Complexly Simple

A few weeks ago, a client stated that among the most important factors for her new branding, she wanted a design that was complexly simple.Whenever I need to ponder a thought, I typically get up from my desk and walk around a bit, refresh my coffee, walk outside; this is exactly what I did after reading this.

Complexly simple? Is she requesting the impossible? How can I achieve two antonyms in one design?

The more I thought about this, the more I realize how gravely important the “complexly simple principle” is for any design concept: branding, studio art, interior design, motion design.

A design too simple can pose the problem of being forgettable. A design too complex can become messy and revolting. (Studies show the brain associates difficult words, images with danger and risk.)

So, how can one achieve both- simple and complex?

I’ve reduced the complexly simple design principle to 4 actionables:

SIMPLICITY
Allow the eye to move freely. Create white space, spacing between elements, patterns for the eye to follow. Most viewers review a space beginning at the top left and ending at the bottom right. Consider this viewing pattern.
Viewing Pattern

Develop balance or symmetry. Symmetry is most often considered beautiful. “In the natural world, anything symmetrical is usually alive. Animals, for instance, have symmetrical shapes.” -V.S. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego

COMPLEXITY
Depict details that become memorable. Create elements that stand out and “stick.” “Is it so memorable, in fact, that it can create change, that it can spur someone to action?” -Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Create an experience. Have a core idea that is consistent for users to develop emotional attachments. “The only way to do this is to develop a real understanding of the target audience.”-Forbes “Rethink experiences from ground up to create magical moments.” -Tony Fadell, former SVP of iPod Division at Apple

Less is more, but too little is not enough.

“But simplicity is really about comprehension and clarity of purpose…can we design such that people instantly understand what’s going on and make a confident decision about what to do next?” –52 Weeks of UX

How to Create the Right Business Name

How to Create the Best Business Name
Creating the perfect business name takes research, planning, thought– created to withstand time and serve a wide range of purposes. A few pointers to consider:

 

Search it. Are the words unique enough that searching online for your company will be easy for potential customers?

Say it. Try pretending you are answering the telephone. How would you say the company name? Do you get tongue-tied? Is it a name you are proud to say aloud? Is it a name your customers would pass along?

Ask around. Ask a few unknowing people what they think of when they hear the business name. This could bring out associations you haven’t considered.

Keep it short. Simply put, shorter names function better. Most successful companies are 2 syllables: Apple, Google, Nike. Your company name does not have to describe all aspects of your business. Too many descriptive words can be difficult to remember.

Be Flexible. It’s important to choose a name that won’t “box you in.” If you want to expand services or add products, choose a name that will allow your company to grow, change and develop.

Take risks. Inventing an entirely new word can make your name stick, becoming instantly memorable for your customer base.

Trust your gut. Asking around for opinions and associations is important, but ultimately, your name can be as original and unique as you’d like it to be. To be sure the creators of GoDaddy heard resistance on such a name, but much of what your company becomes depends on branding and marketing.

 

Choosing the right name can determine business success. Have fun with it and above all else, choose a name you’ll be proud to market and work hard to build and develop.

The Key to a Successful Logo Design

Simple is best. Yes, I said it! And mean it. Do I cringe while writing this because I make a living by creating logos? Not a chance. I want to share what I’ve learned after developing thousands of logos for companies around the world. A business needs a recognizable mark- which may mean a chosen typography style and/or color palette and iconic image.

But what solidifies your brand is how you style everything else and what design elements you choose to style with your logo. The act of creating a visual cohesiveness that you use throughout solidifies your brand.

Think of your top 3 favorite brands- maybe a boutique retailer, hotel or magazine. What do their logos look like? In most cases, I’d bet they are clean logotypes (a logo built from typography only).

W magazine's logo, a typeset serif W

*above: W magazine’s logo, a typeset serif W

Building your brand requires a lot of work and consistency beyond creating a logo, so consider staying away from too much color, lots of detail, and things that are difficult to reprint. Versatility is key.

However, if you want a detailed and colorful logo, consider having a secondary, more simple version of the logo that works well at various sizes and can be printed easily.

Consider building visual unity through:

▸ a brand color palette
▸ mood board
▸ signature images and photographs
▸ custom artwork
▸ business collateral

 

Simplicity and consistency help achieve professionalism and trust- a way to visually say “I’m good at what I do.”.

The Best iPhone Photography Apps

The Best iPhone Photography Apps for Photo Editing

Social media integration is imperative for most businesses. This means posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter regularly. Often posts are image-based and quickly taken from an iPhone; most of the time natural lighting isn’t quite enough.Here are the best apps for editing photos on the go:

1. Afterlight: More than 30 filters available. Finite adjustments like brightness, contrast, saturation. Simple borders available, polaroid borders, circular cropping, light leaks. Perfect for making minor adjustments for close to a #nofilter aesthetic.

2. PicTapGo: Ability to easily layer filters, apply various levels of filter adjustments. Can save “recipes” for editing to apply the same effect to other images instantly. Perfect for quick editing.

3. Picfx: Dramatic photo filter layering such as vintage film settings, scratches, light leaks, textures, and grunge. Can adjust levels of filter application. Great for adding light variations to an image.

4. Filtergram: Clean and clear editing style filters. Lots of options. Light leaks, lens flares, blurs. Image adjusts: brightness, contrast, saturation, temperature, etc. Great for creating a crisp, professional style image.

5. Camera+: Fast photo filters and adjustments. Detailed editing tools such as soft focus (hides wrinkles!), film grain, exposure, highlights and shadows.

6. Mextures: Filters for layering: radiance, grit and grain, light leaks, emulsion (vintage photography techniques), grunge, landscape color gradients, and vintage gradients. Great for dramatic editing with an art-like quality.

7. Luminance: Quick and simple filters and adjustments: tone curve, brightness/contrast, exposure, white balance and more. Great for editing quickly.

8. PicStitch: App for creating photo grids. Almost 70 free grid templates.

9. Waterlogue: With a couple of quick clicks, turn an image into a watercolor painting. Several watercolor settings including natural, bold, luminous, travelogue, and more. Fun way to turn a photo into art.

The Best Design Advice I Can Give. See the Whole Forest.

See The Whole Forest: Design Principle to Live By

See the whole forest.

When you are in the midst of a creative process, it can be easy to focus strenuously on a single design element.

I realized this in a college studio class when I had my eyes inches from the computer screen. A professor saw me obsessing over details. She intervened, sharing a design principle to live by,

“Don’t focus so intently on one little tree, a seedling. Step back. See the whole forest.

In order to gain a sense of clarity and make pivotal design decisions, you need to do more than move your text to the left 5 pixels or change a tone of gray to a fraction of a shade darker. To grasp ideas for critical changes, you need a new vantage point.

Try this:

▸ Take a real step back. Or 5. Try taking 5 paces back from your canvas and then review.

▸ Look from different angles and depths.

You’ll most likely see major shifts and edits that will fundamentally improve your design.