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 Quizzes

Quiz: Manly Brand Mascots

What does a mascot say about a brand? Do manly brand mascots convey qualities that build consumer confidence, likeability, and trust? See if you can identify these brand icons and the product each represents. Then consider what attribute they evoke – tough, unflappable, suave, protective, devil-may-care, jovial, helpful, fearless — and decide whether he is the right guy for the job. See answers after the jump.


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Brand Logos

Sports Celebrity or Global Brand?

Corporate mar-com managers, ad agencies and designers talk endlessly about “their brand” — building a brand, protecting a brand, creating brand distinctions, proving brand integrity, winning brand loyalty, etc.
The world’s top brands will attract consumers who trust that any products that bear their name and logo is reputable, and they will aggressively pursue any entity that tries to knock-off or pirate their brand or in anyway damage their brand’s reputation or steal their market through misleading lookalikes. That is why NBA superstar Michael Jordan recently sued Chinese sportswear and shoe manufacturer Quiodan (the way Jordan is pronounced in Chinese) for using his name and playing number without authorization. Jordan makes a compelling case for why this isn’t simply about the misuse of his name but about infringing on the proprietary rights of a respected global brand.

Humor

Brand Analysis from a 5-Year-Old

This is just too cute! When Cincinnati-based graphic designer Adam Ladd asked his 5-year-old daughter to identify some famous logos, he got back some astute answers. This is a very observant little girl who was more spontaneous, perceptive and honest than any focus group.

Brand Logos

Carlsberg and Coke

Extending a brand into global markets isn’t a straightforward process. Product makers have to consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers. Can the letterforms be read? Can the name be pronounced? Does it have a pleasing or harsh sound when spoken? Does the name mean something else in another language? (An example is the famous case of the Chevy Nova, which in Mexico translates to “doesn’t go.”) Then there is the challenge of trying to maintain some graphic consistency so the brand is truly global and not the same product that looks different in every regional market.

Consider how Carlsberg Beer and Coca-Cola graphically translated their logotypes into multiple languages, for example. LogoDesignLove brought the Carlsberg comparisons to our attention. With Carlsberg, note the way that the designers tried to carry over the signature style of the brand — the flat-top squared-off “C,” tri-leaf accent pattern, the swash decorative flourish under the type, the brushstroke-like serif on the last “r.” Although the letterforms differ dramatically from language to language, the various logotypes have a family look that suggests their roots stem from the original Danish Carlsberg logo.

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Brand Logos

Urban Stimuli or Graphic Assault?

City-dwellers know that we are constantly bombarded with graphic messages. It’s the “white noise” of urban living. Most of us tune it out like the omnipresent sound of traffic and pedestrian chatter.

This 2006 award-winning film, made by Netherlands-based Studio Smack for Museum de Beyerd in Breda, has become a classic. Like an x-ray, the film “Kapitaal” zeroes in only on the graphic stimuli encountered by an “unseen commuter” waiting on a platform for the train, riding the subway and walking through the city. Everything but the graphic information is reduced to black silhouettes. Signage, logos, ads, train timetables, graffiti, posters and packaging labels stand out in stark white contrast. There is no voiceover commentary, just the claustrophobic visual assault pressing in from every direction. It begs the question: How much do people really notice in a world of information overload? How can designers and advertisers avoid adding to the visual clutter and give the public something they really want to see?

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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