WRITTEN BY HOPE DRUMMOND, DESIGNER
This is a very famous quote by Mieke Gerritzen, and still to this day it is absolutely true. People love to see aesthetically beautiful design with wonderfully clever meanings behind them, but unfortunately everyone loves when a brand makes a horrible mistake even more. You can guarantee that if you mess up, it will be all over the internet in a fraction of the time that you took to create it. In this digital age, news travels far too fast for you to be able to save yourself quietly. Some brands take this in their stride, while some hide away to lick their wounds and wait for it to blow over. There are obvious steps that a designer/marketer can take to ensure that mistakes and blunders are noticed before they are made public, however these steps are almost always overlooked.
GET OTHER OPINIONS
It’s so important to double check your design or idea with people of many different backgrounds and opinions. You can become far too close and precious of what you’re creating that you fail to notice obvious mistakes and blunders. This can be immensely embarrassing when presenting to a client or even launching your design or idea and someone else notices before you did.
Take this safety sign for example. At first glance, nothing out of the ordinary. Until you realise that a fire extinguisher doesn't shoot fire, it puts it out. This is a prime example of overlooking the obvious because you have looked at the design for too long without asking for a second opinion.
Don't be afraid to look foolish, get it double checked!
TEST THE USER EXPERIENCE
Testing the using experience of your design, event or product is not a new concept but has become much more popular in recent years. People want a simple user-experience as well as something that looks good. If an unnecessarily complex process is involved, people will avoid it. Guaranteed.
It’s incredibly important to immerse yourself in the use of your design. Imagine who will use it, why they will use it and especially HOW they will use it. User experience is here to stay, brands are starting to realise how important their customers user journey is, and how important this is to their impression of the brand. Standards for a good user experience are growing and growing. Meaning that the customer’s tolerance of a bad user experience is now increasingly thin. A dangerous situation if you make a silly mistake.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
This was a classic mistake made by Parker Pens. They decided to branch out into the Mexican market and they wanted to tell their consumers that it ‘won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you’. However, the company thought that the Spanish for “embarrass” was “embarzar”, which actually means to impregnate. So their marketing campaign actually translated as ‘It wont leak in your pocket and make you pregnant’. Definitely not the campaign they were going for. Global business is tough to manage. The internet is littered with examples of companies making similar mistakes when branching out into different countries and cultures. If it isn't the difference in language, it can be something as simple as using the wrong colour and offending an entire country.
Some brands have made the most of their mistakes and turned it into amazing campaigns. Mistakes do happen, we are all human after all. They shouldn't be something to be afraid of, especially when you are a junior designer straight out of education. Mistakes are definitely how you learn and grow in our industry. Making the mistakes is fine, but not having your work checked and tested before these mistakes are made public is not okay. Always triple check your work with another person in your team, especially if they have a different opinion or preference to you. Always try to think how your consumer would think, and not just how you would. Finally, always do your research, there is nothing worse than looking like you have no idea what you are talking about.