Here’s an interesting analysis of the 2016 Presidential Campaign logos, by Sagi Naviv, designer and partner at the branding agency Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.

Let me know what you think.

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Braun SK4 Record Player by Dieter Rams

Ever wondered what makes good design? Well, apparently so did Dieter Rams, one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century, who, about 35 years ago formulated a list of 10 principles for good design. Here they are:

Good design is innovative. The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

Good design makes a product useful. A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

Good design is aesthetic. The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Good design makes a product understandable. It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Good design is unobtrusive. Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

Good design is honest. It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

Good design is long-lasting. It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years — even in today’s throwaway society.

Good design is thorough down to the last detail. Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.

Good design is environmentally-friendly. Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

You can read more about Dieter Rams here.

What’s your opinion? Do you think these principles still apply today?

Hi mom. How’ve you been? I know it’s kind of a random question, since we meet regularly, so you don’t really have to answer.

In our last letter (you can reread it here) we defined brands, and we talked about their importance in a small or large business. We defined a brand as a perception or opinion that people (customers and potential customers) have about a business, and how this perception if positive enough, will create an emotional connection to that business.

Today we’ll talk about how brands grow and evolve, and how companies control it. Brands can be easily influenced by almost anything. Any action the company takes publicly, any act of communication, the way employees talk to the customers, the way they are dressed, the decorations on the walls, they can all influence perceptions.

So basically any single detail from the way a company looks, the way it communicates, the way it acts, and the work it does will influence this perception either in a positive way or in a negative way.  A brand is continuously evolving. And that’s why, the way a brand evolves needs to be controlled.

A company is a lot like a human being. It has a personality, looks, actions, a language, and they will all influence the opinions others have about it. And like human beings, companies try to manage the perception people have about them by changing the way they look, the way they talk, by filtering the actions they take, so that they all lead to a perception they desire.

This isn’t any different from what you do when you decide every morning to were purses and shoes that match your clothes. When you spend a lot of time in front of the mirror to arrange your hair, when you spend hours weekly at the hairdresser, when you buy new clothes. All these things you do, are meant to create or manage a certain perception about yourself.

This is shortly called branding. And it’s the same with companies, they make decisions on how to talk, what to look like, so that people will have a positive perception about them.

Any set of actions, taken specifically to lead to a clear objective (perception), is called branding.

And through clear strategies created by brand consultants/ consultancies, companies define and synchronize the steps they will take in the future, so the perception will be as intended.

Brand strategies are like musical scores. They tell everyone involved in a company, what and when to play, so the music produced will be pleasing to the audience.

In the next letter will talk about the role of “looks” in branding, and their importance in creating emotional connections to brands.

Sincerely,

Your son

About a week back, in the post on Micromanagement, I was pointing out that design, unlike art, isn’t about the designer expressing him/herself through visual elements, but about conveying a specific message to the specific audience with the clear purpose to motivate a specific action.

A few years back John O’Nolan, wrote an interesting article covering a few differences between art and design.

“Perhaps the most fundamental difference between art and design that we can all agree on is their purposes.

Typically, the process of creating a work of art starts with nothing, a blank canvas. A work of art stems from a view or opinion or feeling that the artist holds within him or herself.

They create the art to share that feeling with others, to allow the viewers to relate to it, learn from it or be inspired by it.

The most renowned (and successful) works of art today are those that establish the strongest emotional bond between the artist and their audience.

By contrast, when a designer sets out to create a new piece, they almost always have a fixed starting point, whether a message, an image, an idea or an action.

The designer’s job isn’t to invent something new, but to communicate something that already exists, for a purpose.

That purpose is almost always to motivate the audience to do something: buy a product, use a service, visit a location, learn certain information. The most successful designs are those that most effectively communicate their message and motivate their consumers to carry out a task.”

You can read the full article here.

And as a bonus John made some really cool wallpapers on the same theme. You can download them here.

Use the form below to share your thoughts!

I know we just saw each other like a few hours ago, and this might seem a bit random, but knowing how you never really understand what it is that I do, I thought about writing some letters to you, to explain. Yes, again… I know I’ve already told you so many times, but I feel like I need to explain again, when you keep asking me to just “add some text on a picture”, when creating posters.

So in these letters, I’m going to explain step by step what I do, and why is it important. But in order for you to understand what I do for companies, you first need to know the meaning of a few terms like “brand”, “branding”, “brand strategy”, “brand identity”, and the difference between them. So in this letter I’m going to explain to you what a brand is.

I know you’ve heard of it before, and I know you used it before, but I don’t think you know exactly what it means. Some people think a brand is a logo, or the design of any other deliverable, or even the company itself. The truth is, a brand may be influenced by all of these but in reality, it’s none of them.

A brand is an opinion, a perception. The perception people (customers and potential customers) have about your product or service. It is like some sort of reputation that preceeds you. And obviously this reputation can be a positive one or a negative one. So…the more people know about this reputation of yours, and the more positive it is, the bigger the brand you have.

And the really magical thing about a brand is that it sells for you. People will recommend your services to their friends and they will talk enthusiastically about you, and their friends will even be thankful for it. And all this for free. You don’t have to pay anyone to talk about you. They’ll do it for free if their perception about you is good.

It’s brilliant, isn’t it? At least as long as the perception is positive. If the perception is negative, it obviously means no sales. The good thing about it, is that this perception can be influenced and eventually changed.

But we are going to talk more about the way this perception can be changed and what influences it, in the next letter. Until then, be well!

Sincerely,

Your son

“Can I have that colour a little bit darker? Oh and the logo bigger. And maybe the text aligned to the left.”

For some of you this may sound familiar. For others it won’t. In any case it has a name. It is called “micromanagement”, and it means trying to control every detail of an activity to such a degree that it causes problems. In design, it happens when clients try to control details like colours, fonts and shapes.

It usually occurs because people tend to have this general understanding that design is about aesthetics, like art, and obviously everyone thinks they are entitled to an opinion on aesthetics. It’s understandable really why it happens, as design is firstly visual.

What people don’t usually understand is that design, unlike art, isn’t subjective and debatable. The visual part of design isn’t about the designer’s artistic expression. It is simply about the client’s customers. A design doesn’t look a certain way because the designer wanted it to look that way and because that’s what the designer likes.

Every design solution should be about what the customer wants and likes, and therefore the visual result is the “message” of the client, conveyed to the customer. Design’s aesthetics are the result of solving some communication problems between clients and customers. And so, every detail of the solution adds to the conveyance of the “message”. Altering these details may alter the objective itself.

Personal opinions and tastes have no place in the design profession. Although feedback is part of the design process, feedback’s purpose in the process isn’t about understanding the client’s taste better in order to create something they like. Feedback’s purpose in design is to gain clarity and focus on the “message” that should be conveyed, and the way it should be, in case the designer drifts away from the objective.

Clients managing details in a design solution, increases the risk of drifting so much away of what the customer wants, that the solution may be completely compromised.

In the end, for both the designers and clients out there, bare in mind that design is customer-oriented, and that’s how it should remain. Make decisions based on the objectives and the expected reaction you’d want the customers to have, not on personal tastes and opinions.

Image source: http://static.sportskeeda.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/chess-1427831819-2352632.jpg

Image source www.unsplash.com

Just bare with me for a moment, this won’t be about me. It will be about the work I do, though.

As I was saying, I’m a graphic designer. And no, I don’t spend my time doing cool stuff in Photoshop, although, for some of you this may be what you think of, when you hear the word “designer”. What I actually do, is finding ways to translate messages into visual language.

Design is a language. And as any language, its purpose is to be a bridge between individuals. An instrument of communication. It is supposed to create understanding and clarity. This obviously will mean a lot more than using a few tools in Photoshop. It means understanding the message, understanding the recipient, and finding ways to translate that message effectively. It involves extensive research, strategy, some drawing, and finally using softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

I, the designer, don’t work for you, the client. I work for your customers. Truly. I may be hired by you, but I work for your customers, for their satisfaction, and on their money too (as the customers are the ones that buy your products and services).

Design means partnering with you, the client, in order to serve the customer needs. It ultimately means working together toward a common goal – creating better experiences for the customer.

What do you think? Have you thought about the design profession from this perspective?