the other side of the table, you know that person who pays money for design services.

What's the solution you ask? Try this:
I'm a designer, I craft things with intention. I've got a portfolio of work and case studies to show the problems I solve. Do any of these sound like you? Cool, let's make something happen.

More you say?

Shared Belief

I'll buy when I know we believe the same thing.

9.24.2020

I'm a huge fan of Buck Mason shirts. Pima cotton, well-cut, breathable, and classic. Que bella.

Something that dawned on me though was this question: why do I admire this brand so much and why do I go out of my way to buy almost exclusively from them.

Back up to my college years. The hipster movement of adorning button-up shirts, chukka boots, and thrifting your way to style was in full swing. I recall spending hours searching through thrift stores to find trendy looking shirts that would match my barrage of beaded bracelets and my patina ring made out of a quarter. But, I didn't believe all that stuff was really cool. In truth, I found myself hating how much time I spent shopping for all that trendy shit and how complicated the process was. Turns out, I believed more in simplicity.

Flash forward to today. I keep a Buck Mason tag in my bible as a bookmark. What's the first line on it? "We make fashion less complicated."

Boom. Instant brand alignment.

Here's the thing: the reason I buy exclusively from Buck Mason is because of this shared value. If you want to build a rebellious brand, you must find that overlapping belief residing within both of you.

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Tell YOUR Story

A follow up from yesterday's MF Punch: the Lie

1.7.2020

Yesterday's MF Punch for reference.

"What do you mean?" is the most common response when I tell people I work with rebels.

I proceed to tell my core belief that being different is more important than being better. But there's more to it than that. What drives this core belief home is that I live it. Perhaps not in gigantic ways, but here are a couple examples:

I refuse to be on Facebook and Instagram.

I don't drink or partake in other substances.

I rarely take calls or meetings in the morning.

I plan on staying a small company for the foreseeable future.

These are stories about who I am as a person that seep into my business as well. Stories like these are strong because they are genuine, I don't have to put on a face to live out the truth I proclaim.

When you build your brand, tell your story. Open up your ugly, the things people will think you are weird for. I guarantee there are people who will not like it, but the flip side is that there will others who appreciate it.

Tell YOUR story. Not the one you think people want to hear.

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