Personalities and branding

November 2, 2009

I’m a visual guy. Most of the work I do revolves around the presentation of things: how to format copy to emphasize certain messages, how to photograph someone with the right light such that it emphasizes the right features or sends the right message.

But, English doesn’t really have a common visual language. And, generally speaking, we rely on visual cliches to communicate. Put four people in garish semi-matching clothes against a brick wall, and you’ve got a band photo. Put the name of a publication in a blackletter typeface on the top of a page with three to five articles with 400-600 words each, and you’ve got a newspaper’s front page.

Some of these cliches and conventions aren’t readily apparent; how many readers of newspapers associate ragged right aligned text with opinion articles, vs the justified columns hard news?

And yet, I’ve discovered that the single most important thing to talk about when having a discussion about what a piece of design needs to communicate isn’t necessarily the target audience, the medium, or the colour space but rather, the personality traits, and the emotions one wants to provoke within the audience.

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