I arrived in Ireland on this very day, 25 years ago, and what was meant to be a ‘gap year’ for a very ambitious art director ended up being so much more than that, and not actually a gap year at all.
Arriving at the start of the ‘silly season’; it’s safe to say I got a culture shock. Us Norwegians are quite orderly, we’re punctual and we’re efficient. I’m not saying that the Irish aren’t (?!?) but come December and all sense is gone. Especially if you work in an advertising agency with access to all things involving booze for free!
But it didn’t take me long to fall head over heels in love with this country. The generosity, the warmth, the fun! I couldn’t have picked a better place. So here we are, me and Ireland, celebrating our silver anniversary! With as much gusto as ever, because it’s safe to say that I have adapted the Irish ability to celebrate;-)
I am mature enough now to confess to how I ended up in Ireland.
It was all because of this drawing made by Terry Pattison, one of the founders of QMP Publics. I had already accepted a job offer from Italy and was just off the phone to Terry explaining as much, when I got this drawing sent to me on a telefax.
It charmed me and chuffed me so much that it made me change my mind.
I call it my ‘sliding door’ moment, inspired by that film with Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. Do you have a ‘sliding door’ story to share?
The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot!
Here’s a few selected photographs of my kids, from tiny tots to teenagers. They’re all taken in my home town Mandal, our little peace of heaven. Okay, so I’ve made Ireland my home but here’s to tons more summers in Norway. And just to say; whenever there’s a game or contest on, there’s no doubt; I want Norway to win;-)
I’m a mother of two human beings but I also feel like a mother of quite a few brand identity designs! One such ‘baby’ of mine is the Norwegian loyalty card 'trumf', which was launched in 1996. It’s hugely successful, with over 2 million members. In a small country with less than 5.5 million people, that is quite something. But as for the branding, well as you can see here, it has evolved since I left for Ireland... (My original design is the one to the left.)
Times change, consumer interests change, culture changes, businesses change, and your brand will at some stage have to change too. Perhaps your business is looking to attract a new group of people? Expanding internationally? Or maybe your business has merged or acquired? Could it be that after many years of being in business, your brand has become too complicated? Does your branding accurately tell your brand story?
A successful rebranding involves overhauling a company’s goals, message and culture. Sometimes it involves changing a name. And most often it involves changing a logo.
The world’s largest operating system, Android, updated its visual identity this month to better connect the brand with Google. What Jason Fournier (director of Android Consumer Brand Management) wrote about it resonated with me: “Each time we overhaul our branding, we evaluate not only changing needs, but also future goals.”
However, if you want to rebrand just because your brand identity looks old and outdated, then a subtle tweak to refresh it might be all you need. One such example is this recent work I did for the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute. (My evolved design is the one to the right.)
Whatever your business may need, why don’t you get in touch with me to discuss?
Colours have the power to convey and communicate meanings and messages without words. It is the most important component of a logo design and by far what people remember the most, much more so than the shape or word of the logo itself.
In branding and design the use of colour is hugely important as they are signifiers for emotions which we are often unaware of. In fact, most of us, weather we are conscious of it or not, would make a snap judgment about a product, based on its colour alone.
Choosing the colour (or colours) that best represents your brand is no easy task as different colours can provoke very different reactions in people. However, there’s a few things I think we can all agree on. Warm colours are associated with energy and cold colours bring calmness. Black is total absorption in complete contrast to white, which is total reflection.
Red is a passionate colour as it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate. Green is the colour of balance. Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing. But then there’s light blue and dark blue and..... Not to mention the use of more than just one colour.
In this blog I have created an infographic which illustrates 12 different colours and my (researched) definition of what these colours communicate.
When designing a brand identity I recommend choosing two dominant colours (one main colour and one complimenting colour), along with another 2 or 3 accent colours, one of which should be a contrasting colour.
So what colour suits your business the best?
A very simple exercise that might help you find an answer to this is to write down the words that best represent your brand’s personality. What colours represent those words?
You could also check your competitors to see what colours they use in their bradning, but this is more to see what not to do. In the same way as your logo and business name must represent you, your colours must be relevant, tailored to your audience and easily identified with your industry. But, as for everything regarding branding: Brands that break the rules are most often the ones that people remember.
My infographic is very simplistic and chances are you didn’t find a colour match for your words. If this is the case there’s plenty of knowledge to be found online that goes more in depth. Or you could contact me. I love the psychology of colours and I would be more than happy to help you!
I hope you’ve had a lovely summer, despite crazy weather wherever you were.... Here’s to re-newed energy for us all this autumn!
Inspired by this clever marketing for the Barbie movie that is coming to our cinemas soon, I‘d like to share with you some other examples of brands that have taken ownership of colours.
What they all have in common is this, the marketing managers are all very patient. Well, they obviously have big budgets too, but a big budget does not a successful brand make. Patience does.
Most of the logos I design are for businesses with a modest budget. But regardless of how much you spend on marketing, the principle of branding is exactly the same. No matter how bored you get of your logo, colours etc, you have to stay true to your brand identity if you want others to take notice. Remember, nobody will ever see your branding as much as you do.
The way these brands have taken ownership of a colour did not happen overnight. See? It's all about patience.
Should you happen to work with a brand identity that simply doesn’t work, well that’s another story. No matter how patient you are, if it is not working, let’s discuss rebranding! But let’s enjoy a break this summer before we do so?
I went to see a Graduate Show last week, for students who have spent 3 years studying Visual Communication. It’s the same course that I did many moons ago. Well, the concept for the course is the same. It’s about visual communication. But the work looks totally different. What I learnt about logo designs way back then.... well it’s safe to say things have evolved.
The number of media platforms consumed by people has increased so dramatically, it’s hard to imagine a life when marketing could only reach you via press ads, a couple of TV channels and outdoor posters. These days you’re bombarded with marketing from search to social media, streaming channels, influencers, blogs, gaming, e-commerce, on top of all the existing ‘traditional media’. We see ads everywhere we go, even at the beach. Here's hoping only skin cancer awareness campaigns will be allowed this...
Not only is the media far more complex, our attention span is less than it was back then too if you believe the researchers at the Technical University of Denmark. Their study suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. People now have more things to focus on, but often focus on things for short periods of time.
Hence the importance of simplified logo designs.
One reason for simplifying a logo is to make it more timeless and versatile. A logo that is too complex or trendy can quickly become dated and need to be redesigned. By making the logo more simple and clean, it ensures that it will remain relevant and recognisable for years to come.
Another reason for simplifying a logo is to make it more memorable and recognisable.
A simple logo is easier to reproduce and can be more easily scaled to different sizes and used across different mediums. This is especially important for global brands who operates in many countries and markets, such as Apple, Ryanair, Ikea. Their logos are great examples of logos that have evolved to stay relevant.
And they will continue to do so, I'm sure, in response to new trends and new technologies. There might also be a greater emphasis on sustainability and ethical branding going forward. And perhaps empathy? With the excitement but also slight fear of AI, who knows what will happen. Empathy seems to be one of the few qualities that AI can not master...
That little icon next to a website’s name in your browser tab is called a favicon. It’s short for “favorite icon” and was introduced by Internet Explorer in the late 1990s.
Its purpose was, and still is, to help internet users distinguish between websites and find them quickly in their browser tabs. From a branding perspective they can also help strengthen your brand’s identity as it makes your site more memorable. I think it makes your website look more professional and more credible too.
Favicons might increase the likelihood that your visitors will save your page as a bookmark. This has tons of benefits in search because Google boosts your site and improves your SEO ranking if users bookmark your page. The more user-friendly it is, the more likely it is that they will.
I’m a lover of keeping things simple so usually the favicon icons I design take the form of a stripped-down version of the logo, usually by using just a symbol, as shown in these examples of favicons I have designed here.
If you don't have a favicon yet, you can easily do this yourself, but if you’d like a hand with it I’m here and happy to help!
The importance of describing properly what your business is all about, in just a few words, goes without saying. I hope! Even though users can change this description themselves (as I sometimes do), I think we all prefer not to...
A number of well-known leaders such as Elon Musk (Tesla and Twitter) and Steve Wozniak (Apple) have signed an open letter published by the nonprofit Future of Life Institute, calling on AI labs around the world to pause development of large-scale AI systems, citing fears over the "profound risks to society and humanity" they claim this software poses.
The beautiful photograph is by German artist Boris Eldagsen and he won a Sony world photography award for it. However he is declining the award and says the photograph was designed to provoke debate.
Well he got my vote. About the debate. What are your thoughts on this?
Have you ever wondered why some people are more persuasive than others? Why some people can get others to do what they want, while others struggle to get their message across?
I think it is because they know the secret to persuasive communication. They know the power of the word “because.”
When we hear the word “because,” our brains expect to hear a reason, and we are more likely to comply with the request or a directive as a result. This is because our brains are wired to seek out justifications for actions.
So whether you’re asking for a favor, making a request, or trying to persuade someone to see things your way, use the word “because”. It can make a big difference! Here’s some old research from Harvard (conducted by Ellen Langer in 1978) to back me up: www.psychologytoday.com
The Norwegian artist Ottar Helge Johannessen turned me into a type nerd! His passion for various typefaces and what they communicate has stayed with me ever since he taught me art when I was 18 years old.
This post is about fonts and typefaces but before I get going, as it's St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, I'd like to share the Winner of the 2023 Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film. Because it is beautiful. And Irish.
An Irish Goodbye is a black comedy about the reunion of estranged brothers Turlough and Lorcan following the untimely death of their mother. Written and Directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White. I hope you'll click the link and find twenty minutes to enjoy it!
Now...... The use of fonts and typefaces in logo design is an important aspect of creating a brand identity. It helps to communicate what the business is about. Different fonts and typefaces can evoke various emotions, convey different messages and can ultimately impact how people perceive a brand.
A typeface is defined by a particular set of characteristics. Most modern typefaces fall under one of two categories: Serif or Sans-serif. Rules are meant to be broken and that goes for typography as well. However, when working with visual communications, the psychology of ‘Serif versus Sans-serif’ has to be considered. It just does.
Serif typefaces, with its small lines or flourishes, are commonly used in traditional and conservative industries such as law and finance. They convey a sense of formality and authority. For example, the logo for the Irish Times uses a serif font, which reinforces the publication’s long-standing reputation for serious journalism. Sans-serif typefaces are clean and has simple lines, these typefaces set a contemporary tone. It is a popular choice for companies in the tech and finance industries. One example of a company that uses a sans-serif (Helvetica) in its logo is Microsoft.
Then there’s handwritten typefaces, script typefaces, decorative typefaces, etc, etc, etc, not to mention all kind of variations of the typeface, such as bold, light and italic. This is the definition of a font; it’s a size and weight within the typeface style.
Despite having worked on some big-budget branding projects, I have never had the chance to develop a custom made typeface for a brand. But others have. The Airbnb logo is a perfect example. Their font is called “Cereal.” It’s playful, modern, and it reflects the company’s core values of community, inclusivity, and creativity.
If you have [another] 14 minutes to spare (or less if you watch at faster speed), check out this TED Talk. It’s called ‘How a typeface helped launch Apollo’. It's a fun-facted history of typography, where designer Douglas Thomas shares Futura’s role in launching the Apollo 11 spacecraft. And how it became one of the most used fonts in the world.
Happy St. Patrick's Day all!
I asked ChatDPT to write an article about symbols and the meaning of symbols. And visual communication.
Blimey. It took less than a minute for it to do so. I also got DALL-E 2 to generate a visual to go with it. I guess my brief was rubbish because the 3 results I got certainly were. Thankfully!
I am in a bit of a shock though. That I got a computer to write my e-zine. In seconds! Might be my age but I am slightly horrified by this. But also exited! Surely this is as big a deal as introducing us to the world wide web and smartphones? But then again, I guess portrait painters were frightened when the camera was invented? And we still have the radio going strong despite the telly, YouTube and podcasts...
Well here goes. Here’s the article that took less time for ChatDPT to write than it took for me to read it!
Symbols and the Meaning of Symbols: Visual Communication
Symbols are a fundamental part of human communication, serving as a visual representation of ideas, emotions, and concepts. From ancient cave paintings to modern-day logos, symbols have been used to convey messages and connect people across cultures, languages, and time. In this article, we will explore the meaning of symbols and their role in visual communication.
The Power of Visual Communication
Visual communication is a powerful tool that has the ability to convey complex ideas and emotions in a single image. Unlike written or spoken language, visual communication relies on the use of symbols, colors, and images to communicate messages. This form of communication is especially useful when the message is culturally or linguistically diverse.
Symbols as Universal Language
One of the greatest strengths of visual communication is the use of symbols, which can be understood regardless of language or cultural background. For example, the red cross is a universal symbol for medical aid, and the green and yellow circles on a traffic light represent “go” and “stop” respectively. These symbols are instantly recognizable and can be understood by people from all over the world, making visual communication a universal language.
The Importance of Context
It’s important to note that the meaning of symbols can change depending on the context in which they are used. For example, a red cross may represent medical aid in one context, but it may represent a pirate flag in another. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the context in which a symbol is used when interpreting its meaning.
Symbols as Cultural Signifiers
In addition to their universal meanings, symbols can also have cultural significance. For example, the eagle is a symbol of freedom and strength in the United States, while the dragon is a symbol of power and prosperity in Chinese culture. These cultural symbols reflect the values, beliefs, and traditions of a particular society and can play an important role in shaping cultural identity.
The Evolution of Symbols
Symbols are not static, and their meanings can change over time. For example, the swastika was once a symbol of good fortune and peace in Hindu and Buddhist cultures, but it has since become associated with the Nazi regime in Germany. The meanings of symbols are constantly evolving, reflecting the changing values and beliefs of societies.
In conclusion, symbols are an essential part of visual communication, serving as a universal language that can convey complex ideas and emotions in a single image. From universal symbols to cultural signifiers, symbols play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world around us. Whether they are used to convey a simple message or to reflect the values and beliefs of a particular culture, symbols are a powerful tool in the visual communication of ideas and emotions.
Well, what do you think? Did ChatDPT impress you too? The above image to the left was designed by DALL-E 2 and the one to the right was designed by me. It doesn't look like I have to worry about my profession just yet. Or maybe I do?