This post originally appeared on Dbusiness.com.
“Art is subjective.” Anyone who has ever taken an art class has heard these words and/or used them to justify an instructor’s less than favorable response to an assignment. True enough, art hanging in a gallery can afford (pun intended) to be appreciated by a sole discriminating patron. But when the art in question is your logo, collateral, or promotional materials, subjective is not good enough.
The challenge of generating broad appeal is the reason why designers exist. Making things “pretty” is nice, but design is more than aesthetics. It is the means by which we marry strategic messages with effective visual communication vehicles. Here’s what we’re looking for to make that union a happy, successful one:
Bring us your problems. Inherent in any design challenge is a particular problem to address and a desired outcome. Perhaps there is a complex situation that needs to be conveyed in layman’s terms. Maybe the success of a project will only be measured in clicked links. Whatever it is, understanding that problem lays the framework for a good solution.
We are showmen. And every showman performs for an audience. Since it is impossible to appeal to an audience you don’t know, we need to get better acquainted. We want to know their interests, their frustrations, where they come from and what matters most to them. We need to speak their language.
Loosen the reigns. Creativity is a strategic tool that needs some operating space. Often the most impactful design solutions come from unexpected or unconventional directions. If you’re looking for stand out communication vehicles, be willing to explore and allow enough room to bypass the ordinary routes and steer toward greatness.
The goal for design is to connect on some level with your target audience—with everyone in that audience. Does that mean everyone will be a new client or partner? Of course not. But your visual communication should at least give cause for consideration to each targeted viewer.
Ask yourself these questions: Does your message ring relevant? Do your color palette and presentation evoke the desired feelings? Does your image resonate with a shared perspective? If all those pieces work—regardless of your personal or corporate sense of style—your communication works. If not, hang that pretty art on your wall and start over.