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How do you recognize great design?


Design is all around you, every day, both natural and unnatural. Think about it, everything is in some way, designed. From your microwave, to your car, to the flowers in the field, it’s all designed. Most of the time, design flows in and out of your mind without much thought. Perhaps the better question is, “do you recognize bad design?

We probably give more thought to bad design, though we might not recognize we do it. It’s the website we decide not to delve into, the magazine or Facebook or Instagram ad we skip right over, the restaurant we decide NOT to patronize. We don’t recognize it happening, but deliberately, or subconsciously, we chose not to engage the design and the company behind it.

Which delves into why we recognize bad design. We notice when something is out of place, when something doesn’t measure up. The reason we don’t stop all day and question the flowers, the mountains, the sunsets is that is all cohesively comes together. You don’t pick apart the pieces. You look at the whole picture first. It resonates. It gives us security, and we move on, subconsciously, until something “unnatural” jars us.

That’s the problem with BAD graphic design. It’s out of place. It’s not natural. It could be a font, a color grouping, a visual effect (I personally hate vector design effects), or a play on formatting that doesn’t line up spacially. We recognize bad design because… it’s not natural.
That is what separates great design and bad design. With great design, you don’t notice the fonts, the colors, the effects, you just notice the visual as a whole. It’s a beautiful ‘piece of art’ - not a poor amalgamation of pieces.

At Pure Fusion Media, I have spent nearly twenty years designing and instructing my employees that- nothing leaves our offices until everything we create cannot be visually picked apart. Like the field of flowers, our work must look naturally designed, like what we come up was always meant to look the way we’ve designed it.

It takes a lot longer to make that happen. Usually, the last 5% of our projects take 40% of the time, because we spend that last 5% tweaking and tweaking until the logo, package design, website, whatever, flows effortlessly across your psyche… and hopefully into your soul.

In the last two weeks I looked at well over 5,000 design agency websites on CLUTCH.CO, the premier agency directory online (see our curated list of the “The Best agencies… other than Pure Fusion Media” by clicking here). Unfortunately, I saw a lot of design that didn’t measure up. It was like a rusty car in a field of flowers; it just didn’t naturally flow together. After a while, it was almost immediately recognizable. You just knew from the minute you hit the page if this design agency was a world class operation or not.

Which brings up the final point. Some of these agencies were rather large…. some had international offices…. some had made millions, with minimum project budgets of $25,000 or more. Which got me thinking, “why?” Why were some agencies able to produce “unnatural” design for their clientele and garner that level of profitability? Maybe they are really good at marketing, they were at the right place at the right time, or they were the lowest price fish in whatever large market they may be swimming in. I’m really not sure, but I don’t want any business to settle for “unnatural” design for whatever reason they may decide.

This “Agency Assessment” exercise was really healthy. It showed us that we have what it takes to compete with the biggest agencies and hold our own. We provide high level design and story development at very reasonable pricing (some of the agencies we reviewed were over $300 an hour and more). But it also helped us discover new great design, some even better than us (wisdom would say that no one is ever at the top of the game; there’s always room for improvement). It gave us new creative bars to vault over.   That is good for our future clients; We would love for that to be you. Hopefully, you have looked at this site, and the scope of our work, and concluded, “this is great design.” If you have, then reach out and contact us. If not, then we hope you find an even better firm.

As passionate designers and lovers of great art, we hope don’t settle on a mediocre design agency simply for a better price. Great design is an investment… it pays off from the day it launches, moving forward indefinitely. Great design is a long-game conversation. Do you want a logo for a low price, or do you want to make millions in the future? Every small business starts somewhere, and the brand has to hold up through all of its potential success. Or, better put, great design fuels the possibility and probability of success. But I’ll leave that for another post.
The next time you walk through nature, I encourage you to stop and consider the great design all around you. It was designed by a far greater Creator than we could ever dream of becoming.

Then begin to consider the impact of choosing great design or settling for mediocre, unnatural design, simply for a better price. If we lose your bid because of a better design agency, more power to you (and again, we’ve given you a list). But if we lose your business to mediocre design at a better price, that, to us, would be truly tragic.I don’t want anyone looking at your branding, packaging or website in the future and avoiding your business, product or service because your potential client consciously, or unconsciously, labeled your design as ‘unnatural” and moved on to your next competitor.

Live inspired.