Words to Design By…

Posted on May 12, 2017 in Design 101

Words to Design By…

Posted on January 1, 2016 in Design 101
“Well begun is half done” wraps up our studio’s approach to almost any problem. We’re quick to extend our capabilities, adopt new practices and stretch our comfort zone. Once the momentum has begun, it will carry you through the tough spots.


Posted on July 26, 2014 in Design 101

Spear Evolutionary-42

We think David Parks first used the phrase “Evolutionary or Revolutionary” to describe the two design paths when refreshing an existing corporate identity. We evaluate an existing logo to determine if the logo equity or recognition has value or if a new mark is more appropriate. Successful evolutionary logos carefully alter existing marks in a way that is not immediately evident to established customer bases.

This project for Spear, a Cincinnati-based labeling company, is a perfect example of how our careful manipulation of their existing mark makes it fresh, while not losing any of the existing equity.

Words to Design By…

Posted on September 7, 2012 in Design 101


Posted on August 26, 2012 in Design 101


We use a tree metaphor for designing corporate identity. The trunk is the logo and other non-changeable elements. In our design world, this takes shape as a Brand Guideline. Limbs are the overarching principals of the organization such as innovation or efficiency. In some instances, they can also represent different company divisions. Leaves are the individual products or ad campaigns. Most campaigns last 18-24 months and then new ones sprout. Leaves also tend to be the most colorful – or have the most personality (another White Design Studio term we use a lot!). Trunk and limb level messaging should always inform or support the leaf level.

Using the WHY-HOW-WHAT strategy, the trunk is the WHY message, limbs are the HOW and leaves are the WHAT. Product managers want only to talk about the leaves – or the WHAT – but they should be framing all of the messaging in the context of WHY, HOW and WHAT.

Bottom line: Every message should include portions of WHY, HOW and WHAT – the difference is in the proportions of each.

Words to Design By…

Posted on November 7, 2010 in Design 101

Same But Different

Posted on August 26, 2009 in Design 101

Same but Different-49
Another WDS axiom – and one of our favorites. We especially use this phrase in the exhibit or retail solutions where we are designing a base system with common parts or elements and simply changing the dressing for a particular product line. This sketch shows a series of logos for Spear that share a common graphic language but use different colorways and graphics to make them distinctive.

Words to Design By…

Posted on November 22, 2007 in Design 101


Posted on January 26, 2007 in Design 101


It takes two – two sides of the brain, that is – to learn and retain. The right hemisphere of the brain responds to emotions. So we use emotional techniques to help us get our targeted consumers’ attention. Once we have it, they are in a position to absorb a message and retain it. For that, we target the left hemisphere.

We marry this idea with our WHY-HOW-WHAT message structure. WHY messages are best delivered by targeting using techniques that tap the emotive, or right side of the brain. HOW messages use equal parts of the left and right hemispheres, and WHAT messages utilize the left hemisphere. The left side targets analytical messaging.

A WDS hypothesis is that during an experience the left hemisphere becomes saturated and needs the right side to be restimulated periodically to be ready to retain analytical information again. We use these theories to link together an Experience Arc to our environments. Much like a Story Arc, the Experience Arc carefully orchestrates how a particular message is set up and delivered over time. Concepts like Barbara Fredrickson and Daniel Kahneman’s Peak-End Rule also get woven into our Experience Arcs. More on this in later posts…


Posted on October 28, 2006 in Design 101

TouchPoints are defined as “any encounter where customers and business engage to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions.” and they are another favorite term at our studio. We talk about creating an experience arc by identifying every touchpoint and examining them as a series of events – each building on and shaping the next. A perfect example of the “whole being greater than the sum of the parts.” TouchPoints can be a physical location such as Showroom or a process such as Registration. Any and all points of contact – or touchpoints – are an opportunity to communicate your message, and the cumulative series of touchpoints makes up the overall experience.