Latest Entries

In a nutshell: Name Generation

The brand name serves as the foundation of a successful brand and, for companies both large and small, a great brand name is an asset of enormous value. Effective names should captures the essence of a company, product or service and should project the personality of what they represent.

Name generation is an important part of what we do and we work closely with our clients to create and develop their brand and give it the right tone of voice through all communication channels.

Some of our most recent naming exercises have included:
YourStore eCommerce
The Yorkshire Larder
Bright Beans Coffee

Patrick Jackson Design)

In a nutshell: Brand

A brand is all the positive attributes that spring to mind around a particular organisation, product or service. Product features and pricing is important but it’s usually the emotional attributes of a brand – the intangibles – that are most valuable. These are the elements that competitors can’t easily copy and help to give a brand its distinctiveness.

Patrick Jackson Design)

People need to ‘trust’ your website

Okay, this is something that has long been suspected: the design of your website has a direct bearing on whether users ‘trusts’ your brand, company or organisation. Badly designed sites can mean that companies are damaging their brand and their bottom-line. According to research carried out by OnePoll, on behalf of BaseKit, 70% of internet users claim they would not buy from or trust a company with a badly designed website.

The research also found that two thirds of business owners believe how a company’s website looks and performs is more important than the physical location of the business. This makes it absolutely vital that a company’s website gives the right impression. With the average time spent on a web page being less than 60 seconds, first impressions really do count.

For a brief outline of some of the main reasons why some corporate websites perform poorly then see our earlier article: An outdated website can damage your brand.

If you need an impartial assessment of your current website – what works, what doesn’t and what positive changes can be made going forward – then try our FREE Website Assessment.

(The OnePoll survey was carried out between 4th and 10th January 2011, and surveyed 577 UK SMEs).

Patrick Jackson Design)

In a nutshell: Websites and Screen Media

Multi-media design is essentially concerned with ‘on-screen’ communication – the projection of information and identity via websites and interactive displays. It draws upon graphics, animation, sound, music and moving images to create a ‘user experience’. The quality of this experience – how useful, easy and pleasurable an interface is to use – has a significant influence on how users perceive a group or brand.

To see our online design work please visit the Websites and Screen Media section of our website.

Patrick Jackson Design)

Icons for a Global Magazine

We have recently completed a set of icons to be used in FreeFlow, a magazine produced for the global acrylics industry. The icons act as an identifier for a particular article, characterising that page as a Case Study, Customer Profile, Global Chemical News, Environmental Sustainability, Industry Compliance and so on. The design of the icons – 12 in all – is part of a redesign for FreeFlow to update and refresh the magazine for 2011 and beyond.

The first issue has already been circulated to its global readers. Those who have responded have given very positive feedback to the new look.

(Article by Patrick Jackson Design).

In a nutshell: Packaging Design

Packaging defines what a product is and serves as a canvas on which to promote it’s attributes and benefits. Beyond its functional practicalities, packaging has increasingly become part of the product experience itself. Colour, form, materials, imagery and graphics are carefully considered to appeal directly to the tastes and aspirations of the consumer and compete for their attention at the point of sale.

Patrick Jackson Design)

In a nutshell: Identities

An identity captures the essence of what a group or brand is about and what it stands for – a  visual expression of its values, aspirations, reputation, manner and culture. It’s the foundation on which an organisation develops it’s public image and influences how it is perceived by its own staff, its suppliers, customers, shareholders and others.

To see our identity work please visit the Identities and Branding section of our website.

Patrick Jackson Design)

An outdated website can damage your brand

Q. Is your current website over 4 years old? If the answer is yes, then perhaps it’s time for a change.

Why make the change?

Internet technology is developing so rapidly that, if your current site has existed without significant changes in the past 4 or 5 years, it’s probably showing obvious signs of obsolescence. This will largely be due to the following:

1. Dated content
All companies need to remain relevant to their customers. Old and outdated content may no longer reflect the current ambitions of a company/brand or may no longer be aligned with its current marketing objectives.

2. Changes in web standards
With a general increase in monitor sizes, website formatting has changed from a view area of 800 pixels wide up to anything from 900 to 1100 wide. Moving to this wider standard provides more screen ‘real estate’ and allows the use of larger pictures, clearer typography and more diverse content on a single page.

3. A huge shift in user expectations
Better download speeds from improving broadband connections means that users now expect a far richer experiences when they visit a website – one which includes images, animation, video and more engaging and interactive content.

4. Interactivity and data capture from visitors
Older websites tend to be little more than an online version of a corporate brochure, giving users a very ‘passive’ experience. There are generally very few mechanisms by which users can engage with the company/brand . . . or even ask a questions through the website. For the company/brand this means there is little or no data capture from their visitors.

5. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
On average, 60% of website traffic is generated via search engines. So, having a website correctly optimised for modern search engines such as Google is vital.

6. Overly complicated website architecture
Older sites tend to have been ‘added to’ over the years with new pages or entirely new sections. This often leads to poor site structure which is difficult or complicated to navigate. Renewing or refreshing the website would ensure a more logical and user-friendly structure.

7. First Impressions Count
It used to be that potential clients/customers gained their first sense of a business or brand through a corporate brochure or a company logo on a business card. Now, overwhelmingly, it’s through a company website. If this website is designed and implemented poorly then the opportunity to make a great first impression is lost.

8. Trust
One final thing to convince you to change your old site: when you have been searching for a product online and come across a very old fashioned, outdated and poorly designed website have you, a. ‘trusted’ it and bought from the site . . . or b. moved to another, more modern looking, more ‘trustworthy’ site? Statistics show that most people do the latter.

If you think that your website is not performing as it should why not take advantage of our FREE website Assessment. We will compare your site against current web standards, we will look at usability, functionality, navigation, user engagement and much more.

(Article by Patrick Jackson, Patrick Jackson Design). (Thanks to both Yourstore and Duo for their thoughts on this subject).

David Carson on design + discovery

Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery – for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humor. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.

As a member of the organising committee of the Typographic Circle (way back when . . ),  I met David Carson when we brought him to the UK to give a talk in Edinburgh. Nice guy, very insightful, inventive and witty – pretty much as he is here. Enjoy.

‘I see what you mean …’

(1) We have a natural propensity for expressing ourselves visually, which is perhaps best illustrated by children. From a very early age all children paint, draw and make images freely. It’s an activity that is often unprompted and largely untutored – apart from introducing them to the materials they need. Much of the charm of a child’s painting comes from its honesty and innocence. Their creations are unadulterated and unfiltered transmissions of their thoughts. It’s a visual ability that we seem to loose in later life – an unfettered and instinctive mental capacity that even the great artists, like Mattisse and Picasso, made lifelong efforts to rekindle.

(2) The visual language, in common with other forms of communication, is a means by which we can express ideas, realise thoughts and share information. It can be instrumental in shaping opinion, changing attitudes and it can inspire. It has structure, meaning and grammar – images can all be ‘read’. It has a dynamic vocabulary that develops and adapts constantly to social and cultural change. It is our oldest and most widely used form of communication. Cave paintings in Lascaux, France, dating from 15,000 BC, tell us about prehistoric life long before we had a written means of doing so. They are visual notes from our past.

(3) Historically, the development of a visual language is common to all human groups. It’s a phenomenon that occurred quite naturally. The aboriginal groups of Australia, for instance, have for centuries passed down their cultural history and identity from generation to generation by verbal and pictorial means. And still do. In contrast, a written language was the achievement of very few cultures until relatively recently.

(4) Visual communication is everywhere: as road signage, in manuals and maps, in movies and on TV, on our breakfast serial packaging, in photographic images, as body language, on a shop front, graffiti, as a national flag, in newspaper and magazine, in architecture, on mobile phones screens, in advertising, as the Nike brand. The way in which we react to the properties of images and signs has three distinct levels; firstness, secondness and thirdness. Firstness is the sense of something. It could be described as a feeling or mood. If an image makes us feel happy then this could be said to be a function of this level. Secondness is the level of fact. The physical relation of one thing to another. A traffic light has this level of fact. Thirdness is a mental level. It brings the first two categories together in a relationship or convention. The association we have with the ‘Stars and Stripes’ and the United States is a mental relationship which relies on convention.

(5) In the early school years, children are constantly encouraged to produce images, and to illustrate their written work. Teachers comment on these illustrations as much as they do on the written part of the text, though perhaps not in the same vein. Unlike writing, illustrations are not ‘corrected’ or subject to detailed criticism – ‘this needs more work’, ‘not clear’, and so on. They are seen as self-expression rather than communication. (i) By the time children are beyond their first two years of secondary schooling, the visual content of their work has largely disappeared. In as much as visual images continue, they have become maps, diagrams and charts. This systematic fazing out of expressive and descriptive illustration from the school curriculum gives a particular prominence to one kind of communication – writing. Being able to read and write fluently is now the most essential goal of our education system. No surprises here since literacy has, for centuries, been viewed as one of the essential achievements of a developing culture. So much so that, in western culture particularly, we’ve made a clear distinction between us – with a written language ‘advanced’, and them – without a written language ‘primitive’. The prominence that is now given to written literacy marginalises the visual language and devalues it as an effective and articulate form of communication. And with visual literacy so underdeveloped at the level of both teaching and learning, many students leave formal education with only a very rudimentary knowledge of image making and image reading.

(6) Writing is a form of visual communication. The modern alphabet is a series of stylised visual symbols which represent sounds and, when grouped together appropriately, form words. Although lower case letters are a relatively recent invention, most of the upper case letterforms can be traced back to specific pictorial beginnings. Capital ‘A’ started life as a pictogram – a rudimentary mark, which had social significance. Originally it was a Phoenician symbol and represented ‘aleph’ which meant ‘ox’ and was drawn the other way up to indicate the head and horns of the animal. Both Egyptians and Greek scribes adopted the symbol but drew it on its side because it was quicker. About 500 BC, when writing became more standardised, the sign for ox had finally settled on its horns to become recognisable as the letter ‘A’ we use today.

(7) In the novel ‘The interiors’ by William Golding, the Neanderthals always say ‘I had a picture’ instead of ‘I’ve just thought of something’. The anthropologists agree that for once the novelist had it just about right. The term ‘show me’ or ‘I see what you mean’ indicates a connection between sight and subject which is very real. (ii) In ancient cultures the Shaman or Holy Man would engage in vision quests, though many of these cultures may no longer exist some of the terminology remains. The highest compliment we pay to someone with ‘foresight’ is to describe them as visionary or seer. Nikola Tesla, inventor of the electric motor, designed in his head and was able to instruct his mechanics with such accuracy that when all the components were assembled they fitted perfectly. Mozart was able to compose fully orchestrated scores in his imagination before writing each note down – without making any mistakes. Today, elite athletes will pre-visualise themselves winning their event as mental preparation for the real thing. But being able to visualise isn’t exclusive to the gifted few, it’s a mental process we all share to some extent. The French writer, Joseph Joubert, said, ‘Writing is closer to thinking than speaking.’ There is a lot of truth in this. Unless we visualise something we are unable to think about it. When reading a novel we actively imagine characters, places and situations, often in far more detail than their literary descriptions. Tolstoy never actually describes Anna Karenina other than to say she is beautiful, leaving the reader to create their own vision of the character. If we were unable to do this, our enjoyment and understanding of the narrative would be severely diminished.

(8) ‘Our thoughts and dreams possess no typographic system. We dream in pictures’ Gunter Rambow, (1938 -) German Graphic Designer.

(9) The human brain has two hemispheres, each responsible for different functions: the right is concerned with emotion, feeling, imagination, creativity, philosophy, the ‘bigger picture’, spatial awareness, impulsiveness, impetuosity and fantasy; the left with logic, facts, details, strategies, rules, order, practicality and reality. There is a complex cross over system between the two halves but the balance of power between them is rarely equal. The degree to which we use and rely on the functions from either the left or right governs our actions and responses – it determines who we are and our point a view. Machael Gazzaniga, a renowned American mathematician, commenting on the human brain once said, ‘You wouldn’t want to have a date with a right hemisphere.’ But you might expect an academic to say this. In contrast, the imaginative mind of Gene Roddenberry, creator of the cult TV series Star Trek, characterised the science officer ‘Spok’, as a personification of left brain functions … and an alien species. Enough said.

(Article by Patrick Jackson, Patrick Jackson Design).

Source: (i) Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, Reading Images. Routledge (London 1996). (ii) Alan Fletcher, The Art of Looking Sideways. Phaidon (London 2001). Reasourses: Richard Dimbleby and Graeme Burton, More Than Words – Third Edition. Routledge (London 2000). James Hutchinson, Letters. The Herbert Press (London 1983). Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, Reading Images.Routledge (London 1996). Alan Fletcher, The Art of Looking Sideways. Phaidon (London 2001). David Crow, Visible Signs.

Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress. Design by Rodrigo Galindez.