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Entries by jj (280)

Wednesday
Apr282010

292. The. Sneakiest. Design. Ever.

Man, I have never gone this long without posting something. Yes, there's been a lot going on and since I'm now freelancing and back living in the western hemisphere, my schedule is all out of whack. But I'm ready to get back to my normal blog schedule and writing about what's been going on in advertising and design. I will say this though - lately, I've been pretty bored with everything that I've been seeing. Anyone else feel this way?

But this caught my attention and is anything but boring.

Imagine yourself as a major sponsor of the biggest and most successful Formula One racing team. Your identity and brand is intertwined with the race team and to some extent Formula One itself. You are in negotiations to financially sponsor this race team for the next five years and are willing to pay about $1 billion to do so. Unfortunately for you, the European Union is set to pass a ban on cigarette advertising and your company manufactures and globally markets cigarettes.

The law goes something like this: The Tobacco Advertising Directive: Passed by the European Parliament and Council in 2003 (see:IP/02/1788), the Directive bans tobacco advertising in the print media, on radio and over the internet. It also prohibits tobacco sponsorship of cross-border cultural and sporting events. The best I can tell is that this went into effect in 2005. Right around the same time as your contract negotiations.

Obviously, Formula One qualifies as a cross-border cultural and sporting event, but you go forward with your sponsorship anyway. And you state that the race team's Ferraris would simply not carry your brand's logo where there was this ban in place. Got all that?

This is exactly what has been happening with Marlboro. They've spent a ton of money to sponsor Ferrari's Formula One team without being able to brand the cars under this sponsorship. Basically, the Ferrari's appear to have no major sponsorship when raced in the EU. End of story? Not exactly.

In January, Ferrari presented the new Scuderia Marlboro F1 single-seater. (Ferrari is the only Formula One team with a tobacco brand in its formal title, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.) At first glance the car is void of major sponsorship per the rules and has gone relatively unnoticed over the last four months. Now, however, 4 races into the year, the EU portion of the Formula One season is about to begin in Spain and the car's livery is in the spotlight due to the team's unique solution to the ban on advertsing.

The 2010 Ferrari Scuderia (Marlboro) F1, innocent top view:

The livery (paint job) features a predominately red car with a number of associate sponsor logos; Shell Gasoline, Ferrari itself, Bridgestone and a few others. The most striking aspect of this design and the subject of this article is a red, black and white barcode-like design on the canopy of the vehicle, as well as on the uniforms of drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipa Massa. Up close it just looks like a cool aesthetic touch but from a distance (and possibly even more clearly when moving 200 mph) it appears to resemble the packaging of a certain cigarette manufacturer. Can you guess which one?

The 2010 Ferrari Scuderia (Marlboro) F1, side view:

Another Larger View (click for expanded version):

The EU authorities are not amused. According to the Times (UK), "Yesterday a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner said he thought that Marlboro’s approach constituted potential subliminal marketing. He urged the Spanish and British governments to ascertain whether the world’s second-biggest tobacco company might be in breach of the law." Now, I think they may have their terms incorrect. I don't think it's technically a subliminal thing at all. It's more like an optical illusion, but it's hard to deny the intent of the manufacturue and racing team to skirt the law for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix and for this summer's British Grand Prix.

The Barcode Design on Team Firesuits and Uniforms:

This quote comes from the Times as well: John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, said: “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits..." But true to form, Marlboro is denying these claims. Philip Morris said: “We are confident that our relationship with Ferrari does not violate the UK 2002 Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act. The Formula One Grand Prix in the UK does not involve any race cars, team apparel, equipment or track signage carrying tobacco product branding. The same is true for all other Formula One races across the world.

The Ferrari Scuderia (Marlboro) F1 Team Logo Featuring Barcode:

Let me say two things. First, this is the most insanely creative design solution that I've seen in a long, long time. It's nothing short of genius. Second, it further demonstrates how desperate tobacco companies are to market their product in an increasingly legislated environment. This ingenius design only underscores what we think about these companies and although I love the design approach and problem solving, it's easy to see the intent here was to find a loophole in the law. In other words: to be sneaky. And this has been something in the works over time. Check out the 2006 car below, followed by 2007 and then compare that to this year's car. It's as if Marlboro has been trying to use  a more innocent barcode design early on and then tweak it over time so there would be a precedent for the barcode as an team logo—even if it began to resemble the Marlboro packaging. Have I said the word genius yet? Or do I mean evil?

The Pre-Legislation Ferrari Marlboro Livery, circa 2005:

The Early Barcode Ferrari Marlboro Livery, circa 2007:

Detail shot of the 2010 Barcode Design:

It will be intersting to see how this little drama develops. Obviously this involves a lot of money, large corporations, even larger government entities and a deadline of a few days. And best of all maybe, it involves design and what does and does not constitute a brand's logo. Stay tuned. I promise to update this as soon as I get more information. See a little exploration / comparison of the barcode design and Marlboro combination mark. It's amazing how far away the two pieces are yet so close.

The Barcode on TV during the Australian GP:

A Visual Comparison of the Barcode (roughly comped) and the Marlboro Logo:

 


Friday
Mar122010

291. Books in the Age of the iPad.

I don't usually post an entire link about third-party articles but this is too good. Books in the Age of the iPad is an interesting look at the benefit of technology in terms of publishing. The article surmises that we will finally be rid of all the low-quality books and paperbacks and the (fewer) physical books that we'll end up buying will be more experiential. They will be—in short—better designed and worth the price. Here's a quick introduction:

"As the publishing industry wobbles and Kindle sales jump, book romanticists cry themselves to sleep. But really, what are we shedding tears over?

We’re losing the throwaway paperback.
The airport paperback.
The beachside paperback.

We’re losing the dregs of the publishing world: disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you’re moving and you need to clean out the closet."

The piece then goes into how we will decide what gets printed and what goes predominantly digital, using samples from the authors own personal book collection. Written by @craigmod I found this perspective incredibly exciting as I believe the best of book design is yet to come. The one aspect that is a bit scary is the decreasing size of print runs for 'real' books, making each individual book more expensive. I can't imagine a time when even a person of modest means couldn't afford a small library of classics.

Here's to more interactive books, whether they be pixel-based or ink.

Can't do this with an ipad. The Book Collection, a great project by Paul Octavious.

Thursday
Feb252010

290. The Missile Defense Agency's New Look.

Who doesn't love a little design controversy? Add to that international politics, elected officials turn design critics, and missles...well it's just too much for us to ignore any longer. Last fall, the US Missile Defense Agency launched (oh yes, pun intended and immediately regretted) a new brand after collaborating with TMP Government, a marketing company that manages numerous government websites.

Now, let's just set aside how crazy it is that we have a missle defense shield and any and all arguments for and against. Maybe it's necessary or maybe it's another example of the industrial-military complex run amuk, but that's the topic of someone else's blog. Let's talk design. The new brand features what appears to be a missile trailing stripes of red as it circles the earth and explodes into a wonderful (sic) starburst in the blue sky. The design itself is pretty bad but is amazingly an improvement over their old mark which also featured a missile shooting up into the sky. The previous design was looking pretty outdated for such a cutting-edge entity and the old color palette, mainly red and black was definitely too aggressive. It's the DEFENSE department, remember. The old combination mark is something right out of a video game. An original nintendo-era video game that is. I can't help but make the sound of a missle exploding when I see these logos, the same sound that boys learn to make early on when playing in the sandbox with their toys. (I haven't meant too many girls that can make this sound.)

The Missile Defense Agency's Old & New Identity:

 

So, when you look at the new identity, it does kind of remind you of a certain presidential campaign and that's just what is bothering some right-wingers. I don't have a problem with them being influenced by Obama's now famous campaign symbol, my problem is that they did a very bad job of ripping it off. The O is strong, balanced, and graphically well rendered. This identity is weak, sickly thin at certain points, and wobbly. (One could argue that this is appropriate given some of the system's test results over recent history.) The red stripes are mushed together with no apparent rhyme or reason and the exploding starburst gives more of a 'nativity scene' vibe rather than a precise missile strike. I'm also bothered by the patriotic scheme, when a more formal, crest or seal would have been appropriate. It's all too casual for my tastes and a good old-fashioned seal would give me sense that they are doing their job and not necessarily taking any misplaced joy out of it. This is not the logo of duty or necessity, it's the logo out of Star Trek. 

Aesthetic flaws aside, here are some of the ridiculous comments this identity is getting from a general perspective via sources like the Washington Times, BigGovernment.com, and others as reported by The Telegraph in the UK:

"I'm having trouble seeing past the crescent and star in the new logo," one critic posted on WashingtonTimes.com. "Is this our signal to the Muslim world that we're not going to shoot down their missiles?" Oh boy.

Frank Gaffney wrote on BigGovernment. com: "The new MDA shield appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo ... Team Obama is behaving in a way that – as the new MDA logo suggests – is all about accommodating that 'Islamic Republic' and its evermore aggressive stance." And one more goodie:

"It also looks a bit like a sickle. Maybe they couldn't figure out a way to get the hammer in without being too obvious."

Obviously, people are reading way, way too much into this. Nobody in their right minds really thinks someone is trying to get away with putting secret symbols into their design. I guess that's just the sad political climate in Washington these days. Personally, I don't think the design entities at play here have that kind of strategic thinking at hand.

The Telegraph also interviewed Brian Collins to answer the calls that it's too close to Obama's mark (not that there is anything wrong with that). Collins is chairman and chief creative officer at COLLINS:, a New York-based design and innovation firm.  He said the new logo used the "same visual language" as that of the Obama campaign, complete with two circles and three stripes. "The Obama logo is filled with messages of hope, it's about looking toward an optimistic future," he said. "They've taken those exact elements and they've made them more technical."

Wow. And you thought the Michigan State Logo fiasco was getting out of hand. Maybe we should all pitch in and design some alternatives?

While we're on the subject of the Missile Defense Agency, you must visit their website and dig around. You'll find plenty of wonderful little things like wallpapers and screensavers as well as The Interceptor—an online game where you can shoot down missiles just like in real life! Oh to joy! Not to be missed if you are into that type of thing.

Thursday
Feb182010

289. Meet James Chastain, Signpainter. 

Recently, I had the benefit of meeting James Chastain, a sign painter from Royston, Georgia. Now when I say meet, what I really mean is exchange emails across 8,500 miles a few times during the last couple of months. We talked a little about art and his craft and his experiences, and below is some of that conversation which James was willing to share publically on our humble blog. The images were taken or acquired by James per my request, which you will appreciate more after reading the post. If you are living in the SE you might want to consider heading over the Royston, GA and taking a lesson or two. (The interview below is pretty much just how James answered my questions, and like anyone using email — it's not meant to be a grammatically precise. And I like his wording better anyway.) Enjoy.

James, can you first introduce yourself?       
I am a 64 year old sign painter, residing in north Georgia where I have lived all my life. I have been painting signs since I was 15 and have roughly 49 years experience. I run a new website and small business that teach the basics of sign painting and layout to anyone willing to learn.


How did you get started painting signs?
I wasted more notebook paper in school drawing than I did for school work; any form of art was the core of my existence. My dad was a trucker in the 50s and 60s and one day he employed a local sign painter to letter his truck doors. I watched every move he made, fascinated was an under-statement. A few weeks later, dad asked me what would I like to be when I grew up and I answered quickly.  A sign painter. He then asked me if I thought I could do this. I hesitated for a moment and replied no. Then I said, I know I can! So at the age of about 12 I had made my career choice. Then the question was how. I painted a few little signs for family and friends and they would give me a dollar or so. But I needed someone to teach me the fundamentals of the trade. That was a problem, because there was no one available for this task. So I played around with it till I was 15 yr old, quitting school and determined to be a sign painter.

Then one day I was in a neighboring town and was introduced to the gentleman that became my tutor and life long friend. His name was Oscar Truelove, he seen my potential and decided he would teach me. My starting salary was a whopping $30 for a 40 hr. week. Finally I had what I wanted for a long time a teacher.  I had also found one of the best freehand sign artist in the south. I was on a journey that would last my entire life.


Ah, an internship—that’s also a dying art. What was being an apprentice like?
When I started in a real live sign shop, I was on top of the world, to have found a real gentleman like Oscar Truelove....He had the patience of Job. He asked me to draw a few things for him. He looked at my drawings and said I think you can do this. Many years later he told me I was good as any he had seen in his own painting career. The way he started teaching me was really simple, but very affective. He would hand draw the letters on a sign for layout and let me paint them or any art if the sign required it. He also taught me how to hold a brush and gently twist it when making curves to keep the stroke uniform. Also in how to apply pressure to widen the stroke etc. He taught me compatible color combinations and how to blend and mix paints for different affects. Gee there is no end to this topic really, there is so much!

 

Probably my favorite sign James sent me. Love the folk feel of this. Perfect.

 

Can you talk about your creative process when starting a project?
When I am in the process of designing a sign, there are several steps I take gathering info for the sign, such as size, which is determined by location for application and state or county laws governing the size. Then I choose a stock material, such as metal or signboard or even coraplast (plastic pasteboard) for the sign. They are numerous materials available to choose from. Next unless they have a definite format they want to use, I will rough sketch it to give them a general idea and suggest type of lettering and color combinations that are in contrast with background colors. I would also show them pics of some of my work, if they didn't know me. But through the years my reputation preceded me and a lot of the jobs I got were referrals. And I never used a PC for doing a layout, because I could see in my minds eye exactly what the sign or art would look like, before I even started.

Does the computer play a part at all?
Far as computers, I had heard of them, but they played no part in my sign painting training and still I do not use them for that. A computer can do things it is programmed to do, but has no imagination or creativity about it. I will not use one for my art and then say I did it, Bah! One of my sons has been helping me along as he grew up and was getting real good till he started a family, which tied him down to a 9-5 job. As of late, he has the time now to proceed with it and carry on. I have just started the online training  basics and it is hard to get the amount of traffic needed, get a good page position and a few backlinks, but no alexa page rank thus far.

 

James has painted section signs for grocery stores. House Industries would be proud.

 

In your opinion, what is the state of the art of sign painting?
The way I see it, the art of actually painting a sign has definitely taken a downward turn since vinyl lettering came into the picture. They teach computer tech in school, thus any one with a computer and plotter can make a sign. It takes years to develop the true skill of sign painting, and that is if you are gifted in art. The greater the God given gift, the faster you possibly learn. I painted for 25 years before I considered myself pro and still saw a lifetime of learning ahead of me. There is so much to making signage. because it covers so many different aspects of the field. So the younger generation of artist doesn't have patience for it or some old  sign pro to teach them. Again the art is truly dying, but hopefully not completely.

Do you have a favorite piece you’ve painted or a favorite type of project?
As Far as favorite piece of work, hmmm. I have painted so many over a 50 year span, let me see. I hand drew and cut out a large cartoon type covered wagon, painted just like a real one, then lettered it for a mobile home park. It was an eye catcher for sure and still standing looking good for its age. I have painted Old locomotives, antique cars, about everything one could imagine. I have duplicated Coca Cola signs on old country stores. Shucks I liked them all I reckon. I have lettered marquis, racecars, commercial trucks, billboards, store fronts, boats and even mailboxes and not excluding everything in between. And yes I always loved doing and still do, is Christmas windows, you can turn loose and have a blast doing those.

 

Bold color choices for a Butcher Shop.

 

During our initial email-exchange you mentioned a bit of tragedy. Care to elaborate for the readers?
In the mid nineties I hand built a real log cabin out of pine logs off of my property, it was the talk of the neighborhood. I also had a small building to one side of it for knocking around in and was actually in it painting a 4x8 sign when I heard a strange noise. I went out the door and saw smoke rolling out of the top. I ran to the door and my son grabbed me and wouldn't let me go in. He was with the local fire dept. and trained for such as this.  I struggled to be free from him, but couldn't manage. I lost everything I owned, as you know things that were irreplaceable. I had a several portfolios with pictures of work I had done through the years. After that I practically quit taking photos. But a slew of signs I have painted still remain throughout the southeast.

You obviously have yet to retire. Why have you stuck with it for so long?  
I will be 64 May 12, 2010, the reason I have stayed with it so long is I love art. With signs each new customer is a new challenge to make it outstanding and different from run of the mill. The procedure is basically the same but the art and copy is always different, unless you are making duplicates. Normally if I have a number of duplicates, I would silk screen them. And that leads you into another interesting part of the art field. To stand aside and have your client gasp in awe and comment, I don't see how in the world you do this, is almost as grandeur as the payment itself. I always assure them that it is God given and without his help, I could do nothing.

 

James at work. Not just a painter, an installer too.

 

Anything else you’d like to share?
There is no one training for freehand lettering now days , I think mainly because a lot of the old timers, such as myself have moved on to the happy hunting ground and there is not anyone to teach them all the basics and fundamentals of the art. Not only that the younger generation is in the fast lane and don’t won’t to take the time necessary to learn, even though they have God given talents just going to waste.

I have designed a basic sign training package, that would help anyone who is inspired and would like to get involved in this dying art form. After 50 years in the biz, I pretty well covered all aspects for the beginners to get started. Even if you do not use my training lessons, please get help if you are new and want to learn. Don’t let your talent fade with the fading out sign artist.


If you need my help, Please check out my website at www.signpaintingbasics.net. To Your Future Success,

JameChastain
Royston, Ga. USA
http://signpainting.wordpress.com

 

This dialogue with James over the last few months has me thinking about a lot of things. The cheapness of computer-driven graphic design. Authethicity, which graphic-design often lacks. The irreplaceable human touch in art. How due to a lack of time or money or just ignorance, we all forget that we can do things unplugged that might be better suited for the task. And all the masters of design/type that plied their trade before it became digital. Much respect.

(Top image courtesy of streetart.)

Wednesday
Feb102010

288. More Arabic & Western Identities Coexisting.

13 months ago I posted an article showcasing some of the Arabic translation of Western brand identities that I had found on my vacation to Dubai. The article proved to be fairly popular as others were just as fascinated by seeing something familiar being visually translated into something foreign. I have learned quite a bit about Arabic since then (though I'm still quite a newbie) and have grown to appreciate some of those designs more while seeing flaws in others for the first time. It was with these 'new eyes' that I had been tracking down more of these examples over the last few weeks. Most of the first two sets posted last year were easily accessible in major malls near where I was staying. This set required a lot more effort and a few of them required a kind taxi driver that literally slammed on the brakes whenever I got close to one.

First a bit of disclosure. When I was growing up the only exposure I would have had to Arabic would have been on the national news and it would have been mostly of the negative variety. As a matter of fact—and this is a tough thing to admit—I almost subconsciously associated Arabic to something vaguely evil. Or at least extremism, as I only saw it on The News about the Middle East and war, both internal and external. That's not to say that I didn't (even as a teen) know on an intellectual level that such a blanket label was ridiculous. I did. And I knew that it wasn't true too. It was simply a slight and instinctual reaction that I hadn't paid much attention to until visiting Dubai. Suddenly I saw Arabic everywhere. And it wasn't on a banner next to a burning American flag, or written across a curtain in front of which sat a group of men with large stocks of ammunition. It was on a stop sign. It was on the hotel I was living next to. It was next to a familiar figure on the wall telling me where the men's room was. And it was this new exposure that gave me the opportunity to recognize a very subtle subconscious filter and its labeling of something Arabic as being something scary or menacing. Actually Arabic is a beautiful language, especially in written form. And even though it's not necessarily a good thing that there is a Starbucks's sign with Arabic underneath that familiar green and black mermaid, it does tend to alter your perception of things.

Mo, my new favorite taxi driver in Dubai, doing his thing.

Mo graciously disregarded all traffic regulations and general rules of the road to stop whenever I suddenly saw a logo that I wanted to photograph. He waited. And if I walked too far away from the cab in my endeavors he somehow managed to be just a few steps away when I was ready to go. I did tip heavily but do hope good mojo follows him around for awhile. Thanks Mo!Keep in mind, I've only been in Dubai since last fall and I can't speak but a few words. But by combing the city for these identities I have learned to recognize probably 75% of the alphabet and the sound that the letter makes even if I can't actually produce the sound with my mouth. I've heard stories of people learning English while watching American movies and now I'm learning Arabic by looking out for logos. It's rather funny, I think. I certainly don't know everything but I do know enough to share a few tips that might help you appreciate the designs for what they are and what they are not. If you want to skip ahead, the link to the new gallery is at the bottom of this post.

First Arabic is a phonetic language, which is to say that if it sounds a certain way it's spelled a certain way; probably making an Arabic spelling bee a lot easier than an English one. There are combos of letters that have similar sounds, but to a trained ear they are easily distinguishable one from another. Secondly, Arabic reads right to left. This allows for a nice symmetry in some identity designs when showing an English version on the left (read left to right) and an Arabic version on the right (reading right to left) with a symbol in the middle. It can be a lot to take in, but most often it works out okay.

This reminds me of the thing that has thrown me off the most while working over here. The Adobe CS suite Middle Eastern version, includes this right to left thinking in the software. So in Indesign what was previously the arrow to move forward in a document (the right arrow) is now the arrow to go behind and vice versa. Not only that, but the up button (wherever it can be found) now corresponds with going further into a document while the down button moves backwards, which is a flip of how it is in the US. Of course this can be changed in the preferences but I've kept it there to remind me of this reversal. The difference needs to be accounted for in design and layouts and it's a nice reminder. It only seems like a small detail until you realize how this changes your perception of a piece of communication and visual hierarchy and a number of other things. Thankfully, they do drive on the right-hand side of the road here in the UAE.

Anyway back to Arabic. It's phonetic. It reads right to left. It has 28 letters (plus one symbol that should most likely be counted.) What gets a little tricky is that each letter changes shape depending on where in the word they fall; beginning, middle or end. I'm told that you hardly notice this as a native speaker but I still get a little confused. The script is cursive and letters flow into each other with a small group of letters that are exceptions. There are only three vowels each with a long and short sound. Short vowels are noted by marks above or below consonants though they are normally not shown in modern text. Long vowels occur when short vowels are combined with three specific letters of the alphabet. And there are no capital letters. Got all that?

There are a few additional characteristics that I think are important. Arabic is written out using English characters sometimes and this is called transliteration. (Transliteration is useful when helping give an American a chance at proper pronunciation for example.) Most Arabic letters have an equivalent sound in English, so it usually works out. And lastly, one of the aspects of the language that gives me the most trouble is the fact that the way Arabic is written is usually different than how it is seen when printed. (Much like our cursive and print, though less pronounced.) There are many different styles of Arabic calligraphy so sometimes the differences are small and sometimes not so small. I still see signs that I can't even pick out a single character. The printed characters can be a problem especially when the designers get a little creative or abstract with the letterforms.

If you are interested in learning more the best article I have seen comes from a blog called 29 letters, it's a brief history of modern Arabic Type from the 1930s to the present. It helped give me a sound understanding of how things came to be with the language. I also found a good book called, Very Simple Arabic Script by James Peters. I've been working my way through it so when I begin taking spoken Arabic classes, I'll be able to see the words in my head as Arabic script—not transliterated English characters.

The Arabic Letterforms (via 29 Letters):

That brings us back to the identities themselves. Most often the designs are western and then have the Arabic version designed. Given all the peculiarities above and the differences to English, this can be quite the task. Most often the Arabic is simply the characters needed to most accurately produce the sound similar to that when the name of the company is spoken in English. Sometimes, the Arabic is translated. This usually occurs when a thing is part of the company name. For instance if a company was called Cake House sometimes the Arabic wouldn't be the characters needed to produce the sounds cake house, they would be the Arabic word for cake and the word for house. Though this isn't always the case, strangely.

Most companies do use an English (and what I really mean is Latin-based or Roman character) version and an Arabic version here in Dubai. Each individual case presents a unique set of design challenges converting one from the other. Some of the resulting solutions are absolutely brilliant while some don't even try to convey the same style and simply use a traditional Arabic script. (You should know that here are those that think this is the best way to go, eliminating the need to distort the characters to match design elements of the original.) And there are plenty that fall somewhere in between. Personally, I like to see the styles if not match, at lease complement each other. This is much easier when designing an identity from scratch than it is to do after the fact, which is why I'm was so excited to post those first few sets of logos in the first place. It's fun to see what happened when designers were confronted with these challenges.

Yes, I could have found some of these versions on the internet I'm sure. But part of the aesthetic at work is the material in which the signs are made and getting images of the physical signs seemed more important than to simply find an Arabic version of the logo. I hope you enjoy perusing this latest set as much as I have acquiring the images. It has been a labor of love. 

Introducing even more Arabic & Western Identities Coexisting.


*I will most likely fold the old galleries into this one in the near future as my access to flickr is limited (it's blocked here in Dubai.) But for now, you can find the previous retail identity set here, and the packaging work here. I will be posting an additional consumer goods / packaging entry soon too, so look out for that. If you are a designer in Dubai, you won't be able to view the old slideshows - but you can always take a long cab ride and see them in action. Find any that I have missed that you think are worthy of being added? Why not take a few shots and send 'em my way via jj (the at sign) graphicology (dot) com. Thanks!

**The image at the top is my favorite sculpture I've seen in Dubai, sitting across the street from my apartment and a block away from the Burj Khalifa seen in the background. Can't help but smile when I walk past.



Sunday
Feb072010

287. The Super Bowl Logo for 2011 & Beyond.

I have to admit this announcement makes me sad. On Friday, ESPN reported that The North Texas Super Bowl Committee and the NFL unveiled the logo for Super Bowl XLV, which will be the basis for all future Super Bowls. The only thing that will change from year to year is the stadium rendered in the background and of course the roman numerals. This is sad from a design critique perspective as it's great fun every year to analyze the new logo for next year's game and talk about its merits and shortcomings, the designers and their approach. It's a high-profile project that is a joy to watch unfold on an annual basis. Just a few days ago Brand New posted an article on this year's design with further insights by design firm Attik. It's a fun read and we designers all chime in with glee about what we like and dislike. Admittedly, this has little merit outside of design circles but it was all part of the fun of the big game.

Now, we're going to know not just what we'll see for next year's logo but for the foreseeable future, the logo will remain unchanged. Gone will be all the attempts at adding flair from the host city. Gone will be the sometimes hilarious design motifs. And gone will be the crazy color schemes. Although not always high design all of these elements will be missed. (See the all the previous SB logos here.) I can totally understand why the NFL (one of best managers of brand out there) decided to stick to a template. It gives a permanence and consistency that has been lacking for quite sometime. And it's the logical end to the attempt over the last few years to make the logo more about the NFL than any particular host city. It's simply a smart business move. This is the Super Bowl and this is how it will look.

Here's what we get in terms of art. A prominent, centered metallic-looking Lombardy Trophy. It's well-rendered and crafted to a high-standard, looking a lot like the real deal. We see a lot of sloppy identities, but this is not one of them. The stadium (again it will change from year to year) is also executed in the same style. And as you can see, the Super Bowl words are given an engraved and three-dimensional look and sit atop the similarly-styled roman numerals. The exact location and year are included at the bottom in a sans serif face that matches the Super Bowl text. It's rather handsome given that the logo has to have so many elements in it. The identity has the right feel, a prestigious and important tone which matches the biggest game for the sport. It's solid and proud. The only thing I would do differently is try to eliminate some of the faux-dimensional qualities. I think it would be very handsome and maybe more timely if pulled off in a more 2D quality. However, that's a small qualm and it could be argued that there is nothing wrong with the new Super Bowl identity at all.

However, that won't stop me from missing all the design-nerd discussions that allowed a few mouse-pushers to feel more a part of the game each year.

Your Super Bowl Logo for 2011 and Beyond (click for larger view):

Thursday
Feb042010

286. It's Xfinitastic.


Wow. Wow is just about all that I can say about this rebranding effort. First let me quote Philly.com, "Comcast Corp. said yesterday that it would re-brand its TV, Internet, and telephone services as Xfinity on Feb. 12 to signal to customers that this isn't the same old company. Comcast will remain as the corporate name, but the company will emphasize Xfinity in advertisements and on 24,000 service trucks and thousands of employee uniforms."

Old Logo:


From what I've gathered xfinity has been the name of their mobile tv unit and will now be the public-facing identity for its main services. Here are the major issues.
  1. I don't think if pressed that I could think of a worse name for company. Xfinity just sounds stupid. Like you'd see it as the name of a bad company from a movie set in 2025. Ugh.
  2. I'm usually not in favor of my i's losing their tittles (dots) when set in sentence case without a good reason.
  3. If you're going to go for that whole symmetrical thing, then work out the details so that the x doesn't look too small compared to the y. The difference in apertures (the openings) could have been fixed.
  4. The kerning seems off all over the place.
  5. And I don't think if pressed that I could think of a worse name for company. Xfinity just sounds stupid. Have I mentioned this?


New Logo (Rather the name/logo that will represent Comcast):


The corporation known as Comcast still exists it will just be the parent company behind the scenes. The company is stressing that the change is not an attempt to distance itself from all of Comcast's public perception issues or customer services problems, but was done to signify all the new products and services to come. My grandmother always told me that the truth usually lies somewhere in between two sides and I think that holds true here.

I'm not sure how anyone is going to build a brand around this name and identity. I actually was rather fond of all the Comcastic design-driven work as well as some of the ads by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; some of which I had seen when l was living in California. A tough client yet some nice work. Now with this latest re-brand, the agency's job just got that much more difficult.

The Evolution of Rabbit


I thought I would also share this bad screenshot of what the xfinity.com site looked like a few days ago before the announcement. It's not pretty.

Monday
Feb012010

285. The 2010 Underpants Bowl. (A growing list of released or teased 2010 Super Bowl Ads.)

Last year at about this time we had a blast on Graphicology, running our first live-blog of the big game's ads. We had five Creative Directors from across the US giving real-time reactions to the work and commenters from all over the world. I had planned on doing it again this year but being nine hours ahead in Dubai coupled with somewhat spotty internet access made me reconsider. I simply didn't want to put on a second-rate show.

This year I thought I would post all the spots that are released early here on the blog, with some additional information so you'll be more than ready to fill out your USA Today (or YouTube) score sheet when the time comes. Long gone are the days when the Super Bowl ads were primarily watched for the first time on game day. Sadly. Advertisers trying to get more media traction in advance leak their spots earlier and earlier every year. There are some holdouts but this has been the trend ever since your mp3 player held only 64 songs. I'll keep updating this post until game time should more creative break early.

Cars.com
Car.com follows up last year's spot with a familiar theme, that of an endlessly capable man living a life full of accomplishment under pressure only to find that even he needs help when shopping for a car. Due to inferior narration (last year's spot was well narrated either by Kevin Spacey or someone emulating Kevin Spacey), inferior scenarios, and a somewhat slow beginning; this spot feels very much like the unoriginal idea it is. We have seen it before and done better by cars.com themselves just 12 months ago. Agency of Record, DDB Chicago, is responsible for the creative.


VW
VW isn't technically releasing their spot early but they are building a tease factor over the last few weeks. On their YouTube channel they are running a short film about the inventor of the game, Punch Bug (Where you see a VW beetle and slug someone in the arm.) I've included this film below. After scouring through press releases I also learned that their Super Bowl spot would be focused on an update of this game that ties in with their Vee-Dub nickname, Punch Dub. It will feature Tracy Morgan (plus a surprise guest) and no doubt a bunch of people getting hit when all the new VWs pass by. I like how they are handling their creative, not releasing the spot but still building anticipation. This is how it should be done. Could it be that Deutsch LA is capable of doing what Crispin+Porter couldn't for VW? The brand is definitely one that has lost its way, but this looks like it could be a good beginning. Let's see how it all shakes out this week.

The Inventor of Punch-Dub:

And Check out this local promotion that uses what looks like an official punchdub days logo:


Bud Light.
Bud Light is a usual suspect in the annual best Super Bowl ad polls. They usually go for that college-age man demographic with somewhat sophomoric humor. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. This year they'll be running no less than five minutes of advertising (That's ten spots at around $3 million per though they probably got a better deal.) From Adweek, "Bud Light's lineup from St. Louis agency Cannonball includes spots with guys who attend a women's book club only for the beer, a guy who builds a house out of Bud Light cans (shown), and guys whose voices turn electronically musical to get the party started. The spot likely to have the broadest appeal is a spoof on Lost, a smart pop culture tie-in that plays to the highly anticipated Feb. 2 return of ABC's hit show. On Bud Light's island, the survivors of a plane crash ignore the discovery of the plane's radio system to celebrate a washed-up beverage cart filled with bottles of the beer." This year is said to also include the following spot called, Clothing Drive, featuring a lot of awkward men-in-skivvies. (This will be a theme this year, more on that later.)


Careerbuilder.com
How do you reward your agency for producing one of the best from last year's game? You fire them. Or that's what they Careerbuilder.com did to Wieden+Kennedy. This year's spot, will be one of three finalists from a user submitted competition, and will be produced in-house. Last year's ad was really good (perhaps the best of the bunch for my money), take a peak at it here. I'll include all three finalists for your review. Casual Friday takes the underwear theme forward and is my pick for the one that will air. Job Fairy and Worst Seat are the other finalists in the mix. According to Adland, "The three winning ideas were submitted by a 27-year-old surfer from San Clemente, CA, a 34-year-old freelance producer from Minneapolis, MN, and a 52-year-old analyst from Cliffwood, N.J. The winners also attended the reshooting of their concepts in California with CareerBuilder’s in-house advertising team."



Doritos
Doritos once again ran a competition to 'Crash the Super Bowl' asking users to submit their own ideas for a Doritos ad. The whole contest is curated by agency of record, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, who has helped produce the winning spots. Voting ended yesterday but go to their site to view all six finalists, which included this spot called Snack Suit.


ManCrunch.com
What sounds like a name for a more masculine cereal by Kellogg's is actually a gay man's dating site. Where many many many men come out and play. This is the latest in a long line of "banned" ads, using the term loosely. What better way for an ad to go viral than to be banned by those curmudgeon CBS executives? I don't think they actually expected the spot to go through but even if they did it's not that good. If you are going to get banned, at least be interesting about it. This is a fairly predictable spot, poorly shot and something I would rather my daughter watch than all those spots of men in their underwear to be honest. No controversy here, just bad advertising.


Bridgestone
Bridgestone has released teaser videos of two spots expected to run next Sunday. The first features a whale and doesn't look to be that promising. The second looks to be a film noir kind of thing and at the very least looks to have some nice art direction and casting. It's set in a future world of climate change where few things are more valuable than a great set of tires. I'm not sure either teaser actually fulfills the purpose of a tease—to make the viewer eagerly anticipate the full creative—but since they have done pretty well lately in the big game, I'll give them a pass. (The Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head spot from last year in particular.) You can check out behind the scenes from both commercial shoots by visiting Bridgestone's official Super Bowl minisite. The Richards Group in Dallas is Bridgestone's agency of record.


Dockers
Yep, Docker's Super Bowl creative also features men wearing no pants. I feel like all the underpants stuff in all the other spots are stealing some of Docker's thunder here. Their ad attempts to make a statement about lost masculinity and how 'Wearing the Pants' is what men do best. The spot features men (without pants of course) walking through a field and chanting, but you can only see a very short tease and the full ad may very well take the idea elsewhere. To see the tone of the print and point-of-sale which I like despite some thinking its sexist, go here. Unfortunately for agency of record, DraftFCB, what might have stood out in Super Bowls past, may very well blend right in about as well as a pair of Dockers Khakis this year. I also wonder how many people are going to 'shazaam' this ad using their smartphone? I expect a lot of people will due to the novelty that is if they aren't drunk by then. To make sure you are ready, visit the official press release website.

GoDaddy.com
Yawn. Hot girl. Stupid sophomoric guys. Some cleavage. And an unrated web version is what we usually get from Godaddy.com's Bob Parsons. (Who is just too much to believe really.) This year will be no different. What was once just stupid is now bordering on annoying. I don't mind the setup, just the cliche content of the ads. Here's the teaser from the web hosting company.


Teleflora.
The company that reminds you not to send boxed flowers are at it again. Bringing back the voice of Don Rickles as the crotchety personality of boxed and wilted flowers everywhere, the spot reminds you that Valentines Day is close at hand, and that you better not send flowers in a box. Well, I'm surmising that from last year's spot as we only have this behind-the-scenes teaser for now. It's easy to see how a Super Bowl spot makes sense for a floral company, and i think carving out their own niche is a smart thing to do. They only send hand-crafted and delivered bouquets and are setting the bar for men everywhere. Most of whom will be tuning in to the game, so there goes your excuse for forgetting. Creative was done in-house (and according to i4u) will be followed by "...an e-card service that takes the flowers-in-a-box vs. its hand-arranged bouquets online. You will be able to choose between a nice and naughty e-card. In the nice execution, you can send someone a sincere message along with a beautiful, virtual Teleflora bouquet. In the naughty version, the spirit of the talking flowers comes alive with your or pre-selected sarcastic messages that are "delivered" with un-arranged, uncut, sloppily packed flowers in a box. With each naughty or nice e-card, Teleflora is offering the sender and recipient a discount code from teleflora.com."


Boost Mobile
Sprint-owned Boost mobile is using the famous Super Bowl Shuffle video the 1985 Chicago Bears were gracious enough to give to the world for their ad this year. Their re-enactment, The Boost Mobile Shuffle, will have the same look and feel as the original but with a twist. McMahon and Singletary are included in a few—you guessed it—trailers along with Coach Mike Ditka. Boost also has a micro-site promoting the effort, called unwronged. 180LA is the agency behind the work which promises, at least for long-time football fans, to be one of the better spots. I only wish Walter Payton was still with us to play a part in the fun.

Dove
Dove is trying to launch a line of products called men+care, actually the launched happened awhile ago but they are using the man-magnet of the Super Bowl to draw attention to the line once again. The spot features a quick montage of all the big moments in a guy's life with a soundtrack of the William Tell Overture. It's not a bad spot really and I find that it connects with me on a nice level. The campaign's effort is helped by packaging that is rather handsome yet utilitarian-looking. They even have a few shower tools in the product line to help us stay scrubbed. If nothing else they are going all out. They only version of this spot I can find, is a short clip. Apparently, this was the last spot sold by CBS for the game.

E-trade I have to admit, this campaign kind of gets on my nerves but at the same time it has had its moments. Last year's Super Bowl spot wasn't that good. But the outtakes they posted afterward online was much funnier and probably a better all-around ad. This year they've also released a behind-the-scenes and I bet the same holds true. You can also send babymail via a mini-site meant to promote the effort.

PopSecret
PopSecret will be running an ad this year and I think it will be one of the recent spots they've been producing lately. The three that I have seen use a movie tie-in, with a family of unpopped (or partially popped) corn kernels talking about the films in some way. The spots were produced by Nathan Love with agency-of-record Goodby. I like what motionographer.com said about the spots. "Spots like this hark back to the good ol’ days of 80’s product advertising — utilizing stop-motion and “claymation” as a vehicle for spokes-characters like The California Raisins, The Pillsbury Doughboy, or advertising’s salty playboy, Mr. Peanut: kitchen food with arms and legs. These characters personify the businesses they represent, but fail to instill a real sense of life for the characters—one that has human motivation—able to reason, and still sell a product. Until now." The Super Bowl spot may feature more football oriented conversation if they have thought that far ahead. We'll see. Check out the Dark Knight spot below.

Taco Bell
Rumor has it that this spot featuring Charles Barkley doing his best masterpiece theater impression, will be the Super Bowl spot for the fast-food chain. The spot focuses on a new NBA $5 Buck Box. What's most disappointing about the creative here is that if you have ever watched Barkley on TNT's NBA broadcasts you know he is a funny guy. It's a shame that a bunch of advertising creatives (well, more likely a bad client) produced a spot so forced.


TruTV
The channel previously known as courtTV is launching their first Super Bowl spot. Agency Grey is responsible for the ad which promotes a new series on the channel called NFL Full Contact. The spot features Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu as Punxsutawney Polamalu. Giving the title, I think you can figure the rest out, the football fan will get several more weeks of football. Despite being a predictable setup, it's not without its charm. Creepy charm.


Coke.
Coke is doing something pretty cool using Facebook. Simply by visiting their fan page and using the Live Positively App to a 'gift' of a Coca-Cola bottle image; Coke will donate $1 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Then you'll be able to view a 20-second sneak peak at its Super Bowl ad, based on characters from The Simpsons. Obviously, I wouldn't post that video here, so go do a little good and catch a glimpse of their big game ad.

Dr. Pepper Another soda maker in the mix is Dr. Pepper, for their Dr. Pepper Cherry flavor. The spot produced by Deutsch emphasizes the 'little kiss' of cherry and uses the band KISS to do so. The following sneak peak below teases us with a preview of a the soda, the band, and a band of midget look-a-likes in complete kiss attire. I think you can imagine the rest of the spot if you try hard enough. This is one example where the tease ruins the full spot entirely and could have built more suspense with a bit more thought and effort.

Vizio
Flat-screen TV maker Vizio is changinng their marketing tactic, going from a value message to communicating the premium quality of its products. This year the Super Bowl ad features Beyonce and was concepted by Venables, Bell & Partners out of San Francisco. The only tease for this ad I have seen was on E Entertainment Television and about the only we can learn from the short video is that it will involve a flying Beyonce.

Dodge.
The only domestic car maker in the Super Bowl this year is Dodge. They haven't teased the spot at all except to say the subject of the spot will be irreverence and for the Charger nameplate.Irreverence is now agency of record Wieden + Kennedy's specialty, so the spt should be a good one and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do. We do have their most recent spot as a reference however and I'm including it below.

Monster.com
Monster.com has produced what is the teasiest of all teases this year, something called fiddleafriend.com. We think we are going to help this guy find a job by the looks of things, but it's all still up in the air. Agency BBDO/New York is responsible. Look for the site to evolve and offer more opportunities to interact with the fiddling beaver after the game. I've included a short video of pretty much all the site does at the moment below for your convenience.

EA Dante's Inferno
Via Adland, this spot was produced by blur and agency Wieden+Kennedy and is your typical video game fare as of late. Odd choice of popular song that still fits the game in some subtle way, and lots of action screenshots from either the gameplay or narrative sequences. The only thing interesting about this spot is the tagline, which on the video below is Go To Hell. Not gratuitous given the content of the game but still enough to cause some controversy. It's rumored to have been changed for the Super Bowl to Hell Awaits. We'll find out in a few days.

Snickers
Snickers is teasing their spot on facebook, twitter and youtube and promise to use social media to continue to push this campaign past gameday. The Spot features a mean looking Betty White playing a game of touch football and actually does a nice job teasing the spot(s) that they will be running. I don't have to wait, I'd have the talented actress on my flag football team anyday, Ha. Agency BBDO/NY is the creator of the ads as well as last year's Snacklish work which was well received.

Hyundai.
I"m not sure who exactly is doing Hyundai's work these days, but they will have two Super Bowl spots running this year. One is 'eh' and the other is okay I guess. The okay one features Brett Favre ten years from now still thinking about retirement. Hyundai's ten-year warranty is the logical tie-in and given by voiceover talent Jeff Bridges. The other one is trying to be more like a luxury car ad featuring classical music, black and white footage in slow-mo, and a pacing you'd expect from Lexus or Mercedes. And at the end they actually compare their paint quality to that of a Mercedes. It only makes me think of all the things they can't compare to a Mercedes, so in that respect it's as the kids say, FAIL.



kgb
Answerer of questions, kgb, have been busy trying to get by the censors at CBS or like others, trying to appear to get by the censors anyway. They reportedly have a batch of three spots to choose from for next Sunday, however I think they most definitely end up running a spot that includes two of the Baldwin Brothers. It's been leaked for a few weeks now and probably has the most interesting premise anyway. They also produced a spot that was intended to go directly viral but are branding it as a 'banned spot'. It features the old joke of someone having their head up their butt, only instead of butt they use the swears. Not really ban worthy but worth showing in the context of everything else. All spots produced by Brooklyn Brothers, NY.

Denny's A former client of mine, Denny's, is back at their Super Bowl giveaway approach. Last year they gave away like a zillion grand slam breakfasts and were hailed as geniuses. This year they'll probably be giving away something with eggs, as the teasers are warning chickens everywhere to get out of Dodge. The creative is handled by Goodby, and I can attest first-hand that the folks on this account are good people. I look forward to seeing this play out though I'm not expecting anything as culturally significant as nanerpuss or the thugs creative from early 2009.

Audi.
I don't know exactly what Audi is up to with this, but they've launched a YouTube channel called The Green Police, Protecting and Conserving the Earth. This tact of branding a company as eco-friendly is tough business, as I can think of a few things better for the environment than a car. I'm also not sure how exactly this ties in with what other sources are reporting concerning Audi's spot, which is rumored to feature the band Cheap Trick remaking an old 'classic' for their A3 TDI Diesel. (Other than the thin ecological theme.) But there is a good agency behind all of it, and I'm sure it'll make sense very soon. Update: Adland says that they have the actual spot and though related, is a bit different. They can't release it exactly yet.

Motorola.
I'll be as brief and informative as the teaser they are currently running on their site. This spot is for the new Motoblur phone. And I hope somebody cool pops out of that water. Maybe like Captain Lou Albano's ghost, that'd be cool. And the soundtrack sounds a little like St. Germain. Other than that, I've got nothing for you on this.

Kia
Kia has bought one spot to promote the new 2011 Sorento which will air during the third quarter. Agency of record David & Goliath handled creative duties for the spot which uses life-size toys (like a sock monkey for instance) to tell a story called Joyride Dream. For one thing this agency has been a favorite of mine for some time (at least from the outside looking in) and secondly, the teaser looks great. I'm hooked. The song you'll hear is by The Heavy and is called, How You Like Me Now?


Honda
Honda's effort this year is pretty disappointing. Called Squirrel, the spot is helping to launch the Accord Crosstour (yes, yet another cross-over) by showing an animated squirrel packing as much as he can into the vehicle. The spot closes by saying, "Just what we all need... another brilliant idea by Honda." That's too much of a superlative for me to swallow as the spot (and possibly the vehicle) are mediocre at best. Nice way to pat yourself on the back there HoMoCo. But your spot is forgettable.


The US Census Bureau
It's that time again. The US Census Bureau is attempting to count every single citizen and is enlisting everyone's help in a $344 million media campaign that launched a few weeks ago. To give you a sense of scale, the campaign will have creative in 27 different languages. This year's Super Bowl spot has yet to be released but a faux-documentary by agency-of-record DraftFCB/NY is up on YouTube and gives you a flavor of what they are trying to do. The work is directed by Christopher Guest of Go film (but better known for his work on the films This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show.) All that being said the long format piece isn't that funny but maybe the shorter spots will have more punch. According to ABC News, "The campaign will feature different themes, says Jeff Tarakajian, executive vice president at Draftfcb which is working with subcontractors (other agencies) who specialize in specific ethnic groups. One theme is "10 questions, 10 minutes" to highlight the ease of filling out the form. I am curious about this one in particular. Curious and worried."


HomeAway.
I think these guys sell vacation homes or time inside someone else's vacation home. Either way, it makes a lot of sense for them to bring back The Griswold's from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation fame. Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo reprise their role as the bad-luck couple on yet another trip called Hotel Hell Vacation. The company is obviously trying to borrow some of the equity from the cult films. I have to say for a relatively unknown advertiser this approach could work rather effectively. As long as the spots are as funny as the films and the ads respect (using this term loosely) the original work they could be something that a Super Bowl audience will love. Might be a dark-horse candidate, even though the older Russ in this preview really creeps me out. The spot by agency Publicis in the West may also point to HomeAway's website and contain more robust/longer versions. The second teaser is more of a behind-the-scenes of the shoot but will shed more light on what to expect.



Google.
Yep, that's right, Google. Long a naysayer on the benefits of traditional advertising—it is rumored that they will be airing an ad during the Super Bowl. Or maybe they are leaking this rumor to get a little free media without actually running a spot. A tactic heretofore unseen, but a smart one indeed. That actually is genius. Anyway, if they do go through with it, the spot will most likely air during the third-quarter and will be one of the Search Stories viral spots produced early this year. From Technabob blog, "Robert Wong and his co-workers at Google’s Creative Lab created a bunch of short and funny clips showing how their search engine helps people not just to find websites but to improve their lives: “In other words, the best search results don’t show up on a webpage — they show up in somebody’s life.” The Search Stories are nice although completely predictable and not the type of spot you want to see during the Super Bowl. If they indeed want to advertise on this stage they are the perfect company to come with the big guns and own the show. Instead these spots just quietly whimper. This tip came from John Battelle's excellent technology/media blog.




Thursday
Jan282010

284. The Stork Delivers a New Logo & Livery. 

Image from JetPhotos.netToday, Biman Bangladesh Airlines is announcing a new logo, livery and personality for their airline based in Dhaka. The iconic identity (at least in the region) had featured a stylized white stork (balaka) flying across a red circle representing the sun, and was designed by the late Bangladeshi painter Quamrul Hassan. Apparently Hassan was a political artist (hard not to be political in certain areas at certain times) who took folk art and made it more relevant to a modern audience. As rumors about the new logo and livery started to emerge there were some who felt that changing it, was being disrespectful to the artist.

Here's the Old Hassan-drawn Identity (LOVE that stork):

And The Old Livery, looking rather rickety in this pic:

The new logo features the country's name more prominently than Biman, which is fitting since it's the Bengal national carrier, the government is the airline's 'caretaker'. You can use your imagination to figure out what that really means. (We have a caretaker-airline relationship in Dubai with Emirates too.) But this is a big change from the previous identities where Biman was clearly more important. The new typeface is a modern sans that has a rather squared personality. Each character squares up around the edges and concludes on some interesting terminals. (Font speak not airport of course.) Set in a dark pine green it's not a bad logotype if a bit rough, and feels at home of the livery.

The new Logo (No real close-ups on the stork yet):

Speaking of home, the new stork flies comfortably between the ascenders of the b and d respectively, and no matter what side of the plane it's on - is always facing forward. I'm glad to see the basics were thought about here. The stork is a more literal interpretation than the old, and although is a decent-enough icon seems to have a lot less personality than Hassan's bird. 

With any national airline, colors are clearly important. The official colors of Bangladesh are this same bottle green complemented by red; the flag, a green field with a large red disk shifted slightly to the hoist side of center; the red disk represents the rising sun and the sacrifice to achieve independence; the green field symbolizes the lush vegetation of Bangladesh. In the new logo red is the color that Biman is now set, which is under the national type. The new identity makes use of these colors in a way that is not overwhelming, which is not easy to do with such a bold color palette.

The livery is mostly white and having worked on an airline account for a few years, this can help save a lot of cost when a plane is sitting on a hot tarmac during the summer months. On this white canvas is the bottle green, the red and a lighter, almost sea foam green. The tail of the plane showcases a cropped new stork in the sea foam and is rather handsome actually but the plane still feels a bit blank particularly with the engines and cockpit. I'm not sure that I love how the lines of the different graphics flow around the fuselage and more could have been done here to imbue some motion to the look. The flow of the lines just isn't quite right.

The New Livery, Artwork Followed by Actual:

Having just learned more history about the artist of the previous logo and the country itself, it's hard to not feel a bit nostalgic here. Especially for the stylized balaka. I think the designers could have incorporated a slightly updated bird with the new colors and type and it would have been fine. But I understand the need for the governm...er...airline to make a change, given that the brand has been hampered by persistent flight delays and image problems. A new look doesn't fix everything, but it's a start. And the design comes along with ten new Boeings that may help alleviate the larger problems. One place some solid design work would help the company is on their website. It doesn't exactly convey professionalism and safety now does it? One step at a time, I suppose.

You can read more about the new identity and livery here.

Wednesday
Jan272010

283. A Busy Month for Identity Redesign.

There are a lot of sites showcasing the latest and greatest in branding, and though we dabble in that exact thing from time to time, Graphicology's purpose is a more general than that. However, there have been several smaller identity redesigns that have gone under the radar of the major design press and I felt it would be good to gather a few of them up and take the temperature of identity design. I feel like the redesigns/launches that get all of the attention skew our perspective of what is really going on out there, both good and bad. These mostly smaller or less publicized projects give us all a better idea of how others are executing our craft. Sometimes, executing is an appropriate choice of words and sometimes the results are rather nice. 

I usually use Graphicology's Twitter account to post these identities as they happen (as soon as the press release is available in most cases) as well as short-form posts that don't quite require the blog's full attention. (Follow here: graphicologycom). The oldest logo design post is only three weeks old—the youngest a few hours. So hopefully this article (and others like it to come) will help fill in the gaps of our branding/identity design current events. (The above image is a design suggestion to director James Cameron, written by someone who has worked with him in the past to move beyond Papyrus for the Identity for the film, Avatar. It was not implemented obviously. Read more about it here.)

Quintiles. This one is pretty fresh, just being released yesterday. And it came with more than a mere logo update. The release included information on a new company perspective called The New Health (watch that described here), and an announcement that all of their global services will be under one brand. It's still up in the air as to whom to credit the new design, although New York based advertising agency, Doremus is their agency of record. Quintiles is a biopharmaceutical services company (think clinical trials) based in Research Triangle Park, NC. I have to say that the old type didn't seem to match their bold, red Q and although the update isn't without its flaws, it's a definite improvement if keeping the icon was a given. It's rather bland and doesn't communicate much, but I guess it's solid enough for such a large company.

 

Hon. I'm a little biased on this redesign from earlier this month, as Hon's announcement and support of the identity relaunch via social media makes it hard to critique it in a vacuum. (And it's difficult not to like a geometric O). The new corporate mark reminds me a bit of Dyson (speaking of vacuums) but that's not a bad thing at all. The company seems to be genuinely excited about the new mark, its first tweak in over 40 years. The office furniture manufacturer, based in Muscatine, Iowa believes that a new logo is a big deal. Tim Smith, the company's director of brand communications said, "It signals a change. It raises a flag. It attracts attention." Refreshed LEED-certified corporate digs followed up the new logo. Certainly not the most interesting or dynamic of logos you will ever see, it is an appropriate update for such a company. It's modern, strong and without too many frills. Something you'd expect from, say, office furniture. Looking at their past history, I only regret that they didn't erase the mistakes of the 70's before four decades had past.

 

Argos. This redesign comes from across the pond in Britain via Argos a catalog retailer that sells pretty much anything. The design takes a very questionable tail of an A & an awfully chopped S and replaces them with some wobbly characters of a nondescript typeface. The swoop is now detached and looking very much like another online retailer named Amazon. You may have heard of them and their nicely designed combination mark from Turner Duckworth? Since that's the case, I think the new version is a big mistake even if the old feels very much that, old and dated. It's just too similar within a similar industry. And something about most 'smiles' in corporate identity makes me a little angry. Give me some good service and then we'll share a smile, um-kay? (Like most of these, it's hard to say who the responsible design firm is.)

 

A-data. One of the more interesting updates comes from A-data, the Taiwanese digital storage company. Not content to do a mere refresh, they went all Wolff Olins and pulled out a rainbow-colored hummingbird to help reenergize their business. The type is a poor choice and it's hard not to see AAA amongst the rest, but let's be honest, you're not looking at the logotype are you? The bird is dynamic, caught in mid-air and even though it's not rendered with as much craft as we'd like it's hard not to see the courage in the attempt. I will say this - in the technology sector - it stands out. I can't wait to see the brand celebration event Fly, Catch, Go! which will be launched to share A-DATA’s moment of glory with the general public. (Their words, not mine.) See more of this in action via this news release.

Scottrade. Definitely flying under the radar is the redesign of Scottrade, the St. Louis based online stock trading site. Mainly, I think this is a result of the revisions being relatively small. But what the changes lack in importance they make up for by being ugly. I'm not sure what those three stripes represent, there is no pretty shade of purple, and the tagline Get Invested feels a bit too much like an order for my tastes. The revision came along with a new advertising campaign with a theme of Don't Go. View an example at the bottom of this post.

AMN Healthcare. A smaller—though no less important to them—redesign comes from AMN Healthcare, out of San Diego. And as so often is the case the new design is only a small part of a business realignment as announced here. Why did they need a new logo? "To more effectively symbolize its position as the leader in the healthcare staffing and management services industry and the unique strength of its interconnecting service offerings" of course. I have to say from a strictly design perspective it feels too trendy. Like someone got a logolounge account and pulled some elements or approaches off of a few of their favorites. (I enjoy logolounge, don't get me wrong here. You know what I mean.) Of course, this may not have been the case, it just feels very 2009. Not the best thing you want to say about a new logo, even though it's not without it's charm albeit somewhat correctly—a clinical charm. Oh, I'd like to see more space between that M and N, please. Just a bit. A touch. A tad. And maybe extend Healthcare towards the right as mathematically it may be aligned; it's not aligned visually. Okay, I'm done.

South Shore Furniture. Coming in strong from north of the border, this furniture maker out of Quebec managed to redesign a little contemporary charm into their logo for their 70th anniversary. And it's a nice contrast to what Hon produced above. Theirs was for office furniture and the same approach would have been wrong for South Shore which needed to convey more comfort and warmth over modern functionality. I like that they eliminated one piece of furniture and using only two, communicated a sense of home. I'm also very fond of their omission of the old TV and stand as their presence was just wrong. The new lamp and dresser are nice and rounded and feel good inside the new shape (which is kind of like a rug, or at least that's how I would have sold it.) Even the hot dog colors look better in the new configuration. The look is completed with a solid typography choice. Here is the full press release.

 

OSN. This is from my new neighborhood, the Middle East. Here (and I believe only in the ME region) Showtime and Orbit (both cable TV content providers) merged about six months ago and obviously needed to do something as locking-up two logos simply was not a long-term option. Designed in-house, the new logo is definitely better than the two old ones, but just barely. It makes me laugh every time I see it because it makes me think of the old ESPN / SportsCenter logo from back when Chris Berman was a regular SportsCenter anchor. Ha. See it in action here.

 

Thalassa Sea & Spa. What started out as a name change become something much bigger. Being fully launched by the end of this week, Accor Thalassa's well-being arm is now known as Thalassa Sea & Spa and gets a new face-lift itself. Per the press release, "The new identity highlights the brand’s expertise and offers a new thalassotherapy experience that combines in-depth revitalization of the body and the distinctive instantaneous sensorial escapism of the spa setting." Their new motto? There are journeys your body never forgets. Which is true I guess, like the time I went running in the middle of a Phoenix summer without nary a water bottle. My body will never forget that, for sure. The French company operates about 20 spas in France and abroad. Even though it reminds me a bit of the drunken love-child between IBM and AT&T's logos, the new (fewer) waves aren't so bad and the type update feels approachable yet sophisticated. A design solution that is right for the situation.

 

Tax Brain. There's not a whole lot to say here, as this is an early contender for worst of 2010. It was pretty darn ugly to begin with, but after major reconstructive surgery it only has a generic, lifeless, boring, meaningless bunch of shapes to call its identity home. I've included this because it makes me think of all the logos you can get off the shelves from stock sites that although have the vague appearance of something professionally produced, have none of the life and purpose that you'd otherwise get. It wouldn't surprise me if that's exactly what they did either. What decent designer couldn't fall out of bed and design something interesting for a company called Tax Brain? C'mon.

 

Youth Olympic Games Singapore. This isn't technically an identity replacement, as the new mark isn't exactly going to replace the old so much as complement it. (And by old, I mean pretty new. This is the first annual event, see.)  I'm not exactly clear what role each will play for this year's games, but with just a bit less than 200 days to go, all that will become clear soon enough. The official press release amused me a little bit, I must admit. “YOG-DNA” is targeted at young people, not as a logo or a brand, but as a label. It represents the attitudes and freedom of young people and has no restrictions like a traditional “brand”. Uh...right. Call it what you want, but what you have right there is a logo. I guess the kids will appreciate the black and white, the grunged-up forms, and the irregular digital typography having missed out on all those trends in the mid-nineties. I don't mind the idea behind the mark, but why have two? If you really want to capture the spirit here, go all the way. Here's a link to a video to see if you have YOG DNA.

The Hub. And one last news-worthy identity. The Discovery Channel (a family favorite), Hasbro and Satan have teamed together to launch a brand-new kids network called The Hub. Well, just Discovery and Hasbro, but it will be pure visual intoxication for kids everywhere. The network debuts in the fall of this year, so we'll have to wait to see how it moves and sounds, but I bet it will spin and bounce and glow and pulse and fly and...

Okay, that's the major identity redesigns so far in 2010. It's been a busy month for both big designs you'd see elsewhere and those that may have received a lot less exposure. I hope you have enjoyed seeing a few of the projects that you might have otherwise missed.