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The Design Curmudgeon 2

2013 September 11

Time does get away from one. Lately, my good friend The Design Curmudgeon has been hinting about a return (his predecessor The Sports Curmudgeon returned this year after a long absence). In preparing to post DC’s latest asides, I thought I ought to check the formatting of his first outing and only then realized it was nearly a year ago. Are you kiddin’ me? …well, The Design Curmudgeon though certainly crusty has not grown rusty, or something to that effect…

[DISCLAIMER: “The Design Curmudgeon” is presented for entertainment purposes only, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Modern Alchemy, its proprietor, its clients, this blog, or Frank Deford. Any resemblance between The Design Curmudgeon and any real person living or dead is entirely coincidental. Please consult your doctor before deciding if The Design Curmudgeon may be right for you.]

Yes, I’m back, and I’ve got a few more things that need to be said. First of all, however, though speaking entirely hypothetically and certainly not in any way a commentary on a specific recent announcement … A tip for “rebranding” professionals: Changing the typeface used in your logo does not constitute designing a new logo. Or a particularly worthwhile exercise at all, nine times out of ten. In fact, odds are good that it’s in fact just the kind of thing explicitly discouraged by an “examples of what not to do” section in your brand guide, if you have one. Just saying…

Now, that out of the way, can we talk about language? Actually, in a perfect illustration of what I’m leading up to, what I really mean is “I have something to say about language and you need to listen to me.” The latter version, here, is much more honest and effective communication, and yet the former seems to be infecting the language like measles.

Clients, just stop using phrases like “what would you think about” when you really mean “this is what I expect you to do.” OWN YOUR REVISIONS, for Pete’s sake. Could you try this? And not make everything into a kind question, maybe? Like, as though you’re both discussing things in-person AND extremely deferential to another party for final judgement (when in fact neither of these is true)? What do you think?

And while I’m on the subject of language, don’t use the phrase “play around with it” or any variation thereof. EVER. AGAIN.

Returning to practical tips for graphic design, I’ve got a couple more you may want to remember. First, especially if you’re working on a presentation, especially in a copy-influencing role: bullet points are not a way to further the goal of a fresh/modern/clean look through copy. In fact they’re a pretty good way to crumple up such a goal and slam dunk it into the trash.

Second, a little piece of advice on the subject of book covers. Authors, editors, et al., yes by all means do insist that EVERY WORD of the title be the same typeface, point size, weight, color, etc., especially when the title is a long string of hundred-buck words, IF YOU WANT THE COVER TO LOOK BORING.

Finally, a general notice for you to keep in mind on those occasions when it’s tempting to get caught up in the rush-panic-hot-hot-priority mentality which is so fashionable in the modern workplace with its typical lack of any real critical function at all…

Lack of perspective on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

Now, get lost.

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