To some, the term Production Design may seem like an oxymoron. I assure you it isn’t. There is an undeniable art in being able to create successful ads while designing within a framework you may not have initially created.
So let’s backup for the non-designers. Production design is typically a turnkey production of different ads that are consistent with previous ads or overall branding. Similar messaging, similar look and feel. This typically applies to all mediums – print, digital, outdoor, radio and even TV. The whole gamut. These ads are usually all consistent and are quite often made by different people and/or agencies. A good example is taking a company website, and pulling elements from their website, and turning it into a print ad. Or, taking a print ad and pulling elements from that, and turning it into a billboard. You see? Not exactly creative but definitely a necessity for brand consistency.
I remember being in design school and being encouraged to be creative. I recall specifically one professor saying, “Have fun now while you’re here. It’s not going to be this way in the working world.” We had creative control of every project from start to finish. We composed the copy, created layouts, color schemes – all of it. I do appreciate how freely we were able to express ourselves in school. However, I feel like it didn’t do a good job of setting us up for agency life.
Many companies come to ad agencies with existing voices. Not every brand is looking to rebrand themselves all of the time (which would be awful by the way). Being able to take existing elements from an already developed brand, and creating a design within those parameters is not exactly easy… or fun. Especially if you’re creative natured and have an urge to “change things up.” It’s almost like being a background singer in a band. Setting aside your personal voice and expression in order to harmonize. A good production graphic designer should have the capability of doing just that while keeping ads engaging.
At the end of the day, graphic design is a marketing tool. That means, not every opportunity is the opportunity to show the world how much of a bomb-ass designer you are. Instead, always keep in mind that great designers are the ones who can design, concept and have the ability to create successful ads within an existing structure.