During my research for my designer statement I came across an interesting article on Linkedin entitled Stop Using These 16 Terms To Describe Yourself by Magazine Columist Jeff Haden. Though subjective, I found some interesting points made. Below are the terms outlined and why the author thought they were inappropriate, followed by some of my own commentary.
1. “Innovative.” Most companies claim to be innovative. Most people claim to be innovative. Most are, however, not. (I’m definitely not.) That’s okay, because innovation isn’t a requirement for success.
If you are innovative, don’t say it. Prove it. Describe the products you’ve developed. Describe the processes you’ve modified.
Give us something real so your innovation is unspoken but evident… which is always the best kind of innovative to be.
2. “World-class.” Usain Bolt: world-class sprinter, Olympic medals to prove it. Lionel Messi: world-class soccer (I know, football) player, four Ballon d’Or trophies to prove it.
But what is a world-class professional or company? Who defines world-class? In your case, probably just you.
3. “Authority.” Like Margaret Thatcher said, “Power is like being a lady; if you have to say you are, you aren’t.” Show your expertise instead.
“Presented at TEDxEast ” or “Predicted 50 out of 50 states in 2012 election” (Hi Nate!) indicates a level of authority. Unless you can prove it, “social media marketing authority” might simply mean you spend way too much time worrying about your Klout score.
4. “Results oriented.” Really? Some people actually focus on doing what they are paid to do? We had no idea.
5. “Global provider.” The majority of businesses can sell goods or services worldwide; the ones that can’t are fairly obvious.
Only use “global provider” if that capability is not assumed or obvious; otherwise you just sound like a small company trying to appear big.
6. “Motivated.” Check out Chris Rock’s response (not safe for work or the politically correct) to people who say they take care of their kids. Then substitute words like “motivated.”
Never take credit for things you are supposed to do – or supposed to be.
7. “Creative.” See particular words often enough and they no longer make an impact. “Creative” is one of them. (Use finding “creative” references in random LinkedIn profiles as a drinking game and everyone will lose — or win, depending on your perspective.)
“Creative” is just one example. Others include extensive, effective, proven, influential, team player… some of those terms may truly describe you, but since they are also being used to describe everyone they’ve lost their impact.
8. “Dynamic.” If you are “vigorously active and forceful,” um, stay away.
9. “Guru.” People who try to be clever for the sake of being clever are anything but. (Like in #8.) Don’t be a self-proclaimed ninja, sage, connoisseur, guerilla, wonk, egghead… it’s awesome when your customers affectionately describe you that way.
Refer to yourself that way and it’s obvious you’re trying way too hard to impress other people – or yourself.
10. “Curator.” Museums have curators. Libraries have curators. Tweeting links to stuff you find interesting doesn’t make you a curator… or an authority or a guru.
11. “Passionate.” I know many people disagree, but if you say you’re incredibly passionate about, oh, incorporating elegant design aesthetics into everyday objects, to me you sound over the top.
The same is true if you’re passionate about developing long-term customer solutions. Try the words focus, concentration, or specialization instead.
Or try “love,” as in, “I love incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects.” For whatever reason, that works for me. Passion doesn’t. (But maybe that’s just me.)
12. “Unique.” Fingerprints are unique. Snowflakes are unique. You are unique – but your business probably isn’t. That’s fine, because customers don’t care about unique; they care about “better.”
Show you’re better than the competition and in the minds of your customers you will be unique.
13. “Incredibly…” Check out some random bios and you’ll find plenty of further-modified descriptors: “Incredibly passionate,” “profoundly insightful,” “extremely captivating…” isn’t it enough to be insightful or captivating? Do you have to be profoundly insightful?
If you must use over-the-top adjectives, spare us the further modification. Trust that we already get it.
14. “Serial entrepreneur.” A few people start multiple, successful, long-term businesses. They are successful serial entrepreneurs.
The rest of us start one business that fails or does okay, try something else, try something else, and keep on rinsing and repeating until we find a formula that works. Those people are entrepreneurs. Be proud if you’re “just” an entrepreneur. You should be.
15. “Strategist.” I sometimes help manufacturing plants improve productivity and quality. There are strategies I use to identify areas for improvement but I’m in no way a strategist. Strategists look at the present, envision something new, and develop approaches to make their vision a reality.
I don’t create something new; I apply my experience and a few proven methodologies to make improvements.
Very few people are strategists. Most “strategists” are actually coaches, specialists, or consultants who use what they know to help others. 99% of the time that’s what customers need – they don’t need or even want a strategist.
16. “Collaborative.” You won’t just decide what’s right for me and force me to buy it?
If your process is designed to take my input and feedback, tell me how that works. Describe the process. Don’t claim we’ll work together — describe how we’ll work together.
(Jeff Haden 2013)
I do not agree with all these statements and some terms are not related or relevant to my area of expertise, however some of these I found interesting and advice worth taking on. The word ‘innovative’ for example is one of those, commonly overused by designers without evidence to back up why the designer’s work is innovative or what actually separates them from others in the same field. “Creative,” “dynamic,” “passionate” and “unique” are other commonly used words in designer profile. Not only are these terms vague at times they are also terms I find impersonal and broad enough to describe most people in the creative field, and as a profile to express individualist and selling points of designers, these are terms which in my opinion do not function to the intended effect.
Taking this into consideration I will explore my own design style and what that says about myself as a designer. For this profile we are expected to create a statement which embodies all varying mediums and areas of out creative work; though fashion focused, my statement will need to embody also myself as an artist, or rather the diversity and versatile nature of my work.
In terms of what my work is about I find often my intent whether consciously or not is to challenge common perception, and this is evident through my artistic and fashion design work. The examples below demonstrate my design approach through the use of optical illusion (Spragment) or through unconventional interpretation of ideas in fashion, such as in the Hip Hop Collection below which intent is to alter the context of design elements, such as the use of basketball and shoe design motifs in garments.
Through this design profile I will also be communicating my fashion design style/aesthetic as discussed in previous entries, which include; sports inspiration and strong focus on pattern cutting, use of shapes/lines and use of cut outs along with body conscious design.
When writing my Personal Design Profile, I took into consideration the following:
– What I want to say about myself as a designer is that have a versatile design approach and am able to work to any guideline or brief, whilst still being able to challenge common perception.
– My inspirations come from visuals such as fashion, art or television, or from translating written or music into a visual interpretation. Figures from all aspects of life inspire me, some of these I will outline in my renewed website portfolio.
– What sets me apart about my background is the cross cultural influences I have been exposed to, having resided in 3 different countries and surrounded myself with people from an expansive generational group I have been able to draw inspiration, ideas and perspective from a wide variety of sources.
For my Professional Practice requirements I am to produce 100 words in third person for my Personal Design Profile. After discussion with my tutor and considering my creative direction, instead of publishing this on my website profile, I will be publishing this within a blog post and also in my Case Study Report with a focus mainly on fashion design. I will however be redressing the ‘About’ section of my profile, using the brainstorm and information I have collated within this research. As part of my design approach is to deal with clients on a more personal basis my website profile will be written from a first person perspective, however this will still address viewers in a professional manner.