Five design elements that need to be banned

Five design elements that need to be banned

If I ever actually hold the office of "Philosopher King of the World", my very first official act would be to pass an edict that bans the following images from use in any ads or other forms of communication.

This ban comes not out of a grudge against these particular elements, but from the ubiquitously lazy, hackneyed use of these in lieu of actually applying brain power to find a better way to convey a message.

Forthwith, any designer, ad executive or marketing person who is caught brandishing the following icons will have their eye's plucked out and the letter "H" for Hack sewn to their person.

  • Dart boards - We get it. The product is on target. --and the design to convey that is spiffy, but has been used a million times before. Off to the eye pluck you go! Avoid this in your ads, unless of course you are a dart board company. Target the store is the exception to this rule since they've co-opted the graphic as a brand. But even they know that eventually the consumer will tire at the overuse of this graphic.


  • Boxing gloves - It's tough, it packs a wallop, it's a battle...and it's been used in ads and graphics since the invention of boxing. Do us all a favor and be honest. Tell the client it was the first thing that popped into your head while you were at happy hour, and it seemed like a smashing campaign at the time. Then apologize and go back to the drawing board.

    boxing gloves

  • Pointing Fingers - Didn't your mother ever teach you it's rude to point?  How about your Graphic Arts professors? Here's the rule: If the design icon you intend on using pulls up a search result of 1.6 million or more, think about trying something else. The only acceptable use of the pointing finger is in Uncle Sam posters from 1918 or as an app icon. Even then it kind of bores me. Call the king fickle.

    pointing fingers

  • Binoculars - The client brief says "we want something that says we are looking or focusing on our product." So the total clown will creative will reach into their bag of cliches and pull forth this gem of a solution. Don't be a clown. The client will thank you for not wasting their time and money on zero impact graphics. 

    The only acceptable use of binoculars in an ad is in an ad for binoculars.


  • The Magnifying Glass - Ah...the old standard that says "super focus", "inspection" and "look at me". But really it says, "Crap, it's quarter to five, I better slap something together or I'll never make my train."

    magnifying glass

    Of all the icons that the designers pulls from their tackle box of shame, this is the topper for most abused. Oddly, it usually gets married with looking at newspaper classifieds. Perhaps the meme that this creates, that classifieds are hard to read, is what's killing the newspaper business? 

    Definitely a topic for the Philosopher King to ponder over...

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