Consistency: conformity with other or earlier attitudes, practices, etc.
Being consistent in whatever face you’re putting out to the world doesn’t mean you’ll be boring… unless that’s the face you’re aiming to put out there.
What it does mean is that all your materials will feel the same. This includes the look of your logo, the colours on your sign out front, the paper you print your business card on, your ads in the local newspaper, your customer service, down to the way you shake hands.
If you’re inconsistent, your customer never knows what they’ll get.
Consistency is more than just using the same colours and fonts in your design. It needs to reverberate throughout the company. (However, we’ll start with the design, seeing as that’s my area of expertise!)
If you’re going for a casual, funky feeling, then lots of different colours or variations otherwise are fine. If you’re going for a dependable, there-when-you’re-needed feel, then too many colours or styles is confusing and counter to your purpose!
The industry term for the feel of your company is “brand”. And the most important thing in branding is to be consistent in your use of colours, fonts, layouts, style, and voice.
Once you’re consistent, then you can worry about appropriateness of your colours, fonts, layouts, style, and voice. If you have a nice logo, clean layouts, nice fonts, and good meaningful colours, but you don’t use the same ones on your letterhead, website, business card, user guides, posters, etc., then it will still look bad (especially if you don’t use the same ones within a piece!). But it is possible to NOT have a logo, while keeping nice fonts, colours, and a similar layout throughout all your pieces, and the lack of logo doesn’t matter so much.
Here are a few steps to start you on a brand assessment:
- Take stock of the brand pieces you’re releasing. Start with the physical design pieces like business cards, packaging, signage, posters, brochures, ads, etc.
- Make a list of the fonts, colours, and logo placement on each piece.
- Consider: Are they similar for all the pieces?
If the answer is no, then it might be time to reign in your brand! Reduce the colours and fonts, start to develop guidelines for where to put your logo and what type of lines to use.
- Look at each piece as if you were a customer: what feeling do you get from it? (Sometimes it helps to ask actual customers!)
- Consider: Do they feel like your company?
Remember: consistency is more important than attractiveness (unless it’s consistently hideous).
Even if your design is less than perfect, “brand unity” (tying in elements from all your media (website, logo, business cards, brochures, etc.), using the same fonts and colours, and embracing repetition) is a great place to start. Have you seen any inconsistent branding lately? Share it with me!
Extra post! I’ve been doing “chimera” sketches as a drawing exercise for the past little bit, and posting them for general entertainment. (Most of them are creepy, some are cute…) I’m posting here the ones I’ve done so far, and will post them weekly when I make new ones! (You can also find them on Instagram or Pinterest. Come say hi!)
Takeaway: Have you committed any of these faux-pas? Ordered too late? Mailed your cards a week late? Misspelled your clients’ names?
Do you even send holiday cards? Would you like to have a custom card to send your clients? You still have until the end of November for a custom design with me (or until Friday for a discount on a beautiful non-custom card). Otherwise, get in touch, and we’ll talk about next year!
Better yet, send your clients greeting cards for the holidays no one thinks about! Celebrate extra time with the upcoming leap day in February! Rejoice over the end of winter during the spring equinox! (Note: you might want to also send Christmas cards to your most important clients and suppliers.)
Takeaway: “Well-liked brands trigger responses in the same brain areas where human relationships (friendships for example) are processed.” Your favourite brands occupy the same brain-space as your friends… Sound about right? Does your company occupy anyone’s friend brain-space? If the answer is no, consider re-branding your company.
I recently attended the Advertising Club of Edmonton’s Cannes Lions 2015 winners screening. The event was in support of NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society) who help Canadians in the marketing and communications industry when they fall on hard times.
The joke at the event was that TV isn’t a dying medium: they managed to collect a full theatre just to watch commercials!
There were many good commercials, and it’s hard to pick even a few to share, but this one broke my heart. (They even use the sad version of the theme from Pixar’s Up! Oh, it hurts!)
And this one made me laugh:
What have you been reading lately? Share interesting insights in the comments!
This is probably not something you’ve lain awake pondering (unless you’re a graphic designer yourself: hi!), but what, exactly, is a graphic designer? Is a graphic designer a fancy word for an artist? Are we just typography geeks and colour nerds? Do we have training?
“What does a graphic designer do?”
Graphic designers take strategies, concepts, words, sounds, and experiences and translate them into visual messages.
It’s about understanding the customer you’re trying to attract and the business you’re selling and making sure the two fit together.
Even though we’re called “graphic” designers, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll forsake the word to use only images. I’ll use whichever one I feel will communicate the message most effectively and immediately.
“Our professional practice revolves around a message-driven design discipline that involves research, learning, concept development, structuring and presentation of messages designed to facilitate better understanding within an audience.”
Which is an accurate list of what goes into crafting any design piece.
What do we do? We make your message attractive to your customers.
“So you’re an artist?”
Do we do art? Yes. Are we artists? No. Artists create to make people feel or to share pieces of themselves. Designers create to communicate a message. Graphic designers use art as part of their arsenal, but not to the same purposes.
“So what ARE you then?”
We’re creative geniuses and problem-solving monsters. We’re typography geeks and colour nerds and line lovers. We adore negative space as much as positive spaces and look for subliminal (or clever) messages from other designers. We’re the weirdos who fast-forward through television shows for the commercials, and get excited when we some big company reveals their new logo.
Most of us have training of some form or another (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Diploma of Design, as well as various courses in art, not quite adding up to any kind of designation).
There’s a movement within the design community to forego “graphic” in our titles for a more accurate “communication”, defining it like so:
“Communication design is a message-driven design discipline that involves the structuring and presentation of verbal and visual content to enable better understanding among people.” (Errol Saldanha)
Whatever we call ourselves, we’re interested in communicating your message to your customers.
“Getting a logo online is so much cheaper!.” (AKA: I’m going with Fiverr/Elance/99designs, etc.”)
Cost is always a hot button for people, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money. Some companies end up with fantastic results from whichever online service they’ve used. That’s not always the case: most often, you get what you pay for.
One detriment to branding with an online service is that they generally don’t take the business as a whole into consideration. They’re not going to ask the questions to figure out who your business is, what separates it from your competitors, and who your clients are (among other questions!). These questions are key to getting a design that attracts your key market instead of just a logo that looks good.
Another problem is the lack of communication. I’m available to chat if you have problems, questions, or concerns with drafts and concepts. Most logo services are harder to communicate with.
This particular objection is very closely tied in with:
“My brother’s sister-in-law can do it for free.” (AKA: Keeping it in the family.”)
While free is good for your business’s pocketbook right now, do you have time to work with your relative’s (or friend’s) schedule? Do you feel comfortable telling your family or friends that you’re not happy with their work? (It’s a double-whammy of “hard to reject” going on: family and free!)
Sometimes, if someone is doing your design as a favour, you have to work within their schedule. It might take longer, since you’re not their priority and they don’t necessarily have a reason to do their best work (besides facing you at the next family reunion, of course!). Getting a design right takes time and many iterations.
If you’re not able to tell your designer that you don’t like the ideas they’ve come up with, then you won’t get the best outcome. Design is really a 2-way process.
If you want to impress your customers from the beginning, hire someone who will take the time to represent your best face to your customers: get in touch with me!
Phew! What a month. Making a (relatively) complete drawing (almost) every day is a lot of work! But it was fun, and I only missed one day. My next challenge is the #PiBoIdMo (if you’ve ever heard of NaNoWriMo, the month where writers try to finish a first draft of a book in a month, this is similar, but for picture book writers: so I’m going to be coming up with an idea for a picture book every day…) We’ll see how it goes!
Unfortunately, I missed a few blog posts last month. I’m restarting my Wednesday posting schedule from now! Things you can expect to see this month:
- Best links of October roundup
- My final Objection posts
- Design Tips
- Cool Art
Follow along to get the latest posts as they’re published!
For your perusal, I’m reposting all my #inkTober drawings here. You can see my original postings and comments on Twitter (see posts from October 2015).