Graphic Design

Graphic Design is Visual Communication

Graphics is Visual Communication or communicating in a visual way.  It is a method of telling a story.  We use graphics to project ideas, thoughts, concepts and experiences.  It is made up of elements or building blocks.  It is also said to be the organization and presentation of information developed through a creative process for a particular purpose.  It is a method of conveying information.  The information we want our target to know is the beginning of the design process.  We sort of backward engineer the task with the graphics all the while having the target in mind.

Good Photography will tell a Story!

Similar to (good) photography in the aspect of telling a story, design has the ability to “take the viewer to a place”, internally that they physically can not go.  We use design, copy, graphics, photos, illustrations, images, text and infographics to send people to the place where we want them to go.  To tell our story or the story we want told.

We sort of lumped Graphic Design and Logo Design together for space considerations, but they are significantly different in use and intent.  In fact, Graphic AND Design are two separate things.  Sort of like Sales & Marketing are two totally separate things that many people use interchangeably.  In fact, I have seen countless business cards that have the individuals title as “Sales & Marketing”…  But I digress from the topic…

When we say Graphic, we talk about the physical entity of the piece.  As in a sign.  We would say bring the graphics with you when you come, or put the graphic in the upper right corner.  We can also use words such as a means to expression.

What is a Graphic Designer?

A Graphic Designer is a person who creates graphics to design.  Hopefully, what they design is relevant for their target audience.  Especially when the graphics is on your website!

Design could be anything from the way a page is formatted to an illustration. It could use all sorts of elements to complete the design.  It is basically the arrangement of features that are produced to be seen visually.

What actually is Design?

A well done design can be a stand alone story if compiled well.  Or it can be in a series of images or graphics that together tell a story.  These can be very powerful tools to take your viewer on tour.

What not to do in design?

Lots of artists stray way far away from the norm to make their mark.  If people like what they create and they gain followers, the artist is said to be successful.  If their art is so outside the box, no doubt, there is still a group that will follow them and their work.  It may just not be widely accepted.  It this “far out” approach works with your brand, then go for it.  If however your brand is more conservative in nature or more importantly if your target market is on the conservative side, then it may be detrimental to use such type of work.  You need to connect with your audience, so make sure your graphics talk their language.

The 7 Principles of design

The Principles of design are line, shape, color, value, form, texture, and space.  Used harmoniously together, we try to create a well balanced visual that all works together with each other element to form the entire scene, page or design.

Main principles of design are contrast, hierarchy, alignment, balance, proximity, repetition, simplicity and function.

When we bring the visual elements (graphics) and the design principles (design), we get Graphic Design.

Does Image Size and Compression Matter?

Image compression is taking an image or graphic and reducing it’s size in bites to render quicker on your website.  You have probably been to web pages that load really slow and when finally loaded you see a huge photo on the page that has not been properly compressed.  The entire image needs to render before it shows up and most likely, you have already hit the back button.

It is therefore necessary for the designer to have a solid basis of web graphics tools such as Illustrator, Corel Draw and Photoshop so that once the designs are complete, they can be reproduced in whatever space required.  If they are to be printed, then they need to be in a CMYK color space at 300 dpi resolution in actual reproductive size.  If the design is to be only used on the web, then it should be a highly compressed image that is produced in an RGB color space.  Note that if you send an RGB image to an offset printer, the colors will shift and will look completely different than intended.  So it is good to have your work done by a designer that understands more than just “pretty”.

What is the difference between a Logo and a LogoMark?

A logo is used for your brand Identity and your brand recognition, but it is not your brand!

Your logo should be unique and unlike anything you have ever seen.

Your logo must be Scalable.  It should look good at ½” and 20 ft!  Your logo must fit on a signet ring all the way up to a billboard.

It should look good when printed in black and white (with all the colors removed)

The elements of your logo should capture the aura of the business.

Typography if used in a logo should match the brands gender.  Did you know that typefaces have gender?  Yes, some are bold and “manly (masculine)” and others are fluid and “feminine”.

Color needs to correlate with the type of business it is.  See our article on color.

Taking into consideration the flavor of the business, we together with you decide if we want whimsical or bold.  Are we wanting to be authoritative, informational, fun, legitimate, elegant or sophisticated etc.  This is where we start when someone asks us to design a logo for them.

One of the current trends is the use of colors to distinguish between words and therby create a logo or a logo mark or commonly called a logotype.

If your company name includes what you do, it may be a strong reason to include or incorporate your business name right within your logo.  Can work great if your business name is short enough.

Your logo is part of your brand.  However, your brand is what people perceive your business to be.  Your logo is not your brand.

What is a Logomark?

A Logomark is a symbol which represents your brand but does not generally contain the name of your company.

What is a Logotype?

A logotype also known as word mark is your brand name styled as a logo.  TrendStrategics is a logotype.  It uses a distinct font and color combination to create our “mark”.  The beauty here is that because we are not a world wide recognized firm, we can not be confused with other brands because our name is our symbol.

What is a Tagline?

Just as important as your logo or word mark is a tagline.  The tagline is the “what you do” or what you want to convey or be known as line that generally is placed under your name.  Ours is “Digital & Targeted  Marketing”.  That is what we do.  If you can tell people what you do right up front, they don’t have to dig and search to see if you are what they are looking for.

If you make cookies, then a good tagline would be “Better Dough Makes Better Cookies”.  You get the idea.  If I was looking for cookies, and your company name was Lac’ys Place.  I wouldn’t have a clue what Lac’ys Place was about and may or may not click to investigate.  But if you had that tagline, then I would know right off what you did and follow up if that is what I was wanting.

Should I design my own logo?

After all, I know more about MY company than anybody!  Yes, that is true, you do know your business more than anybody in the world, but does that qualify you to create a powerful, impacting and to the point logo that meets all the criteria mentioned above?  Do you have the training and disciplines necessary for an optimal result?  What about my Niece?  She is creative!  Again, does she have the skillsets that make her a valid designer?  Are you willing to sacrifice market acceptability because you want to placate (appease) your Niece?  I have seen it over and over through the years.  A well meaning family friend or relative with some artistic talents designs a logo and the family member cowers to it’s use.  Even though it brings absolutely no value to your new brand.

It just isn’t a good idea to go it alone!

I could go on rampage with this, but you get the idea.  These well meaning people usually know little to nothing about typeface gender, kerning, white space, leading, colors and on and on.  Just remember, it is YOUR Brand and YOUR Business and YOUR Future.  So make the right decisions and get a professional to do the work that you aren’t equipped for.  You ARE equipped to run and build your business, but should rely on those with the proper credentials to steer you in the right direction.

Should I hire a freelance designer?  As long as that person has marketing experience and understands the various considerations in design, you may get favorable results.

Will my logo be relevant in a decade?

Great question.  A good design doesn’t go off the grid or way out there to be “current” or with the times.  So the answer to that is to stay inside the box a bit and error on the safe side.  That said, many logos are changed after a period of time if they become stale or old fashioned.  Rule of thumb here is to not try to follow the crowd and succumb to fads in your design.

Historically Speaking… it’s not a bargain!

I can relate a few stories about historical events in my career where I have seen many people who didn’t know what they were doing enter into the market.  Just because someone says they are a “x” type of business does not make them an expert.  Years ago, when we started business manufacturing 3 dimensional signage, we were really limited on font selection.  So, I made my own fonts to use in our process.  We had few choices with size and type of fonts that we could use.  Then a few years later, the vinyl plotters became available (right after desktop computing).  People entered into the sign business in droves, selling cheap boring signage.

I would get the phone calls that started off like this “How much are your magnetic signs”?  I knew right then that the person on the other end knew nothing about marketing and was only interested in cost at the expense of their business image.  Sometimes I tried to go in depth with these callers and explain about the importance of their image, but generally I wasted my expertise. (Matthew 7:6)

So after a few years these “sign shops” fell by the wayside and left the market place.

Photography in the fast lane!

More recently a similar thing happened in photography.  The advances in the digital world brought forth amazing powerful cameras that all but posed for you.  So lots of people became “photographers”, because it was easy to get into.  They still exist out there today.  Perhaps you know some.  These people have little to no experience.  Know nothing about lighting, exposure, depth of field and all the tiny nuances that go along with the craft.  But yet, they are nice people, have a camera, are cheap and take pictures.  It is sad to see the blind leading the blind, but that is pretty much what it is.  I have seen these photos and they are to say the least “not good”.  Unfortunately, the people who hire them knows little about what makes a photograph a good photograph or a great photograph.  They know nothing about the rule of thirds, or headspace or angular posing.  But if the face is in focus, everybody is happy!  Yep, really sad. 

Same thing in Graphic Design and Logo creation.  Make sure who you trust with your future knows what they are doing.

A Logo is a basic building block of your business

A Logo is a basic building block of your business.  Bypassing the basics is like building a house without a good foundation.  (web design is the same as this)  You can spend thousands and thousands on your house only to have it crumble because someone skimped on the foundation.  Yes, it is this important.  In fact, your logo, your website, your messaging, your business cards and other collateral needs to be top notch.  Don’t feed your baby junk food!

The above is a brief summary of Graphics, Design, Graphic Design and Logo or Logomark or Logotype (wordmark).  It is in no way comprehensive, but it should provide you a good overview and answer a few questions you may have had.

Tim Zurawski at TrendStrategics has been in design since 1971, yep we been through it!