Friday, November 26, 2010

Design Ideology Wurman Style

I was without work and had a sequence of bad experiences under employment. One of my aspirations at the time (Nov. 1987) was to join in business with others who would effectively collaborate with me building something great. Howard Whittaker joined the organization in those early days of 89. 

We focussed primarily on design solutions then and to our benefit gordon creative group as it was called quickly started getting business and became a going concern. As the company evolved we discovered clients required another essential ingredient creative writing. Around 1995 we signed up an educator with expertise in plain language wordsmithing to offer our clients writing. We combined writing and design expertise and ended up delivering more turnkey or one stop shopping. 

Our vision for the company was to help clients develop product for their target audiences that offered meaningful, easy to understand solutions. We achieved this objective by combining outstanding design with clear writing. This, today is still an underlying axiom of gordongroup we see it manifest in all our enterprise web solutions, publications, video and other media we produce. 

This notion of making the complex clear was, for me somewhat of a prophetic moment when I discovered the book by Richard Saul Wurman titled Information Anxiety. Wurman's(coined the phrase "information architect") approach to design is instructive. He carefully dissects how to organize and manage vast quantities of information. He structures content both written and visual into finite systems. 

Information overload in popular culture, is an issue today which contributes to lack of understanding and as Wurman puts it anxiety. As a young company we delivered on this philosphy. To this day clients value how we differentiate their unique message. I believe this concept of making information accessible, easy to understand has been key to gordongroups lasting success. We have applied this principle constantly over the years. 

A simple concept but a concept that people get and appreciate, especially if their dealing with complicated disparate communication objectives. 

We attracted web interface designers and software engineers in the latter part of the 1990's and carefully grew this aspect of our business to the stage we're at today. We're quite proud of the fact that our web sites specifically sites for DND, CBC, BENTALL and others use the principle of ACCESS as a basis for communicating to target audiences. 

The architecture, writing, design and interactive nature of these sites make complicated concepts easy to understand and meaningful for the reader. You will see this idea of "pathways to meaning" evident in much of gordongroup's product.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thinking about logos?

a.Do you think it would be more harmful to our brand to completely change the logo, or alternatively,
 to modify the existing logo? 

b. Also, given that more of our marketing and communications will be internet based,                   how does that impact the logo design? 

The “logo” from the point of view of the organizations brand is one component and an extension of your core identity. Development of identity frameworks is often how we initiate brand activities on behalf of our client partnerships. This is not a mission, vision, values statement which are ubiquitous and common practice within organization administration. The identity framework is usually defined with emphasis first on what the essence of the organization is or the organizational promise. Beyond the essence, core constructs need to be defined, they add timeless and meaningful emphasis to the framework. Constructs can be generally up to four words such as rugged, fun, underdog or luxury. They define the heart of the identity framework and resonate as the brand equity builds. The identity framework is given additional meaning outside of the essence and core elements with the design of logos, symbols, word marks or other visual language. These visual elements contribute to defining the identity, they anchor the core constructs and set criteria for design standards. Standards ideally rich in meaning and full of definition. Visual elements in the form of logos, support the organizations effort to build the brand. Other identity elements may be included for example the introduction of unique personalities, (Branson, Ghandi, CEO)  geographic locations or representational icons. A long list of likely attributes can be introduced to augment the essence, core and extended parts of the identity framework, these important features bring meaning and clarification within the framework. Often attributes trigger primal response in favor of the identity. (Bike path, coffee shops etc. relating to real estate). 

The identity framework often includes tag lines.  All of these carefully designed and thought out elements provide the organization ingredients foundational to brand building.

a) If among the executive the current logo is emblematic of the organizations brand today then changing the logo may not be the best course of action. On the other hand if the organization has not developed a proper identity framework that clearly defines the essence and core constructs we believe this strategic activity should take place in support of defining a program that lays the foundation for proper brand building. Once the identity framework is defined it may be evident a more suitable visual treatment is aligned with the organizations brand.

b) The visual identity should be designed with the intent for ease of reproduction across all online platforms and media. Online platforms provide opportunity to animate visuals, and create three-dimensional graphic treatments. Organizations who create timeless visual solutions apply traditional techniques that rely on expertise in typography and sensitivity to the proper use of representational shapes, proportion and spacing. This combined with careful balance of positive negative space. The logo is emblematic of the organizations personality therefore the designer should render the logo with this in mind and effectively produce something that is compelling and meaningful visually for both the organizations internal and external audiences. 

Paul Rand is great reference for those who want to explore the fascinating world of visual language from a legend in design. 

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