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As far back in my design career as I can remember there has been some
form of cultural awareness among the advertising and publishing industry. This became
a striking reality to me, personally, after I presented a "Graphics Tips"
seminar at a desktop publishing conference in Washington D.C. Shortly following the
conference I began getting inquiries by phone and email on where to find ethnic and
cross-culture clip art. At that time, the mid-eighties, these themes in available
art were all but nonexistent. At least some of the publishers, writers and marketers
at the conference recognized a real need to include cultural markets rather than
___ As I've always preached, it's the designer's solemn obligation to purvey the client or editor's message in the most advantageous way -- optimally to the target audience -- ideally to the widest possible audience and marketplace. Forget about your own likes or dislikes and wake up to cultural differences.
A wake-up call for designers
This is the opening wake-up call to all designers in the latest work by Ronnie Lipton, award-winning journalist and publications designer -- Designing Across Cultures. In this milestone work, Lipton interviews more than 130 agencies and designers who specialize in ethnic audiences. As you read the text you get the sober message that you're chasing away potential readers and customers just by the colors, images and layouts of your ads and publications.
___ "If you dilute what's ethnic about a design until the client gets it, you risk watering down or losing entirely -- the intended impact on the audience. Or worse: A design that doesn't ring true may turn off the audience, wasting all that effort and expense. Your client's competitors will thank you." Lipton points out that many major corporations have invested in the need to understand these "new" filters. They're forming ethnic-marketing departments and working with ethnic specialty agencies. You'll see in this book, that's not enough to avoid blunders. Some companies and their designers are still learning (the expensive way,) that it takes a sensitive touch to design for ethnic groups. Effective design begins here:
___ More importantly, the internet has generated a title wave of multi-national of consumers and information gatherers. In the past five years, our traffic in the Design Center has proven this rule. Today, nearly half of the visitors come from outside of the US.
"So how do you communicate with your ethnic audiences? You begin as you would for any other: Base your design on insights into the audience. Then imbue these designs with subtle visual cultural cues. Visual design is important in reaching ethnic audiences, especiafly those for whom English is a second language."
___ "Here's why: In the first seconds that a person views a message-before even reading a word, no matter what the language -- it's the images that hold the power to connect. It's the images that make a viewer decide even whether to read a word."
So ask yourself:
Across Cultures provides the guidelines and examples you need to start creating
designs that speak to specific ethnic groups. Each of the major U.S. ethnic groups
are examined, including Asian-Americans, U.S. Hispanics, African-Americans, and European-Americans.
The differences between ethnic subgroups are also surveyed, from Korean to Puerto
Rican to Russian and dozens more.
Wake up designers...
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