If they’re meant to help us find our way back, shouldn’t they — wait for it — point backward?

Pigeon with a slice of bread around its neck
Pigeon with a slice of bread around its neck
Photo: iStock

About 18 months ago I wrote a story on Medium that blew up. Over the years our design firm has published scores of articles about branding and UX design, but to this day my 2,000-word essay on breadcrumbs is by far the most read and most liked of them all. Which, for a topic as pedantic as the proper use of breadcrumbs in UX design, is fairly hilarious. It’s become a running joke around our office. I mean, what could possibly be more interesting than breadcrumbs?

Jokes aside, the article’s popularity got me thinking. If breadcrumb trails are useful, can they be made more useful? Their purpose, after all, is to improve user experience, and research shows these little strings of text links can, in fact, be a helpful tool for way-finding and navigation. …


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Clean water changes everything (photo by charity: water)

Last Sunday I sat in church listening to a message given by Rob Verdeyen, my pastor of more than twenty years. He was teaching through the book of John and, as he often does, he seamlessly wove the gospel message of sin, sacrifice, and salvation into the sermon.

At one point he expounded soberly upon sixteen of what must be the least quoted words of Jesus as recorded in the book of Matthew, chapter 25: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

As Pastor Rob continued to talk, my thoughts drifted. I scanned the words printed in red on the pages in front of me. Who was Jesus speaking to? What had they done to earn his eternal judgement?


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Surviving the shark-infested seas of outside branding input.

So, you’re about to embark on a rebranding project for your organization. Congrats! If done well, and you follow a trusted map, you and your crew will be proud of where you land. If done poorly, the waters ahead could turn treacherous.

Let’s start with what not to do.

Thou shalt not crowdsource

Some marketing consultants may tell you the best way to engage a target audience in the branding process is to invite everyone to vote or comment on three final logo concepts. Let the people choose! More input the better! If everyone has a say, who can complain? This advice may sound good at first, but in the real world it’s a big gamble with few upsides. Asking outsiders who have no skin in the game and who have little-to-no knowledge of your organization’s plans and goals to choose your brand identity has roughly a 97% chance of not going well. The conflicting feedback and sour comments you’ll receive (I can’t believe they budgeted $100K on this! A fourth grader with a smartphone could design a better logo!*) will cause stress, self-doubt, and may sink the ship entirely. …


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Introducing a new brand identity in a way that gets the right response.

Picture this: You and your staff have spent the past several months collaborating with a branding design firm to revamp your organization’s logo, messaging, and communication tools, and the date you’ve set for proudly revealing it to the world is fast approaching.

A lot’s at stake. You’ve invested a great deal of time and money in your rebranding effort, and you hope to introduce it in a way that gets your audiences as excited about the new identity as you are. You want your internal team to start using the new logo, messaging, and brand tools in the correct way, right away. …


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Also see state requirements for: Oregon | Washington | Other states

Understanding accessibility

Designing a website that’s “accessible” means you’re providing an equivalent experience for all users, regardless of the physical and cognitive ability an individual user may or may not have. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts it this way: “Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact” with your website without barriers.

Who is the W3C? They’re an international non-governmental association that develops technical specifications for HTML and CSS, as well as recommendations and best practices for security, online payments, and accessibility. …


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Also see state requirements for: California | Oregon | Washington

Understanding accessibility

Designing a website that’s “accessible” means you’re providing an equivalent experience for all users, regardless of the physical and cognitive ability an individual user may or may not have. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts it this way: “Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact” with your website without barriers.

Who is the W3C? They’re an international non-governmental association that develops technical specifications for HTML and CSS, as well as recommendations and best practices for security, online payments, and accessibility. …


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Also see state requirements for: California | Washington | Other states

Understanding accessibility

Designing a website that’s “accessible” means you’re providing an equivalent experience for all users, regardless of the physical and cognitive ability an individual user may or may not have. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts it this way: “Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact” with your website without barriers.

Who is the W3C? They’re an international non-governmental association that develops technical specifications for HTML and CSS, as well as recommendations and best practices for security, online payments, and accessibility. …


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Also see state requirements for: California | Oregon | Other states

Understanding accessibility

Designing a website that’s “accessible” means you’re providing an equivalent experience for all users, regardless of the physical and cognitive ability an individual user may or may not have. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) puts it this way: “Accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact” with your website without barriers.

Who is the W3C? They’re an international non-governmental association that develops technical specifications for HTML and CSS, as well as recommendations and best practices for security, online payments, and accessibility. …


Madison Ave. Collective recently completed the development of an enormous online store built on WordPress with WooCommerce. The site has more than 6,000 unique products, however, only about ten percent of the items listed are actually for sale. The rest of the “products” are vintage artifacts on display at an e-commerce museum known as BNP — BrandNamePencils.com.

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The backstory

BNP showcases the personal collection of one of the world’s foremost pencil enthusiasts, Bob Truby, a middle school art teacher who manages the whole kit and caboodle from a tiny upstairs room at his home in Nampa, Idaho. …


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You say potato … they hear tamahto

It happens all the time. In just about every meeting with every client there’s a point when words stop working as expected. You say one thing; your client hears another.

Miscommunication with clients is particularly frustrating because as branding designers we are in the business of communication. We pride ourselves in our ability to simplify the complex. We leap at the challenge to transform a mess of disjointed inputs into an elegant output. We labor long hours, fine-tuning our client’s communications in order to ensure their message is easy to understand and easy to act upon.

But then, inevitably, it happens. While you’re pitching that all-important big idea to a new client—or even just trying to describe the thing on your screen to someone over the phone — the understanding of a word gets in the way. …

About

Jeff Jimerson

Principal and Creative Director at Madison Ave. Collective

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