Simpler Times

There was a time, not too long ago, that Clip Art was the only visual aid option.

                             

You are creating a sales deck. You want to add a bit of personality, a splash of color. The year is 1990. You only have one choice: Insert > ClipArt.

Voila! You are presented with a library of pixelated doodles of animals, mathematical symbols with drop shadows, and smiling stick figures who appear to be shaking hands or completing transactions.

It was a simple time, one where creativity merely required a direct file path and perhaps some fixed-width resizing. While you had an overwhelming array of these images to choose from, the process itself was quite easy.

The year is 2016. If this is the execution you take when instructed to “add a few creative elements” to a deck, you might also be the type of person that uses Comic Sans un-ironically. And that’s okay. These are complex creative times we live in—where memes become internet phenomenon in a matter of minutes, where there is seemingly nothing that has not “been done before”.

But that abstract looking drawing of a compass that you’ve inserted to demonstrate “direction” or “focus” is not beneficial to you or the person looking at your presentation. It does not make your deck stand out among the approximated 30 million decks created every day.

No longer can you write 3-5 bullet points on the slide, left-align them, mess with the typeface, and sell an idea. No. You need flair, you need showmanship—but you also cannot come across as pompous.

There are whole new formats for presenting: People sing and dance their presentations, visuals are timed, sometimes visuals aren’t used at all.

By 1996, Microsoft Word 6.0 came with 82 WMF clip art files pre-installed. All word processing companies began to offer clip art as part of the software’s default—and when something becomes a default, it becomes easy. It’s simple to do and doesn’t require a ton of thought, but it also takes the quality out of it. Simple does not always translate into “better”.

Today, there are over 140,000 media elements offered under that little “insert” tab within the Microsoft Office suite. But not one of these files are catered directly to your company, your brand. How do we know this? Because every other Microsoft user—meaning roughly every employee in the corporate realms—has these same exact options.

The year is 2016 and the age of clip art is over. You should no longer be communicating a creative idea or thought with one magical “insert” from a 90s computer processor.

Do not let your decks become “default.” Your brand deserves better.