22861745_10155625287136469_6523891586428820011_o.jpg

Hi.

Welcome to the community. I'm Stef Hamerlinck, founder and a brand strategist/designer. Feel free to ask me anything! 

The death of Lorem Ipsum. Why words matter as a designer.

The death of Lorem Ipsum. Why words matter as a designer.

As much as we are 'visual designers', we are communicators. Words can help us sell, improve and clarify our work. Let's take a look at how we can use words as brand designers.

In this article I would like to convince you to think as much about the words you pick as about your layout. I know you're thinking, that's the copywriters job! And in many cases it is, but in a lot of cases, there's no time for a copywriter, not enough budget, or you just want to demonstrate some element of your design. Let's take a look at some reasons as to why you should care about words:

1. Words can bring clarity

We all use words, your client uses words, a lot of them. Usually your client is not as visually literate as you are, he does not know the same concepts and visual attributes you have in your vocabulary. So we can use words to help the client 'see'. For example let's say we have a brand called Shoemakers. Before jumping in to the design part we usually have some form of strategy, this can be as simple as a small exploration, to a full blown strategy process that takes months. 

Using brand attributes can be really helpful when it comes to creating identites, logo's and so on. It is usually the gap between strategy and design. Using these attributes we can start thinking about what the brand needs to look like, how it will feel, what its personality is. Let's try and describe some brand attributes for our dummy brand, Shoemakers.

Disclaimer: Often times clients will mention Authentic or Creative as an attribute. Watch out for vague words like these, anything can be authentic, from a nutty professor to a cute cat. Be aware that a lot of brands these days are going for the 'authentic' look, go deeper, find what makes it look authentic. 

Handmade: So in stead of 'authentic', which is to wide, handmade sounds pretty clear, we know it will a have a visual impact. It refers to the handmade craftmanship of the Shoemakers, it refers to the family business. 

Friendly: Shoemakers are a small company, they want to look approachable. Being friendly is really important for them, in their stores, on their website, everywhere. 

Established: Shoemakers has been around for sometime now, they are a third generation company, they want to show people that they have a legacy, a history in shoemaking. 

You may have already had clues when reading this attributes, they translate well visually, handmade for example, has some typical visual cues like rougher edges, maybe handwritten typography, ... Friendly usually avoids hard edges, corporate type,...

 Just playing around with typography you can see how different fonts call on different attributes. I also always try to play around with taglines (if they are not yet created). 

Just playing around with typography you can see how different fonts call on different attributes. I also always try to play around with taglines (if they are not yet created). 

As we can see in the example above, different typefaces summon different attributes. Also techniques like tracking can push certain attributes further (for example, luxurious brands often have wide letter spacing). 

Beware: don't jump straight in to logo design after the strategy, first create a moodboard to really bridge the gap and get some feeling of direction. 

2. Words can help sell your work. 

Presenting your work is hard, it takes time and often times is paired with great fear and anxiousness from the designer. Use words to sell your work, to make it speak. Use words to define your thought process. Ben Burns talks about this in a video about how to present your work. He shows a slide with all the words that the brand wants to be associated with and then narrows it down to 2 words, this shows the client the steps you have taken and puts everyone on the same page. 

3. Words make your work more relevant

By thinking about words in the actual design, you become more valuable, a lot of times when I'm designing or logo or a layout it try to write copy that fits the brand. Ofcourse I am not a copywriter so I do not pretend to know this job, but often times a lot of my copy ideas make the final cut. Let's take another look at our Shoemaker example, suppose you've made a little mockup for the client's website. 

 By thinking about the actual copy in the tone of voice, this design becomes a lot more valuable and easier to sell. 

By thinking about the actual copy in the tone of voice, this design becomes a lot more valuable and easier to sell. 

Remember, you are not trying to sell your visual design, you are trying to create a brand that speaks to an audience, and words are a big part of that.

 Thinking about words helps you create ideas. It's also a lot of fun to do when you have quirky brands like this one. 

Thinking about words helps you create ideas. It's also a lot of fun to do when you have quirky brands like this one. 

Typography 2017: Squashed, stretched, distorted, monospaced, variable.

Typography 2017: Squashed, stretched, distorted, monospaced, variable.

Welcome to the Brand new website!

Welcome to the Brand new website!