The Sort of Impact I Want to Make Through Design



If you are like me – and I suppose that you are or else you must find this website quite humdrum – then you probably have the desire for great impact.

And when I say great, I mean lots of people. So, in other words: You and I want to impact lots and lots of people. Right? Right.

This afternoon I was hanging out with our marketing team’s creative director. He and I were in his basement creating a physical mock-up of a press pack for my ministry. Somewhere during our two hours of small talk he mentioned an instance yesterday where a “strange bloke” (he’s from England) … (the creative director, not the bloke) came up to him (the creative director) and said, “You created the logo?! Wow! It’s amazing. It’s incredible. You’re awesome.”

(The bloke may have been from the south.)

As we both laughed about how odd that guy was there was this mutual understanding that he didn’t care who knew he had designed the ministry’s logo. And it was somewhere between the Exacto knife and the double sided tape that I realized I had crossed a line as a designer.

A line where numbers fade and depth matters. My ambitions as a designer have now changed, and I want a different kind of impact.

To me, designing something which thousands or millions may see is not nearly as great of a challenge and honor as designing something that one person will be deeply impacted by.

Oddly enough there is one piece of material that comes immediately to mind when I think of impact through design.

What’s odd isn’t that only one item comes to mind, it’s that the item is a piece of junk mail. I usually shred about 4 credit card offers a day so this piece came in the mail like a reuben sandwich after 8 years of tuna melts.

The thought, and energy (and money) that went into this particular piece of junk mail is astounding. It’s one of only two pieces of junk mail I have ever kept. (How many pieces of junk mail have you kept? Probably zero.)

It is an ad from Domtar advertising their Cougar paper.

Cougar Paper

Cougar Paper

Cougar Paper

With this folder, Domtar is stressing the importance of brand/identity. If you print on their paper your stuff will be sweet. They’ve included 6 examples of companies that printed their identity on the Cougar line of paper.

Cougar Paper

What sticks out to me even more than the layout of this 6 panel folder is the company featured in the 3rd panel from the right: OrangeSeed Design.

The OrangeSeed Panel

What is so impactful about OrangeSeed’s printed identity is the creativity and thought they put into each item. Their stationary is fun, professional and makes the client trust their ability to pull off great work. But that’s not all.

I have to admit that one of the most powerful elements to OrangeSeed’s identity is the paper it’s printed on.

A design brief pocket folder, letterhead, 3 postcards and a business card.

The pocket folder has a spot for letters, samples, proposals, and more; as well as plenty of white space for notes. It’s well thought out and is printed on 130 lb. paper. The letterhead is printed on 80 lb.

Upclose of the Postcards

They have also designed printed custom postcards to mail to clients. These also are printed on 130 lb. paper.

Very few words are needed to convey importance and even reverence to the recipient.

Postcards and business card

Their business card is also printed on 130 lb. card stock.

It is amazing to me a company’s printed identity can make such an impact.

I find that I would much rather design a great piece of work that really touches even just a small handful of people – something that inspires them to greatness and beauty – much more so than being able to point out to all my friends that – “Hey! I made that Budweiser Bill Board.”