Every product that is easy on eye - whether tangible or digital - grabs our attention and remains in mind. This beauty / aesthetic stance is expected in a project touched by the designer. But, unfortunately, there is a point that is missed: Behind every work we are convinced of its beauty, there is a message that we are convinced of the story. Every like is a new message delivered to you.
Many subjective answers can be given to questions such as what the design aims at and what exactly the designers do. However, a person who has a comprehensive knowledge of design culture - whether that person is a designer or not - agrees that design is more than just making things look beautiful. In his essay Good Design Is Goodwill dated 1987, Paul Rand mentions that art and design are perceived in some circles as an effeminate tendency or an understandably useless fad, separated from the everyday work of ordinary men. Despite the years that have passed, not everyone is convinced of the necessity of design nowadays. What is sad; People convinced of the added value of design describe the work of the designer with adjectives such as fancy, beautiful, stylish, and cool. The reason for the common misconception about design is that beautiful, nice but dysfunctional things are thought to be produced, whereas the idealess design is based on form and devoid of communication. As the name of the field suggests, the visual communication designer is concerned about creating an effective communication channel as well as creating a visual harmony. Most of the design products we think we like because they are eye-pleasing are a visualized story and carry a message in essence! To better understand the transmission of these messages, let's examine visual communication design through basic elements - words, colours, and forms.
It can be seen on the pages of the Renaissance and Baroque that in the old typography, the arrangement of independent visual elements adhered to the principle of positioning everything around a central axis. This approach may urge viewers to name graphic design and typography outputs as fine arts; because it creates the perception that the real reason for the existence of these works is a representation of beauty. Typography is a service art, not a fine art .(Herbert Bayer, 1967) Typography format should be organic and reflect the nature of the text. Instead of aesthetics, beauty, vanity and coolness, the word we seek may be balance: functional balance. Balance does not require elegance; requires compliance. It is to be legible. By being legible here, I don't mean just reading a text; To be able to convey the desired message, story, and emotion to the audience of the design piece. A visual design product that cannot be read - the message cannot be understood - becomes purposeless. In the design process, there should be a goal, a problem and a desired solution, a result. Therefore, a design product is an invisible tool that correctly conveys the message, rather than a splendid element shouting that I am here. (Of course it is different, if the purpose is to shout that I'm here.)
Bright Colours, Asymmetry and Hierarchy
When describing the desired logo for a new brand, the expectations can be overshadowed by stereotypes. Just like the ideas we are sure of when choosing clothes for an event that we want to attract attention, there are ideas that are always thought to work for branding materials that will attract people's attention: bright colours, symmetrical elements, a bit bigger texts. .. Balance is not symmetry. Balance is harmony: with the message, and with the story. The hierarchy between colour palettes, templates with asymmetry and visual elements that we see in current examples is the expression of this functional design approach.
One of the leading examples of the idea that functionalization of colour: La Prose du Transsibérien, an experimental poem text created by folding a 1.5 meter paper strip. It is written by Blaise Cendrars and is visualized by Sonia Delaunay. Each string was printed in different colours according to its content, so they changed from one colour to another according to the meaning. This study is one of the first examples of colour gaining function and it is possible to see the reflections of this new approach to colour in current graphic works. In contemporary designs where colour functions, the only thing desired is not colour harmony, it is to ensure the transmission of the message by creating a controlled contrast.
Sonia Delaunay ve Blaise Cendrars, La Prose du Transsibérien
One of the innovative methods arising from the idea of creating functional balance is to replace the usual central page layout with functional asymmetry. The old typography's idea of placing all the elements along a central axis ignores the issue of the message being delivered correctly while arbitrarily separating the main elements. It does not focus on the return, in other words, it has more aesthetic concern than message concern. The use of asymmetrical page layout and subsequent use of standardized grid systems in page layout was an innovative method developed by New Typography to direct the attention of the design audience to the right spot, and today it is a step for designers to make free, original and innovative experiments in the field of visual communication.
Jan Tschichold, New Typography (1928) Propositions on how to design an accurate visual experience using asymmetry and hierarchy.
Hierarchy ensures that all these elements I have mentioned work in harmony. The hierarchy between texts and images is one of the most effective ways to manage the audience's attention. The hierarchy, which is created among many variables such as colour, size and opacity, ensures that each element does its task correctly. The logical order that required the use of different letter sizes and balanced the visual and text was aimlessly distorted for the sake of appearance. In addition to using asymmetry, a properly functioning message channel is formed when the element that is desired to be highlighted becomes a dominant element by considering harmony.
Left: A Newspaper Ad, Right: Simplified version of the same advertisement by Jan Tschichold, observing the Hierarchy rule mentioned.
Where Is Art In This?
It would be a mistake to think this functional approach makes design more automated and breaks it away from the spirit of art. Here functionality flexes the idea of being one beautiful and straightforward path, and gives rise to countless variants of a visual message channel to work properly. The only way to break the typographic rules is to know them. (Weingart, 2000) These ideas, which we can call graphic design rules, are only guides, they allow the designer to proceed safely on the infinite path he/she can go. For example, what you see below is a morphological typogram, a roadmap, that lists elements that need attention and balance in design. The designer of the roadmap, Karl Gerstner explained that the inadequacy of this chart was not because of the method, but because of himself. As can be understood from this saying, it is impossible to talk about a certain direct or finished work in design. Thousands of different solutions can be obtained by blunting some elements, getting some elements one step ahead and connecting some of them together.
To be like…
Benchmarking is one of the first steps in a good branding process. Trying to imitate the visuality of the brand without understanding the company being compared is one of the most common wrong ways. If lahmacun is inside the package, having a logo like Apple (!) on it is a false visual discourse and unfortunately it will distract the brand from its target audience. If what you mean by saying like Apple is the values such as simplicity and functionality, it is a correct branding to create an original work by absorbing these values into the story of the brand in question. Defining this subtext, namely the story, is to define the function expected from branding.
Being like Apple, but not :)
Expressing yourself well requires understanding yourself well. In this process, designers clarify the focal points by making the story more understandable. Behind all graphic design products whose beauty (!) we are impressed with, there are invisible stories and messages that affect us, even if we do not notice. It is these stories that we really love and what we are trying to create as a designer.
And what's your message?