Today, I came across this. It was hanging on a wall an IMF’s HQ1 cafe.
It is a small poster that Sodexo put up as a part of the PR campaign to introduce IMF members to their service.
Notice the 14 icons/flares/symbols? This is what you call visual continuity. Each icon, by itself, is unique. Yet, they are bound to each other through the color palette, shape, drop-shadown and stroke.
This is an example of good visual continuity – so good that I stopped what I was doing to snap a picture and now writing about it.
Visual continuity is all around us. Just now, I looked at my desk phone. Imagine how ridiculous it would be if each of the number buttons were different shapes.
To me, visual continuity is a tool. How else could I design multiple departmental websites unique to one another at the same time fall under the umbrella of the corporate brand? What about a software company that has developed various software solutions with different logos and colors but now have decided to market their solution as a part of a suite? Visual continuity. Think of the Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook. Blue, green, orange, yellow.
We can all agree on the importance of visual continuity but how is it achieved?
- Start with one icon
- Choose a color palette
- Create a style that can be replicated to the 5 to 50 other ones you’ll have to create
- Adjust your layer style to exactly how you want it, then copy and paste the layer style to the others
- Use one designer
- Or choose your icons from the same icon set.
Far too often, users scour the internet a download icons from various locations and various icon sets to populate their project. The results are not pretty.
You have seen an example of good visual continuity in the Sodexo poster above. Here is an example of bad visual continuity:
Thank you Office 95 for it has been 15 years and we still can’t shake clipart. The only continuity here is 3 and 4. 1, 2 and 5 are from another set. And the biggest crime – 6, is a photo.
We are not all super designers but we can all follow simple principles. Visiual continuity is one that everyone can follow. For the more important projects, instruct a your designer to develop a “set of icons”. Not “a few icons”.
Let your eyes and your feelings judge the continuity and the magic will begin. Happy designing.