Tag Archives: smile in the mind

#231/365 Graphic Design


Milton Glaser

To me, there are two schools of thought when it comes to graphic design: the Conceptual and the Aesthetic.

I’m a firm believer in the former. I studied graphic design at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds in the early to mid 80s. Before computers were even invented! Well, maybe not invented. But certainly not in use in the industry at the time. We had to create everything by hand.

It is only with a concept, an idea, that we can engage the viewer’s neural pathways – which helps them remember the message you are trying to convey. Whereas, the purely aesthetic, is superficial.


Herb Lubalin

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that conceptual design shouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing – it should have both. It’s just aesthetics alone are not enough. We need to create windows, not wallpaper.

Here are a few examples that contain the Smile in the Mind. Smile in the Mind is when the concept requires the viewer to complete the circle. To interact with the idea for it to have meaning for them.


Graeme Cooper Photography

Graeme Cooper Photography



Cycling poster
















Filed under Advertising, Art, Brand, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Education, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration

Drop and give me 20 – quid.

Why do brands lose their personality when it comes to the meaty end of the business transaction with the consumer?

By that, I mean retail advertising.

We see brands extol their charms on the telly, on billboards and in the glossy magazines. But why do they suddenly start shouting at us like some under-endowed sergeant major on the drill square when it comes to getting us into the shop?

Buy my product now!

I’m talking about: Buy Now!; Last Chance!; Summer Savings! 50% off!

Obviously, consumers have traveled pretty far down the ‘Path-to-Purchase’ when their radars are attuned to product offers. But that shouldn’t turn a brand we have grown such a fond attachment to into an autistic automaton.

Brand = Dialogue
Retail = Monologue?


It is a scientific fact that if we have to exercise our neural pathways ‘Completing the Circle’ of a communication it will get a foothold in our short term memory banks.

The only way a traditional retail communication will lodge itself into your brain is if it’s forced in there with a lump hammer and a media budget the size of Greece’s national debt.

But fear not my furry little account handler friends, I’m not proposing we hide your tantalizing offer behind a pithy one-liner. I’m talking about making the brand personality an intrinsic part of the retail offer.

Here’s one I prepared earlier for Pedigree pouches. It’s based on the insight that dog owners talk to their pets as if they: a) can understand them, and b) are as intelligent, if not more so, than other members of their family.

So, with that in mind, I thought it might be nice if the offer was aimed at the dog rather than the owner.

A secondary plus side to this approach is that it makes the offer appear 7 times more impressive. And what client wouldn’t like that?

In the interest of readers objecting that this type of thing is a one-off, here’s another one for Ikea. Though it could easily be for DFS, Aldi, BHS etc…

So if you want your messages to be remembered. You’d best say something memorable.

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Filed under Advertising, Brand, Ideas, Inspiration, Strategy