The Saturation of Material and Print Technologies in Branding

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The Saturation of Material and Print Technologies in Branding by Richard Baird

As a former writer for the The Dieline, current editor of BP&O and having written for Brand New, I’ve witnessed daily the cyclical nature of design. While often perceived as trends, the emergence, saturation and resurgence of particular ‘design tools’ are often great opportunities to leverage established consumer perceptions without the expense of education, to deliver clear and concise communication within the context of brand identity design.

Established over a long history of human communication, drawing equally from our technological present (efficiency, quality, pragmatism), our archaic past (heritage, tradition, craft) and everything in-between, these design tools can reach very specific or broad groups of people through long and sustained periods of exposure or significant short term impact. These tools feel familiar and can be remixed, cross-pollinated and compounded by the most capable designers across a range of touch points to appear fresh, whilst retaining their communicative value. Unfortunately, like any good tool, in unskilled hands these can be used in a way that undermines their value to other designers and potentially confusing consumers.

This article focuses primarily on material choice and print finish as two groups of design tools (which also include the current fascination designers have with stamps, stickers, embossers, edge painted detail and the letterpress) but it is a discussion that I believe extends to all manner of design techniques and approaches both in print (especially packaging) and online.

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Interview with designer and critic Richard Baird

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Interview with designer and critic Richard Baird by Wes Jones

Wes Jones talks with designer and critic Richard Baird about design education, social trends, writing for The Dieline and what it’s like translating skills across disciplines.

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Strategy Before Design

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Strategy Before Design by Richard Baird

The most effective visual identities have the simplest solutions, draw together multiple themes and expressions across a variety of touch points and are derived from a solid strategy undertaken prior to putting pencil to paper.

I have frequently seen instinct rather than strategy lead the design process of a number of other freelance designers and wanted to use this article to highlight my own approach, identify why such a process is used by the big design firms and how it can be applied to smaller freelance projects.

By engaging a client in the process of strategy early on, a linguistic blueprint can be established to guide the design process, avoid superfluous detail and the personal preferences of both the designer or client, identify and avoid ineffective visual market clichés, save time, help to accurately price a project, justify your fee (through a tangible document) and, most importantly, deliver a relevant design solution.

I believe any freelancer who can develop and employ their own proprietary design strategy can match the services and quality of any design agency.

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Helvetica vs Lobster – Saturated Typefaces in Identity Design

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Helvetica vs Lobster – Saturated Typefaces in Identity Design by Richard Baird

A recent discussion got me thinking about the part saturation plays in the selection of typefaces within identity design and what impact it has on the classics. What really separates Helvetica from Lobster and why do designers attribute the same negative perception of saturation to two completely different typefaces?

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A bumpy ride, but it’s worth it – Going freelance

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A bumpy ride, but it’s worth it – Going freelance by Richard Baird

Source: Design Week | Published: 17 May 2007

Going freelance can be rewarding, but to succeed you have to be positive, promote yourself at every opportunity and, above all, keep on training, says Richard Baird

Becoming a freelance can be difficult at any point in your career but doing it straight from university is much harder. I graduated with a BA Hons in Furniture and Product Design from Nottingham Trent University in 2005, but quickly realised the industry was getting tougher for new designers. So I used any free time I had to develop other skills, including illustration, website design and Flash animation, feeling these would give me an edge.

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