This is a continuation to my last blog post before I left for NYC for the rest of the week (Which was rad). Mind you this post is a bit long, but stretching into a part 3 just sounds absurd.
To recap where I left off:
It’s important to make your design as simple as possible. Overly complex design removes focus from the main message.
This does not mean you have to make your design predictable or boring in its information or understanding. You can design something exciting, but it should still be simple enough to be easily understood and it shouldn’t tamper with the brand's massage.
How To Mean A Lot Without Tampering With The Message?
One example of this is NIKE:
Breaking it down, Nike’s ads all communicate the same main message: “Buy Nike Products.” But how they say it changes.
Most notoriously they have used the simple distinctive “Swoosh” form of their logo paired with a simple tagline of “JUST DO IT.”
Together these elements convey the message in a way that’s easy to replicate and still means a lot: quality by its execution, boldness from the direct statement, speed & motion from the kinetic form of the swish, and it’s proven timeless so far because it does not fall into a trend.
Although I’m not sure if these are the specific brand values that Nike is shooting for, what it does demonstrate is how something very simple can still convey quite a lot.
Fun Fact: If you saw the documentary ‘Art & Copy’ it was explained that Mr. Gilmore, the notorious spree-killer, uttered the words “Let’s do it” just before a firing squad executed him in Utah in 1977. Years later, the phrase became the inspiration for Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. However there are many sources telling different stories to how it came about.
VARIABLES THAT HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM NIKE'S IDENTITY ARE COLOR & FORM
Color inserts an extra variable. Color expresses a mood. In the Nike example, we are seeing a brand identity and a brand identity is a face. A face needs to be able to express many moods depending on the occasion. As their default, Nike keeps a blank face instead of getting themselves stuck on one mood or emotion.
That said, for different seasons and releases of new products, Nike can always introduced a new colour to express a new emotion tied into their latest project.
Gradients are an extra variable as well. Stay away from them unless it’s part of the message.
Adding gradients for the sake of making an identity look 3 dimensional is not worth the sacrifice. Not to say that there can’t be reasons for it. There are graphics that take advantage of gradients to portray a symbolic meaning to tie into the brand:
With the identity Retina designed by Laboratory they illustrate a gradient to symbolize the color blindness tests. Without a gradient it becomes near meaningless to what its message is.
Nike's Simple Form VS Form Complexity
Having a simple form will help it be remembered. You know it’s easy to remember when you can sketch it on paper. If you can’t draw it from memory it’s too complex to be remembered by consumers.
However, if it is at the very least describable, then complexity can be somewhat welcomed. This is where simple is not completely better.
The Pros & Cons of 2D VS 3D
Apple has made a trend of creating 3D icons. Apple continues to make 3D icons because it stays consistent to the rest of their icons and interface design. Not to mention it’s simpler for users to identity Apple from other brands because of this aesthetic.
Functionally 3D has also helped the icons describe what the program it represents does. Something that 2D has a hard time doing.
In this respect they are simplifying by reducing the variable 2D. Even though 3D is a more complex form, it is a style choice they manage with a lot of hard work.
The downside here, however, is that the icons are not easy to replicate and therefore cannot be used in more ways than as an icon. The upside is they can be remembered better because of how easy they are to describe. The limit to how dynamic 3D can be is a problem still, but Apple is aware of it. That is why their trademark Apple logo can be just as recognizable in 2D as it is in its shiny aluminum 3D version.
Reduce! Reduce! Reduce variables, whether it is products, logos or websites. Take away until you see the main message that is the foundation for everything the design stands for. Only thing left after that is to stay out of its way.