De­sign­ing Your Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Strat­egy
Jeff & Lindsay Sage / 26 March 2021

How many communication design meetings has your organization held this year?

None?

Strange. We’re literally surrounded by data, information and regulations to be disseminated. 

But data alone doesn’t hold any value unless you’re able to use it. Whatever course your organization sets - growth, social distancing, curbside pick up, shop local, stay home, ride a bike, equality matters - can only be as effective insofar as people are able to understand it. 

And understanding is achieved by so much more than a PR spike. It’s about repetition and meaning, not necessarily in the larger global context, but to someone’s individual life. 

For example, simply letting people know that masks have been established as an important control measure in limiting the spread of COVID-19 is information. Communicating the value of masks to the contexts that people care about (personal health, family, friends, employment, socializing more freely and sooner rather than later) is a more intentionally-designed approach. Saying the people who don’t wear masks are attention seeking, politically motivated ne’er-do-wells may be a sub-optimal way to design that piece of communication for late adopters.

Strategic communication design should:

  • Have user-centered objectives. Begin with a solid understanding of the group of people who are going to use the content. Your job is to serve them, not broadcast something that reinforces your personal beliefs or opinions. And if you identify your group as “everyone” you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
  • Eliminate audience, user and viewer frustration. Simplifying data so it can be easily accessed and understood requires a multi-disciplinary approach. If you’re throwing your first communication design soiree, be sure to invite writers, editors, visual designers, data experts, usability specialists and a myriad of other disciplines depending on your desired outcome. If the person setting the strategic direction is also designing the visuals and disseminating the information, they’re a certified badass, or, about to fail miserably.
  • Help people meet a need, solve a problem, or finish a task. Assuming your target audience knows nothing (without insulting their intelligence) is a good place to start. Be relentless in your quest to reduce friction and make things easy like Sunday mornin’. 

The right information in the right hands can change a life and save a life. 

Just imagine what the world would be like if we gave communication design the respect it deserves? Maybe more of us would be doing the right thing.


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