Great Design Is Invisible

At Cronin Creative, we love our tagline – Clarity By Design – because it goes straight to the heart of our branding philosophy. So when I recently noticed an article entitled “Great Design is Invisible,” I had to check it out, and I’m glad I did. The insightful piece, written by Michael Wong (aka Mizko) for his blog (Mizko.net), explores the meticulously thought out design innovations behind Airbnb, Uber, Nest, and Disney World. It’s the innovative design operating in the background that makes these companies and their products so easy to use, so fun to interact with, and so phenomenally successful.

The most effective branding is similarly rooted in that kind of design. While never drawing attention to itself, great design presents the end user with a seamless-and-compelling experience while delivering a highly distilled, clear and compelling message. Whether it’s a product, a company, or an overall branding project, the goal is, as Wong says, “to create an experience which is so great that the design goes unnoticed.” In other words, Clarity By Design.

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Clean Out Your Attic

I cleaned out my attic recently, tossing away lots of unneeded stuff, ranging from old kid’s clothes to busted stereo gear to a couple of worn out old chairs. It felt good to just throw this stuff out and reclaim a formerly cluttered space.

In our jobs and in our lives, our brains can become a lot like that attic. A few months back, wrapped up in the laundry list of challenges associated with owning and operating a small business, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about work. Not good.

After returning (and recovering) from summer vacation, I revved up my workout regimen at the local Y. I also decided to reinstate a long-lost personal routine. Rising with the sun, I sit down to write what author/creative coach Julia Cameron calls “morning pages.” I basically “clean out the attic,” writing free-form to create some mental space, find some clarity, and quiet the constant chatter going on up there.

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Where Elegance Meets Eloquence

There’s something special about a great song. Everything flows and fits like a glove. A song like that offers a seamless blend, lyrics on the one side and music on the other. Two separate disciplines come together in a kind of creative soldering, conjuring up a third something, a new entity that’s more than mere lyrics and music – a song.

Great branding is like that. When clean, spacious design and finessed, highly distilled content come together in the right way, a similar alchemy takes place, and that third something emerges. We call it Clarity. It’s clarity that allows a brand’s message to truly rise above the clutter and impact the right target audience. You can’t say “Just Do It” without that Nike swoosh popping into your brain. Utter the words “Think Different,” and there’s that ubiquitous Apple.

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The Color Of Success

As a veteran graphic designer, I’m always aware of the importance of color in creating a mood, making a bold statement, and establishing a distinctive brand. Consciously and unconsciously we all rely on color to provide order in a sometimes chaotic world (stop on red, go on green!).

Time and time again, it’s been shown that strategic use of color can be instrumental in establishing and reinforcing a brand. Writing in “Marketing Insights,” an American Marketing Association publication, market researcher Jeri Smith paints a clear picture of just how influential color can be in the mind of the consumer and in the life of a great brand.

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Coming Home To Clarity

I can’t remember when I’ve looked forward to a vacation more. A whole week off with time in the big city and on the beach. Last week’s whirlwind visit with friends and family in New York and New England was a long overdue reunion with people and places we love. It was also a welcome break from the frenetic, day-to-day pace of operating a business, a chance to step off the merry-go-round for a bit, to recharge and re-connect.

It was only on the long drive home that I began to realize just how much I missed the routines I’d been so eager to escape. There’s a kind of comfort and security that comes with repetition, and as much as I like to think of myself as a free spirit, I’m more a creature of habit than I care to admit. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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