• Judah (Design Ninja)

Achieve that Simple Design That POPS with Visual Language (2 of 8)

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Last week I asked: Ever been caught just trying to achieve a simple design that POPS, but canʼt get there??? (Refresh your memory here)

As promised, this week I’m going to lay some very simple groundwork to introduce the C.R.A.P. +3 Design Principles (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity + 3 Concepts. Crass, but memorable!)


Ironically, I’m going to start with the “+3”.


1 of 3: Graphic Design is all about saying something…visually.


Often we're tempted to keep adding elements to the design when it seems like the design is not quite there. Or, sometimes we really like a certain image or color, and firmly believe it will "fix" the design. We may start with 5 design elements and end up with 10 in a hurry!

But wait! Think about it. We're trying speak our intended message...with graphics, and... 


To win this design game, we must recognize that, without exception, EVERYTHING we put in a design says something. 


Every image, color, pattern, font…literally every mark either clarifies or diffuses our brand's message. 


ONLY use design elements that:

  • Are strategic and intentional

  • Edify the brand message 


GET RID of anything that:

  • “Maybe” helps

  • Is "good"

  • Is redundant


Discarding is just as important as adding design elements. Unclear or redundant elements will distract from our intended branding message.

Do you like drop shadows? How do they clarify your branding? Do you like red? What feelings or associations does red elicit from your target market?


Notice the two bottles below. The simple blue lettering on the left is inviting. But, let’s assume that we really, really like this image of an atomic mushroom and insist our designer place that in the background. 




While this is an extreme example, notice how the graphical message completely changes. Also notice, which graphic is more readable (not to mention the branding implications!)? Adding elements we simply like can potentially kill our branding message. If you’re thinking of adding a font, color, image, etc...


…Simply ask yourself, what does this element say? Does it bolster, or distract from my brand's core message? 


Answering these two questions can go a long way to realizing what should and shouldn’t exist in our design.


The first step in achieving a simple design that pops is to recognize that every aspect of the design says something.

Intentional design elements clarify our brand's message.

"Good" design elements, or too many distract from our brand's message.  


That, my friend, is 1 of 3 in the C.R.A.P. +3 (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity +3 Concepts). Stay tuned! Next Thursday I’ll focus on 2 of 3: Readability. Until then, happy marketing!

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