The Daft Punk Guide to Bold and Memorable Designs




Want to create bold and memorable designs? Find unlikely inspiration from one of the most iconic electronic artists of our time: Daft Punk. This article is a 3-step Daft Punk guide to bold and memorable designs.

Daft Punk is a very popular and influential music duo, especially when you consider they come from the relatively underground genre of electronic music. But this humans-turned-robots duo who create irresistible and inventive dance music didn’t become that way by accident. They had key ingredients to their success as bold and memorable music artists.

Daft Punk

And some of these lessons can be applied to web and visual design. Specifically, creating bold and memorable designs. So without further ado, here is the 3-step Daft Punk guide to bold and memorable designs:

1. Obvious but Essential: Be Different

Obvious but Essential - Be Different

Compared to the rest of electronic music during the ’90s and ’00s, Daft Punk were flying on their own orbit. While most other electronic dance artists where heavily synthesizer-based or sampling more obvious funk and R&B sources, Daft Punk were filtering disco samples and adding slowed-down George Clinton-style funk.

After the success of “Da Funk“, “Around the World“, and “Music Sounds Better With You” (a ’98 Daft Punk-associated hit) that incorporated these elements, a lot of electronic dance artists started doing the same. In fact, Daft Punk were credited as popularizing the French/filter house sound that was incredibly popular in the late ’90s.

So naturally, Daft Punk started to move away from that sound for their second album at the turn of the century. They fused synth-guitar solos, ’70s funk, ’80s electro motifs and vibes, and vocoders. Once again, after hits like “One More Time” and “Harder Better Faster Stronger“, many artists started using that ’80s sound. Notice how ’80s revival sounds were one of the most popular elements in pop music throughout the ’00s.

Notice a pattern yet?

Daft Punk dared to be different. Granted, it’s not like they were creating whole new soundscape worlds, but it’s safe to say they weren’t doing what others were. Daft Punk were being different.

If you want your designs to be bold and memorable, the foundation is that your designs need to be different. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s essential. You can’t have a memorable design if it looks like countless others.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear step-by-step guide to getting your designs to be different – it always depends on your person style and preferences. Fortunately, getting your designs to be different is a fairly simple process:

  • Stay on top of the latest design trends and make a conscious effort to avoid incorporating too many of them
  • Allow yourself to make designs that you’d want for yourself, if the industry was not an issue: this lets open the flow of really making your designs unique and ultimately memorable

If there was a way to make that last paragraph less abstract and more concrete, it’d be done. But it really does depend on you and your personal traits. Basically, try to avoid doing what others are doing and incorporate as much of your unique quirks and influences into your designs as possible.

Like anime? Add bits of that into your designs. Love ancient Japanese art? Throw that in there. Can’t get enough of a particular art period? Inject that bad boy into your designs.

Just how Daft Punk added their love of ’70s and ’80s pop, disco, funk, electro, vocoders, and guitar solos into electronic dance music, so too should you add your favorite influences into your designs. Your designs will be less like other designs out there and more uniquely you. And that’s a major step in creating memorable designs.

2. Have a Tasteful Gimmick

Have a Tasteful Gimmick

The main reason Daft Punk is popular is because they’re really, really good at making music. Believe what you will, but there’s no denying the quality, inventiveness, and catchiness of their tunes.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Daft Punk also had a tasteful gimmick: they were two robots.

Prior to their second album, the media-shy duo reinvented themselves as robots. Their story was that they were working in their studio, an explosion happened, and when they awoke they were robots. How cool is that?

In practice, Daft Punk simply wore robot helmets because they were camera-shy. They were quoted as saying that they wanted the focus to be on the music, but the music industry game forced them to do music performances and the occasional interview. So the robots were born.

Although it was born out of necessity, being robots is still a tasteful gimmick. Prior to that, Daft Punk would wear bags over their heads during interviews or something. But being robots is a lot more fun and memorable. People noticed two robots – it put a attention-grabbing face to their music (although interesting to note that the most memorable face in electronic music is indeed, um, electronic).

The main thing here is that it’s tasteful. If Daft Punk dressed in chicken outfits or did anything else purely for the sake of getting attention, it would be tacky and take away from the music. But being robots fits in with their music’s aesthetic perfectly.

Do the same with your designs. Is there some catchy visual element you can include in your web and visual designs?

  • A character
  • A funky logo
  • A repeating iconic shape

Or perhaps it’s a catchy color scheme you stick to with each of your designs. Similar to how the rock band the White Stripes were peppermint candy-colored: their outfits and album covers being only red and white (and eventually a dash of black).

3. Don’t Shy Away From Bold Colors and Textures

Do not Shy Away From Bold Colors and Textures

Daft Punk use very few elements in each of their tunes. But they make sure each of those elements is bold. Rather than an intricate layer of subtle melodies and sounds, they’ll feature one prominent melody with a very bold sound. So that it sounds good on its own, rather than needing a support system of effects and underlying melodies to make it sound good.

It’s no different when it comes to your visual designs. Use bold colors and textures.

It’s so common for designers to use subtlety for colors and textures:

  • Shades of grey instead of black and white
  • Muted pastel red instead of just red
  • Low contrast textures instead of clearly visible ones

By bucking that trend and going in the opposite direction, you stand to make your designs much more bold and memorable.

Now, that doesn’t mean make your visual designs a high-contrast mess that hurts the eyes. Rather, have a few main elements (remember the Daft Punk melody example?), and then make those elements bold. Use brighter, bolder, more solid colors, and don’t shy away from more obvious textures (if applicable).

It’s how a big guitar riff or solo will trump a heavily textured, ambience-soaked, subtle guitar soundscape any day when it comes to being memorable.

The Daft Punk Guide to a Bold and Memorable Design

The Daft Punk Guide to a Bold and Memorable Design

There’s a lot to learn from these two likeable robots. They’re one of the most iconic electronic artists of our times, after all. And even when it comes to web and visual designs, there’s a thing or three you can pick up to make your designs more bold and memorable.

Your Turn To Talk

To recap, here is the 3-step Daft Punk guide to bold and memorable designs:

  1. Obvious but essential: be different
  2. Have a tasteful gimmick
  3. Don’t shy away from bold colors and textures

Over to you: in what other ways have you been able to get a bold and memorable design?


Oleg Mokhov

About the author:

Oleg Mokhov is an electronic music artist and design enthusiast. He makes electronic music that's a cross between Four Tet and Boards of Canada.

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