Quiz: Name That Brand

Some brand graphics are so familiar and entrenched in our memory that our brain often registers the name based solely on the logo’s shape and color. Our mind “fills in the blank,” even when the name is hidden from view. The color and shape of the logo are part of the brand’s identity. They often have as much equity and recognition value as the name itself. In certain circumstances when a company wants to signal major improvements in quality, product offerings or reputation, walking away from or tweaking old brand elements may not be a bad idea. But it shouldn’t be done casually.

See if you can guess these brand name from the shape and color of their logos. (See answers at end of article.)


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Trajan, the Fallback Movie Poster Font

Setting a film title in the font Trajan is a can’t-go-wrong choice.–cheaper than commissioning a titling face from scratch and not as mundane as picking Helvetica or Times Roman. Typewise, it is the equivalent of the “little black dress” that fashion magazines tell us should be in every woman’s closet for special social occasions. Whether the film titling is for a comedy, romance or thriller, Trajan is refreshingly appealing and appropriate.

A serif all-caps typeface designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly for Adobe, Trajan is based on the letterforms carved into the Trajan’s Column in Rome in AD113. The classical Roman letterforms actually predate the inscription on the Trajan’s Column, and first appeared in 43 BC, making it the world’s oldest typeface. Twombly’s crisp and faithful digitalization of Trajan has given it new life, and has become the ubiquitous font for the film industry. This video on Trajan was produced by Vox and designer/ typography blogger Yves Peters.

USPS Releases Stamp by @Issue Design Director

On the 200th anniversary of the Flag Act of 1818, the U.S. Postal Service has released a first-class stamp designed by @Issue founder Kit Hinrichs.

The Flag Act of 1818 gave the country the basic design rules that dictate the look of the flag today– namely, 13 stripes representing the Original 13 Colonies and one star for each state in the Union. This 1818 Act superseded the Flag Act of 1794, which decreed that each state in the Union be represented on the flag with one stripe and one star. The folly of the 1794 design quickly became apparent when Kentucky and Vermont joined the Union and the stripes had to be made thinner and thinner and the stars smaller and more cramped. With more states slated to join the Union, it quickly became clear that the American flag would soon become a mess, with the number of stars and stripes changing so frequently that the public won’t recognize it as an official emblem, much less an iconic symbol of the U.S.

This stamp commemorating the Flag Act of 1818 displays 20 stars, the number of states in the Union in 1818. It is the second in a set of Forever flag stamps designed by Kit.

Babbel Presents: An Alien Abroad

How better to illustrate how frustrating and isolating it feels to be a foreigner who can’t communicate with locals than to use a “real” alien. The funny commercial, made by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by David Shane, features a tourist named Alexi from who knows what planet explaining how Babbel, the language learning app, transformed his travel experience. He went from being treated like a strange alien to the gregarious, likeable individual he really is. The advert was charmingly “convincing,” except for the fact that on first meeting Alexi, the locals remained infinitely polite and patient and didn’t threaten to call the cops. Must not have been made in the U.S.

Fanciful Humor of Apple iPhone Ads

Film director Dougal Wilson and Furlined, a global production company with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London, are sweeping the 2018 ad awards shows, including medals from the Art Directors Club, One Show, Webby Award, D&AD, and British Arrow. Their winning entry is “Barbers,” a quirky commercial promoting the Portrait mode on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. Previously available only on DSLR cameras, the Portrait mode uses the iPhone’s rear cameras to separate the foreground subject from the background, to secure impressive studio-quality lighting effects.

The location for showing the iPhone’s Portrait is set in a funky New Orleans barbershop, enlivened by “Fantastic Man” by Nigerian synth pop artist William Obyearbor. Apple says it had to do 24 haircuts to make the advert. It donated the shorn hair to Locks for Love, a nonprofit that helps provide hairpieces to disadvantaged children in need.

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Gentle Monster: New World in Shopping

At a time when online retailers are driving bricks-and-mortar stores out of business, Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster is transforming the concept of what a retail space should be. Gentle Monster’s retail interior closely resembles an abstract art exhibition that happens to sell stylish, futuristic eyewear. Founded in Seoul in 2011 by Hankook Kim, Gentle Monster has attracted a cultlike following, including renowned celebrities and fashion designers, and has spurred the opening of more than 41 Gentle Monster stores in South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the U.S.

Gentle Monster’s décor is surreal and experiential. Wild art displays provide the aesthetic theme for each space. The Singapore store is an interpretation of Nietzche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” In Chengdu, China, the retail space imagines the creation of a post-apocalytic world. The Los Angeles store leads shoppers through the stages of “Harvest,” and the Daegu, South Korea, space is disguised as a laundromat.

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Starbucks Grande Café and Roastery in Shanghai

If you think that when you’ve seen one Starbucks cafe, you’ve seen them all, you need to visit the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve Tasting Room in Shanghai. The Starbucks signature mermaid and green brand elements are underplayed to the point of not being noticeable. Elegant wood and gleaming copper finishes adorn the 30,000-square-foot establishment, staffed by 400 employees. The place feels like “Disneyland” for caffeine lovers.

The sights are awesome and entertaining! A towering copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops (stamps) hand-engraved to narrate the story of Starbucks and coffee. A ceiling made out of 10,000 handmade hexagonal wooden tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine. A Roastery featuring three wood-carved bars, one of which is 88 feet long, where customers can watch beans being roasted and baristas brewing coffee using six different methods and beans from 30 countries. If that isn’t enough, an integrated AR system, built with an Alibaba web app, lets customers immerse themselves in the space through their smartphones. There is also specially crafted nitrogen-infused teas at the tea bar, and an on-site bakery offering scrumptious artisanal baked goods by famed Italian baker, Rocco Princi acclaimed from Milan to London.

With a population of 24 million people just in the city of Shanghai, even a gigantic Starbucks store can’t serve all the locals. Shanghai already has 600 other Starbucks cafes in the city, and 3,000 locations in 136 Chinese cities, with one new Starbucks location opening in China every 15 hours.

The Backstory of “Keep Calm and Carry On” Posters

“Keep Calm and Carry On” is the most famous British World War II poster that few people knew about until a half century later. Virtually all of the 2.5 million copies printed in anticipation of plastering the UK with them when war broke out, never saw the light of day.

It all started in the spring of 1939, as England braced itself for a German invasion. To prepare citizens for that inevitability, the UK Ministry of Information (MOI) formed a Home Publicity Committee made up of civil servants, volunteer academics, publicists and publishers to plan a campaign urging citizens to keep a “stiff upper lip.” The committee met weekly over lunch hour and suggested various slogans — e.g, “England Is Prepared” and “We’re Going to See This Through.” The committee proposed a series of seven or more morale-boosting posters, which the Treasury vetoed due to cost, giving them less than half of their requested budget. Ultimately, the MOI settled on three poster messages: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”; “Freedom Is In Peril, Defend It With All Your Might,” and “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Someone suggested “Keep Calm, Don’t Panic,” but that was nixed.

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Tackling the Plastic Problem, One Supermarket Aisle at a Time

Plastic may be cheap and convenient, but there is mounting evidence that it is killing the planet and all the inhabitants on it. According to Ecowatch, today there are 500 times more pieces of microplastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. Plastic constitutes about 90 percent of the trash floating on the ocean’s surface. One million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals are killed each year from plastics in the ocean. Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by humans too – 93 percent of Americans age 6 and older test positive for BPA, a harmful hormone-altering plastic chemical. Some retailers are not giving up in despair, but are addressing the disposable plastics problem one aisle at a time.

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Lacoste Alligator Yields to Endangered Species

Lacoste’s familiar white polo shirts is swapping out its signature embroidered green alligator logo temporarily for ten endangered animals to raise awareness and help conservation efforts. The limited edition “Save Our Species” polos made their debut at the recent Paris Fashion Show, and include the Vaquita porpoise, Sumatran tiger, Anegada ground iguana, California condor, Kakapo parrot, Saola ox, Northern sportive lemur, Burmese roofed turtle, Javan rhino, and Cao-vit gibbon.

Created in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN), the Save Our Species Lacoste shirts have been produced in very limited number – 1,775 in total. The number of shirts produced for each species corresponds with the population of each species still surviving in the wild. For instance, only 30 polos will be made featuring the Vaquita porpoise, and 67 for the Javan rhino. The extremely scarce polo shirts, costing roughly $183 each, will be available for as long as they last from ICUN’s Save Our Species site.

Poster Show Promotes Tolerance

For centuries, wall posters have been a favorite means to publicize events, products, causes, political movements and the like. It is a sad commentary on the 21st century that we need to use this public vehicle to draw attention to an idea as basic as Tolerance. Unfortunately, we do.

“Tolerance” is the name and theme of a traveling poster show that is now circling the globe. Organized by Bosnian-born and now New York-based, Mirko Ilic, the Tolerance Traveling Poster Show features the contributions of renowned designers including Milton Glaser (USA), Chaz Maviyana-Davies (Zimbabwe), Yuko Shimizu (Japan), Manuel Estrada (Spain), Tarek Atrissi (Lebanon), Jianping Ha (China), and some two dozen others.

To keep the exhibition accessible to a broad audience, the posters are shown in public plazas, shopping malls, parks, and other open venues instead of in art galleries and art museums. Conceived to be electronically produced and hung anywhere in the world within a week, the Tolerance posters show is expected to run for two years. To date, it has been shown on nearly every continent, with illustrators and designers from exhibiting countries contributing their own Tolerance poster to the show.

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The Art of Manhole Covers

Most municipalities around the world view sewage manhole covers as a mundane part of the urban infrastructure. At best, they try to make these heavy metal plates functional and inconspicuous. Instead, cities and towns focus their civic beautification efforts on creating a broad range of public art installations — murals, sculptures, archways, fountains, and the like. But ignoring the artistic possibilities of humble manhole covers is a missed opportunity. These metal plates, typically 34 inches in diameter, are the perfect size for casting images and decorative patterns that relate the culture, history, industry, and flora and fauna of the area.

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Lesser Known Design Professions: Film Propping

When people think of becoming a designer, they usually think of print graphics, industrial, digital, environmental, interior, software, etc., but design encompasses a lot more territory than that and has many subsets. This is an interview with Dublin-based designer Annie Atkins who specializes in creating authentic-looking props and graphics for such films as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Here, Atkins talks about her craft and the importance of paying attention to seemingly insignificant details.

Quiz: Brand Name Origins

Many companies pick brand names for reasons that only they understand. Some names just feel good on the tongue or will look strong on packaging. OXO, for instance, was named by kitchen tool founder Sam Farber, because it was easy to pronounce in any language, spelled the same in any direction – forward, backward and upside down, and fit on any size packaging. This quiz challenges you to match the brand name with the clues below, and then identify the original source for the names.

Clues
  1. Founder’s daughter
  2. African animal
  3. Store hours
  4. Danish king
  5. Founder’s name
  6. Buddhist goddess
  7. Danish word
  8. Digestive enzyme
  1. Writing tool
  2. Moby Dick character
  3. Communications product.
  4. German car
  5. A product perfected on its final try
  6. Character in Gulliver’s Travels
  7. Japanese word for danger.
  8. Roman god of fire

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2018 PANTONE Color of the Year

Pantone, the authority on all things color, has announced that Ultra Violet – aka, Pantone 18-3838 — will be the Color of 2018. Pantone didn’t come up with this pronouncement arbitrarily, although it would seem that funereal black or pukey orange would be more fitting to the times. Pantone color gurus, however, are more philosophical and optimistic – and less snide. The Institute describes Ultra Violet as associated with “mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world.” Pantone vice president Laurie Pressman says, “Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design, it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in the world today.” Considered in that light, I would nominate “Pussy Hat Pink” or Fire Rescue Red” instead.