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6 June, 2008

Let it stand alone

I like design; it is the basis of my job, after all.  However, I do have a bit of a problem with designers who over-analyse and over-intellectualise their work.

The Register offers a prime example.

The corporate logo of an IT company (I think; their 'About Us' web page is so full of buzzwords that I literally don't know what the firm actually does) has recently been redesigned, with an uninspiring result which I think looks pretty good in the context of a website header bar. Fair enough.
Yet the brand implementation guidelines make the fatal error of rationalising each aspect of the logo's design, thereby 'cranking up the whalesong to 11', as El Reg says. Read the ensuing marketing bollocks in the linked article.

The payoff of the story is that a (apocryphal?) customer's immediate impression is far more compelling and memorable than the designers' over-considered waffle: if one feels a need to read 'messages' into logos, this one implies the company cuts corners.


i call this behaviour "Peer Aesthetics": the fundamental replacement of the notional target audience's perspective by the status-driven desire to appear Virtuous in the eyes of the designer's chosen (aspirational) peer group.

for a classic example of how this can very easily turn into something actively toxic for the {actual, notional} target audience; or consider "Skip Intro" and the Flash-driven site, read the French Spacing article on wikipedia; or have a look at the reviews on the first ever (and stil only) empirical typographic study of designer memes' actual impact on readers: Type & Layout -

>"Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes"
>A practising graphic designer: Wheildon's book was the only graphics/typography/design/art/drawing book I ever threw out in a fit of rage.

incidentally, that's a great book to read. takes about 10minutes, fundamentally changes your approach to page layout in subtle but significant ways.

Posted by Saltation at June 8, 2008 09:34 PM
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