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If it works, don't fix it in the masthead.
by Andy Attiliis

Except in rare cases, the groundwork for a masthead has already been firmly established. By the time an organization begins thinking about a magazine or newsletter, branding decisions have usually been made.There shouldn't be a need to explore new design solutions when logo and typographical issues are resolved. Even in the case of a company that publishes multiple publications, the difference in each name combined with subtle variables will surely make one pub's look sufficiently different from the next.
         With the suggested masthead name and graphic guidelines in hand, an experienced designer will easily make a good start. If there is an inherent problem with the name that directly inhibits the goal of accomplishing a good design, this is the time it should be addressed. If the name is a winner, a few black and white designs, just enough to show concept, will be enough to settle on the right direction. Then, using a graphic standards manual or existing published materials as a guide, the approved direction should be easy to finish.
         Sound to easy to be true? The process can be so relaxed that a questionable bonus is usually realized somewhere along the line. This wonderfully distinctive, well intentioned visual idea will surely raise its ugly head. Expect it, because creative muscles are very strong. When a design comes too easy they can flinch uncontrollably. Sometimes the new inspiration adds a great deal without violating corporate identity at all. Other times, it can seem irresistable, eventhough conformity to the existing momentum is lost. Now's time for the real work­ a careful review of the original design goals in order to ensure the most productive long-term decision.


Andy Attiliis has served as art director for three advertising agencies. Since becoming an independent professional in 1981, he has been hired by nearly every type of business organization. With focused concentration on improving the continuity of a message’s concept and quality, he has often performed multiple creative functions on a single project. His additional experience as a creative director, designer, illustrator and writer have made him an extremely efficient single source art director/creative provider. The kinds of communications for which he has provided art direction range from ads to newsletters, brandings to Web sites.

Copyright 2001 Andy Attiliis. All rights reserved.
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