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Stylish Ways to Express Messages Through Visual Language

In visual communication design, creativity is as crucial as using cutting-edge technology. Embracing climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and freedom of press – this year’s iF award winners show how it’s done.

Our world has never been as visual as it is today. Just take a step into the pedestrian zone or check your social media news feed on your phone. The visual elements around us – such as videos, posters, printed packaging or clothing – influence everything we do or think, and our brain is reacting to that with rather low attention span. So a clear and concise visual language is key to communicating messages to us as customers. The image we see when we hear about a product or a business is what counts in the end. What’s more, visual identities reflect the values of people, brands and companies. Designers know this and work on the exciting intersection of information through visual communication as reflected in this year’s iF DESIGN AWARD’s discipline "Communication".

iF award-winning designs 2021

This print campaign tackles the unchecked global beef consumption as one of the main driving forces behind the destruction of the world’s natural forests. The skillfully crafted artwork illustrate the similarity of the texture of beef to that of burned forests or deforested land. Deliciously looking pieces of beef draw viewers in before they are aware of the detailed destruction depicted.
Hungry for Destruction | Manufacturer: ROBIN WOOD, Hamburg, Germany

This print campaign tackles the unchecked global beef consumption as one of the main driving forces behind the destruction of the world’s natural forests. The skillfully crafted artwork illustrate the similarity of the texture of beef to that of burned forests or deforested land. Deliciously looking pieces of beef draw viewers in before they are aware of the detailed destruction depicted.

This image campaign holds the mirror up to the world, highlighting the wrong-doings and hypocrisy of those in power. The result is a remarkable piece of communication for the most prestigious German media outlet: DER SPIEGEL took a stand against the loss of morals in this world.
We hold a mirror up to this world. | Manufacturer: DER SPIEGEL, Hamburg, Germany

This image campaign holds the mirror up to the world, highlighting the wrong-doings and hypocrisy of those in power. The result is a remarkable piece of communication for the most prestigious German media outlet: DER SPIEGEL took a stand against the loss of morals in this world.

In this campaign a child character was created addressing sustainable consumption. The earth's name "Pureum" means “fresh" in Korean, while the girl "Shin Chorok" translates to "new green", reflecting her goals of protecting the earth. Through the use of stylized hand-drawn youthful pictures and scribbled texts, the message becomes more emotionally approachable for adult consumers.
SHINSEGAE Loves the Earth Campaign | Manufacturer: Shinsegae Department Stores, Seoul, South Korea

In this campaign a child character was created addressing sustainable consumption. The earth's name "Pureum" means “fresh" in Korean, while the girl "Shin Chorok" translates to "new green", reflecting her goals of protecting the earth. Through the use of stylized hand-drawn youthful pictures and scribbled texts, the message becomes more emotionally approachable for adult consumers.

Really Dig Ya is a folk music album by the Shanghai singer Zhou Yong. The core visual element of the album cover is a deep-fried dough stick, a culinary symbol of the city and a favorite among city residents. The album and artwork are an outreach effort to preserving the rarely spoken local Shanghai dialect.
Really Dig Ya | Manufacturer: China Digital Culture Group Co., Ltd., Shanghai, China

Really Dig Ya is a folk music album by the Shanghai singer Zhou Yong. The core visual element of the album cover is a deep-fried dough stick, a culinary symbol of the city and a favorite among city residents. The album and artwork are an outreach effort to preserving the rarely spoken local Shanghai dialect.

Every year, hundreds of media organizations such as publishing houses and newspapers are banned by autocratic regimes. To shine a light on this international oppression, Reporters Without Borders has reconstructed the fonts of banned daily newspapers and turned them into symbols of press freedom.
POSTERS FOR PRESSFREEDOM | Manufacturer: Reporter ohne Grenzen, Berlin, Germany

Every year, hundreds of media organizations such as publishing houses and newspapers are banned by autocratic regimes. To shine a light on this international oppression, Reporters Without Borders has reconstructed the fonts of banned daily newspapers and turned them into symbols of press freedom.

The 'Stay Safe' campaign started with creating illustrated movie clips tweaking Hyundai's logo symbol to show WHO approved COVID-19 prevention measures and expanded the same experience to print media by using a single sheet of transparent paper. With this campaign, the brand aimed to maintain an emotional connection with customers by showing their mindset to better humanity.
Hyundai COVID-19 Campaign: Safety First | Manufacturer: Hyudai Motor Company, Seoul, South Korea

The 'Stay Safe' campaign started with creating illustrated movie clips tweaking Hyundai's logo symbol to show WHO approved COVID-19 prevention measures and expanded the same experience to print media by using a single sheet of transparent paper. With this campaign, the brand aimed to maintain an emotional connection with customers by showing their mindset to better humanity.

This promotion campaign addresses women who consider breat implants. A cross-channel campaign was conceptualized and implemented, attracting attention with bare skin while leaving an aesthetic and professional impression. The range of each platform was to be harnessed without stretching the guidelines. All visual and typographical content was modified individually and tailored to the target group.
Aesthea Summer Special | Manufacturer: Gesundheitszentrum Fricktal AG, Rheinfelden, Switzerland

This promotion campaign addresses women who consider breat implants. A cross-channel campaign was conceptualized and implemented, attracting attention with bare skin while leaving an aesthetic and professional impression. The range of each platform was to be harnessed without stretching the guidelines. All visual and typographical content was modified individually and tailored to the target group.

Club Goods isa product brand for Hamburg's music clubs. It is based on a concept expressing solidarity for all music club owners who are affected by the coronavirus. The goal is to give Hamburg music clubs the opportunity to develop products on their own. The first brand is "Good Peppa", a trendy peppermint spirit. Ideas for other products are already in the pipeline.
Club Goods | Manufacturer: ClubKombinat Hamburg e.V., Hamburg, Germany

Club Goods isa product brand for Hamburg's music clubs. It is based on a concept expressing solidarity for all music club owners who are affected by the coronavirus. The goal is to give Hamburg music clubs the opportunity to develop products on their own. The first brand is "Good Peppa", a trendy peppermint spirit. Ideas for other products are already in the pipeline.

Cumulus Park aims to nurture an environment where organizations can thrive, independently and collectively. To reflect this goal, Darwin’s ‘diversity breeds’ became the leading principle in the design. Motion design became a driving force in building brand identity. Individual letters are composed of small, dynamic 'particles' reflecting a desire to share and exchange ideas.
Cumulus Park | Manufacturer: Cumulus Park, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cumulus Park aims to nurture an environment where organizations can thrive, independently and collectively. To reflect this goal, Darwin’s ‘diversity breeds’ became the leading principle in the design. Motion design became a driving force in building brand identity. Individual letters are composed of small, dynamic 'particles' reflecting a desire to share and exchange ideas.

This is a brand identity for Hwaseong City Museum of History aiming to connect the past, present, and future through the folding and unfolding of images of the museum's initials 'H' and 'M'. The H and M logo selectively reflects and projects images of historical artifacts and exhibition activities, allowing the museum to be playful in its visual communications.
Hwaseong City Museum of History | Manufacturer: Hwaseong City, Hwaseong City, South Korea

This is a brand identity for Hwaseong City Museum of History aiming to connect the past, present, and future through the folding and unfolding of images of the museum's initials 'H' and 'M'. The H and M logo selectively reflects and projects images of historical artifacts and exhibition activities, allowing the museum to be playful in its visual communications.

'Gam-sung Market' is a brand that sells different snacks and goods. The Korean retro style has been preserved, while more modern and sophisticated designs were used to convey an identity design that arouses interest from customers of different generations. Humorous quotes are hidden here and there in the package stimulating fun and excitement in daily life.
Gam-Sung Market | Manufacturer: B-Brothers, Seoul, South Korea

'Gam-sung Market' is a brand that sells different snacks and goods. The Korean retro style has been preserved, while more modern and sophisticated designs were used to convey an identity design that arouses interest from customers of different generations. Humorous quotes are hidden here and there in the package stimulating fun and excitement in daily life.

This is a set of packaging designs for artificial meat products. The words "plant" and "mea" are overlaid as the primary graphic image, signaling that this is a plant-based meat substitute food. Half-cropped silhouettes of animals are used to associate with meat but also only as partial images to suggest that the product is not a real animal meat product.
Planet Meat | Manufacturer: MYS Group Co., Ltd., Shenzhen, China

This is a set of packaging designs for artificial meat products. The words "plant" and "mea" are overlaid as the primary graphic image, signaling that this is a plant-based meat substitute food. Half-cropped silhouettes of animals are used to associate with meat but also only as partial images to suggest that the product is not a real animal meat product.

This project was created to support the culture of academic integrity. A workshop was developed to review the issue of visual plagiarism for students at the school of Art, Design & Media. The brief was to create an integrated design system that would appeal to young designers in Singapore and guide them through complex topics via an active learning pedagogy.
Cut and Paste: Preventing Visual Plagiarism | Manufacturer: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore

This project was created to support the culture of academic integrity. A workshop was developed to review the issue of visual plagiarism for students at the school of Art, Design & Media. The brief was to create an integrated design system that would appeal to young designers in Singapore and guide them through complex topics via an active learning pedagogy.

The core idea of this product design is the transformation and reuse of blueprint after printing. The design encourages us to think about the reuse of resources. Every time we use the converted office paper at work or paper bags made from the recycled blueprints, we are reminded of our contribution to environmental protection.
Turning over to Think | Manufacturer: VANKE, Changchun, China

The core idea of this product design is the transformation and reuse of blueprint after printing. The design encourages us to think about the reuse of resources. Every time we use the converted office paper at work or paper bags made from the recycled blueprints, we are reminded of our contribution to environmental protection.

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Colors, shapes, forms, they all play an essential role in visual communication design. Whether it's designing a product or a poster, getting a message across is more critical than ever. If visual designs want to stand out from the crowd, they must have this one component which distinguishes them from competitors. Components may include global societal topics that are much talked about. The iF award winners show how it’s done. Their visual and graphic designs, branding and Co. tackle, for example, the climate crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic and freedom of press. In the end, creating an image is not just a big responsibility for designers – bringing a brand to life is a fulfilling mission.

From shopping bags to music album artwork, from movie clips to LED billboard: this year's iF winning Communication entries, particularly digital communication, is particularly diverse. From advertising campaigns to branding to packaging, the possibilities seem endless. More than ever, designers and companies are considering how to use technology. Take the gold award-winning media art installation "WAVE", for example. An anamorphic illusion technique was used on an LED billboard to create a realistic scene where three-dimensional waves continually crashing as if on the ocean.

iF gold-awarded designs 2021

This public media art depicts a realistic wave that constantly rushes through an L-shaped LED screen, 80 meters in width and 20 meters high. The large LED screen in the city is an advertising medium, but it has the character of public space. It aims to provide a sense of comfort through the public media to people who are exhausted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
WAVE | Manufacturers: d'strict holdings, Inc., Seoul / CJ POWERCAST Co., Ltd., Gyeonggi-do, both South Korea

This public media art depicts a realistic wave that constantly rushes through an L-shaped LED screen, 80 meters in width and 20 meters high. The large LED screen in the city is an advertising medium, but it has the character of public space. It aims to provide a sense of comfort through the public media to people who are exhausted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea of Super Policy, a poster series promoting the nine principal policies of Pingtung County Government, was inspired by the ubiquitous flyers in Taiwanese supermarkets, which subtly transform dull government documents into colorful ads and draw in visitors to read the policies.
 All the typography in the posters are hand written, just like the signs in traditional markets.
Super Policy | Manufacturer: Pingtung County Government, Pingtung, Taiwan

The idea of Super Policy, a poster series promoting the nine principal policies of Pingtung County Government, was inspired by the ubiquitous flyers in Taiwanese supermarkets, which subtly transform dull government documents into colorful ads and draw in visitors to read the policies.
 All the typography in the posters are hand written, just like the signs in traditional markets.

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Creativity is as crucial as using cutting-edge technology. A clear and concise approach helps customers understand the message immediately. Something beautiful in a stylish, sleek design can't hurt either. The sustainability campaign "SHINSEGAE", for instance, takes a playful approach to the serious issue of saving the planet. By using stylized hand-drawn youthful pictures and scribbled texts, the message becomes more emotionally approachable for adult consumers. The iF gold-awarded "Super Policy" is a prime example of how rather boring governmental information can be transformed into colorful advertising posters. If instead we take a look at image campaigns, "We hold a mirror up to this world." exemplifies a remarkable piece of communication taking a stand against the loss of morals in this world.

What do all of these inspiring works in visual communication have in common? They show in a remarkable way what is possible – and necessary – to communicate urgent messages of today and tomorrow.

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(published in September 2021)

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