The Golden Ratio

The proportion for Golden Ratio is 1:1.618. It is a mathematical equation that has found its way into design practices as well. The golden ratio has been scientifically proven to be beautiful. The best example to understand the importance of the Golden Ratio can be traced back to one of the most famous paintings: the Mona Lisa. The painting itself uses the Golden Ratio.


The Fibonacci Sequence

This sequence is the sum of two numbers before it. The Greeks used this practice as a way to help them form a visual pattern to help with their design. It is done by creating a sequence of squares and putting them side by side and to create a spiral of rectangles. This is known as the Golden Spiral. What’s amazing is that even though this is a mathematical equation, there are a lot of natural instances that show the presence of this concept in their structure as well. In nature such flowers and even shells have a hint of the Golden Ratio.

Golden Ratio in Graphic Design

Golden Ratio adds structure to design, which otherwise has an expressive nature. An easy method of applying the Golden Ratio to any element is multiplying the size of the element by 1.618 for figuring out the size of another element or overlaying the Golden Spiral and adjusting the placement of objects.

Using Golden Ratio for Typography

Typography refers to the art or technique of arranging type for making the written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. Adding hierarchy in your layout adds structure and flow to your design. At first glance, it might not be possible to imagine any correlation between typography and mathematics. However, typography is a blend of letter forms and mathematical proportions.

The Golden Ratio can be used to create a guide for typography sizes. If you breakdown a three-line text by importance in three sections named A, B and C you’d be able to understand the golden ratio a whole lot better. Suppose C is the least important piece of information you have, and you use the size 10 px for its content. If you need to figure out what size of the text to use for more critical text B you would multiply the font size of C by 1.618.


Using Golden Ratio for Photography

Photographers always have a guiding principle that they use when taking photographs. There are many guiding principles in photography that help photographers better frame their picture. One such guideline or rule is known as The Rule of Thirds. The rule of thirds essentially is dividing a composition into 9 equal parts, by dividing the frame with two equidistant vertical and horizontal lines. The points where these lines intersect are known as intersection points. The idea of using the rule of one third is that the subject should be placed on the intersection points in a way that the subject only takes up one third of the frame. This can also be done in post-editing using grid lines. Another such guideline is the Golden Ratio.

Golden Ratio works best when you are trying to create a perfect sense of harmony in your images. Now unlike the rule of thirds, using golden ratio when taking a photograph can be a little trickier, especially when you’re new to the concept. Using the Golden Spiral in post-production is one of the best ways to go around it. You can do this by overlaying the spiral on top of your image. This would help you see which elements of the picture sit where and if they’re creating harmony together. It also allows you to identify focal points and where they need to be. It can also be used to understand which elements need to be moved for giving the design more energy.


Creating Logo Design

Logos are one of the most critical aspects of business identity. It helps new potential customers identify your brand, and old customers to retain your services and products through your logo. A logo helps create the first impression of the business’s values and relevance to its audience. By using the Golden Ratio for designing logos will help people instantly connect to the brand. An excellent example of this is how many famous brands like Twitter, Apple, even Pepsi use it to design their logo. You can use the Fibonacci sequence to make logos by creating a circular sequence and then rearranging them and forming a grid that would work as the basic framework for your logo design.


Designing and Creating Layouts

Layouts are the arrangements of various elements on a page that usually refers to a specific placement on text, image and the style. The proper layout helps enhance the look of a particular object individually and also as a whole. For successful layouts the two criteria that need to be kept in mind are individual visual elements and their relationship.

There are many layout options available to designers. One of them is the “Z” layout which takes inspiration from the letter “Z” itself. It generally shows the path that a reader sees of the elements on a page or a design. Another layout principle is the Golden Ratio. The Golden Spiral works best when you have many elements that might differ from each other to be arranged in a single layout. It is seen that people are naturally drawn to the center of the spiral when witnessing a Golden Spiral. This gives a designer the insight to place the most important element in the center of the spiral

Understanding the Golden Ratio can be very helpful for design practices. It is a mathematical approach to design that stands out from other design practices. Since it is naturally seen in so many instances we tend to appreciate any design that uses its principles many times without even realizing it. Just remember the constant ratio 1:1.618 and keep using it in different instances and places.


Minimalism is a timeless design style, it uses the least elements and places them strategically to express more with less. Neo-minimalism is a further development of the traditional minimalism practices and aims to take it to the next level.


What is Neo-Minimalism?

Neo-minimalism is much stricter when it comes to reducing the amount of elements and making use of negative space while still making the design look appealing. Neo-minimalism is starting to gain widespread popularity because people are now being drawn towards the less is more philosophy. It’s all about communicating effectively rather than communicating everything, quality over quantity. The trick is to find a way to be the most creative with using the bare minimum of elements.

Implementing Neo-Minimalism in Design

Using creative fonts

Since neo-minimalism is about using as few elements as possible, it is important to ensure the ones you are using are engaging and appealing without compromising legibility. Designers at times go too far on the typography and compromise on the legibility, which makes understanding the design more difficult. Hence why you need to find the right balance between creative and legible. One way a designer can avoid this is by using no more than two font types.

Using strong images

Strong images have a direct impact on achieving the neo-minimalist design and help create focal points. Select the image you want to use, while keeping in mind that there needs to be balance, symmetry, contrast and open space. The focal point can be on the subject of the photo, and you could still balance the design out by placing a brand name on the side. This helps form a connection between the product/service with your brand.

Using simple colors

Since the design technique requires minimum elements, the design style should also complement it. Using simple colors that complement each other are best. Generally, designers stick to two or three colors at max. By using limited colors you emphasize the impact of that color on the overall design. This helps create a sense of urgency as to what the color represents. Colors can also help create an emotional connection as well that can be linked to a brand, company or product.

Maintaining balance

Ensure that the entire composition is in balance. You can do this by using elements of different weights across the canvas in the most minimum count. Since there are less elements to play with, balancing can be a little difficult as you can’t counter each element with another. Make use of negative space in a way that the design looks overall pleasing.

Applying Neo-Minimalism to Design



The simpler a design is, the easier it is to recall. Neo-minimalism is the best way to capture viewers attention and also their recall ability. For a neo-minimalistic logo design, designers often use geometric shapes. They’re easier to understand and remember since they are the basic shapes we are taught about since childhood. Shapes like squares, circles, rectangles and triangles create a sense of balance and proportion which can help create focal points in the design. Many big brands often rely on a minimalistic design approach for their logos. Like the M for McDonald’s helps easily connect the logo with their brand.



For any website design, the top priority should be providing value to its visitors. It should help visitors navigate without feeling lost or overwhelmed. The ideology of being true to the business and avoiding extra noise is a crucial characteristic of neo-minimalism. For achieving a simple and effective UI, there are certain neo-minimalist design principles that you should know.

Using whitespace: Whitespace is the space between two different elements of a composition. This helps improve user experience. It also helps the audience focus on your website content and product.

Using bright colors: As a designer, you need to find the right balance between vivid backgrounds that are appealing and too colorful of backgrounds that get irritating. A trick to do this is to complement the vivid bright colors with soothing tones and hues.

Using fonts: Fonts can help create a hierarchy that can help navigate the audience to find what content is more important and what is less. Typography often holds the ground for compensating for lack of other design elements such as imagery and animations.


Arrangement by Eye Direction

Neo-minimalist design practices aim at using graphic elements in a way that doesn’t distract the audience from the central focus point of packaging. Having a neo-minimalistic package design helps your product stand out from the rest of the products on a shelf. It helps the customer easily recognize the product and make an instant decision to purchase it, saving them time and energy.



Icons are an accurate representation of your mobile or desktop applications. They are the first interaction your potential customer has with your app before they even decide to download it or not. It is crucial to make the icon as appealing as possible. Many designers believe in using neo-minimalistic design

Neo-Minimalism isn’t just about using fewer design elements, but also being careful and creative of where and when to use them. It doesn’t put a limitation to someone’s design options, but rather an exploratory style where you could get more creative with a design. It can be a little tricky at the beginning as a designer to incorporate neo-minimalist design principles. However, with practice anyone can benefit using neo-minimalism in their design.


Designers know the importance of mastering the visual concept of balance to put out the right message for the audience to perceive. Often balance is considered to be achieved only when things are in symmetry or have equal weight on either side of the design. This is not true, though you can also achieve balance in other ways as well. To do so you need to first understand what balance in design means. Balance has to do with the distribution of elements of the design. It is a visual interpretation of gravity in design. There are different ways of achieving balance in design and two such methods that are widely used are Symmetrical and Asymmetrical design.

What is Symmetry?

Symmetry refers to the visual quality of recurring parts of an image across an axis, along a path or a center. The elements and compositions that are the same on both sides and always look balanced. The best reference that can be drawn from nature to understand the concept of Symmetry is a butterfly. All opposing shapes and counterparts are in perfect proportion. Symmetry creates a sense of harmony that looks visually pleasing.

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There are various methods of achieving Symmetry, here are a few methods:

Reflection Symmetry

Reflection Symmetry, also known as Bilateral Symmetry is the most common and popular form of Symmetry. In such Symmetry, the central axis can be positioned horizontally or vertically without influencing the Symmetry in any manner. Not only the vertical and horizontal axis but such Symmetry can also be found on multiple diagonal axis. A good example of this is a snowflake which is symmetrical no matter where you put the central axis at. Since there are no variations on either side of the central axis in such Symmetry, this is also referred to as Pure Symmetry.

Rotation Symmetry

Rotation Symmetry is also known as Radial Symmetry. It is used to add movement in a design. The basic idea is to rotate an element to a certain degree that helps portray the motion of that element in the design by displaying it in two or more different angles hinting displacement and speed. It conveys a dynamic action. They need to be at the same distance, frequency and angle of visual objects to be in rotational Symmetry. The Mitsubishi logo is a good example of showing Rotation Symmetry. The same pattern is rotated in three different angles connected at the center.

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Translational Symmetry

Translational Symmetry is achieved by relocating an object to another position while maintaining its general or exact orientation. It is generally used for borders to hold the intricate patterns, in-line on a flat surface, or a two dimensional surface. This doesn’t require all the elements to be of the same size. Many times altering the size of the recurring pattern in the same orientation can be used to show distance, movement or proximity as well. It is the ideal way of creating speed, sound and action in your design. The Public Broadcasting Service logo shows an excellent use of Translational Symmetry.

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Color Symmetry

Symmetry is often considered and talked about only in shapes and their arrangements, but it can also be implemented in the color aspect of it. The color wheel itself is in such perfect Symmetry that each shade, each color has a comforting opposite color which leads to intelligent Symmetry. Color as an individual design element itself has a significant impact on the visual aesthetics and language of any design.

What is Asymmetry?

Balance that doesn’t have Symmetry is known as asymmetrical balance. What seems like a chaotic manner of composition is an intentional one with a sense of balance somehow still present in the design despite using elements of varying weights which don’t mirror images of each other. Asymmetrical designs can attract more attention with the use of complex relationships between two or more elements to create a composition. The famous painter Vincent Van Gogh painted his famous “Starry Night” which works as a great example of Asymmetrical balance. The bright moon on the top right position of the composition is balanced and complemented by the dark trees on the bottom left side of the painting. Asymmetrical designs give you freedom of flexibility, unpredictability, and storytelling.

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There are various methods of achieving asymmetry, here are a few methods:

Arrangement by Shape and Value

The visual objects of light colors and small size have less weight than larger and darker visual objects. This makes it possible to balance a design by using several smaller elements on one side of the design as compared to one more massive object on the other side of the design. Also, large empty areas of a composition can be complemented by smaller intricate details.

Arrangement Using Texture

Texture is one of the most powerful techniques used for creating a compelling and lifelike design. It is known as the surface quality or feel of an object. Texture can’t be felt by touch in design but can be portrayed by visual tweaks. The Texture can be portrayed as smooth, harsh, or any other such effects. By showing a harsh contrast between an area where different textures are used, and another area where there aren’t any texture variations a sense of balance can be found.

Arrangement Using Color

There are many ways to describe colors. There are primary colors, secondary colors, while there are also more refreshing colors and warmer tones of colors. Some colors are very vivid, and some are rather dull, while some fall in between as neutral. Having proper knowledge of this can help a designer pick relevant colors in their design to increase their appeal. In asymmetrical design, designers often use neutral colors for large areas of the design and contrast it with bright and vivid colors of the smaller areas.

Arrangement by Eye Direction

When we talk about design, in general, many elements can provide a visual guide for the audience to follow, and see what the designer wants them to see first, then second, and so on. Triangular shapes often work as arrows or pointers, and people’s attention is drawn to find such clues first and then look at the rest of the design. Also, when the design element is pointing toward something, it redirects the audience’s attention to where it’s pointing. It keeps the audience curious and hence is an integral part of the design elements for asymmetrical balance.

While both the design practices are unique and have their implications and advantages, they also have their limitations. A designer is able to combine the principles of both Symmetry and Asymmetry design to create visually aesthetic designs and layouts.

History Of Graphic Design

Graphic design has a very rich and varied history. The word “graphic design” didn’t appear on the scene until 1922, when William Dwiggins created the term to describe the art of designing with graphics.

In the earliest days of graphic design, professionals drew by hand. However, in the last 6 years graphic design has forged ahead, advancing rapidly since the addition of today’s digital art tools.

Earliest Graphic Design

Even though the term graphic design wasn’t created yet, some of the earliest designs included typography for books and newspapers. One could also argue drawings on cave walls represent a form of ancient graphics.

Fast forward to the 1940s, graphic design appeared in propaganda posters, such as the “We Can Do It” poster with Rosie the Riveter. Slogans were short, to the point, and added to a graphic that set the tone. As technology changed and became available to more people, the entire industry that would become known as graphic design began to emerge.



The 1980’s

The 80s were all about bold, bright colors that grabbed people’s attention. Personal computers became affordable for everyone, putting design tools into the hands of all.

In 1984, Apple released MacPaint for Macintosh computers, allowing designers to use computer graphics in an effortless way, such as with a mouse or graphics tablet. Postscript language allowed designers to place type and graphics on the same page and send it to print, rather than using a drafting table to assemble designs.

In 1985, Microsoft introduced Windows, which meant people no longer had to learn MS-DOS to operate a computer. You just clicked on a few buttons and it was easy to design anything.



The 1990’s

In 1990, Photoshop 1.0 arrived on the scene. Back then, you could only use Photoshop with Macintosh computers. The birth of this new tool again changed the designers ability to experiment with new techniques, including overlapping text, faded elements, and digital overlays.

Grunge was also born in the ’90s, which showed up in movie poster designs, book covers, and album covers with dark looking images and simple color palettes, such as white on black, perhaps with a pop of red.

The movie poster for Fight Club uses this grunge style, you can see how the background of the poster is dark and grainy, while the text is bright but raw. This combination creates the overall grunge effect from the decade.



The 2000’s

The 2000s began an entirely new frontier for graphic designers. In addition to tools becoming even more powerful, people were suddenly designing on portable devices, such as smartphones. On top of that, designers began to realize the importance of designing in a way that looked good across all device types.

Movement also became more of a focus, with designers looking for ways to make even static logos look like they’re in motion.

Recent Changes

There isn’t one method that dominates graphic design today, but a mix of design techniques and styles. Trends emerge from year to year and sometimes month to month. Trends included flat icons and the addition of videos across marketing channels. On top of websites needing to be mobile responsive more than ever before, simplicity also was needed, along with speeding up overall rendering.

Where graphic design will go in the future is anyone’s guess, but the user experience is sure to remain at the forefront. Designs will become more personalized and more interactive over time.

Regardless of where design goes next, you can expect to see more personalized designs that will enhance the user experience in our daily life.

Why is Type Important?

Type is everywhere, whether you notice it or not. Type is 95% of design and It’s the driving force of all visual communication. Selecting the right type can influence the effectiveness of communication and how it is perceived. Choosing an appropriate type is fundamental for helping set the tone of a piece you are creating.


Why is Type Important

Type has the potential to emit targeted emotions towards an audience that reinforces the entire piece you are working on. Many times type can be looked over because the initial thing that might pop out is the colors used or any illustration treatment, there must be a harmonious balance of all the elements.

Things to consider when choosing a typeface

  1. Does it come in a variety of weights?
  2. How readable is it?
  3. Does it pair well with other typefaces?
  4. Is there a clear hierarchy between typefaces (if you are using more than one)?
  5. Does it set the right tone and mood for the piece?

Type Classification

A typeface can fall under two general classifications; serif or sans serif.

Serif typefaces are most often used for body copy in print documents, as well as for both body text and headlines. Serif fonts are known to be more traditional and classical.

Sans serif typefaces are called such because they lack serif details on characters. Sans-serif typefaces are known to be modern and clean.

Website Design Templates

Type Manipulation

After you have chosen a typeface, there are a number of ways to manipulate it even further to create a desired mood. One of the simplest of ways is through the tracking (the space between letters). You could put a significant amount of tracking between each letter to make it easier to read and visually appealing to the eye or you could also eliminate the tracking between letters so that they are close to one another to cause tension. Some other ways to manipulate the typeface include various distortion techniques, such as arching the type so it’s not on a straight plane, but arched over an illustration or using distortion as a squeezing mechanism to help draw the audience’s attention to a certain aspect of an illustration that you find most appealing and important.

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There are many ways to evoke mood with type. The key is to explore and discover what that mood or perception is for you, and keep it in mind while choosing what typeface to use for your designs. When you look at your design focus on ALL of the elements that make it unique and weigh-in on them all, not just the illustrations or colors. A strong typeface is an incredibly crucial part to your design.

Importance of Color in Branding

Color is very important in branding and marketing because it’s where first impressions of customers are based. Also, color is the secret in producing a good identity for a company. Colors are more than just a visual aid because colors convey emotions, feelings and experiences. There are meanings behind various colors and for companies choosing a color scheme it can affect their business, it may either make or break them.


Why is Color Important?

A brand’s aesthetics are a very essential part of its story, heightened by the fact that the brain processes visual stimuli faster than text. The design and color combination of a brand’s logo, website, product packaging, etc. form a visual representation of its identity. These elements should give insight into a brand’s personality, story, and values.

Even though consumers might not always be aware of this, many marketers use color psychology to invoke different emotions and responses. New brands should embrace hues that distinguish them from their competitors, so they have a better chance of standing out and making an impact.

For example: Facebook, Samsung, and American Express have all channeled the color blue to promote reliability and responsibility to their clientele. Despite having completely different services and products, they share a common goal of providing a sense of security to it’s customers by their use of serene color.


Colors and Their Meaning

RED – Creates a sense of urgency, which is good for clearance sales. Encourages appetite, thus is frequently used by fast-food chains.

BLUE – Provides a sense of security, curbs appetite, and stimulates productivity. The most common color used by conservative brands looking to promote trust in their products.

GREEN – Used in stores to relax customers and for promoting environmental issues. Green stimulates harmony in your brain and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness.

PURPLE – Stimulates problem-solving as well as creativity. Frequently used to promote beauty and anti-aging products.

YELLOW – Yellow is the color for vibrancy and optimism. It can also be motivating and captivating, that’s why some tag prices are in this color because it helps get the attention of customers.

ORANGE – This color can be effective for children because of its cheerful, friendly and fun feeling.

BROWN – This shade elicits simplicity and stability. It also looks very down to earth.

BLACK – Black promotes a serious or classic campaign. There is also sophistication and exclusivity in this color which works well with expensive products.

WHITE – This color looks very plain but when used, it shows purity, cleanliness and is very enticing to the human eye.


Factors to Consider When Selecting the Right Color For your Brand

Aside from the meaning of different colors, business owners should also be aware of the other factors that they should consider in choosing a color scheme, here are some:


Business owners should know what message they want to convey to the public given the kind of business they have, in that case, the message could be matched to an appropriate color shade.

Target market

It is also important for business owners to know their target market and to whom they offer their services or products so that the color will also be appropriate to the kind of encouragement needed for the target customers.


Consistency in the color scheme of a brand strengthens its identity in the market. It also helps the brand to stand out and rise against the tight competition in the industry. Further, consistency also gains the trust, loyalty, and familiarity of customers.

Properly choosing colors will define your brand’s value, strengthen and support your brand positioning, enable greater awareness and customer recall, and distinguish your brand among its alternatives. Color should not be underestimated because studies have already proved that this element has a connection to human behavior and in the long run this color will represent the company in the coming years.


Businesses, governments, hospitals, charities, schools, and other organizations use signage to advertise, inform, sell, warn, direct, and identify. Does the sign need to grab people’s attention to bring in new customers? Do you want to impress clients with a professional, corporate appearance? Once the purpose of a sign is figured out it becomes easier to create messaging tailored to that objective. In the case of business signage, it has the purpose of letting those in your target market know that you exist in their trade area. Creating successful signage involves an understanding of visual acuity, conspicuity, and marketing.


A sign is of no use if it cannot be read. Most onlookers are moving in their vehicles so they should be able to see the sign in time to read it and enter the establishment safely. Generally, for every 10 feet of viewing distance away from a sign, one would want to increase the letter height by one inch. As an example, if one wanted text to be viewed from 180 feet away, the text would have to be 18 inches tall. That’s assuming that the fonts are either serif or sans serif; those two are the best options for signage. Script and decorative fonts would have to be increased in size to make up for their lack of legibility. Before displaying any new outdoor sign a check should be done to ensure approaching drivers can see the sign in time to read it, react to it, and stop safely. A sign mounted perpendicular to the roadway is the easiest to read. For a sign mounted parallel to the roadway the text would need to be made 70% larger to compensate. A city will have its own set of codes to follow regarding the sign and its placement.



Drivers only have 3 1/2 seconds to read a sign, and if a sign has too many words it makes processing the information difficult. When the words are chosen carefully and coincide with the sign’s primary purpose, the message will be clear and concise. Seven words are the advised maximum in a message, as it makes for quick readability. Less is more with signage because the less wording a sign has, the more effective the words are, and the stronger a sign’s design can be. When displaying the name of the business be sure to indicate what business it’s in so those in need of the product or service can refer to it. A descriptive word will do the job. For example, “Tony’s” does nothing to tell of what business it’s in, but if the word “Restaurant” were added, onlookers would know that it is indeed a restuarant. Wording is essential to a sign, but too many detracts from its effectiveness.

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A sign’s design can illicit brand recognition and positively affect how a business is percieved. A business’s sign can act as an extension of a brand identity, so typefaces and colors already established should carry over to the sign as well. It’s not advisable to use more than two typefaces in a design. Two typefaces of different types create contrast (serif and sans serif), but three muddles the design and detracts from the message. There is a common misconception that all caps are easier to read than normal case, but since we read words by the shape of the words, it’s actually easier to read in normal case. Drivers moving in their cars will have an easier time reading lowercase text. Around 30–40% of a sign should be whitespace for optimal readability, otherwise a design can look crammed. The addition of a photo has been known to increase recall by 300% and adding a border around the perimeter increases reading speed by 26%. Choose color combinations with high contrast, such as black and white or blue and yellow. It’s also important to make sure the sign doesn’t get absorbed into the background by choosing similar colors.

Modular Signage

Modular signage is an effective way to create and maintain an interior signage program. Its nature lends itself to evolution in the workplace, from switching out names of employees in cubicles, to the movement of whole departments. Modular signage can take the form of perpendicular signs, hanging ceiling signs, and more. Its endless array of options can create an impression of your business. This type of signage is easy to keep up to date and looks good displaying the names of individuals, departments, and places.

Modular Signage

Modular signage first hit the market with the Slatz system in the mid 70s. It is made with a frame, clips, end caps, faceplates, and an acrylic lens if desired. Each of those items lend themselves to customization.

Frames are available in a wide variety of sizes, measuring in inches to feet. They can either be flat or convex, and can be cut to a custom shape. The faceplate provides the information that sits in the modular sign.

Aluminum and acrylic are common substrates that can be engraved into. Updating information is as simple as sliding out the old faceplate, and inserting a new one. Other types of modular signage feature a lens that

paper sits behind. This is the perfect medium for keeping wayfinding and identification current.

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Every facet of modular signage can be customized in terms of materials, color, shape and complexity. A whole grid of changeable faceplates can occupy a frame if desired. They can be custom cut to integrate a logo or name of the institution. Modular signs exist that indicate whether a room is occupied or unoccupied by way of a bar that covers or uncovers a word. Those are typically used next to doors to indicate availability.

Modular signage is fully ADA compliant and can display text in braille. Steve Neumann, founder of Houston based Steve Neumann and Friends, says “Modular is a generic word for a kit of parts, which when combined,

makes a unique, customized, final product using a limited number of specially prepared stock elements.” Modular signage makes it easy to keep everything up to date in the style of your company.


It is important to have a cohesive modular signage system just like it is to have a cohesive brand identity. The beauty of it is that once a scheme has been produced, it’s just a matter of updating signs in the same manner as before. A brand’s established visual guidelines can be injected into modular signage just as in marketing materials. Consistent placement of smaller secondary and tertiary signs is key for a unified signage system. High levels of customization with this medium is possible depending on desired results, and once signage has been established, it’s just a matter of maintaining the aesthetic. Repetition of various elements, such as color and typography, and placement of that information in relation to the sign’s architecture, will instill a sense of environment.



Symbolism is defined as the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. For thousands of years, various cultures have created and adopted symbols to convey the intangible. A symbol’s meaning is hidden within it, but once researched, it can reveal a great deal about its respective culture(s). Many have existed for centuries, and their connotations can change over time. Different types of symbols; cultural, scientific, mathematical, astrological, and those found in society help to associate and connect things with ideas or concepts. Logos, a type of symbol, carries the story of the brand within it. Through repeated and tailored exposure, logos can elicit favorable impressions of the brand.


Symbols can take the form of words, sounds, gestures, or images, and are used to convey information. Language itself is a form of symbolism, as words signify their referent. Even the letters that comprise words are symbols for what they sound like. Context greatly influences a symbol’s meaning; a chain could stand for union as much as it could stand for imprisonment. Symbolic meaning of an object or action is understood by when, where, and how it is used. It also depends on who reads them and what their cultural background is. As an example, the hexagram has come to symbolize the Star of David, but it has also been depicted in Indic lore. The Anahata Chakra contains a hexagram surrounded by a lotus flower with twelve petals. It also has had usage in heraldry, occultism, and freemasonry.

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Logos are a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc. They serve as the face of commercial enterprises, organizations, or individuals. Logos also serve to differentiate brands from their competition. In additional identification, logos can communicate the industry in which the brand operates, the service the brand provides, the target demographic, and brand values.

Symbolism can be employed to communicate those factors. Amazon’s logo has a smile that also serves as an arrow pointing from a to z, implying that they carry everything from a to z. Logos that stand the test of time are simple, clean, and memorable, like symbols that have lasted for hundreds or thousands of years. Most businesses don’t have the type of recognition that large corporations such as Nike has, so it’s best to display the name of the business alongside the logo in the typeface of the brand. Appropriate use of color, which has symbolism in itself, will bolster a logo’s effectiveness.

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5 Common Symbols Explained

Bluetooth Symbol

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The name dates back more than a millennia to King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson who was well known for uniting Denmark and Norway in 958 and his dead tooth, which was a dark blue/gray color. In 1996, three industry leaders; Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, met to plan the standardization of a short range radio technology to support connectivity and collaboration between different products and industries. During this meeting Jim Kardash of Intel suggested

Bluetooth as a temporary codename, stating ” King Harald Bluetooth was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.” The name caught on before it could be changed and it stuck. The symbol is formed from merging the initials of Harald Bluetooth in Scandinavian runes.

Power Button

August 20174

The well known on/off symbol was the result of the logical evolution in user interface design. Originally, most early power controls consisted of switches that were toggled between two states demarcated by the words On and Off. As technology became more ubiquitous, these English words were replaced by the universal numeral symbols 1 and 0 to bypass language barriers. This 1 and 0 standard is used on power toggle switches. In the binary system 1

stands for Power ON and 0 stands for Power OFF. The one and zero numerals were superimposed onto each other to create the universally recognized power symbol used today. Because of the widespread use of this symbol, a campaign was launched to add the set of characters to unicode.

Peace Symbol

August 20175

This symbol, synonymous with peace, was originally created as a symbol for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Gerald Holtom, a designer, was responsible for designing the banners and placards that were to be carried in the Aldermaston march. He believed that the movement needed a symbol to signify nuclear disarmament that the public would associate it with. On its creation, Holtom states “I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself; the

representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. It was ridiculous and such a puny thing.” The symbol would eventually find its way on pins, posters, banners, and other collateral. In the U.K. the symbol has remained the logo of CND since the late ’50s, but internationally it has taken on a broader message signifying peace.

The Heart

August 20176

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of this symbol, but its earliest recorded use was in the 7th century BC, where it was featured on coins in the ancient city of Cyrene. Originally, the depiction was of a seed of the extinct Silphium plant, a vital part of that culture’s economy. It has been said that the plant was used back then as a contraceptive. It’s also been depicted as

symbols of the water lily or leaves of ivy in later centuries. The symbol’s first connotation with love was made in the 1250s on a book cover, titled “Roman de la Poire” (Romance of the Pear), where a kneeling lover presents what could be a pear to his damsel. As an already established symbol of love, in the 19th century, the heart began to appear on St. Valentine’s Day cards, candy boxes, and other objects. The heart was also first used in French playing cards in the early 1500s.

USB Symbol

August 20177

The well known on/off symbol was the result of the logical evolution in user interface design. Originally, most early power controls consisted of switches that were toggled between two states demarcated by the words On and Off. As technology became more ubiquitous, these English words were replaced by the universal numeral symbols 1 and 0 to bypass language barriers. This 1 and 0 standard is used on power toggle switches. In the binary system 1

stands for Power ON and 0 stands for Power OFF. The one and zero numerals were superimposed onto each other to create the universally recognized power symbol used today. Because of the widespread use of this symbol, a campaign was launched to add the set of characters to unicode.


Graphic Design

The AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) defines graphic design as “The art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” It can be used for commercial, educational, cultural, or political purposes. Its main focus is to communicate messages for any of those reasons. Signage, marketing materials, CD covers and booklets, vehicle graphics, advertisements, magazines, brand identities, billboards, and much more are all products of graphic design. From a single business card to a whole advertising campaign, graphic design takes place on varying scales. Its three main components can be broken down into typography, imagery, and color. They combine to create the layouts that you see.

July 20171


It’s never been easier to incorporate professional typography in any instance, from the letters that comprise a logotype to lengthy written works. The main classifications of typefaces are serif, sans serif, script, blackletter,

and display. Serifs and sans serifs are the two most commonly used. Serifs are the strokes at the ends of each letter and sans (French for without) serifs lack those features. The afforementioned typefaces can be combined to create contrast; any of the classifications can be combined as long as there is a clear distinction, otherwise visual tension will result. Treatments can be applied to make text readable, legible, and artful.

Below are some techniques to help add typographic elegance to any written word.

Tracking- The lengthening or shortening of a line of text. It’s useful in making line rags (opposite end of an alignment) look graceful instead of choppy.

Kerning- The spacing between two letters. The “Yo” combination, for example, typically requires kerning, as the shape of the Y leaves more room than needed between the o. It creates visually consistent spacing.

Leading- The amount of space between the baseline of one line of text and the next baseline. The ideal amount of leading is 1 to 1.5 times the amount of the point size of the type.

Readability- How easy it is to read a large amount of text. Serifs are the most readable, as the serifs lead from one letter to the next.

Legibility- How easy it is to tell one letter from another in any given typeface, which determines how easy it is to read short lines of type like headlines or signage. Sans serifs are generally more legible.

Alignment- Refers to whether text is aligned on the left, right, centered, or justified. Being that we read from right to left, left aligned is the most familiar. Other alignments can be used for extra style.

Hanging punctuation- Punctuation that is moved beyond the edge of the text to avoid the appearance of an indent. It makes for a stronger alignment as well.

Widow- A very short (proportionally) last line of a paragraph. Tracking helps in moving that widow up to the next line. Sometimes it takes some effort to achieve that result.

Orphan- The last line of a paragraph alone at the top of a column or page, or the first line of a paragraph alone at the bottom of a column or page. Tracking rectifies this issue as well.

July 20172


A picture is worth a thousand words, goes the adage. Imagery is a great way to increase visual interest and express the intangible— children playing in the yard can insinuate a healthy lawn, and someone relaxing by the ocean can insinuate a nice vacation getaway. Photos, illustrations, patterns, and shapes are all ways to incorporate imagery in a design. They can serve as stylistic touches, major compositional elements, or both. Photos are bitmap images, meaning they’re made up of bits called pixels. In print, the ideal resolution (the number of pixels) is 300 DPI (dots per inch) and on the web the ideal resolution is 72 DPI. Illustrations can be used for a variety of applications and can be created in either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. They can incorporate a touch of fun in a design. Patterns and shapes can add stylistic touches as well. Vector graphics are scalable up to any size because their dimensions are mathematically governed. Depending on the subject matter, any of these ways to display imagery can be used in any number of instances to captivate onlookers and appeal to emotions. Logos are created in vector programs since their mathematically governed nature allows them to be as large or small as conceivably needed.

July 20173


Colors have an ability to influence mood and perceptions and attract attention. Each color has their own cultural connotations. For example, in America, red is associated with warmth, danger, anger, power, or love. In some Eastern cultures red symbolizes good fortune and prosperity, and is worn by brides on their wedding day. The unique look and feel of a certain color can be exploited to create a certain perception of a design or brand. Color palettes are generated based off of how various combinations interact with each other. They can have complementary, monochromatic, analogous, split complementary, triadic, and tetradic relationships. The value of a color can be changed by introducing black, white, or gray. Adding black creates a shade, adding white creates a tint, and adding gray creates a tone. Colors are displayed differently for print and on a computer monitor. When we mix colors using paint, or through the printing process, we are using the subtractive color method. Subtractive color mixing means that one begins with white and ends with black; as one adds color, the result gets darker and tends to black. If we are working on a computer, the colors we see on the screen are created with light using the additive color method.

Additive color mixing begins with black and ends with white; as more color is added, the result is lighter and tends to white.

July 20174