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Jo Costello


The Language of Design

Contents Aim and Abstract

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Objectives

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Introduction

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What are the key principles?

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How can the key principles be used to create a unique brand and identity?

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Form and space Scale

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Composition The structure and organisation of your design Symmetry Asymmetry Colour Weight Simultaneous Colour

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Getting Results

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How can the key principles be used to differentiate service and style?

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Paper Differentiate you business and style Securing the target audience trust Visibilty Grab target client attention Stand out from the crowd

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Conclusion Bibliography

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Jo Costello


The Language of Design

The Language of Design Small Business Aim Investigate and critically evaluate the key principles when designing and implementing brand identity.

Abstract As young children we all learn how to communicate and learn a language, in design we learn a visual language and we become aware of the world around us and how to see it in a different way. Looking and transferring what you see using different media is a key aspect of graphic design. Dabner (2006) Successful graphic design requires planning and research beforehand. Henri Matisse once said that the way he looked at a tomato was different to the tomato that he painted. (Henri-Matisse Quotes)

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The Language of Design

Objectives What are the key principles – Language of Design? How can the principles of design be used to create a unique identity and brand? How can the key principles be used to differentiate service and style?

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The Language of Design

Introduction As a small business trying to establish a reputation and introduce your business to potential customers one of the first things that must be done is the creation of a company logo. Spalton (2010) says that the effect a logo has on any potential customers will ultimately influence their decisions about you. I agree with points raised by Spalton (2010) that in today’s economic market it would seem that it is no longer sufficient to just have your company name with a line of text to inform customers about you. With so much more competition many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat and to this end it has now become much harder to set yourself apart from others. Having a well-designed logo, website and printed material will set you apart from the competition and in my opinion will give you credibility and visibility and also make you memorable. Various methods to form this visual communication can be used to combine words and images to create a representation of your ideas and message. Graphic Design, Wikipedia Definition graphic design noun the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

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What are the key principles? Several designers have written that there are 3 basic points to The Language of Design; Form, Colour and Space/Concept. Dabner (2006), Gordon and Gordon (2005) Form is composition. This is the anchor of all your elements in a design and the way that your design looks and feels with shape proportion and balance. Graphic Design, Wikipedia Colour is an essential part of any design and can add mood as well as dimension and variety. Concept is the idea behind any design. If the concept is not right then the form and colour become redundant and have no value in the design.

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How can the key principles be used to create a unique identity and brand? Form and Space Graphic design is usually created in two dimensions (height and width) as Dabner (2006) says, and a form is considered to be positive with the space around a negative. Positive space is the form that sits in your image area, whereas negative space is the background – also known as the ground or the picture plane. Negative space is just as important as positive as it supports the image area and is the space that is not taken up either the subject or other aspects of the image. Space is usually referred to as the ground and is also an important part of the design and should not be left as an afterthought, it needs to be organized as it gives information about the form. If your space is badly arranged it can give the effect similar to that of bad grammar and bad pauses in speech and will affect or weaken the finished design. The examples overleaf shows how much impact your visuals can have on the finished design. The impression given off by the squares is one that they are ‘moving’ into the box from different directions dependant on the starting position of the first box. Whereas in the other example the large square appears to be much closer and more important than the smaller one.

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The Language of Design

Scale Elements can appear larger or smaller depending on the placement in the design and also on the colour of the other elements around it. If all the elements are the same size the design can seem ‘flat’. By having a contrast in the size of the elements a sense of depth and movement can be created. Small shapes will recede, whilst large shapes will advance and move forward in the composition.

Figure and Ground Green squares are the positive space (figure) White background is the negative space (ground)

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Scale Larger square appears closer and so seems more important

Some circles seem larger - in fact they are the same size throughout

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The Language of Design

Composition

The structure and organisation of your design Throughout History there have been different techniques to structuring designs. A roman architect, Vitruvius, came up with a mathematical formula for the division of space in a picture, as Lahanas explains. This became know as the golden section, golden mean and also the golden triangle, and is a ratio between the longer and shorter sides of a rectangle to split up a canvas so that it is compositionally balanced. In contrast to this it has been outlined on Henri-Matisse Quotes that Matisse himself, a French painter, put emphasis on inspiration and maintained that inspiration for composition is the art of arranging elements to express feelings in a decorative way. Abstract shapes and textures in a composition can be used to create feeling and by using shapes and textures you can focus on how to arrange the elements. A symmetrical composition can project a calm and peaceful piece of work, whilst an asymmetrical composition can be used to convey more dynamism. Parts of your composition can effectively be placed around the edges or extend out of the frame to created the illusion of space and depth and also perspective. A very good example of using perspective is shown in the image overleaf in the style of The Bauhaus German School as a film poster for Oceans 12. Smashing Magazine (2009)

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Smashing Magazine (2009) Bauhaus: Ninety Years of Inspiration | Smashing Magazine

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Symmetry

Definition

symmetry |simitrē| noun ( pl. -tries)

the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (denoting proportion): from French symétrie or Latin symmetria, from Greek, from sun- ‘with’ + metron ‘measure.’ (New Oxford American Dictionary)

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X The Language of Design

Symmetrical images would be exactly the same on either side if you were to divide the image in half with an imaginary line

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The Language of Design

Symmetry is seen as traditional approach to layout and stems from very early printed books where each line would be centered on the others to achieve a balanced composition. The lines are varying in length and information is grouped in paragraphs.

Edit et lam que aces essum estis aliquas alibusa picius, offic tendend ucitatus vella voluptas sumet faccuptat dolorita dolore apellor porpori cone porporeriti autem ipic temo eaque prerissimus, sedit dolendita volorum reroviduciis estempor sam cus at occus, id quae aut aciis re pel illoriore pre quia cus res dolum utenihi ciatint am alianderit evendem ipsapic illoremporum adi comnimetur, que excepra eptatium quas eatemquos dolupta dolum, conecerro qui consequae veles simustrum volute dolupta

Sum hil modit od quibus, ario. Venderatquis aut quasi dolupta voluptati cus et eiuntiaspit alit quatur, non nemolo di untiam quam quo vellab ipsae mollenis ipidessit quatemo dionsed ionsequae des nobis ea ipis commodis asimpore voloratur ape odiat occusa consequae. Parum net quodit vel inusanis ullam aut et ipsapel ignimagnimi, odiandic to quos maxima consedi occatur, quiducimet ea doluptius esequat iorepeliatur adi quibus pellor res aut et ut exceaquunt reprovit, nonseri atisque

Example of how symmetrical articles would appear in type

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The Language of Design

Asymmetry

Definition

asymmetry |āsimitrē| noun ( pl. -tries) lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; lack of symmetry ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Greek asummetria, from a- ‘without’ + summetria (see symmetry ) (New Oxford American Dictionary)

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The Language of Design

Asymmetrical layouts stem from the 1920’s and 1930’s modern movement from the German Bauhaus School. Tschichold (1924) began to experiment with typography. There are many artists and painters that use contrast, colour and geometric shapes to display balance and conflict but some of the most influencial to Tschicold were painters such László Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky from the Bauhaus School. Moholy-Nagy, 1923; Bayer, 1925 and Albers from the Bauhaus school began experimenting with visual communication. The main focus was centered around a balanced layout with vibrant colours, geometric shapes and bold typefaces. Upper or lower case type was used but not usually a combination of the two. Another trait that the Bauhaus School was known for was placing text at angles and text wrapping around objects.

László Moholy-Nagy, 1923

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Tschichold, 1924

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Bauhaus Inspired Design, 2007 Smashing Magazine (2009) Bauhaus: Ninety Years of Inspiration | Smashing Magazine

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Today the Bauhuas style of design is still used and has inspired many designers, probably one of the most famous that has been used recently was for the Obama Presidential campaign; it is rumored to have taken inspiration for one of their posters for a rally that was held in Berlin. Lumea (2008) speculates that it was Obama’s way to show respect and appreciation for the people and the country.

Smashing Magazine (2009) Bauhaus: Ninety Years of Inspiration | Smashing Magazine

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The Language of Design

Colour Associations with colour have evolved over history and can differ from country to country. Traditionally, black is seen as the colour of mourning in the western world however, in China and India that colour is white. Attention to should be paid to these types of traditions, cultures and colour associations when designing, especially if designing for the international market. For example if you were designing literature or a website for bridal wear in China and India you would not necessarily use designs in all white as the traditional colour for marriage for them is red, however combined with some white it symbolises joy and also prosperity and good fortune. In South Africa it is the colour of mourning and in Japan is seen as life, anger and danger. It would be very easy to create a design that may cause offence or distress to others due to cultural differences and traditions. The colour green is associated with spring and of being environmentally aware; take for example the use of green in recycling and conservation logos, universally. The colour green has been used for recycling logos as it is seen as the colour of renewal and rebirth and also has associations with that of renewing and restoring depleted energy. Colour Psychology (2010)

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The Language of Design

Most popular recycling logo used worldwide

Taiwanese recycling symbol

Used on bottom of emails Asks - do not print unless necessary

Recycle Now - to show sustainability and motivate people into action

Euopean Eco-Label - to encourage the development of products which keep the impact on the environment to a minimum

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The Language of Design

Corporate colours are generally seen as blues and greens, the darker the shade the ‘bigger and more serious’ the company are. Whilst with lighter shades the company tends to give off a more light hearted feel. Blue relates to trust and honesty and helps to build customer loyalty. In the Western world green is seen as the colour of money, wealth and prestige. These two colours make them the ideal choice for businesses such as accountants, banks and finance companies.

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Reds, greens and yellows are often seen as warm colours and are capable of stimulating our senses into happiness and good health, but also aggression. They can also increase body heat and appear to advance towards the viewer in designs. On the other hand opposite colours on the colour wheel such as blue and green are often associated with coolness and calming effects but also safety and depression and also create the effect of receding away in the design. Complementary colours such as red and green are usually associated with harmony, whilst green and blue are associated with contrast. Dabner (2006), Spalton (2010) both agree that some colours appear to advance whilst others appear to recede. From a design view if you want to make something come closer to the viewer then you would choose a warm colour, like red or orange. To make something recede backwards or into the background then you would choose blues or greens.

ADVANCE

ADVANCE

RECEDE

RECEDE

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Weight Colours differ in weight as well, for example blues/greens are seen as being lighter and reds/browns are deemed to be heavier, and so appear weightier.

Simultaneous Contrast Setting a single word against two different background colours can give the viewer the impression that the word is darker in one of the pictures, in the example below the word in the red box appears to be a darker shade than the word in the yellow box in fact they are both the same.

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The Language of Design

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The Language of Design

Getting Results Differentiating service and style Securing the ‘target’ client’s trust ‘Grabbing’ the ‘target’ client’s attention Making the ‘business’ stand out from the crowd

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The Language of Design

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The Language of Design

How can the key principles be used to differentiate service and style? The key principles that I have discussed should be used to apply a unique style and brand when designing. There are many things to consider when designing for your brand/business and I will be discussing, what I consider to be the most important aspects based upon my findings from research. Different graphical design styles will appeal to our changing population, size and age. In most countries population is growing and as a result the demand on businesses will increase. However, our population are also growing older and aging and so there also becomes a need to offer both the old and young a product and a brand that will appeal to all. Jones (2010) With the above in mind when designing printed literature or a website consideration should be given to the market audience. A style that may appeal to the 20 something’s may not necessarily appeal to the older age bracket. Above all........ be consistent with your design and apply it to all your literature and website, thereby making it your brand.

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The Language of Design

Paper The choice you make of paper can tell a lot about the product, feeling and quality. Caroline Hansson (2011) suggests that there are several points to consider when selecting paper and each one should be considered equally. What is the final printed product?

How long does it need to last?

What image do you want to project?

Serviceable cheap solid fancy expensive

Are you including images as well as text?

Paper weight should also be taken into account – you wouldn’t use a standard paper for business cards would you? For flyers and posters using a paper that is durable in the sun and will not fade is an important factor. A weightier paper will stand up better in wind and rain and will hold longer than a standard paper. Acid free papers do not yellow and will last longer if using them as your standard stationery such as letterheads and compliment slips. Coloured papers are generally more expensive than white.

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The Language of Design

Differentiate your business and style Making your business stand out from the crowd is no easy matter and careful consideration needs to be given to many factors when designing printed literature and websites for it, with the added disadvantage of not having a large organisation behind you for support it is not an easy task.

Securing the target audience trust A small business will usually operate in a niche market opposed to a mass market and this in turn allows for a more ‘personal touch or approach’ with the client. Forty or fifty years ago people could got to a local corner shop and the shopkeeper knew them and also took the time to talk to them and ask about family, he had no need to have a website and spend time and money on a graphical design service. As companies and businesses have expanded and brands have increased small business owners have realized that to keep customer loyalty with the competition you do still have to engage your customers in some way. In the niche market of small business a lot of the business comes through personal recommendations by existing customers and clients. Spending time to produce and design literature and business cards is paramount.

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The Language of Design

Visibility Your target audience should be able to relate to your chosen business name and identity. Consider keeping the name short as iconic businesses such as; Apple, Google and Virgin have done. They are memorable and easy to write. Consideration should also be given to how the name will look on your business card and stationery. Do you want people to be able to tell who and what you are from the name? Conqueror, the paper manufacturer, suggest that a business card should be personal to you. For instance in China, business cards are taken very seriously and all employees from the top to the bottom of the chain carry one. If you are offered a card you are expected to offer yours in return, not doing so makes you appear disinterested or that your business does not seem worthy or hold any value to the person in front of you.

Grab target client attention Shape, colour and design can make your design and brand look modern, old or even sexy. Spending time on getting this right is an essential part of the design process. Colour can tell the client a lot about you and what sort of business you are.

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Stand out from the crowd Putting a slogan or a tagline can also help to make your business stand out from the rest and make people remember you. Put your slogan on each piece of literature and your website and even on any emails that you send. Make it unforgettable and striking. People will want to remember you. Spalton (2010)

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.� (Leo Burnett, Advertising Executive, 2010)

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In my opinion a testament to good design and marketing is Virgin. They have recently moved up 6 ranks in the Superbrands Business Chart (2012). This shows that maintaining a personal ‘quality’ to your business and brand really does pay dividends. Richard Branson continues to inject humour and himself into advertising campaigns along with famous faces that are not afraid to convey the comical side. As seen recently in the Virgin Media advertising campaign, Usain Bolt ‘takes over’ the Branson office along with trademark facial hair to advertise the new broadband speeds.

Richard Branson (2011) says of himself: “Virgin wears its sense of humour on it’s sleeve”

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Conclusion During the course of my research I conducted an online survey using questions based on my prior working experience in sales and marketing environments. The results show that 60% of the people surveyed say that personality is important in a business and that they do prefer the ‘personal touch’. Nearly half of the people indicated that a personal message, in a clear font, from the staff would influence their decision to use a company.

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Visual content is also an important consideration and a head shot on literature or website along with a short biography and a memorable logo would attract them to consider the company and is potentially one of the first things that a customer or client will notice and remember. When asked for any other comments indications were that having any associated costs or fees clearly displayed was equally important to prospective customers.

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Successful graphic design requires planning and research beforehand and should reflect the business profile and purpose, appeal to potential and existing customers or clients and ultimately set them apart from competitors. I believe that by maintaining the ‘personal touch’ and making yourself and your brand available to customers and clients will increase your exposure and attract new business to make you successful. Choice of bad quality paper, poor printing and bad graphical design will result in your brand or business delivering a bad message. Ultimately this will remain in the forefront of your customer or client’s minds. Good choice of paper, printing and graphical design will deliver the right message and will remain memorable.

Good graphic design should be able to tell a visual story

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Bibiography Billings, S. (2007) News analysis | Small Screen Channels. Design Week, Iss. 22/28 p.9. Billings, S. (2007) Brand Building. Design Week, Iss. 22/44 p.9. Conqueror Solutions (2012) Visit Cards - Business Cards. [online] Available at: http://www.conqueror.com [Accessed: 15 March 2012]. Costa, M. (2012) Superbrands. The Guardian, 3 March 2012, p.4-5. Dabner, D. (2006) Graphic Design School. Thames and Hudson. Designhistory.org (2010) The Bauhaus. [online] Available at: http:// designhistory.org/Bauhaus3.html [Accessed: 21 Mar 2012]. Designhistory.org (2011) A Condensed History of Books. [online] Available at: http://designhistory.org/books.html [Accessed: 26 Mar 2012]. Designhistory.org (n.d.) Influences of the 20th Century Avant Garde on Graphic Design. [online] Available at: http://designhistory.org/20th_ Avant_Garde_Typograhy.html [Accessed: 26 Mar 2012]. Empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com (2010) Cultural Color. [online] Available at: http://www.empower-yourself-with-colorpsychology.com/cultural-color.html [Accessed: 4 Apr 2012]. En.wikipedia.org (1922) Graphic design - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Graphic_design [Accessed: 28 Feb 2012]. Entrepreneur.com (2011) Richard Branson on Branding | Entrepreneur. com. [online] Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/ article/219405 [Accessed: 16 Mar 2012].

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The Language of Design Gordon, B. and Gordon, M. (2005) Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design. Thames and Hudson. Henri-matisse.net (2011) Quotes by Henri matisse. [online] Available at: http://www.henri-matisse.net/quotes.html [Accessed: 19 Mar 2012]. Jones, R. (2010) IGCSE Business Studies - Business reaction to market changes. Heinemann (Publishers) Pearson Education, p.39. Linotype.com (n.d.) Linotype Font Feature - Jan Tschichold. [online] Available at: http://www.linotype.com/794-12592/ influenceofthebauhaus.html?lang= [Accessed: 26 Mar 2012]. Mlahanas.de (n.d.) The Golden Section and the Golden Rectangle. [online] Available at: http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/GoldenSection. htm [Accessed: 14 Mar 2012]. Seminaldesign.com (n.d.) What is the History of Visual Communication?. [online] Available at: http://seminaldesign.com/ HistoryofVC/20CenturyForm.html [Accessed: 4 Apr 2012]. Smashing Magazine (2009) Bauhaus: Ninety Years of Inspiration | Smashing Magazine. [online] Available at: http://www. smashingmagazine.com/2009/08/02/bauhaus-ninety-years-ofinspiration/ [Accessed: 20 Mar 2012]. Spalton, P. (2010) Marketing Secrets. harper collins, p.81. Vector Tuts (2011) The Art of Choosing the Right Paper. [online] Available at: http://vector.tutsplus.com/articles/techniques/the-art-ofchoosing-the-right-paper/.

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THE LANGUAGE OF DESIGN

Jo Costello 2012

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