Good Design Is Invisible

cansIf seeing a row of Campbell’s soup cans reminds you of Andy Warhol instead of warm comfort food, it’s not doing Campbell’s a bit of good.

Warhol and his pop art innovations would in that case be crowding out the message of the cans, which is about the classic timelessness of soup as lunch food.

Now, Warhol was an artist, not a graphic designer, and Campbell’s wasn’t his client. But the scenario illustrates how graphic design can interfere with or overwhelm the brand itself.

Many graphic designers are artists, or fashion themselves so, and they want to show off their creativity. It’s important that they understand that simplicity is creative, that strategic is creative and that not being strategic is the cardinal sin of graphic design, no matter how creative it is.

alphabetTake a look at these examples. These images are taken from a children’s ABC book, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet. They are really beautiful, super clever and highly acclaimed. However, after trying to read this book to my 2-year-old on multiple occasions, it became extremely clear to me that the author has no idea how a toddler’s mind works. Fierce? Jazz? Vicious? Karate? These are not words and concepts easily graspable by a young child. 

If your graphic design is a fancy peacock when it should be a fat chicken, you need some new design. Call me.

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