Appropriate Design: When It's Better to Think Inside the Box

Like many graphic designers, at some point I’ve probably promoted my services as  “unique.” I often promise to deliver “creative” solutions. But sometimes we need to build on people’s expectations and design in ways that are appropriate, rather than just doing something different. I thought about this today as I was walking home from work. I was walking by an old brownstone-type building that is on a historic block in Portland. These old buildings are beautiful, but also probably difficult to maintain. This is the sign I saw attached to the broken handrail on the steps going to the front door. It is a lovely handmade sign. With legible, hand-done typography and even a nice border. The purple ribbon is especially beautiful. All this would be great for an invitation or a welcome sign, but it’s not very effective as a warning sign. Yes, I’m picking on this poor little sign. But the point is that sometimes you need to […]

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How to Keep your Brand Looking Fresh

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of consistency in branding. However, I want to take the time to also talk about ways to keep your identity and branding from looking stale. Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that your brand is a living entity and will experience growth and change. The key is to have enough elements remain consistent that you can play with other elements. Timeless brands are like timeless fashions A good analogy is how individuals wear their clothes and style their hair. There are some people who are always up-to-date with fashion: if you first met them in 1982 and they were wearing parachute pants, you may not be surprised to see them in 1992 wearing an oversized flannel shirt. In contrast, there are some people who have a timeless style. They purchase classic clothes, and are never very trendy. A third group is those folks who seem stuck in […]

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Why Consistency Is So Important to Branding

You’ve probably heard it before, but in case you haven’t: it’s important to be consistent with your branding to have it be most effective. What does consistency mean? From a designer’s perspective, it means: Using the same business name, logo, and/or logotype. Typesetting the name and other elements in a fixed fashion. Choosing a couple of typefaces and using them all the time. Read these tips about working with fonts. Choosing a corporate color, or color palette and using them as the dominant color scheme throughout your materials—printed or online. Using consistent visual elements across media. Some examples are: always using a certain style of photography; or always setting quotations in Garamond Italic; or always have one large color block at the top of the page. Creating “lock ups” for your elements. This means, for example, a certain way of setting the logo + tagline. These groupings become fixed. Creating design systems that are similar throughout all of your materials. […]

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How PayPal's Brand Affects the Brand of Your E-Commerce Site

PayPal is an extremely popular tool that allows small business owners to be able to accept credit card payments on their web site. Their payment processing service has a much smaller entry price point than setting up a full-fledged shopping cart and establishing a merchant account with your bank. If you’re only selling occasionally, or selling only low cost items it is often one of the most cost effective ways to set up an e-commerce web site and allow your customers to pay online using a credit card. How it works & some history Just to explain… Originally, PayPal was a way to send and receive payments by linking one’s bank account to one’s PayPal account and paying using PayPal itself. This would be an alternative to using a credit card. This service is still offered and is touted by PayPal as a way to “Pay without revealing your credit card or bank information.” However, what I described above, is […]

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