It is easy to forget that graphic design and the written word should be considered in tandem. To gain maximum impact when embarking on a new webpage, brochure – or any other other type of branding material – the graphic design and the text should be dance partners.
All too often the graphic designer and the artist are not choreographing together. This is a mistake as the final product will not reach its full potential punch. Quite a while back my colleague and I wrote a history of The George Washington University’s Business School for its seventy-fifth anniversary. I researched and wrote on this project but I also found all the visual material for the graphic designer and brainstormed with him about it.
This history was a glossy, short book. Its import for the Business School, and why it was commissioned, had a strong marketing component. While still a serious history, that informed the book’s tone and audience.
A top rule in branding is: know your audience and know your purpose. It’s imperative to address for your audience in language they grasp and a tone which will grasp their interest. To that end, I found it useful to have something visual to articulate the major topics and themes in a chapter. Using a key document for the Business School as background behind a chapter title became a signpost. It sets up the Chapter before the reader begins.
The same purpose holds of the photo at the start of another Chapter, this one about the Business School in the Nineteen Fifties. The lively, upbeat photo also sets the tone and expectations for the reader – guiding your audience.
You want your audience to connect in a very personal way – to feel an affinity. I accomplished this by inserting, as part of the graphic design, important or humorous anecdotal stories. This didn’t interrupt the historical narrative but gave snapshots that help the audience engage, keep their attention and give them a bite sized piece of information to take way. This is a way to make marketing or branding material resonate.
Ultimately, of course, each project is different – but the goals are the same. The anniversary history illustrates the depth of vision, thought, skill, and digging that I bring to a branding or marketing project. I do all this with an eye to the visual and the words working together. The graphic design and the text are two dancers. They could be doing ballroom or maybe it’s a Latin dance. But this is a partnered dance – the graphic design and the visuals need to dance together.