I’m a less-is-more fanatic. How many times have I fought hard for a single small image on a book cover? Or cheered on one-word titles (bad for search, I know)? And I never wear earrings AND a necklace . . . it’s just too much. So there’s no doubt I’m a radical less-is-more gal. Until recently.
We’re publishing a book this month called This Is How to Get Your Next Job in which the “less is more” adage was put to the test on the jacket design. Our design firm was Faceout Studio (a hip and helpful group out of Oregon), and our instructions to Faceout were: Give us a very strong but very simple design to go with this very commanding title. We received three designs.
Let’s take a look. First this one, which I call Teal Retro. Handsome (of course, it’s a Faceout design), but not simple enough, and more charming than strong.
Next, something completely different, which I’ll call Grey Icons. Very contemporary and much more focused on the job-finding process. But not completely clear – were those icons representing the jobs you had held and the orange was the “next” on — or were the doc icons all the competing resumes and yours is the orange. Hmmm.
The next design I simply call Checkmarks.
Wow. Now that’s what I call simple and strong on several levels:
- Big declarative title (in a fresh font).
- Simple presentation — just an unfolded piece of paper that implies resumes and almost nothing else to interfere with the powerful title.
- And then the frosting on the cake – four checkmarks (and the marker, just for fun) to show you the process you go through.
We felt the four checkmarks really worked, because they’re not only energetic and positive, but they literally illustrate how you get a job by using the book:
√ at a
Brilliant! Visually gives the reader a sense of how easy it is to check off the steps that lead to a job. And then a final confirming checkmark on the word JOB, because you got the job! We were in love.
We asked Faceout to make a couple of changes (bump up the subtitle, give it a darker background) and eagerly sent it off to author Andrea Kay.
Here’s her reaction:
Andrea: “I love it. Strong. Simple. Clear. Except for one thing — too many checkmarks. They obscure the title.”
Us: What? No, they enhance the title, they lead you through the idea.
Andrea: Nuh uh — they’re so powerful and red, it’s hard to “see” the title.
For once I was arguing on the side of More, and someone else on the side of Less. It felt really weird, like I was playing the part of a villain in a school play. And yet in this case more DID seem like more. The four checkmarks made a strong point.
But what to do? Andrea’s the author – it’s the face of her book. She’s our partner in marketing the book. So we had Faceout create the Single Checkmark version. Here it is and this is what we went with. Simple, handsome, clear cover with a fat red checkmark, reiterating “you’ll get that job.” And it looks great.
But I still like it with MORE checkmarks. What do you think?
Cathleen Ouderkirk is Creative Director here at AMACOM. With us for over 20 years, she started as a copywriter and then moved to producing catalogs, sales sheets, and direct mail pieces, before moving on to design. After secretly designing on her own book jackets and showing them to the acquisition editors, her work evolved into overseeing all of our jackets today. Visit our website for freelance design inquiries.