We notice the things that distract us.
I used to say this a lot when I taught because it’s often the little things that catch our eye and distract us. That can be either really good or really bad. If something is designed that is great in concept and layout but, for example, the apostrophe in the logo is a foot mark (boo!), that’s what I will remember, a negative distraction. I really like the clothing brand Free People. Not because their clothes are all that great but because of how the tags are sewn into the inside of the fabric, a positive distraction. It’s the little details that will either make or break a design. In the two pictures above, I was distracted in a good way. In the picture from San Francisco, I noticed that Q in Liquor first. All of those letters are trying so hard to conform to the space and sit tight on the baseline but there is something about that Q, the tail of the Q, that is saying ‘screw it’, I’m busting out of here! The tail of the Q is what I noticed. If you own a store that sells beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, cigars, snacks and sodas, why would ‘phone cards’ be handled that way? What makes phone cards so special? I can’t even remember the last time I used a phone card. But, if I ever need a phone card, I’m coming to this store to buy one…and maybe some liquor too. I need to see what is making that Q so happy.
What distracts me (positively) in the sign from Pittsburgh is the way Original is handled. Script neon next to all caps neon. They are having a bit of an identity crisis here with the vertical black letter ‘Oyster House’, the all caps ‘Oyster House’ on the glass and then the neon above the door but I don’t care. The decision that was made to make ‘Original’ script was a good one because that’s what I remember.
Never underestimate the power of distraction.