This morning I was reading a great newsletter post on icon design by Kyle Adams, How to Make Cohesive Icon Sets, in which he mentions the need to communicate individual messages clearly while establishing some conformity between related images.
“Don’t sacrifice clarity for cohesion.” – Kyle Adams
I immediately saw a parellel to my own struggles in maintaining a cohesive “look and feel” (so emphasized by management at my job in advertising design) while creating work for differing applications and formats. I strive for a balanced layout and an appealing message, and often feel stifled by narrow project or branding guidelines.
Too much emphasis on cohesion for all marketing collateral, such as for a sales event, can lead to creation of awkward layouts. Some end up with odd blank areas, or a crowded page, making our work look amateurish and reflecting poorly on the company.
Management might want an 11×17-inch store poster and a 500×500-pixel Pandora ad to have the same content and format. Or horizontal graphics that dominated a billboard will get crammed into a tiny area at the top of tall vertical web banners, making our message for the customer too small to read and not communicated effectively. In some instances, stacking the text and photos on top of each other instead of side by side could make it work for a different format, but rigid standards for sameness between all the materials might not allow this treatment.
The solution for striking a better balance could be found with improved communication on our team. As much as it helps me to clarify my thoughts in a blog post rant, wiser decisions are more likely to happen at my job here if I assist other designers in finding new approaches, and if I can find a way to contribute more at the initial strategy stage of our advertising projects.