It may be a recent perusal of so many headlines of disaster and despair that stirred these thoughts. Or it may just be the experiences of many years gelling ever more concretely. But this is a plea to everyone interested and participating in design of any form to "design like you give a damn."
Give a damn about process. If your approach is thoughtful, vigilant and thorough, you're on the way to finding a route to be able to deliver a unique and meaningful expression. Beware the process that complicates or overanalyzes. There are too many uninspired and all together familiar designs in the market. Let us litter no longer.
Give a damn about people. Stay keenly aware of the fact that the team you're a part of holds a common goal. Respect your clients and the expertise they bring to bear. No need to be redundant just to show them you get the business they’re in. Embrace the potential benefit of the "collective IQ" that comes with working with people of varied experience (e.g., young and old, multiple disciplines, inside and outside of a company).
Give a damn about what you're designing. Of course, not every company, product or service is going to be sexy. You will not deliver smart, creative work if you can't find something good about the people you're working with: why they believe in what they do, they way they do things differently or the impact they can make in their field or the world around them. Going through the motions doesn’t cut it.
Give a damn about your impact. On a regular basis you’re making decisions about how to produce and print things. Consider your recommendations at every step of the way. What kind of footprint will your work leave? How can you inspire people to be thoughtful about their impact as end users as well?
Give a damn about your community. You've heard it said "think global, act local." Do it. It makes a difference. Richard Florida writes and speaks on the power of creative communities. If you add to your community, it will attract more and you will prosper in turn.
Principal and chairman of Duffy & Partners, Joe Duffy is one of the most respected and sought after creative directors and thought leaders on branding and design in the world. Joe's work includes brand and corporate identity development for some of the world's most admired brands, from Aveda to Coca-Cola to Sony to Jack in the Box to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. His work is regularly featured in leading marketing and design publications and exhibited around the world. In 2004 he founded Duffy & Partners as a new kind of branding and creativity company, partnering with clients and other firms in all communication disciplines. Also in 2004, he received the Medal from the AIGA for a lifetime of achievement in the field of visual communications. His first book—Brand Apart—was released in July 2005 and in 2006, he was recognized as one of the "Fast 50" most influential people in the future of business by Fast Company.