Moving your audience through design
Have you ever noticed that the average designer looks like they are in the band? Ever notice the odd coincidence that so many music people also dabble in design? Ever wonder why? Let me play a few chords of the common bond between music and design... When a musician begins learning, let's say... guitar, she first learns how to play the notes, but then begins to learn on a higher level how different notes and sounds make up the songs that create different moods. Soon, the developing musician learns the chords that stir people up, slow them down, and make them wax melancholy.
The longer she plays guitar, the more she learns the characteristics of the sounds and is able to see the direct correlation between chord and emotion. She learns how to use her instrument to create whatever reaction she desires. She can make the audience laugh, cry, bang their heads or squeeze their lover's hand—all with the choice of notes and the combination and speed thereof. A great guitarist is someone who has mastered the elements of music and combines them like a mad scientist to create specific response. She does not merely play the guitar. She plays the audience.
How different is design? Instead of using the tools of notes and timing, designers use color and shape to instigate a response. In the same way, they combine elements time after time and begin to learn the responses they create in the hearts and minds of the viewer. This correlation between the musician and the designer is a simple bond... the study between creative inputs and human outputs. Great chefs, great comedians, great interior designers all have it—it is an innate drive to know an audience and bring elements together that would captivate them in some way.
The reason a guitarist often makes a good designer is that he/she has already strengthened their sense of deliberative mood setting. They bring the same root logic into a new medium and they are far ahead of those that are just starting to hone that gift. The challenge, as it is with musicians, is that they often only learn to play their songs for just one group of people. Sure, you know how to make a 20-year-old sing a worship song, but can you master the sounds of the 60-year-old's worship set? In the same way, many designers can only play design tunes that reach certain age groups. They are not masters of their craft, but yet masters of their target audience.
To the musician and designer: never stop studying the correlation between your elements and the response that follows it. At the same time, never stop expanding the reach of the notes you play. In doing so, you become all things to all men... reach them.