Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes?

This is a collection of business tips, thoughtful reads, and links to articles that I found useful or interesting this week.

I attended the American Advertising Federation Central Region Conference called “Crossroads” in Kansas City last Friday and want to share some take-aways with you, but first want to mention some thoughts on the context of design.

Oftentimes design and aesthetics are what is focused on as an outcome of this line of business. Companies post portfolios of work, which is really just a visualization and communication tool that marks the end product of a much larger process. While I think we should all recognize and appreciate these end pieces, it’s also important to think about the problem or challenge that the piece is meant to solve when assessing it. Author Colin Wheildon in his book Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes? brings this message home very clearly in stating (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it doesn’t matter how “pretty” a piece is if it doesn’t solve the problem or communicate the appropriate message. An aesthetically beautiful piece, be it tv commercial, print advertisement, logo, etc., doesn’t tell the whole story but is just a tip of the iceberg and is meaningless (and therefore not effective and memorable to the target market) if it doesn’t actually impact the appropriate group of people in the intended way.

On this website in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be sharing case studies of the processes and outcomes of challenges and solutions we work closely with our clients to solve. For instance, our client Windowscapes of Kansas, a new regional custom window covering company, wanted to stand out in an otherwise sea of budget options as a true high-end and custom alternative for window coverings. To stand out, we developed a logo we felt would resonate with their niched target market and be memorable. Every piece of the company’s marketing materials emanate the high-end and well thought-out feel for the brand, utilizing gold foil on black linen matte.

Back to the Crossroads Kansas City conference. Keynote speaker Michelle Silvestri shared the following thoughts on design and articulated very well the purpose for quality and well thought-out design and I couldn’t agree more: Design is a strategic tool. Design visualizes the abstract. Design stimulates dialogue. Design simplifies the complicated. Design enhances comprehension. Design solidifies mutual understanding. Design creates emotional connection. Design improves outcomes.

Book: Type & Layout: Are You Communicating or Just Making Pretty Shapes? by Colin Wheildon

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