Friday, March 16, 2007

A career in corporate branding

I vividly remember when a fellow student called me a corporate whore during my final year at university. I was so proud. My career advisor had told me I didn’t have the grades for corporate whoring, but with hard work and persistence I had eventually proved them wrong.

I’d struggled through my design degree cursed to keep my annual report fantasies to myself… whilst my talented but judgmental classmates used their dreads to paint with and repeatedly put acetate sheets into the photocopier.

My university lecturer told me after I graduated that he’d seen the corporate whore in me quite early. My persistent questions on what company we were designing for, what their brand positioning was and who was the market demographic being targeted had rung the warning bells with him. He’d often told me that there were studios other than Pentagram and Chermayeff and Geismar were not the rockstars I envisioned them to be. But I would not be dissuaded and to this day I’m glad I kept true to my course.

Having now been whoring for quite a while, I can share some of the perks of selling out:

1. You make enough money to spare some change when you see former classmates drawing in chalk on the sidewalk.
2. You can make up fancy titles for yourself like ‘Corporate Design Manager’ or ‘Branding Design Principal’
3. You actually get invited to the type of functions where you need to make up fancy titles.
4. You do design that people who are not also designers get to see as well.
5. You realize you can finally understand people with a marketing degree and their secret language of abbreviations.

There are cons of course that I should warn the weak and powerless about, dare they consider signing the contract held by the guy in red.
1. The body never adjusts to sleep deprivation.
2. Sometimes, late at night, you get an itch to do ‘real’ design.
3. Say goodbye to white space. It’s hard losing a friend.
4. Screen radiation is like a reverse tanning booth.
5. Stress makes hair fall out and there can be only one Sean Connery.
6. Clients don’t care whether you use a humanist or neo-humanist sans. You have to learn to cry on the inside.

This is an amazing career choice, for a relatively young but growing profession. The current crop of designers will determine the future value of it as a respected career path. We're all after profession respect for design but it will take time and a concerted effort. See you at the top people.

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