Brand trends come… and go. Generally they are popular for a while, everyone jumps on the bandwagon, and ends up looking exactly the same. Then the novelty wears off, boredom follows, and onto the next trend we go.

Great ideas, however, are for life. Ideas are classic, they’ve always been in fashion, and some of the best ones still feel current today. A great idea is the solid foundation to a great piece of design or branding work. It should run throughout your executions and across all touch-points, tying everything together in a neat little story.

One great example of this is the Tate Gallery’s ad campaign from a few years back, art directed by the multi-award winning Paul Belford whilst working at the agency TBWA London. The big idea was how the Tate Gallery opens your mind and helps you to see the world differently. This was visualised through the use of objects seen after a visit to the Tate: a conker that looked like an eye, beansprouts that looked like swans, and so on. Every creative decision was influenced, from the objects chosen to the subtle genius within the copywriting; “minds open from 10am”. Lastly, the composition of the imagery on the page is influenced by the subject matter, and doesn’t follow the typical ‘full bleed image’ trend, using instead large amounts of negative space for clarity.

Paul Belford Tate London

(Credit: Paul Belford Tate London)

Truly good ideas are, however, hard to come by. Bloody hard. But when you get one, it’s a great feeling. Your stomach flips a little, your heartbeat increases, and you’re bursting to run it by someone because at this moment, it feels like it might be the greatest idea in the world.

That’s what I hear anyway.

Often your ‘brilliant’ idea can be met by expressionless faces due to over-complication, but the best thing you can do is to voice your ideas with others, as they may see what you haven’t and help you to communicate the message better.

Be influenced by everything around you, and once you have the ‘big idea’, look to it to guide every creative decision you make. This will mean you’re not pulling random decisions out of mid air, with no rhyme or reason.

Follow ideas, not trends, because “it’s in right now”, or “it looks really cool” is never a good reason to justify a creative decision, and it’s never going to stand up in design court. Have ideas. Lots of them. Scribble them down, share them with your peers, share them with your mum, even share them with your pet hamster. Everyone is a sounding board (unless like mine, your hamster is clearly more interested in climbing up your trouser leg, or burying itself in your sofa in preparation for the imminent winter months…)