Jostle Loose Some New Ideas!

Trying to name a new event or product? Or perhaps you’re working on the perfect tagline? Searching for inspiration is not always easy. While banging your head against the wall might jostle loose some new ideas, here are some brainstorming tips that are (hopefully) less painful:

1. Eat lunch. Today is no day to skip a meal. If you’re hungry, you’ll be anxious and distracted.

2. Get comfortable. Being relaxed helps ideas flow easily. If you’re tense, your brain will be, too. Take your jacket off. Sit in your favorite chair—even slip off your shoes!

3. No idea is a bad one. In the beginning brainstorming phase, do not criticize ANY ideas. It’s time to shut off that inner critic and let your mind play. Deactivating self-judgement will help your mind open new pathways to thoughts you would not have considered.

4. Write it all down. Use whatever media you’re most comfortable with: pen and paper, marker and wipe board, or computer. At the top of the page, write the topic or product you are focusing on, then relax and start writing whatever ideas come to mind. Include everything you think of. Fill the page!

5. Use word association. To jumpstart a new line of thinking, use one of these playful tools: opposites, rhyming, cause-effect, alliteration, or random association. Another helpful tool to keep close—a thesaurus.

6. Organize your notes. Look back through everything and group ideas together based on any similar themes you find. Consolidate duplicate ideas.

7. Find the keepers. Now it’s time to take a second look with the eyes of a strategist. Weed out ideas that are impractical, overdone, or too corny. Notice “keepers” is plural. Don’t narrow it down to one idea. Keep your top 3-5 and share that list with other decision makers involved in your project. If you’re doing this on your own, set your list aside for at least one day before choosing the top idea. 

If You Give a Designer a Sharpie...

If you give a designer a Sharpie...
He’s going to ask for a project brief.
When you give him the brief, he’ll ask you some questions about it.
When he’s finished asking questions, he’ll want content.
You’ll refer him to your website for photos.
He’ll download the photos and tell you they are too low-resolution for printing. He’ll ask for high-res photos.
While he’s waiting, he’ll check his Google+, his LinkedIn, his Facebook, and his Twitter.
All this social marketing will make him sleepy. He’ll want to go out for coffee.
The coffee shop logo will remind him of a mermaid.
The mermaid will remind him of the lyrical voice that whispers great ideas to him at night as he’s trying to sleep.
He’ll try to remember the great idea that came to him last night.
He won’t be able to.
He’ll go back to the office anyway.
He’ll want your logo in vector format.
You’ll send him the vector logo, and he’ll notice it isn’t the same logo as the one on your website.
He’ll talk to you about the importance of a consistent brand identity. He’ll offer to update your website.
You’ll agree to it, and tell him what other improvements you’d like.
He’ll want you to write a brief.
And chances are, if you give him a brief...
He’s going to want a Sharpie to go with it.

“Why do designers like to waste space?”

One of the most common lines of feedback I receive is, “Can you make it bigger to get rid of the white space?” I'm a “Less is More” kind of person. I love using white space.

White space, or negative space, is any area of a page design that is intentionally left blank. That word “intentionally” is important to note. We're not being lazy, careless, or wasteful. White space has a purpose, too.

From a business perspective, you pay for the ad space and want to make the most of it. From a design perspective, white space is a tool, just like imagery and copy. Think about the context of a magazine ad, for example. You're flipping through a magazine. Every page is filled with columns of text and photos, all packed into a tight grid. Then you notice a page that's almost bare, and you stop. The lack of content gets your attention. That space gives you visual relief. It conveys a message of stability and precision. It's a haven from the visual over-stimulation throughout the rest of the publication.

White space might seem useless, but upon closer inspection, you'll notice it serving one of the following roles:
  • Balance. White space can balance the page while giving strength to a bold image.
  • Structure. Page grids are often visible through the white space. It establishes columns, margins, space around photos, and brings order to the page.
  • Elegance. Intentionally leaving sections of the page empty and free conveys a sense of luxury and confidence. Yes, you're paying for that space, and yet choosing not to fill it. 
  • Direction. White space gives more significance to the elements on the page, acting as a tool to strengthen the focal point(s).
  • Improved Legibility. Ample margins and proper spacing literally make the text easier on the eyes. Copy that is tight strains the eyes and creates reading difficulties. Pages with smaller margins can make text appear overwhelming, and make the audience less likely to read it at all.
In some cases, white space is purely functional. Pages need margins to prevent content from being trimmed off (for the margin-of-error in trimming). But white space can also have aesthetic power when used effectively.