Wit and graphic design - is it just an excuse to mess about or is there a good reason to make use of witty thinking in the designs for your company?

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Wit makes graphics memorable. Agile thinking - a reversal, a twist, a sideways jump - is recognised within the mind, and once understood in this way is rarely forgotten.

The best graphic design does more than capture attention, it prolongs the encounter, compelling one not only to notice, but to remember.

Not all ideas that go into a graphic design can be witty. Using obviously recycled paper for a brochure stock is not a witty idea - unless it is a government report on landfill and has 'This Report is Rubbish' printed on the front.

Which brings me to the question of appropriate wit. There are different roles for wit within design, and more often it will have no more than a walk-on part, but be no less important for that.

We have to make a distinction between 'controlling ideas' and 'witty ideas'. controlling ideas are based on practical decisions which influence the structure of the job. What information does the target audience want to know? What do we want to tell them?

Witty ideas are more playful, more intelligent and add frisson.

There is a distinct difference between wit and humour - some wit provokes a laugh, but more often it just raises a smile or an inward nod of recognition.

Most wit provokes nothing more than a state of mild amusement but it makes a mark on the memory, which is why it works.