Let’s say that concept is the particular transformation of an idea into an image. Pretty out-there, we know. To make this notion more concrete, we’ve compiled some brilliant concept-related techniques found in the world of advertising but applicable to design of all sorts.
1. Find unique ways to simplify
Take a look at the image above – pretty funny, eh? It clicks right away and yet, the image of a robot relieving itself has nothing to do with the message: “recycle your old electronic appliances.” The ad pulls a clever conceptual move. It takes a complex, hard-to-image idea — recycling electronic waste — and pulls out a smaller, more easy-to-image part of the idea (just electronic waste), then builds on that in a unique way.
Take this to heart: when you’re reading a complex brief by a company with abstract objectives, be on the lookout for smaller, more image-ready ideas. As the robot example shows, going some distance from the obvious while remaining relevant can yield the greatest impact.
2. Use commonly-known images to your advantage but make unique adjustments
Spontex – super absorbent
In the above image, we see a woman with smeared makeup, raising a sponge in an empty train station. Anyone who has watched old movies or TV shows will see a lot more: the sobbing woman is bidding farewell to a loved one whose train just left the station and humorously enough, there is a sponge where her handkerchief should be.
Common and well-known images such as this one are useful because they pack a whole lot of emotion and meaning into something very compact. The work has basically been done for you. With a few unique and relevant adjustments (think of the sponge), one of these already-recognizable images can take on a whole new significance.
3. Pack maximum meaning into minimum space
This image is a bit too complex to work as, say, a logo but the principle it illustrates is an important one: good design can fit a BIG concept into a compact space. In this case, the idea is that you touch a lot of germ-infested things over the course of a day. The ad could have shown a number of images, each of someone touching something. Instead, it makes a brilliant move — it combines all of them into a single shape: a hand.
4. Shocking, not offensive
Shock-value can work wonders for ads; what better way is there to get noticed? The above image is certainly eye-catching. It is even disturbing. Yet — and this is a good thing to keep in mind — it is still elegant. Here it is the concept that is shocking, more than the implementation. Yet another instance of concept being key.