Doing something you know will work is doing something you know will not fail. It means doing something without risks and something you’ve seen work before. It’s sort of like a race car driver that mentally sets markers for their braking points each lap for consistent results.
Designing with this sort of mindset is designing to the status quo for guaranteed results, with just enough differentiation to avoid infringement. Think of all the sports roundel logos or the illustrated angry-mascot-over-text composition.
But, when we describe design that we really love we don’t mention “status quo” or “safe”. That’s not how we describe the work we wish to create ourselves, either.
New ideas come from those willing to explore in their work, in search of meaningful concepts expressed through beautiful aesthetic and a bit of surprise; something we’ve never seen before.
To create new things in graphic design, it must have an artistic approach in it’s process. It must be risky, meaning it has to go against the grain of expectations. That is a critical ingredient in interesting art and design. I believe the best tool we have for achieving this is imagination.
Without risks and imagination, work tends to be boring, stale, and forgettable. At best, it will be average.