Raison d’être

To me, one of the main roles for graphic design to play is to visualize, to communicate, and to amplify a message.

It may sound like a ”duh” type of statement, but far too often I see design that makes me think its creator hasn’t fully understood or embraced this purpose.

It’s almost as if designers are deliberately trying to say nothing; for their design to simply be decorative and aesthetic, and fade into the background like wallpaper, without any intent of prompting a response.

Even worse, designers are quite often trying to say the exact same thing as everyone else, in a misguided ”me too” effort, as if their design carries no more importance than the current fashion shift to high-waisted jeans. The end result is invariably one of insufficient differentiation, which is problematic especially in regards to brand identity.

You will also sometimes see clarity mistaken for persuasiveness, as if clarity is all that is required from a design. But clarity is just the first step on the way to communication, just like diagnosing an illness is the first step towards a cure. Clarity is rarely an end in itself. Yes, you certainly need for the recipient to be able to decipher your message, but if that is where it ends, then your design is likely not going to be very effective. It also needs to create a sense of urgency, and a desire to act.

Finally, at the tail end of the communicative process, the design also needs to facilitate that action. Design that doesn’t fuel interaction is basically just a visual veneer. Cosmetics. Communicative wrapping paper. Almost like a stage actor who thinks that merely speaking the words of the script is sufficient.

For our design to be truly meaningful, we need to make sure it resonates, and has a tangible outcome.


Ask yourself if the design below actually communicates, or if it merely assembles some words that don’t actually connect with the intent. Is it actually successful in spurring the very thoughts and actions that those words describe, or does the design run counter to its purpose?

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