Motion Graphics

Pentagram Turns 40

Pentagram, the international design consultancy, celebrated its 40th anniversary this year with a stop-motion video, narrated by a voice that sounds somewhat like the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world.”

“The Forty Story” is a tale of a boy born on the day that Pentagram opened its doors in London, and shows how his life has been impacted by 40 years of Pentagram design. To chronologically (more or less) knit together a small sampling of Pentagram’s amazingly diverse body of work, the storyline veers wildly, starting out by claiming the boy was born in a BP petrol station, walking in Clarks shoes by age 1, shaving with a disposable razor by age 3, publishing poems about Pirelli tires with a Parker Pen by age 6, and acclaimed by Reuters as a lad before being panned by Italy’s 24 Ore and resorting to antidepressants. The story goes on until he finds love and contentment, with Pentagram’s portfolio of projects flashing across the screen.

The script was written by Naresh Ramchandani and Tom Edmonds, directed by Christian Carlsson, with titles by John Rushworth.

Congratulations on your first 40 years, Pentagram! May your next 40 years be just as stellar.

Design Classic

Shape As Brand

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.

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Packaging

Morrisons Rebrands its Own Value Brand

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?”

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Typography

Chester Zoo’s Wild Typography

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.

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Brand Language

How Not to Brand a Country, but Succeed Anyway

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.

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Design Quizzes

Quiz: Top Snack Brands on Facebook

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.

Top 20 Snacks Quiz According to Face Book
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Design Quizzes

Quiz: The Tail End of the Brand Story

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.

Airline Tail Quiz
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Humor

Branding Santa

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.


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Packaging

Branding a Region

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.

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Brand Language

826 National’s Unnatural Marketing Strategy

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.

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Design Quizzes

Quiz: The Face of a Brand

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.

The Face of the Bran Quiz
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