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Randall Branding Agency

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Gestalt: 5 Principles that Demystify Great Design 

gestalt and great design

Have you ever looked at a beautiful logo and wondered, “Dang! What kind of wizard made this? This is a mysterious art form I’ll never fully understand!” The designers here at Randall Branding definitely have. It’s easy to be spellbound by a flawlessly executed visual idea.

Good design can feel magical, but there’s a lot of at math and science at work. From grids to the golden rectangle, rational thinking plays an important role the in design of brochures and bottles alike.

A great example is gestalt, which is a branch of psychology. One of gestalt’s central tenants is that our brains crave order, and naturally try to organize parts into a global whole. Designers can take advantage of this — and become wizards — by incorporating the following principles into their work.

Foreground/Background

Our brains naturally separate foreground elements from background ones. Making the foreground/background relationship obvious through contrast in color and form can help highlight important objects. Alternatively, making the foreground/background relationship ambiguous can create dynamic compositions. When an object wavers between foreground and background, our brains are entranced and delighted.

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Similarity

We perceive elements that share color, size, shape, or texture as belonging together. Deliberate repetition of similar elements creates a visual rhythm that pleases us in the same way that musical rhythm does. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, similarity in formatting allows us to process and understand content more easily.

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Proximity

Our brains perceive things that are close together as being related. Positioning several elements close together creates a whole, or a group. Groups draw our focus by creating a unit that has more visual presence than that of each individual element on it’s own. Reducing the distance between related content also increases usability and comprehension.

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Continuity

We have the tendency to continue lines and edges beyond where they technically end. The edges of shapes extend into the negative space and create pathways that our eyes use to effortlessly navigate from one area  to another. Good design uses shape and alignment to create fluid pathways between individual parts.

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Closure

Our brains can perceive an object as being complete, even when parts of it are missing or obscured. When elements are arranged in a certain way, the brain extends lines and creates imaginary contours. Suggesting the whole, as opposed to dsplaying it explicitly, can create a dynamic visual puzzle that brain revels in solving.

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See? It turns out good designers are a little less like Harry Potter and a little more like Spock. If want to geek out with us about Gestalt, or if you’d like our designers to work some non-magical magic for you, you can contact us here. If you want to know more about us, you can jump over here. If you’d like to see what we do, you can always jump over there.

Until next time!

 

Design is the Details: Creating an Inspiring, Ownable Brand

Design is in the Details

The writer Annie Dillard once remarked, “How we spend our days is of course how we live our lives.”

Her observation exposes our tendency to downplay and dismiss the tiny everyday moments. But as the saying goes, god (or the other guy) is in the details. The success of any venture often depends on the small stuff. The designer Charles Eames was known for saying, “the details are not the details. They make the design.”

These sentiments all get at an underlying truth of branding: details matter. Sure, if you get a majority of your brand’s look correct, you do a lot to encourage your audience and create a sense of legitimacy. But it’s those seemingly insignificant touches that make your brand inspiring and leave a lasting impression in someone’s mind. Here are a few examples of sweating the small stuff and coming out on top as a result.

Apple is famous for it’s attention to detail. It turns out that the rounded corners on their devices are crafted with what’s called curvature continuity. Whereas other rounded corners create an abrupt highlight, this technique creates a smooth, natural one.

The smallest change in type can bring energy, wit, poise, and dignity to a design. Pairing typefaces is a fine art, and in this primer, Hoefler & Co demonstrate the skill and sensitivity necessary to do it right.

For our friends over at Simple Thread, we considered everything from custom photography to how the buttons were formatted. The result is a look that reflects their mixture of expertise and whimsy, and is totally ownable in their competitive space. 

So the next time you think that shade of red is close enough, or that the difference between Helvetica and Arial is splitting hairs, remember, those details are the ultimate separators! Getting them right is what elevates and distinguishes your brand.

As always, If you want to know more about us, you can jump over here. If you’d like to see what we do, you can jump over there.

 

Research: The Backbone of a Great Campaign

Research Beakers

When you think about a good advertising campaign, you may remember a flashy commercial, witty copy in a radio spot or even the unique graphic design in a print ad. What many don’t see is how much research went into each of those creations, from understanding who to target with the message, to where to place the message so it will best reach the audience, to how to know it’s working.

Research is so important because placing a message in the right way and with the right content is crucial to reaching a company’s target audience. Women 22-35 years old may have completely different values, goals and beliefs than women 36-50 years old. Similarly, homeowners will have different values and goals than those who own apartments or live with family. There are so many factors and values that influence a purchase or position a brand in a consumer’s mind. Understanding what those factors are, as well as how they influence consumers is integral to the creation of the advertisement.

Good research starts with understanding where a company is in the market. This includes analyzing what their competitors are doing and what the industry’s trends are. Combining that with an exceptional knowledge of the company’s service or product being offered, their company background and who they’re currently marketing to will help researchers understand where the company is in it’s industry and where it is heading. This also includes identifying the “unique selling points” (USPs) of the product or service, and developing a SWOT analysis for the company. These aspects (the company, product, industry, consumer, competitive and analysis) are primarily discovered with secondary research (research obtained from a source that initially discovered the data) and come together in what is known as the Situational Analysis. These will be used as a knowledge platform for additional questions to be asked that are more tailored to uncovering the touch points between the brand and the target consumer.

To more precisely understand what messaging a company needs to have for it’s product or service, primary research (research obtained from new studies that are completed for the specific client/ issue at hand) is performed. Usually, primary research starts with an initial survey is done that generates a large amount of quantitative data from the target consumer that is related to the industry and category of the product or service. With that data, researchers can get a better direction into what they need to discover during in-depth interviews and focus groups with target consumers to see how they feel about the market the company is in as well as to get an idea as to how the target consumer will respond to the product or service being offered. Other forms of primary research in this area of market research can include shop-a-longs, observation studies, and many more that can gain insightful qualitative data that provides the foundation for a strong, effective campaign.

Once all the data is gathered, an agency can better define who they are targeting and the target’s specific values, interests and other sociodemographic information. With this information, account planners can build a target profile for the target consumer. This includes insights into what their motivators are for purchases surrounding the industry the client’s product or service is in. Here is also where the findings from the research become in-depth insights that connect the brand and the consumer via actionable and reasonable touch points. These touch points are what the brand’s creative should “touch” on to best connect the consumer and have a message that strongly resonates.

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After this, the agency’s team has reached the last stretch of the race for an amazing campaign. With research and an extensive knowledge of the target consumer under the belt, BIG IDEA creation is born. This big idea will usually take the brand truths and match them to the truths of the consumer in a creative way across different platforms (whether it be social, out of home, experiential, print, broadcast, digital, etc.). These messages will cut through other advertising clutter, resonate with the consumer, position the brand at a top-of-mind recall for the consumer and ultimately reach the goals of the client.
At the end of the day (usually in weeks or months) if the research was done right and the time to properly analyze it was taken, there will be a campaign that is effective, exciting and talked about. Once advertisements have taken life across the different platforms being utilized, it is always important to understand how to measure the campaign’s performance. The metric data gathered on the different platforms will allow an agency to see how well the campaign is doing, make changes, if necessary, and use that information to better place messages in the future. Metrics are also a great way to show the client in a concrete manner how well their campaign is performing for the target consumer.

Research…some love it, most think it’s pretty boring. However, it is crucial to a great campaign. As long as one understands how vital research is to a campaign and it is done well, success, and the client’s happiness, isn’t far behind.