brand story & messaging

Want a new look for the New Year? Go for bold

Sandra Stewart | January 9, 2014

A new year tends to spark reassessment, and for many businesses that means a vow to (finally!) take action on rehabbing a stale visual identity—for a product, an event, the whole company—that it will make people snap to attention and look current for a long time to come.

As fun and invigorating as such projects are, they often founder on the shoals of native conservatism that are likely to appear as soon as the wave of New Year’s spirit recedes.

That spirit is worth trying to retain, though: In a world full of great graphic design, a professional look is the minimum standard for credibility. A bold visual identity amplifies your message and makes a distinctive statement, so people remember you.

That might mean intense colors, unusual formats, striking graphics or looking completely different from everyone else in your field. How far you go depends on the conventions you’re working within—in most cases you’ll want to break the mold, not pulverize it.

Method is the shining example in the sustainability world. The cleaner cleaning products company made a splash in a hard-to-crack market dominated by corporate behemoths with great product design. Method gave the most pedestrian of products a hint of glamour, and its packages command attention on shelves full of tired-looking, often ugly competitors.

One caution: bold visuals not only make your brand more memorable, they draw people in—so be sure your words are as strong as your design. Bland, generic prose paired with bold design can communicate that you’re all hat, no cowboy.

For inspiration, check out the winners of AIGA’s 2013 (Re)design Awards for sustainable design. And for more ideas on amping up your communications, check out our Strategy>Shift guide, 9 Ways to Make a Powerful Impression.


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