2023 Design Tips & Principles to Navigate a Visual World

Muse Creative Director Kristen Pokorny shares how to visually communicate with clarity, confidence and intrigue.

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Our society craves images and visual stories - just look at the incredible growth of Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest over the past decade. People actively seek out information that’s simple yet entertaining and interesting. This is why visuals and words must work together to communicate a message effectively.

As Creative Director at Muse and in other roles, I've seen people become engaged and feel inspired when brands get the blend of visuals and words just right.

In short, magic happens. And hopefully, consumers take the desired action. Use the wrong blend, well – nothing happens. They just leave and move on to the next thing that draws their attention.

For these reasons, visual communication shouldn’t be an afterthought or "nice to have." It’s a critical component of your brand’s success. Let's dive into the top three design tips & principles that will help your brand shine.


Having worked with a number of brands, from big box to small brick and mortar, I’ve developed a set of design principles to help ensure communication is always clear, confident and intriguing all at the same time.

Comm V Diagram

1. Visual identity establishes consistency

Your visual communication shouldn’t deviate from your established visual identity - the brand colors, photography/video style, patterns, textures and more.

When you build upon this solid foundation, you become more familiar and noticeable to your audience. For instance, it’s easy to spot a Levi’s, Apple or Nike ad even before you see or hear their name. That’s because they’ve exercised a consistent look for decades.


2. Emotion drives design

I love that visual communication allows you to influence the way your audience FEELS. Think about how you feel when you see an image of a sad and lonely puppy. Or a military family being reunited. These visuals affect decision-making and, ultimately, buying decisions.

Before I begin working on a new design, I always dig into the desired emotion. How do you want people to feel when they see the end piece? For visuals to really work, they need to elicit the right emotion. You have to get in touch with the emotional aspects before the design process even starts.


3. The simpler, the better

In my experience, remarkable design is clear and concise. Someone should be able to understand the point of your message within a few seconds. While certain types of communication may call for you to be bold, sophisticated or mysterious, make sure it connects with the intended audience.


Whether you're a junior designer just starting your career or a seasoned communications executive, you should be armed with the right vocabulary to give and receive visual direction. Brand jargon can seem confusing until you understand how the main parts work together: brand, brand design and branding.

Here, I outline the difference between the three and how they're used to elevate consumers' brand experience.

Do you need a new visual identity or comprehensive design solutions for your communications? We’re here to help. Connect with our team to discuss your goals!

About the Author

Kristen Pokorny is a Creative Director at Muse and leads our visual communications department. She possesses a range of creative design skills including creating within existing brand guidelines to building ideas from the ground up. With over 15 years of agency experience, she's worked with both large, global brands and small businesses. She’s well versed in the entire creative process, from sketch phase and lettering to final production.

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