I’ve never attended the actual TED Conference, but I’ve become a big fan of the TED website and their outstanding collection of conference presenter videos. Two friends have recommended the video of Jacek Utko, the Polish designer who reenergized newspapers in countries throughout eastern and central Europe with his bold, dynamic graphic design.

On the surface, this story could be taken as another example of a classic “before/after,” where the “before” is so outrageously bad that the designer couldn’t help but make an impressive improvement by comparison. What sets this example apart is that Utko’s redesigns led to sharp increases in circulation for these newspapers, making this one of those rare case studies with a clear correlation between communication design and business success.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, the connection may also be obscured, but I see the Jacek Utko story as illuminating for entrepreneurial communication designers. In the newspaper industry, Utko has found a business category that is grossly void of fresh, engaging design. This is exactly the experience Lisa and I had with the healthcare industry during our daughter’s diabetes diagnosis, which led to our business HealthSimple. In both cases—and in those of many other business successes—the lack of good design became a business opportunity for designers.

Here a link to an interview with Jacek Utko on the TED blog.

A couple other TED videos I’ve really enjoyed:
Paula Scher, Designer and Pentagram partner
Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat, Pray, Love

Thanks to Andy Thompson and Jeff Johnson for the Jacek Utko tip.