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215. Return of the Links.

Back in the blogger days of graphicology - I would post what I creatively called: Monday links - an assorted and varied compilation of design articles, projects, stories and anything else that I found interesting for those of a curious mind. The last few weeks have been crazy - ridiculously crazy busy - so the blog has taken a backseat. But I'm back on track and ready to get going again. To start, here's a short list of the things I found interesting over the last few weeks, just in case you missed them. And - if anyone out there has a hankering to do this whole blogging thing - I'm looking for someone who can add a different perspective on communication design - and maybe not misspell things as often as I do. Ha.

Here's the links:

  1. Very powerful. Very simple. You don't even need to be able to read Chinese to get it. (Link)
  2. The War Ends as reported by The New York Times in 2009. And The New York Times' response.
  3. 1969 Sessions of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Pretty cool.
  4. Maybe the worst 'billboard' placement ever. Sheesh. For the next World Cup.
  5. The St. Louis Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. Wow - check out those portraits.
  6. Las Vegas Neon graveyard shots. And more here.
  7. Love the Nike Considered work from HunterGatherer (find it on the left.)
  8. Excellent article on the branding of Polaroid. And related: Poladroid.
  9. Crazy - election winner by county - in 3D. (link.)
  10. Maybe my favorite project I've seen all year. Love it.
  11. Meant to blog about this - it's interesting. Quarter Pounder.
  12. I really like this simple design solution. (link.)
  13. This looks like it's going to be surprisingly good. The Wrestler.



214. Ad of the Week: Barclay.

Oh, the halcyon days of yesterday when banks were throwing around money. It was a time when financial institutions were approving advertising that took guts (and money) to produce. This spot for Barclaycard (which functions much like your swipe-able Visa debit card) is done on a grand scale and as regular readers know – I'm a sucker for things done well, and things done large(ly.) The ad has an epic feel to it while proving a point about how easy the card is to use. It's fun. It has a catchy musical score (Bellamy Brothers song, Let Your Love Flow.) And they've posted a longer version - of the spot, not of the song of course - as well as a behind-the-scenes video, which I also approve of. (If a behind the scenes video is necessary or proves interesting to people, it's a good sign that your spot was probably creatively worthwhile.) I would wager that this concept and budget were approved pre-credit-crunch, circa sometime in June. Ugh. BBH in London is responsible for this work, and the spot was directed by Peter Thwaites.

Official :60 Spot:

Unofficial 1:54 Spot:



213. Old Basketball Uniform Catalog.

I played a lot of basketball when I was a kid growing up in the middle of nowhere. Basketball is great because you can do it with friends or alone - all you need is a ball. Even the hoop is optional if you have an old bike rim sitting around somewhere. After a few years, I got to be pretty good; barely making my seventh grade team and starting my eighth grade year. But it was this year that I remember having to wear some of the shortest shorts I have ever seen in my life. Our school wasn't blessed with a huge uniform budget apparently, so we had to wear shorts that must have come from the sixties. Not only were they short, they were decorated with four thick stripes of alternating horizontal stripes of red and black. Like a bumblebee only red. Obviously, it was a traumatic experience. All this came roaring back to my consciousness as I read this post from the always entertaining uniwatchblog, featuring pages from a 1961 Basketball Uniform Catalog.

It's a weird look back into time, when apparently only white people played basketball.

Special Orders:

The risque ladies unis:


Though, I'm not sure these are worse than the new OKC Thunder uniforms. (That type is all sorts of awkward.)


212. The World Cares.

One of my favorite sites is newseum, an updated gallery showcasing the front pages of newspapers across the country and around the world. From a design perspective it's quite interesting, but more so today for cultural reasons. Call me crazy but I still like to think the United States can be an example to the world, and without getting too political - it's intriguing to watch how the world reports the news of Obama's win. Through newseum, you can view a long list of international front pages and get a good idea. I've pulled a few of my favorites below, but there are hundreds on the site.


211. Pentawards 2008.

The good folks over at The Dieline have all the winners of the 2008 Pentawards - the global packaging design awards. As a matter of fact (and deservedly so) the Dieline is the official blog for the awards. Well-played. I think this year's awards are very bottled-beverage heavy, and so some of my favorites are not from that category. I was particularly pleased to see the packaging for Microsoft Vista get awarded - as packaging design hasn't exactly been Microsoft's strongpoint. And the Vista work was well-done while not ripping-off Apple in anyway, no easy task. The milk cartons (below) are just too pleasing to be milk cartons, while the sausage packaging stands out in a category that is abysmal at best. Go visit The Dieline to see the other 202 winners, which of course includes the awesome aluminum Coke bottle.

Microsoft Vista:

Tine Milk:

Waitrose Meat:


210. BPN's Don't Vote Posters.

I was sent this link by a coworker, and thought most of the posters were really well done and deserved an entry. I believe they were either done for or by the Portland ad agency Border Perrins Norrander (most notable for their great work for Columbia Sportswear - a client since 1978 until this spring when the relationship ended. Sad.) The posters are focused and powerful in their simplicity and for the most part, they don't take a party line and focus on the issues at hand - leaving the individual to decide for themselves. And you can download high-rez versions to put up over your cubicle/dorm/house/whatever to get your friends to vote. Yay for sharing! (Some are more edgy than others.) Remember to vote this Tuesday! Here are two of my favorites:

And here is a little banner you can spread around too:


209. Soda Design Wars.

The design press is all abuzz about the new Pepsi identity/packaging redesign. Brand New has covered it pretty well over the last week, but I can't help but add my commentary on this work, especially as it compares and contrasts to Coke's.

Both redesigns attempt to simplify the look of each brand - boiling it down to its essence. Turner Duckworth's work on Coke has been generally well received, and rightfully so. It's simple. Clean. and Pure. It is Coke and no other unnecessary ornamentation. The brand is carried out consistently on everything from theater popcorn bags to tractor-trailors in unmistakeable red and white graphcs, and it actually seems to have a personality, which I would describe as a little sophisticated but with a good sense of humor. You can (and should) watch the video about Coke on TD's site. The advertising that Wieden & Kennedy has done not only reinforces but most often focuses on the brand elements. Overall, a well-coordinated rebrand of an icon that was in dire need of help. But we've covered this already. Old news as it were.

Now a year (plus) later, Pepsi has been announcing new identity/packaging that they've been developing with The Arnell Group. Like I mentioned above, it's attempting to simplify the graphic language and focus a brand that has gone off track. (Sound familiar?) So, Pepsi starts releasing the new look - and pretty much the consensus is that it is awful. Go to most of the design blogs and you'll see a lot of vitriol about how it is no better than what an amateur or mediocre design student would produce. Some of this is justified. Some of it is unwarranted. And some of it is just silly. But here’s where they did well and where they went awry – in my humble opinion.

The Good.
It’s simple. Sure, it’s a bit of a trend to simplify things down and use avenir or futura or whatever sans du jour and pretty much nothing else – but when you are a big, iconic brand, it can work. It worked for Coke. And it could work for Pepsi just as well.

I like the type. I may be in the minority on this, but I think it is nice. Pepsi has used so many different type treatments and none of them were all that great so I don’t think they are losing anything by adopting this more modern approach. And I don’t care – I like the lowercase e a lot. I'll take the beatings.

Consistency. At least within the major Pepsi labels there is a design theme, which is nice. I don't think much of Coke's work is all that consistent once you begin to look at Diet, and Cherry and the other lines. At least the Diet and Max look cohesive.

The Release. Pepsi pre-released this video with sample packaging to a few influential design blogs - which was a nice gesture. It shows an appreciation for design and the critique thereof, as well as growing consideration for a more viral PR approach. Even if you hate the designs, you have to admit that this was a cool thing for them to do.

Peeking at the Gatorade snippet - there's a chance this redesign could be good. At least I hope so.

The Bad.

If you look closely on the Diet/Max packaging you'll notice a small monstrosity. They don't bother to spell out carbohydrates, sugar or calories. 0 cal, carb, sug. Yikes! It's like when a middle-aged white suburban guy tries to talk street, it just sounds stupid. (Not that I am an almost middle-aged white suburban guy or anything.)

Mt. Dew. Sierra Mist. Tropicana. All three of these brands have been turned into a complete mess. Ironically, I've seen the most positive comments on these three - which really surprises me. I think they are ugly, sloppy, amateurish and void of all the brand equity that they once held. It's just soda and orange juice - so it's not the end of the world, just a few bad design decisions. I know a farmer doesn't pluck the orange off the tree right before I walk into the store and buy Tropicana - but I don't mind the illusion, and getting rid of the straw in the orange was just not wise at all. I predict they'll come back to it eventually in lieu of the generic brand image they now have.

The logo. I believe this is the reason for most of the negativity, and it's not really even about the design. It's the rationale of designing each subbrand's red/white/blue globe as different smiles. What - are we in kindergarten or something? Even if the design was superbly executed the description of it alone would have resulted in more than a few - ughs. From AdAge and Brand New: "The white band in the middle of the logo will now loosely form a series of smiles. A "smile" will characterize brand Pepsi, while a "grin" is used for Diet Pepsi and a "laugh" is used for Pepsi Max." Ugh indeed.

Ultimately, I don't think Pepsi should have messed too much with their globe. I don't necessarily think it's the ultimate in identity design, but it is recognizable and the new logos don't do anything to help the designs. One reader on Brand New suggested the rebranding would have been more successful should the original logo been applied to the rest of the design - and I agree. Not a bad looking can, eh?

My conclusion:

It's not as bad as everyone wants it to be - at least the core Pepsi brand designs. They may have messed with the logo (You didn't see Coke do that btw,) but really the designs will look good on the shelf and still feel very much like Pepsi. That's a big deal. I believe having the courage to simplify things was even more difficult for Pepsi, because they've always felt that they had to scream a little louder than Coke - and their packaging has reflected that for decades. If they are now trying to out-whisper them - I'm all for it. Where I think this will fall short is in the macro communication efforts. I don't think the rest of the communication from the brand will have the sophistication or consistency that Wieden and TD have given to Coke. I could be wrong, but I just think it's going to be difficult for them to strike a note as pleasant as Coca-Cola. The subbrands, however, are a big step backward and I'm confident that time will prove me correct on this issue. I can't help be curious what would have happened if Turner Duckworth had been given the Pepsi project insted of Coke. How different would the work be? Would the commentary be different? Interesting to think about.


208. Cooper-Hewitt National Design Week.

Voting for the 2008 Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Award ends this coming Tuesday, October 21. The winning design will be announced two days later on October 23, 2008, at the National Design Awards gala in New York City. You can vote here. The larger award show was started in 2000 in order to broaden awareness of the role of design in daily life, and is a very prestigious show of which to be a part. This is all occurring during National Design Week (Oct. 19 - 25). From the official site, "On Oct. 19, Cooper-Hewitt will launch its third National Design Week, an initiative that aims to draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life, through outreach to school teachers and their students, and partnerships with design organizations across the country." You can see what's happening where you are, and if you are in The City, you can visit the museum free all week, which is part of The Smithsonian. Prestigious to be sure. (You can meet the panel of jurors, via this video.)

So many good projects are up for the People's Award, the great Design Observer blog, Everything is OK, Helvetica The Movie, Good magazine, the We Campaign, The Obama Identity, and even the Thighmaster Gold. Go Vote!


207. Microsoft's Cleartype.

Microsoft first released their Cleartype system back in 1998. So they've been around for awhile, but for mac-based professionals, there hasn't been much to talk about until a new set of font families were included in the somewhat-recent Office 2008. (Our agency just updated this week.) I have to admit, I don't know too much about Cleartype (besides what I can read here) and all that it can do. But, I can comment on the new font families, with a little more authority.


Microsoft partnered with the Ascender Corporation and several type designers to improve the default fonts in the Office suite, and i think overall, it's a definite improvement. From the Ascender website: "each typeface family in the Microsoft ClearType Font Collection has its own personality and flair that are the hallmark of their particular designer:"

  • Calibri, designed by Luc(as) de Groot, is a sans serif design with a rich soft character that makes the font suitable for documents, email and Web design. Calibri is the new default sans serif font in Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Cambria, designed by Jelle Bosma with Steve Matteson & Robin Nicholas, is a serif design suitable for business documents. Cambria Math, designed by Jelle Bosma with Ross Mills, features an extensive character set for mathematical, scientific and technical publications. Cambria is the new default serif font in Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Candara, designed by Gary Munch, is a lively but not intrusive sans serif design suitable for email, Web design and informal settings.
  • Consolas, designed by Luc(as) de Groot, is a monospaced font (like an old typewriter) and good for programmers setting code (its core purpose).
  • Constantia, designed by John Hudson, is a modulated wedge-serif design ideal for e-book and journal publishing both online and in print.
  • Corbel, designed by Jeremy Tankard, was designed to give an uncluttered and clean appearance on screen.
  • Cariadings, designed by Geraldine Wade, is a new decorative symbol font with typographic ornaments that can be used as watermarks, border enhancements or icons.

You can download a pdf - not quite a type specimen, but still interesting - about the new releases at the Ascender link above. (Look toward the bottom of the page.) The best place to test-drive the families are here.

At first blush, Calibri looks to be the most useful and is set as the default sans. It is similar to Computer Modern Sans, but is a nice substitute. Looks to have been rendered with expert hands. I am happy they put a lot of energy in the monospace font, Consolas. Monospace fonts oftentimes get half the attention they deserve. Constantia will be used a lot, no doubt for long copy formats - though I have yet to view anything set in this face. It has a chiseled feel, with it's wedge serifs. I am hoping to work with these fonts and see how well they are taking advantage of OpenType features, how well the ligatures are rendered and substitute glyphs and such. If you have done a project using any of these faces, please share. 

From the Ascender PDF:


206. Yee-Haw Industries Election Posters.

Combine a project featuring letterpress + old-boxing/wrestling posters + a timely topic = I'll blog about it every time. Check out these fantastic election bout posters from Yee-Haw Industries in Knoxville, TN. Lots of fights on the card and even more details to love. The one below feature McCain vs Obama - go to their blog to see the VP version and to view a production video. You can buy them, and for their size the price isn't bad at all.