I was speaking to a technical PRclient the other day who is weighing up some innovative approaches to his new catalogue cover. He wants to shy away from the traditional picture of some blue widgets, next to some red widgets, next to his logo. One option he is considering is a word cloud (like the tag cloud you can see on this Blog, in the right hand column about a third of the way down).

He made me aware of a Web site you can use for generating exactly this kind of word cloud but with a more designerly feel. The site is called Wordle; I’ve tried it and its great fun.

The deeper meaning of this argument, however, is that effective design for print can be about challenging the viewer’s preconceptions as well as reinforcing their perception of your existing brand values. In contrast, with Web design we need to put everything in its right place; so that usability is improved as the result of the user knowing what to expect.

Graphic design is probably the more exciting of the two disciplines as a result. I know plenty of graphic designers who learnt to build Web sites in the early part of this decade, just to keep up, and then shied away from the job because it didn’t offer the kind of stimulation they required from work. The two disciplines are very different.

So, when you are preparing print material for your audience, it really can be a good thing to challenge them. Draw inspiration from surprising sources, present analogous ideas rather than direct corroborative ones and make them pick up your literature because it isn’t exactly what they are expecting. You might find that not only does your literature work better for it but your company begins to develop a reputation as an innovator.

Finally, one last recommendation if you are interested in pushing the envelope, doing a bit of blue sky thinking or finding out what’s outside the box. No, not meeting bingo, but a book, entitled ‘How to have Kick Ass Ideas’by Chris Baréz Brown. I will get round to reviewing it on this Blog at some point, but for now I will just recommend it.

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