Lately street banners with a logo of the Golden Gate Bridge have been popping up all over San Francisco to mark the 75th birthday of the city’s most beloved icon. Designed by Studio Hinrichs, the anniversary logo features the Bridge’s familiar vermillion red (aka International Orange) color, its soaring 746-foot-high tower and the Art Deco-styled sunburst border of the rivets that bolt the Bridge together. Applied to everything from signage to souvenir merchandise, the 75th anniversary logo was created to work in one-, two- and four- colors and remain crisp whether etched onto glass, cast in metal, or stitched on fabric. Along with the logo medallion, Kit designed a special Bridge typeface, called Golden Gate Girder, for a commemorative poster, single alphabet letter keychains and other uses.
Most people don’t know this product by brand name, but they know exactly what you are talking about when you describe the pine tree-shaped air fresheners that dangle from rearview mirrors of taxicabs and long-haul trucks all over the world. The product is trademarked under the name “Little Trees” and manufactured in the U.S. by the Car-Freshner Corporation, but the shape is far more recognizable than the name. In fact, unlike the contoured bottles that people immediately associate with Coca-Cola and the Golden Arches that is synonymous with McDonald’s, these cut-out tree silhouettes don’t recall a name so much as a particular scent, location and purpose. That hasn’t hurt sales a bit; Little Trees trees have sold in the billions since they came on the market in the mid-1950s.
Morrisons, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, recently unveiled its rebranded entry-level “value” line, now bearing the name “M Savers.” The work was done by brand design agency Coley Porter Bell as part of a strategic assessment aimed at transforming Morrisons’ own label into a more coherent brand. With some 17,000 products and their variants in Morrisons’ own brand, positioning different tiers and categories of products was a daunting task.
Morrisons’ entry-level value line presented its own unique challenges. Stephen Bell, creative director at Coley Porter Bell, said that the term “value” had a negative meaning to some consumers. “Value ranges tend to be somewhat utilitarian, using template designs and basic corporate colors. Research shows that consumers are often ashamed to be seen with them. But with the economy stalled for the foreseeable future, value ranges will be competing on more than just price. We wondered why shouldn’t entry-level products have some charm and engagement?”
More4, a digital television channel in the UK run by British broadcaster Channel 4, has a new brand identity and on-air look. Channel 4’s communications company, 4Creative, teamed with design and motion studio, ManvsMachine, to create a flexible logo that morphs from one triangle of color into another through a series of flips, folds and reveals.
Inspired by the intriguing ever-changing logo, 4Creative saw its possibilities as installation art and collaborated with Jason Bruges Studio and students from Middlesex University to design and build over 400 individual flipper units that would work together as a single mechanical system. The three-dimensional piece was set up in different environmental settings –- an interior staircase, an abandoned fishing boat on Dungeness Beach, a tree trunk in Victoria Park –- and filmed on location. It made for a memorable on-air debut of More4’s new identity. It also is further evidence that logos are not static graphic forms anymore. In the digital age, more and more logos are designed to be interactive, dimensional and animated.
Manchester-based Music has rebranded Chester Zoo in Chester County, England, by creating a Crayon-colored typeface and logotype that look like they were drawn and embellished by a child — or a clever chimpanzee.
Playful, uninhibited and gleeful, the letterforms, created in collaboration with illustrator Adam Hayes, look like they were done in the wild with crude implements, away from digital devices that would edit out quirks and enforce uniformity. Free-wheeling details spring out of letterforms suggesting that these characters exist outside of captivity. As individually distinct as the letters are, collectively they make up a cohesive font available in four weights and upper and lower case. If animals had opposable thumbs and were able to hold a crayon to create their own font, this is probably how they would describe the Chester Zoo environment — relaxed, happy and free to be who they are.
The occasion of America’s Independence Day on July 4th offers a good time to reflect on how the Star-Spangled Banner became the official flag of the nation. It all started back in 1777. A ragtag army of American colonists was engaged in a fierce battle for independence from Great Britain. Designing an aesthetically pleasing flag to represent themselves was the last thing on their mind. Outnumbered, outspent and outmaneuvered, the Continental Congress had more urgent matters to deal with.
But an emissary from a pro-colonist Native American tribe forced Congress to act by requesting a banner of sorts to display so that scouts would not come under “friendly fire” while on missions for the Continental Army. To prove they were willing to “pay” for such a flag, the emissary included three strings of wampum. Congress hastily put a flag design on its agenda, and 11 days later: “RESOLVED: that the flag of the United states be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.” This resolution was one of many passed that day. The committee obviously didn’t give the matter much thought, but “borrowed” liberally from several sources, including the Sons of Liberty red-and-white “stripes of rebellion” banner and the 13-star blue canton of the New Hampshire Green Mountain Boys and Rhode Island Continental Regiment.
Social Media Week ran an interesting article last week on the 20 top snack brands on Facebook based on community size. According to a survey it conducted in April, the top brand attracted nearly 19 million fans, while the 20th ranked brand garnered 1.6 million. Here’s a quiz to see if you can rank the brands in order. Keep in mind the ranking isn’t according to sales, but on how effectively these brands used Facebook. Click here to read Social Media Week’s analysis of popular features that the brands integrated into their Facebook site.
Since 1998, Google has been regularly posting doodle logos on its homepage, which is why today it put up a playable and recordable tribute to guitarist Les Paul on what would have been his 96th birthday.
The custom reputedly started when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin designed and posted a doodle of the Burning Man Festival in 1998 to alert users of their absence in case the servers crashed. Since then, doodle logos have appeared to honor the birthdays of famous figures from Gandhi and John Lennon to Michael Jackson and Edvard Munch and to celebrate significant holidays and events worldwide. Lately the doodle logos have become more elaborate. On February 8, Google ran an interactive doodle honoring sci-fi writer Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday, and on April 15th, it commemorated Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd birthday with its first video doodle. As far as we know, the homage to Les Paul is the first playable doodle. As if we don’t have enough reason to go to Google; now it’s to check out its doodle logo for the day.
Current TV, the media company started by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt, has launched a new logo designed by Wolff Olins and animation house GHAVA. Replacing the static pixelated identity created by Meta Design and Peter Saville in 2005 (contemporary for its time), the waving Current logo is meant to be viewed in motion, or at least to imply that it is in motion. Unlike traditional logos, the Current identity takes advantage of the technological capabilities of the broadcast medium. Dropped out of whatever background is behind it, the name undulates like a flag, leaving the borders and proportions loosely defined. The logo itself uses a familiar compressed modern gothic font and foregoes any use of proprietary colors. As flat graphics, it’s pretty simple. What makes it special is that movement isn’t used as an afterthought, but as the essence of its uniqueness.
When it comes to branding commercial aircraft, the tail comes before the nose. The tailfin is the tallest part of the plane. It’s the last thing people on the ground see as the plane lifts off. And pretty much the only part they see when the plane is parked buy adobe acrobat nose first at the gate. It is a flying billboard, which is why airline branding experts focus most of their attention on designing memorable graphics for the tail. See if you can match the airline with these tails. Answers on next page.
Canada’s Walk of Fame maple leaf logo has sprouted new leaves, thanks to Taxi, the creative agency that got its start in Montreal. Less stylized than the original maple leaf star logo, the rebrand looks more dynamic and less generic. This makeover extended to the stationery system and award trophy too.
A knock-off of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Canadian version is a plug for home-grown talent. Since Canada’s Walk of Fame was introduced in 1998, about 130 world-renowned Canadians, mostly in the entertainment industry, have earned a maple leaf star on the sidewalk in front of Toronto’s Metro Square, next to Roy Thomson Hall, including William Shatner, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, Kiefer Sutherland, John Candy and Catherine O’Hara. The list of Canadian stars is quite surprising and impressive. As the civic leaders had hoped, the Wall of Fame has become a tourist attraction, provided a lot of media buzz through the inductee nomination process, and fostered national pride by reminding Canadians of all the world-class talent that come from these parts. That’s not too shabby, eh?
Quietroom, a London-based firm that works with clients to “develop a brand language that connects with their customers,” felt that jolly old guy up North was too busy wrapping presents for good boys and girls to focus on the effectiveness of his brand, so Quietroom did it for him…pro bono. Here’s the brand guideline they came up – hope Santa appreciates their generous effort.
Monika Ostaszewska was a student at the Faculty of Industrial Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw when she focused her graduation project on a packaging concept for a region in Poland known for the quality of its food products. Her idea was to create an umbrella brand called “Flavours of Podlaskie” for the region itself and sub-brands for each category of local food producers.
Bear with me. This is hard to explain. We got interested in this story because we loved the graphics and packaging for the new Museum of Unnatural History in Washington D.C., which isn’t a museum and not a real store either. It’s the Washington D.C. location for 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing and publishing organization founded to assist kids aged six to 18 with their writing skills. It got its start at 826 Valencia Street (hence the name), a storefront location in San Francisco’s Mission District. To make the place seem “cooler” to kids, the 826 founders decided to disguise it as a “Pirate Store” and stocked it with pirate supplies like peg legs, message bottles and hooks. Kids loved it and sales helped support the tutoring programs.
About 12 years ago, we posted a quiz, called “The Human Touch,” in @Issue, challenging readers to name the face in the trademark. We are updating it here because back then, there were too many to fit on a spread, so some favorites had to be left out. Also, in the ensuing decade, new brand “people” have emerged and some have been given much-needed facelifts. The reason why companies give their brand a face hasn’t changed, however. Faces are often more memorable than an abstract mark. The right face can humanize a product and give it personality. It can imply the endorsement of an expert. Or it can just make the brand seem more likeable and fun. See if you can connect the face with the brand. The answers are on the next page.
This video leaves a lot to be desired graphically, but it is an excellent primer on audio branding. We would tell you more, but the video by Byswiss does such a great job, why bother. Be sure to read the text to understand the examples.