Digital Marketing Perspectives from our Creative Director: Q&A
Digital marketing continues to change at a breakneck pace as technology advances more every day, and it’s important to keep an eye on where it will go next. With a new year and decade ahead of us, we sat down with Kirk Kempker, our Creative Director, to hear his thoughts about the future of the industry, his approach to creative, and why being a creative director is not for everyone.
Based in Los Angeles, Kirk has been with Joystick for six years and is responsible for spearheading the creative process, upholding internal and client brand standards, and staying on top of the latest industry trends and technology. Kirk also leads our diverse team of designers from around the world.
What design trends can we expect to see this year?
I think we will start to see more mixed media used in digital design as augmented reality becomes more widely accessible and usable. It will be interesting to see the juxtaposition of 3D elements and photorealistic layers used within design to emulate an augmented space. The boundaries then become blurred as we transition seamlessly from the real world to a virtual or enhanced one.
How do you think the digital marketing industry will change in 2020?
As designers, our challenge is to find creative solutions to the problems presented to us. People quickly responded to an accelerated growth in digital marketing by rapidly and thoughtlessly filling in the blanks. The answers to those blanks were compartmentalized and did not take the industry as a whole into consideration. Accessibility will be key in the coming years. Digital design will need to be refined to more easily accommodate voice, audio, and text so that marginalized communities do not feel underrepresented.
What’s your take on the impact of AI on the industry?
AI definitely will play a vital role in the future of advertising as well as our evolution as a species. With limitations, it’s important that we embrace its power and take advantage of what it can achieve. That being said, I don’t think AI will ever replace designers, at least not in my lifetime. Design is the response to a calling that when done successfully, requires human emotion and some personality to complete.
What do you do differently when taking a “mobile-first” approach?
I don’t really subscribe to the “mobile-first” agenda. I find it to be very limiting, slightly trendy, and more importantly, I don’t think we shouldn’t be prioritizing one device over another. Rather, mobile devices should be seen as just one part of a greater customer journey. We should be considering mobile-optimization and how creative adapts when designing for cross-screen experiences.
What’s your approach to designing for scale? What are the challenges?
Understanding the scope of your project from the beginning is vital to designing for scale. It’s important not to think about design decisions impulsively but rather spend time thinking further beyond the initial launch. Smart choices should be made that will easily transform as the project scales. You have to be flexible if short-term features may not be feasible for more widespread use. Whether it’s because of localization or the end-user demographic, sometimes the features that we want to include do not scale appropriately. We have to make sure not to compromise the design or vision of the project when thinking larger.
What makes good creative?
That’s easy, a design that is a smart and simple response to an issue is all that it takes. There is so much access to content and data nowadays that it’s easy to over-complicate creative. Use data strategically and stay true to the basic design principles to achieve successful creative campaigns.
What skills are most important for a creative director to have?
There is a huge desire in the design industry to become a “creative director” but it’s not necessarily for everyone. While creative vision and the ability to execute is crucial, being able to manage a team and foster growth and development within that team is more important. You are only as strong as those around you. That’s why interpersonal, management, and organizational skills are key to building a successful team.
Who in the industry inspires you most? Where do you find your creative inspiration?
Paula Scher, a design icon, is one of my all-time favorites whose typographic work always inspires me. Having studied fine arts I have an appreciation for the various mediums artists work within. I find different creative industries (fashion, music, architecture, etc) to be very inspiring. From fabric textures to the angles of a building, elements from each of these fields can inform digital design and the projects we work on.