The Complete Graphic Designer
This lighthouse uses a candy cane-
like stripe to distinguish it from
other landmarks or features of the
surrounding landscape.
In order to process the ever-increasing amounts of
information we receive on a daily basis, the brain col-
lects, categorizes, and comprehends incoming mes-
sages subconsciously in the form of visual metaphors.
It fi lters visual stimuli by relevance, calling to attention
those items that are most important and require imme-
diate attention.
Human physiology allows for the quick detection
of rapid change to serve as a warning of impending
danger. A fl ashing red light at an intersection indicates
that motorists should stop. Lighthouses are painted in
striped patterns to prevent them from blending into
the horizon or surrounding land formations during the
day. In nature, venomous creatures such as snakes have
angular and geometric patterns to warn others of their
danger. Slow and incremental change, on the other
hand, is harder for the eye to detect.
Perceiving Visual
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Design for Communication
Countries in North America and
northern Europe are considered
“low-context” societies, in which
the content of visual messages is
interpreted literally. Organization,
categorization, and the presenta-
tion of information for clarity and
comprehension are the most essen-
tial qualities of effective communi-
cation in these regions. Executive
summaries and bullet-point text are
preferred to long-winded, descrip-
tive paragraphs, and images requir-
ing little effort to decipher are pre-
ferred over visually complex and
symbolic ones. Instead of assuming
that audiences are intelligent and
relatively intuitive, designers tend
to create visual solutions that
communicate to the least-educated
person, often with redundancy of
information and design elements or
by replacing words with symbols.
High-context societies such as
Asia, eastern Europe, and Latin
America respond to an aesthetic
that utilizes many layers of depth
and meaning, in contrast to the
instant-gratifi cation mentality of
low-context cultures. Shared cul-
tural experiences or educational
backgrounds allow visual messag-
es to be understood and compre-
Appealing to the viewer’s intellect makes a logo more
memorable. At fi rst glance, this logo conveys the idea of fi re
through fl ames. Upon closer examination, an alternate im-
age of lovers kissing is revealed. This dual visual reinforces
the company name and rewards the viewer.
Design: Brainding
hended without literal explana-
tion or redundant information.
Designers appeal directly to the
intellect of their audience through
messages that are only relevant to
them, much like an “inside joke”
or story. They challenge viewers to
decipher visually sophisticated im-
agery or symbolism, which leads
to greater satisfaction, emotional
connection, and memorability.
The design of this product’s packaging connects with
consumers in an unexpected way and appeals to the
intelligence of shoppers through wit. Instead of showing a
photograph of the product in use, this minimalist design
features items that are sticky and messy, and would require
the use of the product.
Design: Turner Duckworth
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This book cover may appeal more to high-con-
text audiences in that the viewer must decipher
symbolism and imagery to receive the intended
message. Light bulbs are normally cliché when
representing “bright ideas, however this book
cover takes the concept one step further by
covering the bulb in foliage, which is representa-
tive of the environment, thus reinforcing the title,
Wisdom for a Livable Planet.
Design: Pentagram
High-context audiences require very little written
copy to receive a message. In these ad concepts
for a restaurant and wine bar, a bottle of wine and
simple line illustrations form a bull (suggestive
of steak) and fi sh (suggestive of seafood). The
taglines are almost unnecessary because of the
strong visual images and color associations.
Design: Jovan Rocanov
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