Graphic design, in essence, is a means to visually share or communicate an idea, beautifully. An aesthetic movement of information – a visual conveyance. It should have real purpose, a function, and that should never be lost in the aesthetic. Paul Rand, who created iconic logos like IBM, ABC, UPS and Next, described it as ‘the beautiful and useful’. Together with beauty and utility, design should be relevant. If it has no relevance it ceases to be effective.
Utility + Beauty + Relevance = Effective Design
Design is a combination of concept, form and content. ‘Concept’ refers to the idea that underpins the design. Think of it as the foundation of the piece, just like that of a house. It’s the starting point, it provides a solid platform to build upon. Without it, the structure is compromised and something weak and ineffectual is created. The concept provides the relevance, style and tone of the piece. ‘Form’ refers to the visual appearance or shape the piece will take and is derived from the concept. The ‘content’ refers to the building blocks of the design; the copy, typography and imagery to be included. Without content how can you create form? Without content, there is nothing. Content is key.
When all three work in harmony, whether on paper or screen, something beautiful is created and the message is conveyed in a memorable way. It’s sparked interest, sown the seed of familiarity in the mind of the viewer, and a feeling is kindled; happiness, sadness, empathy, revulsion. Whatever the feeling, it’s made an impression. Remember, for instance, the first time you met your future spouse or partner. Perhaps you don’t recall the very minutiae of the conversation, the exact words or phrases he or she used but you do remember how they made you feel. And that’s the attraction, why you want to see them again and again. When you feel, you remember and if you can remember, then you can take action and that’s the ultimate goal of any message.