- Who would guess? The work of a graphic designer is a lot like that of a trial attorney. We present a convincing story, make it memorable, and cause enough “buzz” to get the verdict we’re after…or sell the product.
Attorneys must uncover persuasive case theories and themes, and turn them into winning courtroom presentations. They explore strategic issues, discover critical insights, and present their argument in a way which has the maximum impact on the decision makers to make them care sympathetically about the client. They must clarify, create (a compelling story), and convince.
Graphic communicators do the same thing. They use or develop branding for a company, which helps to build credibility among customers. They explore the features and benefits, which make their client’s company or product the right choice for the market segment they are after. Then they present the message in an appropriate medium and with a powerful, focused design to make the customer feel good about making the purchase. They too must clarify, create (a need for the product or service), and convince.
The attorney needs to present a single coherent story which is clear, understandable, believable and memorable. (If the attorney tries to explain his client’s position using more than one story, the jury could get confused and not believe either story.) The attorney might use an analogy, such as the amount of radiation an employee was exposed to at work compared to his daily use of cigarettes was like a quarter of an inch compared to the height of the Empire State Building. The argument must be credible, it must create a “buzz,” and it must be convincing.
Similarly, the graphic communicator creates compelling conceptual graphics which sell the benefits of a product, and which are memorable as well. The graphic designer may employ a graphical analogy to sell a product, such as a fancy gear shift knob which shows the product works at very high speed. Or electric sparks which dramatize the power of the product. Or a “before” and “after” image to credibly document the results of using the product. Or, show the product being used in a very exotic setting. Or, compare the fees paid to a consultant with the results gained with a chart showing two arrows sweeping across a speedometer. It is the graphic communicator’s job to make the client’s message understandable, compelling, memorable and create enough “buzz” to cause the customer to buy the product.
I have only appeared in small claims court a couple of times. I used receipts, agreements, photos and a written timeline to describe my case, and I won both judgments. A court case requires a study of the relevant facts, and a presentation of a simple theme and evidence which proves the point you are trying to make without confusing the jurists with complexity. For maximum clarity and impact, the attorney may employ graphics or video which highlights, contrasts or even exaggerates parts of the story to cause the jury to remember or question some of the arguments made in the case.
The graphic communicator does this all of the time — usually not to deceive the buying public in any way — but to differentiate his client’s products and services in the marketplace of choices. Especially with a product like a financial investment product where “past performance does not guarantee future returns,” an investment firm might educate their potential clients in sales literature about their methodology and years of experience which differentiates them in a metaphoric “sea of suits.”*
So whether you are hiring an attorney or a graphic designer, see if their work tells a good story, makes their clients look credible, uses analogy or metaphor to focus distinction on the benefits of the product or service, and is memorable enough to be discussed in the “jury deliberations” of the marketplace.