In the world of design, oh so full of subjectivity, we can get caught up between what we like and what actually works.
The difference between pretty design, from design that works, is simply purpose and function.
Let me put it this way; If you go shopping for a handbag that you need for work, most likely you should get a large, comfortable bag. But then, as soon as you go on your quest for a work bag, you see this beautiful, shiny and tiny party bag. You are excited, it is going to look great with that outfit you have been waiting to wear for weeks, and you go ahead and purchase it. You go home excited, try it on, and smile. Unfortunately, this small and sparkly bag, does not fit your need for a work handbag. You are now minus a hundred dollars, and still in need for a useful work bag. Like the song says,”When you get what you want, but not what you need.” The exact thing happens with design!
Sometimes clients, and even the best designers, can get caught up in their personal preferences, and honor these instead of what they actually need.
Functional design and design with a purpose are what get you the clients, what converts into money, and what will eventually add meaning to any brand or company. What a better example than a logo; the face of any brand. Take Chanel’s logo, for example. Some people might look at it and think that is pretty simple, maybe even boring. It is black and white at it’s boldest, it doesn’t have anything resembling or referring to expensive materials used for the products, or anything screaming “I am a high end brand, look at me!”. Chanel’s logo might not be pretty, but it sure works.
The reasons why this plain logo works, is because it serves a purpose, many purposes in fact. It is a highly recognizable logo; Anyone looking at it will know that that is Chanel, or at the very least will think of it as a familiar image. It can be enlarged or reduced and it doesn’t loose it’s shape, or gets lost in any way. It is also subliminally pushing the Chanel brand, the two C’s in the logo signifying Coco Chanel. This subliminal acronym makes a visual shortcut to the initials of Coco Chanel, making the brand and name timeless.
I can list many more reasons why a logo such as the one from this company works, but I think that the point is made. If Chanel’s logo were what she liked at the moment, for example, rabbits and rainbows, with her initials in the middle, this logo would not have passed the test of time. Rabbits and rainbows may have been her thing at the moment, but timeless and classical aesthetics is what has made this brand succeed through the time.
Everything in life is about balance – even design.
All that I have previously mentioned doesn’t mean by any means that you have to hate your logo, or your comfortable and spacious handbag that you use for work; it means that you have to be able to identify your needs and prioritize them against what you like or love. You can love something that works for you, and at the same time it can be a valuable and functional item.
So, the next time you go scouting for a handbag, a piece of furniture, or a new logo, don’t ask yourself if you like it; ask yourself “Does it work?”.