Effective Wit & Cleverness In Design

With so many great designers in the world, it can be hard to set yourself apart. Crafting a memorable design that connects with your audience and provokes a feeling is one of the ultimate goals of every designer. Actually doing it however, is easier said than done.

One of the most elusive skills in a designer’s arsenal is that of wit—a skill that can take a design from good to great by providing that audience to designer connection. By provoking a thought or emotion, witty design is almost always remembered. It is design that contains another layer than just effective layout and typography. Witty design contains a strong element of thoughtfulness and ultimately, playfulness. It is almost always worth the extra effort on the designer’s part because it is design that will linger in the audience’s mind even after the design has disappeared from their view. It’s important to keep in mind that wit in design should not hurt the overall function. The form, function, and playful wit should work simultaneously to enhance the overall effectiveness of the design.

The following examples are just some of the witty designs that I personally keep returning to look at again and again.


Naked Beer Can

Naked Beer Can Design

One of those moments where every designer around the world is going  “I wish I thought of that.” This beer can design plays off the name of the company perfectly and makes anyone who sees it crave a cold one. A great instance of how less can really be more.


Lolita Book Cover

Lolita Book Cover Design

The classic formerly banned book by Vladimir Nobokov is a disturbing tale of inappropriate infatuation. The crushed lollipop cover serves to heighten the sense of lost innocence prevalent in the novel adding both a playful, and sinister touch to the otherwise deceptively plain cover.



Shopping Bags

Clever Shopping Bag Design

Clever Shoe Shopping Bag Design

A prime example of how even something as ubiquitous as a shopping bag can become clever and delightful.



Uncorked Book Cover

Uncorked Book Cover Design

 Typography provides so many opportunities for playfulness and this cover is no exception. I can’t imagine how many cover designs were created before someone had this stroke of genius. Simple, effective, and playful designs are not easy to create.



Prescription Premium Pilser

Clever Beer Bottle Design

Another example of excellent beer packaging design (perhaps the alcohol industry provides more areas for playfulness than most), the beer bottle disguised as a prescription bottle is once again an example where less means more. Utilizing the traditional bottle shape means the familiarity of the product is not lost, but the untraditional artwork creates immense shelf-appeal.


Buzz Honey Jars

Clever Honey Package Design

Creative honey packaging seems to be everywhere these days, but these jars in particular are one of my favorites. By utilizing natural materials with the wood, the earthiness of honey is not lost. The design in the shape of a bee hive is really such a simple solution but brings big impact. I can see this jar being put on display long after the last drop of honey is gone.

Looking for some clever logo designs? Be sure to check out our recent article showcasing the effective use of negative space in logo design.

Thanks to Sara Berkes for this great article!


FIDMDigitalArts contributor, Sara BerkesSara Berkes is currently a Graphic Design/Branding major in the Professional Designation Program at FIDM. She has a B.A. Honors in English and Creative Writing from the University of King’s College and enjoys any opportunity to combine her interests in writing and design. She loves design that uses lots of white space, hand lettering, geometric shapes and excellent kerning, though not necessarily all at once. When not designing or writing, Sara enjoys knitting, sewing and reading lots of books.

Be sure to check out her website by clicking here.


Questions/comments? Email the editor, Mani O’Brien at mobrien@fidm.edu

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Author: Sara Berkes

Sara Berkes is a graphic designer, writer and maker based in Ottawa, ON, Canada. She has a combined BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of King's College and an AA in Graphic Design, which she earned from FIDM in December 2013 along with the 2013 / 2014 Graphic Design Award. When not designing or blogging at Sara Berkes Creative or writing for the FIDM Digital Arts Blog, Sara can probably be found sewing, knitting, or hiding from Winter. You can find out more about her and her work at www.saraberkescreative.com

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