With typography, as in architecture, every detail makes a difference. One of the first steps in constructing your firm’s graphic identity will likely be developing an appropriate logo.
1. First Impressions
It makes sense to select a typeface that reflects your firm’s outlook and positioning. To communicate expertise and capability, classic yet versatile fonts like Times New Roman, Palatino, Helvetica, and Futura can convey your get-down-to-business attitude.
If your organization cultivates a creative image—like the Victoria and Albert Museum—there’s plenty of opportunity to put that idea across with a more disruptive design.
2. Ready for Digital
When letterpress ruled the world, ornate and finely-delineated fonts could make a singularly artistic impact. Today, such typefaces would be blurred and pixelated beyond recognition when viewed on a computer screen. Branding fail! It’s critical to work with fonts that are optimized for digital use.
Your graphic designer will—or should—completely understand this concern. Lucida and Verdana are among fonts that have been designed exclusively for on-screen reading.
3. Think Ahead
Before committing to a font, think of the future. Will your graphic identity be able to age gracefully over time? Of course, it’s hard to anticipate if such a transition should be gradual and nuanced, or, in light of yet-undiscovered opportunities and events, it may need to make a big break from the past.
4. Think Even Farther Ahead
There’s an interesting new class of typefaces—let’s call them fonts with a conscience—that organizations which are serious about saving the world and/or saving a dollar might want to investigate.
Ecofonts are designed with tiny holes in the letter forms; virtually invisible, the little voids reduce the amount of ink needed for printing. (Full disclosure: Hausman LLC uses Garamond, a font which an intrepid young student has determined has both bottom-line and environmental benefits.)
Architects and engineers are certainly no strangers to conveying complex ideas with drawings. But the art form has come a long way since Vitruvian Man and Corbusier’s Modulor. Data visualization can communicate abstract concepts with depth and clarity. To keep your infographics from becoming infauxgraphics, here are some tips on using them effectively in presentations and proposals.
1. Remember Who You Are
It’s easy to get carried away with the design of infographics, but don’t forget they are part of your communications strategy. Keep colors and type fonts consistent with those used in your corporate identity program.
2. Simple is Good
If the visuals are too complicated or esoteric, they’ll overwhelm—instead of enlighten—your audience. Focusing on a finite set of data to illustrate will allow people to absorb your content accurately and without distraction.
3. Use Sparingly
Despite the maxim about pictures and 1,000 words, even the best infographic is no substitute for a well-written paragraph or concise bulletted list.
Given the mind-stretching technological capabilities of data visualization tools, the occasional graphic indulgence can make a presentation memorable. Case in point: Frank Jacobus’ depiction of architects’ most favored materials, excerpted from his book Archi-Graphic.
Interested in learning more about the art and science of infographics? Here are a couple sources:
Called the “Leonardo da Vinci of Data” by The New York Times, Edward Tufte is a statistician, artist, and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Yale. His now-classic books on data visualization are both beautiful and fascinating.
Tableau offers a straightforward yet powerful tool for translating data into smart and aesthetic visuals. Incorporating an interactive dashboard, applying data filters, on-screen comparisons and trend analysis are just some of the functions that can animate your images.
Architecture can be experienced through prose and poetry, but the fullest expression of the art—short of first-hand experience—is image-based. While designers may be in full command of the visual message in their portfolios, when photographs and videos are deployed for marketing and promotional purposes, there are some basic guidelines that help you stay focused on the goal: to enhance your business.
1. Beware the Mixed Message
Does this photo of Singapore’s Lake of Dreams look dreamy? No. It’s more of a nightmare, with blurry people wandering aimlessly about the plaza. Keep images consistent with the impact you want to achieve; visuals should underscore, not undermine, their subject.
2. Imitation is Not Flattering
If you’re just starting your practice and don’t have a lot of built work to feature on your website, it can be tempting to populate it with stock photography to bolster your image. Resist the impulse! These cliché snapshots can do more harm than good, leaving potential clients with the impression that you specialize in generic glass boxes. Uploading some of your more compelling sketches and drawings will give people a better impression of your real talents.
3. Small Details Make Big Impressions
To show off a project to its fullest advantage, choose a mix of overall shots and close-up images to tell the story. Not only will this demonstrate your skill at detailing, the different scale of the photos will better engage viewers—your potential clients!
4. Be Artistic—But Be Careful
Sure, you can take a gallery-worthy abstract shot that reveals the soul of a structure. But does it say more about photographer-you than it does architect-you? Show the story you want people to remember. In the above photo, we learn precious little about the building.
A final caveat: In the age of Instagram and social media, think twice before you post a picture that might not depict your work (or you!) at its best.