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Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions

Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions

This article discusses the steps and order of developing a visual communication strategy for a design award or competition.

A major step in realizing a good design award or competition is designing the visual communication guidelines and platform interface to provide consistency and required professionalism to the event. The Visual strategy covers the following elements: The Logo, The Trophy, Stationary Paper and Written Communication Guidelines, Poster, Website and others.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
Having some restrictions to start with is a good idea, as this would significantly decrease the time to arrive with a good design. In the case of IDesignAwards, we have imposed restrictions for incorporating the orange color, focusing on the "i" aspect of the logo and using a modern font-face. Furthermore, we want the logos to be CNC friendly, which means we should work on vectors during the design and meanwhile we must imagine how a trophy would look like if we use the logo as the basis.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
First of all, a brainstorming session should be held, where different alternatives are considered. The strongest alternatives are not always the most aesthetic options, but rather designs that would be efficient to use and incorporate. In many cases, it is a good practice to imagine the logo both horizontal and vertical, and also in black and white.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
Usually, a logo has a symbol and a text component. The symbol, and sometimes the mascot is what people remember, it is colorful and serves as a mental anchor to relate to. The symbol part is important as this is a strong visual element that could be incorporated into any type of material. However, just a symbol is not enough in many scenarios especially when launching a new brand.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
For this reason, we also incorporate a text, a human readable, interpret-able text that people can understand and relate to, for instance by searching the text in search engines, one can access the website (Of course, in future it would be possible to just scan and search based on the symbol but still the text is self-explanatory which gives its power). Furthermore, it also gives us hints on how to read the symbol. The text element does not need to be plan, as we can incorporate some styling to it.
The horizontal logo is important as it is a widely used format, especially for letterheads, and other communications where the height of the logo is restricted. The horizontal logo, is wide, therefore when re-sized based on the height, it does not disappear. It is usually possible to derive the horizontal logo from the text element.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
The combination of text logo, and the symbol gives us the final logo, which we could use in many situations ranging from stationary to merchandise, from the trophy to certificates of the design competition. It is best practice to not to distort the elements, and have the logo in transparent background with vector format so that it could be incorporated anywhere.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
Furthermore, since some printing issues might arise, a manual black and white version should be created; this is not a gray-scale version of the logo, but a high-contrast version that is useful for many occasions, such as for making bump effects on 3d (emboss or engraving), for applying on materials where coloring is not possible, and for b/w prints.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
After the logo is defined, we should incorporate a stationery design, it also follows the same perspectives, however further logos can be incorporated to stationary design of a design competition. These additional logos are that of: Sponsors, Organizers, Patrons, Spin-offs and Endorsements.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
After the stationary design is defined, we must also create and provide written communication guidelines to be respected and used during the written communication between the event and other stakeholders. Having a stable written communication based on the "written communication guidelines" makes sure that the event is professionally designed and executed.
The written communication guidelines usually covers: Font-Face, Headlines Size, Text-Size and Overall structure and positioning. This four elements are usually enough to start, but a corporate memory system should be incorporated as some communication will features tables, charts etc, which we would want to have them look similar for consistency.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
Meanwhile, based on the initial logo and symbol design, the design competition trophy can be developed. However using an existing commercial award trophy would diminish the value and quality of the award, thus a new and unique trophy design is a must, especially considering that we are discussing a design award.
Furthermore, the award trophy is one of the strongest visual representative elements of a design award, therefore special attention should be given to it. While designing, the choice of materials define not only how it looks and feels, but also its durability. The trophy is an industrial design piece, thus the design process should be left to an industrial designer.
The industrial designer must think: How and where the trophy would be placed, its realization technology (such as casted, cnc engraved, laser cut, 3d printed etc) and also its packaging. There exists thousands of specialist firms that develop trophies, however design awards should be developing their own trophies. In IDesignAwards case, we decided to go with a metal trophy, that is a 3D presentation of the logo.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
In addition to the base elements, logo, stationary and the trophy, several digital designs are necessary. One of such designs are the banners that would be used for online advertisements. It is a good idea to design a common visual language for them. The most common banner is 300x250 pixels rectangular box. A good banner design should involve logo or common design elements, the common fonts, and a call-for action such as "join now".
A further key element of a design competition is the platform that allows the collection of entries, the best practice is to use a website to collect the entries, since we are doing a design award website, its design is also necessary, however functionality should be given the priority. Most important of all, the platform should allow 1. Quick Registration and Login, 2. Easy Upload and Editing, 3. Nomination. Furthermore the platform must provide information regarding 1. Jury, 2. Organizer, 3. Terms and Conditions 4. Competition Deadlines, 5. Competition Brief, 6. Categories, 7. Instructions for submitting, 8. Contacts 9. Frequently Asked Questions, and 10. Prizes or Benefits
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
In addition to the website, a poster should also be developed, this print poster can be attached to mails as a PDF but more importantly can be sent to design schools or other organizations, to create opportunities to attract more participants. The poster design should incorporate the same visual identity.
The best practice is to design an A3 or A2 poster to be distributed. Furthermore, the poster should include logos of involved parties, competition categories, a call-to-action text, and contact or submission details and requirements. A QR Code could be embedded but not required, a good and brief web address works usually better.
Visual Communication Strategies for Design Awards and Competitions
Furthermore, it is always a good idea to have a special packaging for the winners kits, which usually consist of the trophy, the yearbook, merchandises and others. This allows ease-of-distribution during the events such as Gala-Nights, and also after the Gala-Night for shipping to people who were not able to attend.
As a summary, the graphic identity for a design competition is usually based on the name, followed by the initial logo design and the trophy. The trophy could also serve as a good starting point for further design and development.

This article was added on Monday, 27th of January, 2014 at 06.26 am by author Onur Cobanli Tags: design award logo, design award communication, design award strategy, visual communication, visual communication guidelines. Read our copyright policy here.




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