Aaron Keller, Principal at Capsule

From our inception, Capsule has been seeking a definition of good design. You may even say we’ve been a bit obsessed.


If we can define what good design is, we may be able to more readily identify bad design. It means saying one thing is good and one bad, and be able to provide evidence. But, much of our community sees shades of grey and therefore most are unable or unwilling to say "that’s bad design."

Yet, there are good signs on the importance of good design:

One: We’ve seen design institutions in the UK use a stock portfolio approach to show the value of design driven companies.

Two: We’ve seen companies like P&G, Target, Apple and Philips proclaim the importance of design and even incorporate it into their strategic platform.

Good design is valuable, but we are yet unwilling to call out bad design.

Why does Capsule care?

We spend a fair amount of our waking hours coaxing people see the value of design. Directly translated: how much design is worth to your business. Some say this is moving design closer to a profession, which is an amusing phobia because much of the product and graphic design world came from the profession of architectural design. In contrast, we see this move as a great method to distinguish between someone using the word "design" and someone having permission to practice in the field of design. Directly translated: removing the unprofessional behaviors we all know exist.

Why should a member of the intellectual property community care?

There is likely a direct correlation between the value of design and how much a client is willing to pay to protect it.  We’ve seen the rise of "design thinking" to strategy conversations and hopefully it will be a leadership position in many companies. Directly translated: we design the intellectual property you protect, and we believe good design creates more economic value for everyone attached to it.

What can you do?

We propose three simple things you can do to get the good design ball rolling.

One: seek out design partners who believe in the profession of design and the economic and social value it offers our world.

Two: speak up for good design and call out what you believe to be bad design when it happens. Our industry is (unprofessional) not as likely or maybe unable to see the forest from the trees.

Three: vote Jank or Swank.

Yes, you read it right. Vote "swank" good design and vote "jank" for bad design.

We have been speaking on this topic for years. We have found it removes the intellectual challenges and makes it easier to just vote with your gut.

VOTE HERE and in this case, vote often.

Look to the right when you reach the blog.

More detailed definition.

Jank [def]: broken, superfluous, or meaningless; stupid or ridiculously moronic; bootleg or of questionable quality.

Swank [def]: combine swagger and lank; extremely tall and extremely long limbs compared to your torso while still having great style and confidence; very classy, tasteful; extremely cool; dope.