Great Design in Surprising Places

Great Design in Surprising Places

Occasionally a flower pops up in a field of weeds and sometimes you find great design in unusual places.  This week I reached into my mailbox and from the great wad of waste therein (most bound straight for the recycled bin), a sliver of direct mail caught my eye – the goal of every direct mailer, right?

I typically write about social and environmental impact with occasional forays into branding when it moves me: strategy, design, positioning, messaging.

One of the last places I find good design is the realm of politics. Doesn’t matter which party, either.  Occasionally there are gems and when there are, I write about them – such was the case last year with an artful yard sign.

My mailbox yielded another instance of strong design. It comes from Nikson Mathews, a candidate for the Idaho State Legislature.

And no wonder the design is so smart – turns out Nikson is associate creative director at a crackerjack creative agency here in Boise called Against.

 Here’s what I like about this direct mailer.

  • Bold use of type. The first thing I saw in my mailbox was a slice of that big “YOUR” and it immediately piqued my curiosity.
  • Information design. It’s got a great flow that guides you quickly and efficiently through the front panel. Clean, clean, clean.
  • Messaging. I’m a big fan of “threes.”  Triads, trinities, troikas, triangles, tequila shots – and three key points to convey the messages (body, books, rights) you want to stick with your audience – again, bolstered by use of strong type.
  • Bare bones copy. As a writer, I know how much gnashing at the keyboard it takes to distill copy to its essence, which Nikson has accomplished. And I love the line broken out in boldface on the mailing panel: Advocacy is not a substitute for representation.
  • Great use of infographics.  In this case they present statistics that ladder back to the three key messages and make you WANT to read the copy.
  • Color palette. Oh, oh, oh – It’s so different and pleasing and positive! It combines to create a sense of hope. Don’t underestimate the power of breaking out from the traditional reds and blues!

Full disclosure: I know Nikson, but not all that well.  As luck would have it, two days later they landed on my front porch, doing the door-to-door knocking thing around the neighborhood.  We had a good talk, I complimented them on the direct mailer, and wished them well in their campaign.

Don’t you just love good design wherever you find it – even if, or especially when, it’s in a political campaign?

Godspeed, friends.


💬 Quote of the Week

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.” John Steinbeck

🤔 If we missed you last week

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💥 Quick Hits

Fueling Ultra-Fast Fashion – Sounds kind of funky, but have you ever heard of the "Deminimis Loophole"? Smart writing on the unsustainable cycle of cheap, disposable clothing from our friends at TS Designs.

• "We are not made to sit in a rocking chair and knit" – In an update to a story we wrote about last year (Power to the People), a powerful European court has ruled that climate inaction by Switzerland violates human rights in a lawsuit brought by senior citizens.

Consolidation in sustainable consumerism Karma Wallet, known for its sustainable financial products, acquires an early trailblazer in sustainable shopping, DoneGood. Wishing Cullen Schwarz well on his post-DoneGood endeavors.

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