July 2014 - CRAFT Media Digital - PR News 2017 Digital Agency of the year

Understanding Visual Terminology


American designer Charles Eames defined design as “A plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”

The basic components of visual compositions are broken down into “elements” and “principles.” These have a range of applications, from classical paintings and photography to more contemporary utilizations of advertising and UI/UX design. One must consider the arrangement of elements and application of design principles to determine the success of a piece objectively, rather than subjectively. The elements of design are the key parts whereas the principles are the manner in which they are implemented.

The elements of design:                                 

Key design principles are:

1. Line

1. Balance

2. Shape

2. Rhythm/Repetition

3. Texture

3. Movement

4. Color

4. Contrast/Dominance

5. Value

5. Harmony/Unity

6. Space

6. Proportion/Scale

7. Form

Ultimately, the fundamental goal of visual communication is to convey a message to a particular audience. When judging a design’s effectiveness, we must consider three things:

  1. Accessible information: Is the text legible? Can someone with poor eyesight read the data?
  2. Visual hierarchy: Control how the eye travels. Is the most important information being observed first and quickly?
  3. Aesthetic stamina: Trendy appears dated quickly and will commonly be overlooked by audiences. To quote the late graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, “If you do it right, it will last forever.”

Too often, agencies rush to get creative out the door that is visually engaging, but fail in communicating the basic message to the audience.

…not at CRAFT. Our design team is keenly aware of the necessity and effectiveness of using these elements and principles, giving proper consideration to how the viewer will absorb the content.

Take this eblast for example:

Danielle crafting creative

At first glance, it’s simple. It’s clean. It’s light on copy. But take a closer look, and see if you can discern how the elements and principles were applied to create an aesthetic and successful solution.

And now, consider yourself well-versed in the dialogue of design. It’s one thing to observe. It’s quite another to understand.

Design: It’s more than meets the eye.


The Cannes Lions recently announced their winners, ranging from Volvo’s genius “The Epic Split” commercial to Harvey Nichol’s hilarious “Sorry I spent it on myself” campaign. While all unique, each winner shares a distinct trait – they all cater to the specific tastes of the Internet.

The Internet is a tricky beast. Its users can smell phony all over brands and organizations that adopt older Internet memes, such as Turkish Airlines/Kobe Bryant uninspired selfie spot and Friskies sponsoring Grumpy Cat. It often rewards creativity, irony, and/or universal appeal and dislikes when brands try to “fit in” or claim memes for marketing.

This is not a new dynamic. Since the days of Ogilvy, ad agencies have worked tirelessly to create inventive, fresh content that is crafted specifically to consumers without feeling like advertising. While tastes, attitudes, and media platforms have changed, the goal is still the same. Just in the past few decades, people have become more educated, more impatient, and more difficult to impress. Therefore, the Internet is a window to our changing culture.

A brand’s creative triumph on the Internet can be seen as a paradox, particularly when it comes to video content. By not tilting at the tempting meme windmills, at most giving a nod to ironic or awkward humor, brands can win at the Internet game. Users want content that entertains them, is sharable, and is artistic/clever enough to make them feel like they are making a smart choice when they like ad content.

Volvo’s “The Epic Split” is a perfect example of this model.

The 60-second spot features martial artist and B-movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme and his famous flexibility to show off the smoothness of their Dynamic Steering. Oddly mesmerizing, the commercial is Internet gold. JCVD is another 80s icon whose over-the-top persona both on and off-screen have made him an Internet darling. Fittingly set to Enya’s “Only Time,” the ethereal, adult contemporary hit only adds to the ironic humor factor. Simple, sharable, and stunning, the spot currently has over 73 million views on YouTube and earned Volvo a coveted Golden Lion.

Following these “Internet rules” might be difficult for many political ad campaigns, as they often do not have the luxury of time or funding similar to some of the Cannes winners. However, there have been glimmers of this in recent political commercials. Brett Smiley, a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, launched a clever ad that caused waves on both Internet aggregators and major news sources.

In the ad, Smiley speaks of his early road to candidacy all through the Futura font filled filming style made famous by director Wes Anderson. This is the perfect example of a candidate breaking the mold of political commercials. The creative team who fashioned this campaign gem made something memorable, particularly to the younger, Wes Anderson film going constituency to whom Smiley is targeting.

Political advertising has a reputation for feeling hackneyed and amateurish, which is unfortunate but also promising for forward thinking clients. The solution may lie in hiring the right creative team, one that is paying close attention to trends and understands what grabs audiences better than a busy candidate or organization would care to know.

CRAFT is one such agency. Young, dynamic, and fearless, CRAFT has garnered national attention and earned numerous Pollie and Telly Awards for its inventive ad campaigns. Our most recent success is the debut ad for Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio. Called “Groundbreaking” by the Wall Street Journal and “First of its kind” by CNN, CRAFT presented DeMaio as a “New Generation Republican,” bringing a fresh and positive message into the 2014 Congressional election. Another triumph is the 2012 Congressional campaign for Mia Love, where CRAFT fashioned a compelling narrative which not only won two Telly Awards and six Pollie Awards, but also earned over $1 million for Love’s campaign. CRAFT combines political expertise with creative finesse rarely seen in most public relation firms and ad agencies. Winning hearts on the Internet is more important than ever, and CRAFT understands that.