10 June 2020

Youth working in tandem

By Raja Sharil Azhar bin Raja Abdillah

Countries across the globe have embraced entrepreneurship as an important factor in their economic growth and sustainability. Programmes to foster entrepreneurship are actively initiated by governments through workshops, seminars, capital funding and so on. Malaysian government in particular sees how entrepreneurship would help elevate the country’s economy and reduce unemployment rates.

The youth are also positively accepting the growth of entrepreneurship as evidenced by the birth of many creative and unique, concept-driven business outlets such as restaurants, cafes and boutiques run by the young entrepreneurs in their early 20s. This group of entrepreneurs normally possess new and radical ideas, and the boldness to position and market their business in unconventional ways.

In doing so, these young entrepreneurs appreciate creativity. This provides a lot of opportunities for young visual communication designers as these business entities need one-of-a-kind visual representations or visual identity system.

Visual communication design commonly deals with designs that immediately relate to marketing, promotion and identity, and the design outcomes are traditionally printed materials such as posters, flyers, packaging, booklet, road-side buntings, and magazine or newspaper advertorials. Through the advancement of communication and mobile technology, visual communication designers also have to deal with interactive multimedia design outcomes such as web pages and mobile apps.

But the core philosophy remains the same. Visual communication designers are visual communicator whose design attempt to communicate with the audience as effective and as sustainable as possible. To do so, every visual produced will fundamentally sits on two overlapping objectives – informative and impressive.

Therefore, any work produced in visual communication design domain ideally, must be able to achieve both objectives. A poster must have clear content through clear, understandable images and textual elements, and it must be impressive enough to hold the audience’s attention for a long time.

To come up with informative design piece is fundamentally easy for any trained visual communication designers. Clear, understandable images and texts would be enough to generate a well understood informational design piece. However, the real challenge comes with the need to make the design piece impressive. Since there is no standard measurement or benchmark to label the design as impressive, ‘impressive’ therefore, is an ambiguous concept.

Young designers normally deal with this situation by applying these two methods – adapting the current design style widely used across the world, and/or relying on their personal design style. Typically, young designers have their preferred way of creating a design piece by injecting their personal design preference in every design work as this will give them some sense of self satisfaction and authority.

Some of the young designers might have an unusual or peculiar design style that may not be understood and appreciated by the masses but more often than not, their design works are well acknowledged. Take for example, one of the up and coming businesses favoured by young entrepreneurs which is the concept-driven business outlets such as those ‘hipster’ cafes and restaurants.

They distinguish themselves from their competitions not just through the food and drinks but also the total dining experience. Part of the experience is delivered through their visual presentations, for examples, the design of their menu, poster, packaging, and signboard.

These young owners understand the importance of unique visual presentation in creating awareness, grabbing attention, establishing style, and ultimately, instilling a perception among customers that this outlet is something that needs to be experienced. Interesting and stylish visual identity of a business outlet would allow the customers to have an uplifting experience. This, is the specialty of a communication designer.

With their understanding of marketing, promotion and visual communication, young visual communication designers are able to provide all the visual presentations required. Being youth themselves, they commonly share the same ideas and mindset with these young business owners.

With such changes in the business landscape in the coming years, design will play a very important role. Therefore, young visual communication designers should keep abreast of the latest trends and seize opportunities when they arise.

Raja Sharil Azhar bin Raja Abdillah is a design lecturer from the Faculty of Business, Design and Arts at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus. He can be reached via email at sabdillah@swinburne.edu.my.