Why Ask Why?

According to Wikipedia ‘Why’s an interrogative pro-abverb used mostly in questions that are concerned with causality. Somebody asking “Why is the sky blue?” would want to know what circumstances have transpired to create the situation to make the sky appear blue.

Recently I read Brooke Capps article in Ad Age “Want to Build a Powerful Brand? Don’t Forget Core Values” Published April 24, 2007. In her article Capps suggests that asking the question “why?’ is one of the fundamental ways to help one different their brand to make it innovative and substantial.

‘Ever wondered why?’
Allen Adamson, managing director, Landors Associates, maintained that “strong brands start off with a crisp idea of what’s different and why that difference is relevant.” In presenting the points contained in his book, “Brand Simple,” he raised the Jerry Seinfeld query: “Have you ever wondered why…?” This, Mr. Adamson said, is the question that generates true innovation. Timberland, he said, came from the shoe maker’s founder stepping in a puddle and asking himself why it’s so hard to find a truly waterproof shoe. Baby Einstein was born when a mom wondered why there was no educational programming for the 9- to 14-month-old set.

While this question proves to be essential in many scenarios of the industry it has been my primary tool in sanely communicating with clients about design work. Sometimes a client insists on you executing a project in a manor that contradicts every fiber of your being. Perhaps they require you to put a drop shadow on the entire body copy or feel that pepto pink emotionally communicates their software company.

The truth is that every parameter should be a conversation. A question up for discussion. Jaded designers often accept ridiculous requests and work around them. Writing off the outcome of the project as “Just a piece I won’t include in my portfolio”. We all are guilty of taking the easy route a few times.

Peeling back all the layers of color theory and design principals we get to the heart of what a truly innovative designer is. The core responsibility of a Creative is to be the one who asks “why”. Not only when it is appropriate, but when it is completely unprecedented and unexpected. When eyebrows are raised and eyes dart, someone has to be the one to question the status quo. Thats how the best solutions are found.

[tags]wonder why, ask why, Brooke Capps [/tags]