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How do you define design? American Art Director Paul Rand described it as, “the silent ambassador of your brand.” American business magnate Steve Jobs called it, “the fundamental soul of a human-made creation.” Communication artist Erik Adigard called it, “the mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda and philosophy.” To us, design is all of the above and more. As the longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency in Orange County, design is an integral part of everything we produce—from digital campaigns to out-of-home (OOH) advertising and everything in between.

Today we’re sitting down with one of our Senior Designers, New York native Denise Coke so you can get to know the woman behind some of our latest work and gain valuable insights on all things design, including how to capture company tone and harness noteworthy trends.

How did you get into design?

I’ve been drawing since I was a child. I went to the High School of Fashion Industries, received a certificate in textiles, and realized the construction of garments wasn’t my thing. What I did realize is that I loved fashion illustration and art. At the time, Myspace was big, I designed my high school yearbook and I was really into computers, so I wanted to look for a career that combined technology and art. Thus, my love for graphic design was born.

What is your favorite stage in the design process?

The sketching and presentation process. Concepting a million ideas onto one page is therapeutic because it pulls all the ideas out at once and allows you to look deeper into what you want to create. The presentation process is stressful, but it’s so rewarding seeing all of your work finalized and in one cohesive piece.

Who or what are your top three inspirations for your design work and why?

Takashi Murakami for his imaginative, original murals and sculptures. The massive use of color and scale of his pieces are something I really look to when I’m trying to create a new world.

Kehinde Wiley has normalized the beauty of black people. He paints Renaissance style art, but with characters who represent people you’d see every day in my neighborhood. I look to him for inspiration when it comes to making elegant patterns and telling a story with a still image.

Travel is my biggest inspiration. While you can Google, Pinterest and read on inspiration, having real life experiences outside of home is what broadens my viewpoint and allows me to design for a greater audience. Many designers are confined to what they know and that leads to stale design. Taking in the architecture, the people and the moments you are living in, is what makes a big design greater. Many of my tattoos are inspired by and even tattooed in the cities I’ve traveled to.

Can you think of a recent campaign that made you stop and think? What was it about that campaign that caught your attention?

Geico’s ‘It’s What You Do’ campaign. It’s a play on horror movie stereotypes and how the main characters always run in the direction of danger. I liked it because it took a jab at something everyone normally vents about during horror movies – in the time it takes for the main character to do all the extremes that lead to the “killer” catching them, they could’ve escaped, or in Geico’s case saved money on their car insurance.

I think humor is a great way to capture audiences and with the need for everything to be trending or information to be delivered rapidly, having some quick wit can lead to the audience following up for more.

Adobe listed the design trends of 2019 as 3D, minimalistic with bold gradients, realism and flat design, eclectic and open compositions. Which of these do you think will continue to shine in 2020?

I believe 3D and flat design will continue in 2020. I think minimalism looks great in the corporate market, but many designers are looking to push the envelope with the content they’re producing. With a market that requires fast information, trends can become stale quickly. What’s neat about 3D is it plays into a new dimension and can be used for next-level design, like virtual/augmented reality and Material Design. Click To Tweet

Are there any other design categories that you foresee trending in 2020 or ones to keep an eye on?

Art history in the sense of giving an ode to older decades due to reboots and the storytelling of forgotten people or events, repetition in design with either typography or symbols, activism in design, event design with pop ups and installations, experience design and flat illustration.

Do you have any tips on how to create excellent mood boards?

When it comes to concepting work, I create mood boards and vision boards on Pinterest and Dribbble. I section a lot of my mood boards by color, texture, lifestyle, etc. This makes it easier to explain and I can pull inspiration from an organized state of mind. Also, not just using images similar to what you’re trying to create works really well. For example, if I need a mood board for a hospital, I may throw in clippings from a fashion magazine just for layout purposes.

What are some common design mistakes that you frequently encounter and how can these be avoided?

Alignment issues with type. Using grids and being mindful of hierarchy can help with this. Putting too much information on a social asset. Any social platform gives you the opportunity to place copy in captions and description boxes. Placing too much copy on an image can lead to cramming/ legibility issues and the post being overlooked overall. Having a copywriter who specializes in social media can fix this as they will only put the necessary information (if copy is needed) on the image and all supportive information in the caption. You only have one second to capture someone’s eye. It’s better to have an appealing design, rather than a textbook. Click To Tweet

What aspect of user interface (UI) design do you think is most overlooked?

The hook factor. You can have a beautiful design but if from the first look, I don’t know about your company or what you do, I’m lost. When navigating an app or website, I feel you should have told the visitor who you are, what you specialize in, why they should choose you and how to contact you on the first page alone.

How do you capture company tone in design?

I start with keywords the company uses in everyday conversation (maybe from an initial interview) or in their mission/vision statement. I then create a word web that breaks off into smaller pieces that are more detailed in thinking. I usually like to start branding or video projects with a full brand tone that includes characters with real stories, personalities and capabilities.

If you’re looking to elevate your brand with research-backed creative and design work, drop us a line!

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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.