Over the years we have developed a distinctively Equus way of approaching design, gained in the process of serving our clients and generally learning how to get the best out of each other. Called ‘Being Equus’, it represents the collective wisdom of about 20 years of working together, seeing what works and what doesn’t. So rather than keep it to ourselves we’ve decided to share it with you.
Being a designer
isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. Because design isn’t about making things look nice; it’s about using our creativity to solve problems, change minds, remove obstacles, improve lives. Which means engaging our reason as well as our imagination. And this is what makes designers unique, because we have to be right and left brain people – as good at thinking as we are at creating. Get this balance right, and we’ll make the world a better place.
Passion isn’t something you normally associate with work. But without it, we won’t get very far. Because passion and purpose go hand in hand. You can’t be a designer without being passionate about design, or a sales person without a passion for closing a deal. Passionate people are engaged people. They are motivated to make a difference, to change the world. So when you come to work in the morning, don’t leave your passion behind. Bring it to work!
True, our most highly developed skills as designers are visual ones, but actually, everything we do begins with words. Because design can’t exist in a vacuum, without written objectives or a core message. So from defining the strategy clearly to crafting the message our design must deliver, we need to be constantly aware of the value of the verbal.
Being a team
We believe that the diversity of the creative team, the creative blend of different characters and cultures, broadens our outlook, enriches the work, and generally makes life more interesting. Even (and sometimes especially) when we disagree. In the creative economy, no one is more qualified to speak than anyone else. So whatever your age,
job title, gender, ethnic background, religious beliefs, life philosophy, orientation, or football club allegiance, speak up. As someone has said, “it takes a village to build a brand”.
Being a brainstormer
No one is as smart as everyone. At Equus, we’ve proved time and time again that 1 + 1 = 11. But brainstorming is about developing ideas, not creating them from scratch. So let’s bring our own ideas to the table and be prepared to talk about them – that’s the only way they’ll reach their full potential.
Being a pain in the neck
We may be brainstormers, but we don’t want to be driven by group-think. So don’t be afraid to stand up for your ideas. Or to challenge the status quo. Or to poke holes in a concept that everyone else seems to be happy with. If giving those around you a bit of grief results in better work for the client, you’re doing a good job.
isn’t as silly as it sounds. In fact, it’s a vital part of being good at our job, as is not being afraid to ask “ignorant” questions. That ridiculous half-formed thought that just sprang into your head for no good reason might just be the germ of a brilliantly original idea. Go on, share it with us. It would be silly not to.
Being a magpie
Stealing ideas from other people and passing them off as your own may be wrong, but “borrowing” ideas from all kinds of different places – a book you’ve read, a cool shop or restaurant, an artist or designer whose work you love – and using them to fire your own creative imagination is what being a good designer is all about. And another reason why having a life outside of work is so important.
Being a chameleon
Some designers have an instantly recognisable style, which hardly changes from job to job. While the style may be very nice, this isn’t good design, because the work is driven by the taste of the designer, not the demands of the brief. For us, every client and every job is different. And the best measure of success is whether our design solutions connect with the target audience – whose tastes may be very different to our own. So no one-trick ponies, thanks. We need to be chameleons.
We’ve all heard of ‘creatives’ who think of clients as the enemy, and constraints as a straightjacket. Not so with us. Our aim is to be client advocates, which means we have to care about our client’s business as if it is our own, and cultivate a listening ear and a curious mind. Which is why we believe designers should have direct contact with clients – so that the briefing and feedback are first hand. As we say on our business cards, ‘Listeners make better doers’.
Being just egotistical enough
We can’t be creative without an ego. To do good work, we have to believe in our own talent, and in the quality of our ideas. But sometimes our egos can be a bit narcissistic, and get in the way of creativity. Because they can prevent us from listening; from seeing the merit in other people’s ideas; from responding positively to fair and constructive criticism. So let’s not ditch our egos, just learn how to tame them.
We work with many collaborators, some of whom we call ‘suppliers’, when actually they are our creative partners. But ultimately they can only be as good as we are. They can’t rescue a weak concept, or compensate for a lack of strong direction. We have to know what we want, and make sure we get it. But that means respecting their talent and inspiring them to deliver their very best work, without dictating exactly how to do it.
Being a winner
Winning awards is good, but it’s easy to get seduced by them. While they build our confidence, and remind clients we have still ‘got it’, they are an endorsement of our success, not the measure of it. Meeting the needs of our customers is the true standard by which our work should be judged. Achieve that, and the gongs will come.