Design Trends to Look Forward to in 2020

2019 was a year where taking risks in design was considered normal.

What design trends can you look forward to this year? As we round the corner into a new decade, we may see a softening of some of 2019’s more abrasive trends and a shift toward simplified contrasts when designers want to be bold.

Here’s a sneak peek at five design trends to watch for in 2020:

1. Beautiful Flowing Shapes & Lines

The last few years have brought an abundance of geometric, rigid, proper shapes.

In the new year, these designs will be replaced by more flowing shapes, patterns, and lines. Flowing shapes can convey a natural, abstract, peaceful feel on a page. Whether you use a soft speech bubble to surround text or place images overflowing water or lava currents in your backgrounds, this shift toward flowing lines brings a down-to-earth, creative, and authentic tone.

2. Neutral, Natural-Looking Stock Photos

Several years ago, bright, colorful stock images were all the rage.

Graphic artists were boosting saturating and enriching color contrasts, to the point that some photos didn’t even look real. But as color trends have relaxed, audiences are embracing more muted palates, colors similar to what you might find in a soft sunset, a misty morning, or the corner of a woodworker’s craft shop.

As stock photos follow, this year, you can expect to see more muted, genuine, and neutral stock photos. This includes a focus on candid faces, shadowed silhouettes, and seemingly unfiltered photos. A step back from air-brushed perfection, look to use stock photos that seem more reserved, harmonious, and real.

3. Textured Bevels and Chisels

While designers seek to bring a more authentic vibe in 2020, one way they can do this is through texture.

By creating 3-D forms like buttons, icons, or coins, bevels and chisels create a 3-D effect on a 2-D (flat) surface. Typically, this is done with tight layering, shadowing, and some degree of opacity. Look for beveled knock-offs of real-life objects. The result will be a flat image that looks tantalizingly real enough to touch.

4. Creative Typography

Creativity is just not limited to vibrant designs and unusual color combinations.

Font choices also play a prominent role in the tone and personality of every design. 

Whether it is a paper coffee cup, a wild banner, or a funky poster, sometimes creative typography is all it takes to drive home your message. And while typography can stand alone as its own design (like this), it can also be woven into the image itself to give unique expression to the artwork (like this). With great font selection, sometimes the words are the graphic, and just a small amount of creativity can truly spice up the project.

5. Bold, Clean Colors

Finally, with a move toward expediency, simple, bold colors are taking the stage once again.

We’re not talking about 80’s neon vaporwave, but dreamy, vibrant, full colors like enchanting blues, tomato reds, and radiating purples. Colors are a key driver of attractive designs, and 2020 will see an emphasis on gradient blends replaced with things like filled color canvases with no white space between hues.

As you play with bold shades in your graphics, avoid using too many bright colors that make designs hard to read. Instead, use bright, energetic colors with simple, clean design to create contrast.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Ready to kickstart the year with a new style?

To do so, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends and let us know if we can help you infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!

5 Keys to a Simple Design Update

The United States Open Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament that takes place in New York City around Labor Day each summer.

The US Open draws fans from around the world to watch players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams compete. The 2019 US Open set an all-time attendance record with 737,872 fans coming to the National Tennis Center, with the largest stadium (Arthur Ashe) selling out 23 of 24 sessions.

In 2018, the United States Tennis Association announced it was introducing a new logo for the tournament. This featured a speeding tennis ball with an updated font while dispensing with several elements of the old logo. The previous icon (a flaming ball with a red swoosh) was a dated image that presented challenges in digital media and failed to represent the US Open as a premium sporting brand.

By keeping elements of the original logo, the USTA was able to redesign in a way that captured the excitement and movement of their world-class event. The entire Tennis Center (including grounds, merchandise, and courts) received a surge of energy as the logo came to life at the tournament.  

How to Overcome Frumpy Designs

Are your designs starting to fade with age?

After many years in business, your branding may not feel as contemporary as it should. Your 1990’s neon-colored bubble letters could certainly use a fresh take, or maybe your mascot (or your photos) look like they need plastic surgery. Some companies may require a total design overhaul, while others need to freshen up a logo, a catalog, or point of purchase display.

No matter the scope of your project, here are five steps to guide you through graphic re-designs:

1. Start with the focal point

Decide what it is you want viewers to see first.

Unless you have a very symmetrical, consistent design, be sure your focal point leaps out by providing strong contrasts in font size, color, typeface, etc.

2. Organize information into logical groupings

If items are related to each other, group them into closer proximity (like a title with a subtitle or an address with a phone number).

The most important groupings should be the focal point of the page. Create generous visual space between the focal point groupings and less prominent pairings.

3. Build and maintain strong alignments

If you see a strong edge (such as a photograph or vertical line), strengthen this edge by aligning it with other texts or objects within the design.

4. Create repetition

Brainstorm ways that specific colors, symbols, or fonts can be repeated in a design.

In multi-page pieces (like a brochure), create connection through the repetition of bold typeface, spatial arrangements, or unique bullet or list icons. In a simple logo, repetition can be used by highlighting key letters or adding shadows or overlaid shapes for depth.

5. Use bold contrasts

Contrast is everything because the eye is irresistibly attracted to distinct differences.

For example: if all your elements are bold and flashy, nothing will stand out. Contrast a logo with a graphic, a bold typeface with a script font, a dark sidebar with a white text box, or a rigid graphic with a free-flowing tagline.

A Visual Identity That Better Carries Your Brand

When announcing its logo update, the USTA said the new design “better captures and expresses the dynamism of the US Open,” with a visual identity that will confidently carry the tournament forward in years to come.

What about your image? By refreshing your look in five simple steps, you can transform your look from one that drags to one that excites!

5 Fantastic Color Combinations for Your Next Design

Feeling blue?

Maybe it’s the color of the room you’re sitting in.

Color psychology is something that has fascinated people for decades. Artists and interior designers have long believed that colors can dramatically affect moods and emotions, and color marketing has become a hot topic in marketing, art, design, and print. As Pablo Picasso once remarked, “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”

Color is a powerful communication tool, so understanding it can help you signal action, sway the mood, and even influence psychological reactions. Want to give it a try? Here is a quick snapshot of color harmonies, including color combinations to try in your next poster, banner, or custom label.

The Best Ways to Create Balance

The color wheel consists of three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), three secondary colors (colors created when primary colors are mixed: green, orange, purple), and six tertiary colors (colors made from primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-violet).

When you draw a line directly through the center of the color wheel, you will separate the warm colors from the cool colors.

Warm colors (reds, yellows, and oranges) are vivid and bold in nature and tend to advance forward when viewed. They communicate energy, brightness, and action. Cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) appear soothing by nature and typically make a space seem larger. Cool colors are often associated with nature, calmness, peace, or serenity.

When choosing your next color combination, remember that complementary colors (those opposite on the color wheel) provide sharp contrasts. This can make your imagery really pop, but are best when used sparingly.

To avoid overdoing things, remember complementary colors do not need to exist in equal parts. If you want to use purple and yellow, allow one color to dominate and add only a tiny bit of the other.

For a more subtle approach, use triadic colors in your design (those that are evenly spaced around the color wheel). Or use analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel). Here one color will dominate, and the other will provide a sophisticated accent.

Set the Mood with Five Gorgeous Blends

Ready to get started? Check out these gorgeous blends:

For a friendly, playful feel:

Try magenta, goldenrod, turquoise, and brick. This four-color combination brings zest, personality, and a friendly, exciting tone.

For a sophisticated yet energetic feel:

Try gold, charcoal, and grey. This perfect combination of sunshine and somberness offers a cheerful tone with a grounded, mature accent.

For an aged, natural tone:

Try tan, deep turquoise, and black. Against the more neutral base, turquoise leaps to the forefront to evoke creativity, life, and freedom. For a more serious feel, use turquoise sparingly and add touches of brown or deep orange.

For a contemporary, chic tone:

Try mauve, sapphire, and powder blue. The baby blue brings a gentleness, while the rich pink and deep blue highlights scream femininity.

For an invigorating, rustic feel:

Try pine green, burnt orange, and light peach. When you want to set your design apart, orange is guaranteed to stop traffic. Burnt orange offers a more distinguished feel than a pumpkin or neon orange hue, but it still gets the job done. The rich green offers a warm, natural accent, and light peach ties everything together perfectly.

Colors That Connect

Want to set the mood or connect with your core customers?

Whether you lean toward simple and sophisticated or edgy and eccentric, colors build emotional bridges like nothing else can. Bring that wow factor to your professional printings through beautiful, unforgettable color combinations.

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

Individual design elements are the building blocks of today’s best marketing pieces, and with today’s technology, almost anything is possible when it comes to print.

Print products can vary in texture, color, shape, and finish, bringing a staying power that allows your company to shine strong among competitors.

Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos

Here are five simple and impressive print techniques that can drastically improve the appearance of your materials.

1. Cut it Out

Whether it’s brochures, business cards, or door hangers, printed pieces aren’t limited to square or rectangular shapes.

Consider reshaping your invitation to match your logo, or creating a custom label in the shape of your most popular product. For brochures or folders, you can add custom-shaped pockets, a peek-through window, or die cuts that accentuate the featured product.

2. Add Texture

While embossing was originally known for its use in personalized stationery, today raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, hang tags, and more.

Embossing elevates your design from the background, providing a raised, textured effect. It can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or add a custom seal to product packaging.

3. Be Blunt

Adding contrast is one of the most effective ways to add spark to your print piece.

Contrast helps organize your design and establish a hierarchy, guiding viewers to the most important parts of your design.

Add contrast by mixing dark and light colors (like white fonts on deep, rich backgrounds), by using opposite hues in close proximity, or by mixing organic, fluid shapes with angled, geometric elements.

Contrast texture in your font pairings, graphic sizing, or in disrupted patterns like these.

4. Go Retro

Though the eye loves symmetry, the heart connects with the imperfect.

From scary scars to burned edging, imperfections in design can humanize your creations and strengthen the bond between a brand and its user.

Add retro elements by making things look dirty or ragged. Degrade pristine images with vintage photo filters, add blur or gradients to your designs, or add artifact images that scream authenticity.

5. Finish Well

Like dolloping whipped cream on your pie, adding a stock coating in your designs can bring a delicious finishing touch.

In addition to providing extra protection to your marketing materials, coatings can draw attention to key elements by adding texture and shine. Add sophistication with a glossy UV coating, shimmer with pearlescent glitter coatings, accents with spot varnishes, or coarse texture with grit coatings.

Coatings add class and show that you approach business with pride, which can make customers more comfortable working with you.

Create a Timeless Treasure

While new trends take shape every day, you can make a modern design statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love.

Best of Script Fonts: 3 User Tips and 12 Fan Favorites

Fonts are fun, and today many spectacular fonts are just a few clicks away.

But, it can be tricky to use decorative fonts well, especially script (or cursive style lettering) fonts. Script fonts can be challenging to read, size, or space, so frequently designers shy away from using them at all.

Have no fear!

Script fonts are beautiful typefaces that can appear elegant, informal, or even downright playful. These decorative delights can be managed well with three basic tips:

1. Read Between the Lines

When using a script font, pay attention to the design elements between individual characters.

If a script font looks crowded (or too condensed), you can adjust the font kerning. This will give the eye more breathing room by adding spacing between each letter. But if you adjust the tracking, you may disrupt the flow or connection between letters. If you loosen your kerning, be sure to double-check that each letter is still correctly flowing to the next.

2. Be a Minimalist

Many script fonts have exaggerated ascenders or descenders (letters that go above or below the main text line) which may require greater space between lines.

Typically, script fonts are best when used for one line only (like a quote or a tagline). If you do need to create space between lines, adjust the leading of your font to make it more reader-friendly.

Since the priority of your text is readability, script fonts should be used sparingly. They are best used for headers or call-outs, and a good rule of thumb is to use them for script sections that are seven words or less.

3. Be Distinct

The purpose of script fonts is to add a personal, handmade feel to your message.

When you use an overly formal font, it can come across as snobbish or condescending. Instead, go for script fonts with a more personal feel (like your best friend’s handwriting).

While some cursive fonts can be unprofessional, some of the best fonts are those that aren’t too calligraphic or too casual. Look for something right in between that makes your reader feel right at home!

Need some suggestions? Here are 12 fan favorites for fonts, many of which are FREE:

  • Alex Brush
  • Pacifico
  • Great Vibes
  • Lobster
  • Allura
  • Grand Hotel
  • Windsong
  • Black Jack
  • Arizona
  • Euphoria Script
  • Italianno
  • Qwigley

Want to view a few script fonts in action? Here are 35 script fonts on display for your enjoyment!

Looking to bring more warmth or friendliness to your message? Script fonts are a beautiful way to add authenticity and humanity to your visual brand, but they do come with unique design challenges. Keeping these tips in mind will help you use the script and cursive lettering in a way that brings a simple, sophisticated touch.

5 Smart Strategies for Fantastic Font Selection

Want to win in print? Let’s talk text.

While fonts are a crucial part of one’s design, often fonts are given merely a passing thought. However, good typography expresses personality, increases readability, and displays professionalism, ensuring your print ad delivers the right message in just the right tone.

Fonts can mark a clear difference between a piece that is awkward and amateur versus one that is sleek and professional. Don’t fast-forward through this crucial element in your project design!

Increase the Impact of Your Print Piece with the Right Font

Here are five things marketers should take into consideration when choosing the right font.

1. Readability

The most critical factor in font selection is readability.

If people struggle to read your text, they’ll probably pass on your business. Remember, script or decorative fonts are usually more challenging to read, especially in large blocks. Increasing font size and spacing between lines increases readability, whether you use simple or decorative fonts. If you aren’t sure of the best format, try several drafts and poll friends to get an objective viewpoint.

2. Instant Impact

Design, including fonts, is key to a consumer’s brand assessment.

Did you know that 72% of consumers say packaging design definitively influences their purchases? Using multiple fonts can enhance your message and captivate consumers, but don’t get carried away.

Choose fonts that compliment rather than compete with each other. Try a decorative font for a logo and a traditional font for the body copy. Or try a large, bold headline with a subtle script tagline. Logo fonts should act as an accent piece to reflect your company’s personality but use these fonts sparingly in other copy.

3. Emotional Connection

The height, curves, or angles of lines can resonate with consumers in ways you might not expect.

Take the New York Times, for example. This media giant has tried several times since 2003 to change its font and modernize its image. Each time, the paper received backlash from readers who felt upended at the deviation from what they had known and loved.

Over time, your font can become as much a part of your brand as your tagline or logo. Make an enduring, sustainable choice, and you may be surprised how it takes on a life of its own!

4. Target Demographic

To really hit home, remember your font should immediately click with your target audience.

For example, a stodgy, narrow font may work well for a cigar box but would seem clumsy for a children’s playground carnival. When beginning a project, ask yourself, “where and how will consumers read this information?” Aim for the customer, and you’ll find greater success.

5. Brand Goals

What is the overall image you want to project? Fun and playful or sleek and simple?

If you’re looking for something traditional, formal, or elegant, a serif font is usually best. If you’re aiming for a modern, sharp, or minimalist look, try sans-serifs. 

From Font to Fantastic

Fonts choices have a subconscious impact on how customers process and receive your message.

Push yourself to think contextually when it comes to fonts, seeking out those that will best connect to the culture, age, or the location of people you are trying to reach. Carefully attending to these details can make a difference that lasts for decades!

5 Tips to Keep Your Design Project On Time and Under Budget

Ready to launch out with a new ad campaign but nervous about keeping the project below budget?

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong, and your expenses can spiral out of control quickly.

Here are five tips to keep your next project on track and on budget:

1. Ask Questions Upfront

When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract up front.

Will you be paying a project fee or an hourly rate? What services are included in this fee? Clarify how long the project will take, how often you’ll get to review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.

2. Plot Your Course Early

Involve your design professional in your brainstorming as early as possible.

Designing one piece can have a quick turnaround, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take months, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project.

One costly mistake is to change directions midstream, so start conversations early to help your design professional take a big-picture run at your project to manage it in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

3. Assemble All the Elements

Attend to the precise details of copy, timeline, and photography at the get-go, and be sure these elements have been given a green light by those in authority before the project commences.

Your project will involve many pieces, and when they are aligned from the start it will allow your design dollars to be maximized with fewer delays. While you may not have precise details ironed out, clarifying project parameters is key in finishing on time and on budget!

4. Schedule Regular Updates

It’s imperative that both the client and the design professionals are tracking with the same timeline as a project progresses.

Who will handle this communication and how often will it take place? Will you use e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Ongoing communication is essential for success.

5. Allow For Margin

To keep a project on budget, it’s essential to create margin so deadlines don’t get tight.

Every project has hiccups, so it’s best to allow a little padding as you build a realistic timeline. For example, if the printer needs eight days to deliver a piece, schedule at least 11 days so you’re guaranteed a smooth outcome.

How Much Should I Budget?

Ready to get started on your next design? Here are five basic steps for planning your budget:

  1. Estimate your monthly income
  2. List your fixed design expenses
  3. List your variable design expenses
  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses 
  5. Create the budget

Online budget planners can also be helpful for estimating your costs.

Better Together

Want to save on time, labor, or unnecessary stress?

Whether its exceptional-value graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and carefully printed materials you can be proud of. We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!

A Beginner’s Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional. 

Looking for a beginner’s guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:

Go Big (But Not Too Big)

When you’re creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.

The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don’t go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.

If you’re taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always “scale down” the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.

Avoid Website Images

Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.

Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.

To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.

Zoom in or Adjust Proportions

When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.

To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.

Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.

Resolve to Finish Well

By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.

Have any questions? Call today; we’re always happy to help!

Find Language to Express Your Ideal Design

Design involves a special kind of communication.

First, creators must have an idea or concept in mind. Second, they need to articulate their ideas in ways graphic designers can bring to life on a page. This requires a common language, and sometimes graphic designers are known for having a vocabulary all their own.

If you’re working on a design concept, knowing the right terminology will help you communicate to produce the results you envision.

Here are some design adjectives that can help you articulate the concepts you’d like to see in your next print project:

Cool vs. Warm

On the color wheel, warm colors range from yellow to red-purple.

Those colors that are reminiscent of fire or the sun are called warm colors. These hues are reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks. Warm colors communicate energy, playfulness, happiness, sociability, and optimism.

Cool colors include blue, greens, and purple. These colors typically stand for sky, space, water, and nature, and communicate a calming or relaxing tone. Cool colors imply dependability, trust, growth, beauty, confidence, and power.

Minimalist vs. Maximalist

Minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by cleanness, simplicity, and expressing the most essential ideas.

Minimalist designs use a small number of colors, simple lines, flat designs, or plenty of negative space.

Maximalist or baroque designs are lavish, highly decorative, or triumphant (think ornate wedding invitations). Minimalist designs are sparse and clean, while maximalist designs are exotic or busy.

Feminine vs. Masculine

Feminine designs are usually characterized by details such as soft color palettes, florals, and cursive writing. They may employ fluid, flowing fonts, pastel colors, facial close-ups or silhouettes, or feminine associations such as love, curves, fashion, or beauty.

Masculine designs are typically more rugged, monochromatic, or modern (think IKEA kitchen layouts). They may feature gritty images, thick fonts, hard edges, and darker color schemes.

Playful vs. Professional

Playful design styles are fun, giving an informal (rather than rigid) vibe.

Playful tones may be colorful, fantastical, non-realistic, or cartoon/caricature focused. Often these concepts focus around animals, mascots, illustrations, and impish font pairings.

Professional designs are usually characterized by muted colors and minimal details that represent conservative ideas. Formal tones are communicated with straight, classic font types, simple shapes or objects, minimalist and geometric use of line art, and cool colors (think college diplomas).

Abstract vs. Literal

Abstract designs shape images that are unhindered by what these objects might actually look in real life.

Abstract designs (like this Starbucks water bottle) are imaginative and varied, including ambiguous shapes, contemporary color palettes, curves and splatters, geometric patterns, or blurred images. Abstract art utilizes pure colors, shapes, and forms to express meaning (without getting bogged down in the storylines carried by objects and scenery). Abstract art can touch the emotions in a raw and powerfully direct way.

Literal designs are just the opposite, with concrete, objective ideas. Literal designs use sharp images, bold and simple fonts, and clearly defined limits.

Vintage vs. Modern

Vintage or retro (short for “retrospective”) is a style derived from trends of the recent past.

These designs incorporate rustic, nostalgic elements, including visual clues such as old letterpress, hand-drawn typefaces, ornate ribbons, sepia-filtered photos.

Modern designs are just the opposite, often changing in style. In 2019, modern graphic design trends include 3D design and typography, duotones and gradients, warm or moody color palettes for photos, and asymmetrical layouts.

One of the easiest ways to have a better client-designer working relationship is to align your project’s design style. Use this guide to get you started as a handy reference to communicate your ideas from start to print!

Effortless: Three Tips to Boost the “Cool” Factor of Your Designs

Fashionable. Admirable. Timeless.

If you were to define cool, what words would you use?

Cool is just . . . cool.

In some sense, even describing what makes something cool can diminish its appeal. But in print and design, nothing is more appealing than cool.

What Makes a Brand Cool?

How do you add this edge to set your products apart?

To find out, marketing scholars Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell carried out six experiments comparing consumer products, coolness ratings, and participant reactions.

In their research, Warren and Campbell discovered a relationship between the qualities of coolness and autonomy, finding designs perceived as cool were those that radiated autonomy in a socially acceptable way. Cool things tend to go a step beyond “stylish” things, so cool designs often push the boundaries of style. Think normative styles like jeans – but add excessive grunge rips. Or ordinary 1950s T-shirts – but add packs of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve.

Coolness is not an inherent quality, but rather a social construct. If coolness comes from stretching limits, one of the keys to cool designs is knowing your niche and understanding what customers perceive to be unconventional. As Warren & Campbell conclude: “objects and people are cool only to the extent that others consider them cool.”

Bringing Coolness to Life

Looking to push the boundaries in a way that’s meaningful to your customers? Here are three ways to set your designs apart:

1. Define the Gap in Your Market.

Look beyond your design to the people you are designing for.

What brands, social values, or fashion cues motivate them? Look at products your customers typically buy and find the “gap” between current designs and those that are too intense or extreme.

To design in the gap, add a bold twist to the colors, fonts, or ideas that might typically interest them. Wrapping paper company Gift Couture saw a gap in the market for wrapping paper “sets,” so they created a series of themed papers that coordinated together, like the Cheeseburger set (bun, meat, lettuce, and tomato wrapping papers) the steak set (raw meat and cutting board style designs), and the pizza set (pizza paper with a coordinating pizza box).

2. Bring Magic to the Mundane.

Cool people or concepts have a flow, grace, or character all their own.

Cool things often appear effortless (though they rarely are), so how do you add this sense of simplicity to your work?

Seek authenticity that focuses more on a core concept or idea than on the perfected final outcome. For a photographer, this might mean focusing on the moment, not the shot. For an advertiser, this might mean expressing character irrespective of the norms, beliefs, or expectations of others. For a designer, this might mean using minimalist designs, stark angles, or unfiltered photos one might generally reject.  

3. Re-purpose the Old.

Sometimes the best designs are a twist on history.

Awaken inspiration for what WILL be cool by looking to what HAS been cool! From refinished wood to vintage art deco backdrops, sometimes the coolest things to come around are those that have been around.

Designs nodding to the past evoke nostalgia and spark a profound emotional response. And cool designs don’t just reproduce old styles; they recreate them in arresting new ways.

Find the Sweet Spot

Cool designs understand their consumers’ tastes and hit the sweet spot between the ordinary and the unconventional.

From the unique to the unexpected, when you appear effortless, incorporate the past, and design one step beyond the norm, it will give you an edge an set your products apart.