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The Anatomy of Good Design

It’s not hard to find an opinion on what constitutes good or bad design. It seems like every time I open up TikTok for Instagram these days, I’m confronted with another opinion on what to do or what not to do.

Some people encourage you to forget yourself into remember that your target audience are the only ones that matter. Some people encourage you to forget the trends into invest in some thing that will last you 10 or more years. Some people will convince you that you’re nobody unless your brand looks like the epitome of what is cool this year.

I think they’re all onto something. 

To me, I believe that good design, like all art, is subjective. it is fluid, it is personal, it is controversial. To me, I believe good design is the sweet spot between what is current, what is timeless, and what is you.

I believe that design is meant to connect, convict, inspire. It is meant to carry your business deeper into the hearts of your dream clients. It is meant to be the facilitator for you to reach your goals. It needs to be sustainable. It needs to outlive the current trends. But it needs to be cool. It needs to stay relevant, to stay swoon worthy.

But, dare I say, most of all. It needs to feel like you. It needs to feel like the version of you that your dream clients are obsessed with. It needs to feel like, the version of you that connects with them on a sole level. It needs to feel like that connection.

I make a point to dissect the anatomy of good design with each and every one of my clients. Before we look at a single moodboard, color palette, or font selection, we discuss what makes up a bespoke brand.

01. What is Cool / On Trend

First, what is cool. In my opinion, there is a vast distinction between what is “trendy” and what is “on trend”. Trendy refers to what is up and coming, butterflies-inducing, and sweeping the industry. These things come and go faster and faster these days. Being a trend-setter can be a fun reality, but it is never our goal here at Studio Gail. Instead, we would rather be on trend, or in other words, relevant. We believe that staying relevant is way more important that staying trendy. Staying relevant means your positioning, strategy, messaging, and (duh) design continues to feel current, fresh, and meaningful throughout multiple trend cycles.

Knowing what is trendy is important. It is important to know and to decide if you want to be a part of it. Ignoring what is currently cool altogether does not guarantee a classic brand, but it does guarantee you being tone deaf to the current industry climate. We’d rather not be ostriches with our head stuck in the sand, so we definitely do take into account what is cool when building a brand.

02. What is Timeless / Sustainable

Directly following up to what is cool, we discuss what is timeless. Timeless is a very buzzy, hot topic word right now. And to us, timeless does not equal typical. Classic design does not mean a copy-and-paste solution. Instead, it borrows the building blocks that have been around for generations and uses them in a fresh way.

A brand is a living and breathing entity. It is meant to evolve. A lot of our clients get stuck in this idea that you invest in your brand once and then you’re done. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is simply not true. Your business will continue to evolve as you do. As your expertise, creative voice, tarket audience and more grow, so must your brand. Instead of sweating that your brand might not be perfect in every stage of this evolution, choose to invest in a brand that is sustainable. Aka able to withstand the evolution, able to mold to new chapters, and able to support growth on top of a solid foundation.

A classic foundation doesn’t mean a brand with no personality. It means a brand with a strong base that allows you to evolve.

Lastly, the one constant you know will always be in your business is you. You are the most timeless factor in this equation. Design trends come and go, but your mind and your voice will always be present in your business. The most timeless design decisions we can make are the ones that feel aligned to who you are.

Which leads us to…

03. What is You

The last piece of the puzzle – what is you. This element to the design puzzle brings your thoughts, opinions, and vision into the spotlight. Some designers will encourage you to take yourself out of the equation entirely, but we don’t subscribe to that practice.

In many ways (like it or not) we, as business owners, overlap with our brands a lot. Every time a client of mine fills out a brand questionnaire and gets to the “Describe Your Brand as a Person” they almost always say something like “Honestly… me!”. And when they are describing their ideal clients, they almost always say something like “People I want to be best friends with”. Which is exactly the point!

Your ideal audience should feel like organic friends to you. Your brand should, at least to some extent, feel like you. Removing you from your brand and building it solely for your audience is sure way to feel unaligned, burnt out, and lost.

And if you think about it, if we are trying to attract and audience who you would be IRL friends with, it would make sense that they are attracted to a personality that feels like the person they would be friends with. Aka… you. Are you following with me?

All this to say, we make a point to keep you at the soul of your brand. Well, at least the version of you that aligns with your audience and your business. Because, let’s be real, you are a human beyond your business. Your brand will not and cannot embody all the things that make you “you”. Instead, we focus on capturing the parts that connect with your audience.

Final Thoughts

There will always be new and contrasting opinions on what makes good design. And it will be overwhelming. When working with clients, we go through each of these sections with individual findings tailored specifically for them. And our clients tend to be obsessed with what is uncovered.

So my advice to you, at the end of the day, ask yourself. Does this feel like me? Does it feel exciting, but also stable? Is this something that will evolve with me? Is this something I want to build upon? 

That is a sweet spot, my friends.

Interested in our design philosophy? Inquire with us today.

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