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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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


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.


Feedback. Ping. Pong.


At Randall Branding our design process is like a game of table tennis.

You review designs and ask for changes. Ping. We take your feedback, make improvements and send it back your way. Pong. This back and forth is part of the rhythm of life here at the agency.

We do our best to serve up (get it? serve?) great creative, but providing great feedback is just as important to a project’s success. Here are few examples of Supremely Triumphant Feedback and Not So Supremely Triumphant feedback.


Not So Supremely Triumphant Client Feedback

“I don’t know what it is, but the website just isn’t working for me”

“James and Ivan want to see the logo in blue. Britt’s favorite color is hot pink. Personally I think green looks best.”

“Let’s try a different photo on the cover of the brochure.”

feedback2Supremely Triumphant Client Feedback

“We want the website to feel a little more professional.”

“After some internal discussion, we’d like to see the logo in blue — I think this would help visually differentiate us from our competitors.”

“Let’s try a different photo where the mother is younger — we want the brochure to resonate with 20–30 year olds as well.”

Here are a few tips:

1. Try to make feedback as actionable as possible. Spend time thinking about what specifically is in need of improvement.

2. Consolidate changes into one organized punch list. This is especially important if you have multiple folks reviewing a project.

3. Be thorough, and don’t pull any punches! We’re out to make the best work humanly possible, and your critical thinking is invaluable.

4. Be as prompt as your time and schedule allow. The sooner we hear back from you, the sooner we can provide you with a new and improved design.

Great feedback helps us be efficient with our time, and it keeps your project on schedule. It eliminates a project’s weaknesses and amplifies it’s strengths. It also makes us want to stand up on our desks and sing.

It’s a game of table tennis that everybody wins.