Why Blog Graphics Should Be Proprietary

Posted By on April 8, 2014

proprietary graphics example

The minimimalist imagery and design at Baubauhaus reinforces what the blog stands for. The proprietary graphic style builds brand one image at a time.

Everybody knows that visuals power social media shares. So why is it that so many bloggers depend on words to do the heavy lifting when establishing an interesting and consistent graphic look can do it better?

Proprietary Imagery = An “Ownable” Look That Builds Your Brand


Birders who can spot the way an eagle soars in the sky call the bird’s distinctive movements its “jizz”; the equivalent in blogging are the images (photos, illustrations, and typography) that immediately telegraph your blog’s identity. The best graphics shout that your blog is an interesting place before a visitor reads a word.

Take a look at the distinctive graphs that set apart from other design blogs.

A proprietary look says, “Hey, it’s me. And only me.”

If a reader has been to your blog before, your look should reinforce a subtle sense of recognition. This idea should flit through a reader’s brain: “I’ve been here before. I feel comfortable and I know I won’t be disappointed.” This works the same as settling into a restaurant you’ve enjoyed before; you know the meal will be great because they fed you well the last time you were there.

Graham Smith’s use of typography at The LogoSmith has built a proprietary graphic look over time. If you see one of Graham’s type-heavy blog posts, you will instantly recognize it as his.

The LogoSmith proprietary graphics example

Graham Smith, design wizard of The LogoSmith blog, has set a distinctive look for his blog with his sensitive and beautiful use of typography.

Dubble. One Idea for a Free Way to Establish a Distinctive Look That’s Not Stock

Sure, you’re thinking by now, a high-end designer can come up with great—and expensive—proprietary graphic look but I can’t. I’m a writer not an art director.

Au contraire. I’ve been playing around with a free I-phone photo app called Dubble that has great potential for establishing a proprietary graphic look for any enterprising blogger.

Dubble allows you to upload your own photos and it “serendipitously” “dubbles” your image with another shooter in the Dubble community.

blog graphics example: multi-exposure of flag and girl
The result is a multiple-exposure image that’s often pretty cool. Think of Dubble like the opportunity to play musical chairs with strangers except that you both get to sit on the same chair in the combined shot.

There are a lot of tricks to making Dubble work so that the multiple exposures come out right. I’ll write an in-depth post on how to Dubble the pleasure but for now, here are a few tips on how to help Dubble create better images.

Let serendipity (and Dubble’s algorithm) do the work. Dubble’s algorithm puts images together for you based on what your photo composition gives it. It’s surprisingly good most of the time. Just throw out the ones that don’t work (like any good photographer :-)

Look for images with lots of negative space and hard lines. Dubble’s algorithm loves blank space and often, the multiple-exposure with another image makes that blank space come alive. My snapshot of a sculpture by Akio Takamori in the Swedish Hospital art collection takes on a different story when placed between two strong diagonally shaped buildings.
akio takamori sculpture dubbled between two buildings: blog graphic example

Remember the rule that two objects in the same space dictate meaning. The brain is always searching for structure. If you give it two images, it likes to put together a story. Take a look at two different Dubbles that combine my snapshot of a sign to a Women’s bathroom with the “W” scratched off. The shot with the word “Omen” and smiling man makes me think of a horror movie.
omen and smiling man

The shot with the cathedral space says something else (maybe the horror movie takes place in a church).
omen and cathedral

Dubble is free but permission is the quid pro quo. You must ask permission to use any Dubble for commercial gain. You have to remember that the combined image belongs to two people. You and the owner of the shot that marries with yours. Ask. Don’t assume–just as you practice the Golden Rule of asking permission or paying for use of every other image on the Web.

Type can work well in a Dubble. I shot a poem on the wall at St. Ignatius Chapel at Seattle University and Dubble paired my shot up with a simple close-up of an eye. Seems like serendipity can be turned into a religious experience.
god and eye

I’d love to see your approach to proprietary graphics. If you’re using Dubble, show us some love with examples of your work.

Cynthia Hartwig

PS. With permission, of course.