After years of freelancing for leading agencies, Luciano Jardim recently joined Amsterdam agency SuperHeroes as its design lead. Nils Adriaans talked to him about his new role and his design ethos.
Congratulations on your position at SuperHeroes. You were a freelancer before this. What made you decide to exchange a life of freedom for a permanent job?
It was not so much a trade-off, but a logical step. As a freelancer, it rarely happens that you’re involved with a project from beginning to end and you don’t always get the best projects. On rare occasions you do, but it’s not a constant factor.
When I first arrived in Amsterdam, I got to know the local market well and found agencies that suited me. SuperHeroes was one of those agencies. They have a lot of ambition, a great portfolio, and an awesome team. SuperHeroes is also one of the very few agencies where political games and hierarchy don’t come into play. So, a few years later, here I am!
I'm stubborn. That always drives me and takes me work to a new level. I think that's my superpower.
What makes you a SuperHero?
I’m stubborn. That always drives me and takes my work to a new level. I think that’s my superpower.
What mission were you given when you took the job at SuperHeroes?
Bring the design output to a higher, global level. And ensure that our work doesn’t go unnoticed, while also applying the SuperHeroes philosophy of post-advertising.
What recent SuperHeroes campaign particularly appeals to you in terms of design and why?
Everything we have recently done for Quinny has been a step in the right direction: the campaign, tone of voice, branding, art direction. Why? It’s a perfect match between a client with balls and an exceptionally creative team that dared to push the boundaries.
SuperHeroes is on a mission “to save the world from boring advertising”. What role does design play in that?
Design and creativity go hand in hand at SuperHeroes. Visual stimulation is currently at its peak; people are smart enough to distinguish right from wrong. The problem is that a lot of it is being done wrong. Good design helps to solve that, almost like a superpower.
Brands shouldn’t follow trends that make them look like every other brand. Because then everyone will look alike. That's something we do not want at SuperHeroes. We want to attract attention to our design. We want to create campaigns that linger, that are memorable. And great branding makes a brand stand out.
You have worked for some of the biggest names and the most famous brands during your career. How do you ensure that it all remains challenging? How do you stay fresh?
I’m naturally impatient and inquisitive. I’m always reading, researching, and studying: from quantum physics to fashion, from cooking to art, from design to psychology. I take notes, bookmark, cut things out of magazines and newspapers, make screenshots. So much so that I sometimes get completely lost in it. Now that I’m at SuperHeroes I also have to think about other things, such as management, and I will use my natural curiosity for my work there. Not only concerning design, but also for the team.
How has your view on design changed over the years?
I don’t know if it has changed, but I do know that the type of design that I have always had in mind is now becoming a reality. More inclusive, more flexible and friendlier. The time has finally come to start bending the rules established in the field of design in the 20th century, thanks to new technologies and the changing ways of communication.
How do you use design to attract the attention of consumers, who get incentives and information all day long in all kinds of ways?
By hiding the aspect of design, as it were. We’re now addressing our target audience directly, and because of visual pollution, we must be as focused, honest and clear as possible. I don’t think it’s necessary to always want to reach everyone. If you have an honest message and spread it, it reaches a larger audience in organic ways. Design shouldn’t stand in the way of a message or story. With the current techniques, it is easy to go all the way and go over the top with our output. So let’s think carefully about what’s really necessary. That applies to our industry, but also Hollywood and the 3D fever.
The time has finally come to start bending the rules established in the 20th century
Technology might be here to stay, but design still speaks louder.
Which developments in the field of design have your special interest?
Low threshold and range. Things to think about carefully. Our campaigns reach a larger audience than ever, so we also have more responsibility. If we tackle that properly, we can change things for the better.
How do you see the role of data in your field of work?
Data is useful but also has its limitations. We are not robots, even when current platforms try to categorize us as such. There's only so much that analysis, strategy and data can offer. To be able to take that extra step, you sometimes have to leave data for what it is and bring in other input for the ideal cocktail.
I sometimes compare it to the car industry. Despite everything we know about safety, the latest technologies, robotics, and wind tunnels, we still long for a 1967 Ferrari or a classic Aston Martin, rather than having a new one. In fact, manufacturers are releasing classic models. You also see it with electronics. The latest models are almost identical inside, only the design makes the difference. The object with the best design often wins. Technology might be here to stay, but design still speaks louder.
What is the latest news?
SuperHeroes has just celebrated its tenth anniversary. We’re transforming. New people, new clients, and stronger campaigns. We’re buzzing with new ideas every day.