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Designs will often represent a product, event, or service. It’s incredibly important that the design is consistent with the feel and setting of its source. There are quite a few elements that go into creating a consistent and appropriate design, but for now we will touch on the major ones: color, font, and imagery.
We typically don’t give a second thought about the color of something unless it’s off in some way. We’re used to several presets that have been in place for a very long time. Christmas is green, red, and white. Mardi Gras is purple, green, and gold. Easter typically utilizes pastel colors exclusively. Whenever something tries to fit into a category we’re already familiar with while using colors we aren’t used to seeing, we immediately take notice and likely avoid it. The words on it may say one thing, but the colors it uses scream that it does not belong.
The type of text something uses is also something our eyes take for granted until it’s wrong or inconsistent with what we’re accustomed to. All highway signs use the same standard font which makes them easier to read at a glance. A great design is one that is completely functional, to the point that it feels natural. If something uses a font that is strange and outlandish, it’s immediately noticeable to everyone. Variety is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to conveying a message it is normally best to use a style that people are most comfortable with. Reading it is easier and it allows the viewer to focus more on the content of the message rather than its awkward design choices.
When something uses incorrect imagery, it is possibly the most noticeable of the three I’ve listed. Birthday invitations may use confetti and balloons, Halloween invitations may show pumpkins or bats, and formal events may use ornate flourishes in black and white. Interchange any of these and you will likely question the authenticity and quality of the event itself. The imagery absolutely must match people’s expectations of the occasion, otherwise it may even dissuade them from attending at all.
The most important aspect of any design is that it fulfills its desired function. Ask yourself what function the piece is supposed to ultimately accomplish. If that function is to convey a specific message to an audience, it needs to do so in the most effective way possible; through the appropriate use of color, font choice, and imagery. You can easily be consistent with existing design trends while still creating an original design. It just has to be within what viewers are comfortable and used to seeing.