A good photograph is as effective when it is printed as a 6×4 print as it is when put on a billboard. I’m paraphrasing a lot, but Alexander Lavrentiev wrote that about the work of his grandfather, Alexander Rodchenko, who was one of the most well-known photographers and designers of the 20th century.
Minimalist graphics in branding are hard to master, but incredibly effective when done correctly. By stripping away unnecessary elements, straplines and shapes, a more memorable and identifiable brand will emerge.
This is simpler for long-established bands, such as Budweiser, Hovis, and Swan who have in recent years worked with design agency jones knowles ritchie to identify the key elements of their branding and create new visuals around these instantly recognisable and familiar identities. With a bit of assistance from a shared public familiarity with the brands, a simple shape, colour or even letter can be enough to identify these brands. But that doesn’t mean that a new or smaller business can’t make an impact by kicking off with a strong visual identity.
You know who this white swoosh on red belongs to…
A lot of companies look for an identity and a branding which reflects their values, their ethos and their sector when really they should be looking to make visuals which their target markets actually respond to.
Coca Cola has a strong, minimal and colourful identity which often gives the impression of a modern, vibrant lifestyle to be associated with the drink. And services such as the NHS and the Department for Transport work to strong guidelines with simple graphics which are purely functional – accessible and easily identifiable.
There’s no missing these white graphics on blue.
I’d like to give a special mention to two organisations who I feel unnecessarily but beautifully transcend the functionality they deliver, creating something quite special. Transport for London has a long history of producing information posters which pair simply written practical information with striking, contemporary visuals.
And Manchester City Council’s M-Four (an in-house design studio based within the council) who deliver modern and stimulating designs for public information content across digital and print outputs.
Organisations don’t have to invest in modern design or content. But when they see an importance in creating stimulating, contemporary and accessible content, people take notice. Design is effective when people are stimulated but don’t realise why.
I think I paraphrased minimalised that line from Mad Men.