Design is always a contentious issue as we all have differing tastes, and whilst people
often point-out examples of bad taste, nobody is of the opinion that their taste is
bad. For this reason using your own sense of taste is fraught with danger, not to say that
your taste is bad, but it may not match your target audience’s taste.
A design professional takes a different point of view; the professional is detached and calls
upon years of experience as well as having thousands of tricks up the sleeve. Whereas,
your next design is probably only one of a handful of designs that you have been involved
in the design of, compared to the professional who has designed that many this week.
So where do you start?
•The Design Brief
The designer is not expecting you to provide a layout of how the design will look,
although it can be helpful in demonstrating your thought processes. Rather, the
designer would like to know:
• What Do You Want To Achieve With This Design?
Do you want to reinforce an existing marketing position or are you planning
to move up or down market. Your advertising leaflets or web-site needs to be
appropriate to your business, it’s no good looking like a five star hotel if your
market is budget minded backpackers and vice versa. Should your company
image appear feminine or blokey, hygienic, friendly, clinical, traditional or modern?
• What Are The Budget Constraints?
We can work to almost any budget, but as we love design our natural inclination
is towards the more elaborate.
It doesn’t really matter to us how many colours you use, the cost is much the same, but
be guided by our designer there are occasions when a riot of colour is just what’s called
for and other times restraint is needed. Don’t get hung up on colour theories, Dr Max
Lusher, a German Professor of Psychology widely recognized for his colour theories,
advises things like light blue for creative businesses, yet the ANZ Bank seems to be doing
OK with light blue, as does Oral-B. These theories only paint the broadest picture, and
colours are culturally based, Black is the European colour for death whereas White is the
colour for death in Chinese culture.
Build an image in the mind of your customer; create the feeling of whatever your business
should be to that customer. Consider your company image carefully as from your
customer’s perspective it will become your business identity, avoid designs that visually
shout at people, when people shout we tend to hear just the shouting and miss the
A café with warm, friendly and interesting ambience will look like a nicer place to stop
and eat; a snooker hall with flashing neon signs will seem a more exciting place to visit.
Most people have business card holders of one kind or another, make sure your
business card fits the normal holders, as there is nothing more annoying than a card
that won’t fit into a standard holder; next thing you know it’s been discarded because
it didn’t fit.
Should a business card be printed one side or two sides? You can mount arguments for
both, which generally run along the lines of: why waste the other side it won’t cost much
more to print, if anything. The back of the card give you space to list all your services and
products and is a selling space not to be wasted. On the other hand, once the card is put
into a card holder you can’t read the back. Worst, if there’s valuable information on the
back it becomes very annoying to have to remove it from the holder to read. Further all
that extra information can be viewed as clutter, distracting from the main message, keep it
simple stupid applies to business cards too. People sometimes like to write notes, quotes,
or appointment times on the back of cards, hard to do if the back is full of type. No, my
vote goes to one sided business cards or at least a minimal amount on the back.
These are the basics of business card design:
1. Use your logo as the basis. Make it the largest element on the card.
2. Keep it clean and simple. Do not cram too much information on the card.
3. Include the essentials — your name, title, company name, address, phone and fax
numbers, and email and website addresses.
4. You are not required to have your ACN or ABN on the card and PO box addresses
are generally to be avoided on business cards
5. Make sure the typeface is easily readable.
6. Stick to one or two colors and just one typeface apart from the logotype.
Letterheads are often designed with watermark images (faint images) in their centres,
which looks really great. Except when the letter has been typed onto the letterhead the
watermark becomes invisible, if it’s really faint, or if it’s bolder you can’t read the letter
properly, and isn’t that the main purpose of this document. So, when viewing a proposed
layout for a letterhead always ask for a sample with a letter typed onto it, and I’ll bet you
go for the plainer design. You are required to have your ACN or ABN and this is the place
for your PO box address.
Flyers and other advertising leaflets need to be kept simple and have visual impact
and a call to action. Where as a product specification leaflet needs to contain all the
information a buyer may need to complete the sale. But, get to the point immediately
after the heading, break up long text with sub-headings, most people will not read your
leaflet sequentially so don’t be afraid to repeat important information under different
The actual design of a logo is dictated by your marketing plan. Generally speaking,
simplicity will sever you better than complex. But to arrive at simplicity the design
process will go through multiple complex ornate designs that are then whittled down
to a clean simple design. Very rarely does a designer come directly to a simple design.
So, sometimes it’s hard for the layman to see the value in the final finished simple design.
Believe me the time, agony and frustration will definitely have happened.
The design of a logo like most advertising material needs to have visual impact and
reflect the positioning, nature and style of your business. A logo device doesn’t have to
represent a business’ activity for example a restaurant’s logo doesn’t have to be food.
The Ferrari logo isn’t a car, nor is the Qantas logo an aircraft. A logo design should reflect
your business, but it doesn’t have to be literally, often it is far better to display the spirit
or attitude of your company. Or at least how you would like to be perceived by your
clients. Of course it must be appropriate Fun designs are not for solicitors just as the
corporate look is not for the local kindergarten. Remember, many companies are very
successful without a logo device, just using a logotype, for example Microsoft. or Time
But the uses that it will be put to are crucial; what can be achieved on the internet
is completely different to what can be achieved in screen printing on a garment or
reproduced in a newspaper in black and white. The logo design has to be available
in various digital formats, Adobe Acrobat being one of the most important, and most
printers will want a vectorised version.
All the different versions of the logo/logos design should be made available on disk
or via e-mail, complete with colour specifications appropriate to the intended user: a
commercial offset printer needs PMS colours (Pantone Matching System™), the painter
needs commonly available paint chart colours (not British Standards they haven’t heard of
in Bringabitchalong), the signwriter needs vinyl colours, the web designer needs web-safe
A complexity best handled by a formal Corporate Identification Manual. Ad image has
developed several of these over the years, complete with stationery, signage and general
logo usage specifications including fonts.
Beware that every media you use will reproduce your colours differently. Pantone PMS
colour specifications are great for spot colours in the printing world, but can’t always be
matched in CMYK the main gamut of commercial offset printing. Also digital printing may
also produce another variation, some digital printers use RGB rather than CMYK. Screen
printing inks while made up to PMS specifications are often more intense in colour than
offset printing. If your signwriter wants to use signwriting vinyl or paint there will be
another mismatch. Plus on Television and the internet your colours will be different on
At the end of the day perfect colour matches are not that important, try to match but be
prepared to settle for the spirit of your colour scheme.
Have Multiple Versions
Have wide and narrow versions of your logo created, for both portrait and landscape
use. Have full colour, animated, simple colour and black & white versions created. Have
the simple colour and Black & white versions simplified for reproduction by the coarser
methods, such as newspapers and some screen printing.
Your logo will need updating every five years or so, nothing too radical but a tweaking to
keep it up-to-date.