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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.


Typowhat? The Ins and Outs of Typography


When you work with designers, you may hear them refer to the typography of a display ad or the typeface they’re using on a poster. What does that mean, you ask? Well, typography in simple terms means the style, arrangement, or appearance of printed letters on a page. It’s how we designers make an advertisement that will be both effective and visually compelling.

To go a little bit deeper, typography is made up of typefaces, or in other words, fonts. There are thousands of typefaces out there on the Internet, but how you choose and utilize them is part of how you ensure your work will be successful. So, let’s talk a little bit more about typography, shall we?


There are six main styles of typefaces. Serif typefaces include small embellishment lines at the end of a letter or symbol. These typically have great readability, so they’re perfect for large areas of text. Sans serif (i.e. without a serif) simply does not have that embellishment, giving it a modern look. You’ll notice these on websites and traffic signs because of their limited detail. Slab serif is a form of serif typefaces. You may recognize it used on our website! Script is the next style, which can have both a formal or friendly look. Display typefaces are used to get the attention of an audience, but shouldn’t be used for large areas of text. Lastly, monospace means that each letter occupies the same horizontal width. This was more popular several years ago when a typewriter only allowed letters to be so wide.

Phew. Now that we’re finished with styles, let’s move on to the nitty gritty stuff of typography!


There are four types of justification: left justified, right justified, center justified, and justified. Left justified will be the easiest for a readers’ eyes to comprehend, whereas right justified will be the hardest. That’s why it’s best to make most areas of text left justified, while keeping right justified to smaller areas, such as call-outs in an article.

Did you know there are actually three ways to correctly use dashes? You’ll recognize the first one. A regular dash is used to connect two words, such as “full-time job.” The next one, an en dash, is slightly longer and is used between a range of time. You can type this by pressing Opt+- on a Mac, or Ctrl+- on a PC. An em dash is even longer, and this is used to replace some forms of punctuation, like commas and parentheses. You can type this by pressing Opt+Shift+- on a Mac or Ctrl+Shift+\ on a PC.


The last thing you need to know is font file types. Our clients will often ask us for the working files of projects. This way, they can make small edits to the text over time. We package the entire file together including the production files, images, and what’s most tricky — typefaces. These don’t always work when the client goes to download them on their computer. The font file type that we purchase may not match their computer’s ability to download the font. Nowadays, we try to stick to OpenType (.otf) typefaces, which are usable on Mac and PC, so that our clients may use them with no trouble.

There we have it! If you’d still like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at RBA. We’re always happy to answer questions!