Monday, July 23, 2007

Design should be business led not technology led

I was having a grumble with a developer friend of mine the other day as we pored over the designs that a creative agency had sent over. We couldn't understand how they could quite blatantly have ridden rough shod over our technical and functional spec whilst designing their concepts! I mean do they realise how difficult it is to implement this design!?

Problem was- the design was spot on. Focus groups of client customers were happy, client was happy: it did the job perfectly. So the developer and I got on with it: tweaking the technology to make it reflect the design. Pushing the boundaries of our expertise in order to fulfil this website. And that's the way it should be!

Visual design in the business environment or commercial visual communications rarely exists to satisfy its own needs. Design can't be led by the technology we use at the moment. If that were the case we'd be riding around in wooden cars. (That's a gag). We have to push technology to fulfil the marketing objectives of (in this case) a website. And of course the marketing objectives are set by the business goals. Design is a function of a business: it has to earn its keep.

So designers of the world unite in your efforts to create websites that look great in their role of doing a good business task. You have nothing to lose but developers who give you grief!


Monday, July 09, 2007

Giving the logo space

You see it everywhere.

It's all around us but usually goes unnoticed.

And it's a disease - we need to take action today to stop it spreading!

Thankfully this disease is curable and I'm here to help you recognise symptoms of this damning condition and to help you STAMP IT OUT!

The disease is: Logo clear space impingement.

Mostly this is seen on PowerPoint presentations where business people have pinched a logo from a website and crammed it onto a heavily laden slide (the contents of which can't be digested anyway) and omitted to give the logo some breathing space. OK- not so critical, but check out this on the new Grand Arcade building in Cambridge:

I mean..on a building! With an amazing brand like John Lewis!?

Give the logo some room dammit! Compare it to the John Lewis website here:

You'll see that I'm not talking about miles of space around the mark; just enough to comfortably recognise it as John Lewis and for it to 'feel' comfortable in its own space!

The reason that when I see this I get slightly uncomfortable is because the logo, which identifies the company and to a certain degree projects corporate values of John Lewis, feels cramped, squished in, about to fall off, unable to breath and at worst: an afterthought. Logos need this white space around them not only to give it a good sense of proportion but to enable a consistent feel across all media so we can easily recognise it time and time again without thinking. OK so John Lewis is a good, solid recognisable brand but if the white space is built into the logo usage visual clarity is maintained and reinforced.

Save the logo now!

Give it air and space to breathe properly....!

Friday, July 06, 2007

CIM: Digital Marketing Conference, July 2007

Yesterday I spent the day at Robinson College in Cambridge at the CIM Digital Marketing Conference and happily I get to report that it was interesting, enjoyable and mostly useful. The thrust of the talks was how to use different online channels to reach customers.

Michael Nutley of New Media Age set the scene nicely highlighting the shifting dynamic of the internet with the movement into a more accessible online environment thanks to fast broadband connections and easy to use online tools. This helps people get online and create their own content and share their views through sites like, Myspace, youtube and facebook. Online users are becoming more and more discerning so in an effort to reach them content must be targeted and relevant if it doesn't want to be overlooked.

Other speakers such as Mike Weston, Tink Taylor (read about the case study Tink gave us on Aquaplastics), Rachel Harker and Dave Chaffey outlined the way this targeted content can be delivered through various channels. Cue different case studies: email marketing (well targeted) can be very powerful as long as it doesn't become too intrusive; mobile content delivery (clever hypertag!); online advertising; interaction with and building of social networks and blogging helps access customers with specific interests.

The magic formula is therefore to find out where your customers are online, then use the right online and offline channels holistically to deliver relevant and targeted content. Get online marketing integrated into your marketing strategy early and budget it in so as to get that message across to acquire and retain customers.


I'm off to integrate and target.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Trademarking on logos and designs

The following is guidance only! I'm not a lawyer so if in doubt contact one!

I was asked whether there were any rules on how to apply the TM sign on logos and icons to protect them. I have done this some time ago for companies but needed to refresh my memory so here is what I've found out: You can apply the TM sign on any of your trademarks at any time to claim rights in it. The C-Circle can be applied only once the mark has been registered. (Ref 1) (Ref 2)

If you are concerned about this ruining the layout of your brochure as you have to dot the TM symbol throughout then fear not fellow creative as you can add it to the first mention in the text or the most prominent usage of it. (Ref 3) "When in doubt, err on the side of “over-marking.” "

And what about your beautiful logo that you've designed? Will it be ruined? Well all I could find is this mention:

"Remember that apart from marking, a trademark should also be properly used (e.g., used as an adjective and distinguished from surrounding text by capitalization, distinct typeface, color and/or size)." (Ref 4)


"These symbols are often put in superscript (smaller, raised) form." (Ref 5)

Wikipedia Trademark article.