Whether it’s a Facebook ad, a logo or a website landing page, great design captures the image and ethos of an enterprise in ways that extend far beyond words and pictures.
The best design harnesses a host of elements that together elicit a feel and response.
But what makes great design? Because, chances are, you know it when you see it and there’s a fine line between the great and a message that fails to hit the spot.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and that’s definitely true of design. From the colour palette to the pictures you choose, imagery has an innate power to elicit emotions, memories and desire.
There’s a hidden art to selecting the right imagery to reflect a brand’s ethos that involves seeking out the right colour tones, style, and subject matter to support the message you wish to convey.
While we’re all about message, words are of course an integral part of ads, websites and even logos, but in many cases the fewer the better.
The words you select work with any imagery to support and, in some cases clarify, but do not stand alone. That’s why it’s imperative to hone in on the essential words of your brand, establishing a voice, and noting the words that conjure the feeling you wish to share.
It’s helpful to brainstorm words associated with your ethos by asking: what do you stand for and what does it mean? Then, what are you attempting to sell, reflect or state within the specific task at hand?
Something as simple as the change or use of one word instead of another can alter your entire brand feel or image. Take for example the word “quality” which features synonyms like esteem, standard, class, merit, superiority, and refinement. Each of these cast a different slant on almost the same meaning.
Like imagery, typography has the power to tell a story of its own, lending weight to the image and the words. It can establish authority, lightheartedness, a contemporary feel or historic tone. And to those with a keen eye there’s a big difference between Times New Roman and Georgia, or Arial and Calibri.
That difference, albeit subtle to your audience, works to convey a feel, look and association with your brand. Consider the iconic lettering of Coca Cola as perhaps the best example. It’s familiar, it’s steeped in history, it’s effortless and a major part of Coke being it!
Trawl the websites of specific industries and you’ll notice some similarities emerge. In many cases this comes down to use of colour, because colour conveys meaning.
In highly simplistic terms, blue is often used to represent security, wisdom and trust; green equals vitality, health and nature; red is about passion, energy and leadership; while black equals sophistication, functionality and power.
Colour is a major component of brand recognition, and the meaning can alter with hue or whether you run with one colour or more.
Layout is where the art of design comes together using text, image, colour and space to allow the eye to travel from point to point.
The best layout will allow the audience to grasp a message quickly, working their way from the most important element of the message to the action required.
Conversely, poor layout can confuse a reader, bombarding them with a message that’s too busy to readily comprehend.
And this is where talented designers come into their own, intuitively assembling the components of a message to stitch them effortlessly into one.
Great design is hard to quantify, but the very best shares a simple theme; it’s about seeking out the components of image, words, text, colour and layout and ensuring each supports the other to paint a greater picture of what you wish to say.
More importantly, great design pays heed to that essential element of marketing, establishing the parameters of how you want people to feel and ultimately respond.