Bookshelf: The Strategic Designer & Designing Type

By Rocky Roark

This past month I read two books, one on brand strategy and the other on typography.

We are in the midst of refining our branding process again, so I thought the first book would help further that internal discussion. At the beginning of the year, Bill and I discussed my goal of furthering my knowledge of type. Hence, the second book.

The Strategic Designer: Tools and Techniques for Managing the Design Process by David Holston, was a great read that helped me look closer at how I interact with projects and, especially, how I interact with clients.

Holston talks about developing relationships with your clients as a key way to help design projects run smoothly and result in a better product in the long run. When you have a good relationship with a client it makes all the difference.

Another aspect to focus on is research. Before you go balls-to-the-wall on a project, you have to know about your client: their target audience, competitors, and USP (Unique Selling Point). Research helps support what we create. We set ourselves up for victory by creating something well-informed.

Designing Type by Karen Cheng is somewhat different than other books I’ve read this year. It is more like a textbook than a narrative. It will be an invaluable reference book for me as I work to extend my typographic knowledge.

I’m only a year out of design school and typography is one of those areas of design where I am lacking and need to up my game a little bit. It was a class where I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention, and in hindsight I should have.

My biggest takeaway from Designing Type was some of the typographic lingo. As an example, the open space in letters like “b” or “p” are called counters, and a crossbar is the line in the the middle of an uppercase “A.” (Yea… my typographic knowledge was pretty limited. But that is all changing. Within the next couple of weeks, I am going to go back through it, giving myself homework, and diving further.)

So, that’s my takeaways. Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think!