Clarity By Design #1

By Peter Cronin | Thursday, December 1, 2016 | 2 Comments

In Rhode Island, the little big state where I grew up, they’ve got this thing for license plates. It goes back to the nascent days of the automobile, when your great grandfather came into possession of an early RI plate with a low number. To this day, in my quirky home state, there is a real status associated with having a low-numbered plate. They’re so popular that folks line up for an annual statewide lottery for available low numbers. Weird, I know, but these are the same people who put clams in doughnuts and call them clam cakes (and they’re delicious!).

Several years back, Rhode Island introduced a license plate featuring a deceptively simple design – a breaking wave pattern with a small anchor – an element from the state seal – perched, sentry-like, in the upper left corner.

While many state plates present a jumbled mess of slogans and “attractions,” the smallest state opted for space and simplicity, expressing what’s unique about the place without feeling the need to cram it all in there. It feels like the work of a designer, rather than the decision of a committee. It makes a quick, seamless statement, and it’s a perfect example of what we call “clarity by design.”

So, getting back to my roots, I’ll bestow our inaugural Clarity By Design award on the plate from my home state. We hear rumors that Rhode Island has been working on a license plate redesign, and we do hope they reconsider. It would be a shame to wave goodbye to this one.

2 thoughts on “Clarity By Design #1

  1. Trey Rochford says:

    I love your last line…”wave” goodbye. Clever!

  2. George Betts says:

    White space rules….. a great billboard can be read from a moving vehicle in under 5 seconds. I am very familiar with the RI plate, based there 2 years in the Fleet.

    Great subject today. TY

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