Tokyo, the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, unveiled its logos for the games recently. Designed by Tokyo-based Kenjiro Sano, founder of Mr. Design Inc., the logos are not merely pleasing graphics; according to the Olympics press release, they were intended to convey a deeper meaning. The Olympic mark has a large black and gold “T”, which we are told represent “Tokyo, Tomorrow and Team.” The red circle, which looks like the red sun on the Japanese national flag, is described instead as a symbol of “inclusiveness and the power of a beating heart.” The same graphic elements are used for the Paralympic games, but the gold and silver shapes are placed within parallel bars to form the universal symbol of equality. The “beating red heart” is placed within one of the bars. The meaning attributed to the graphic elements is poetic, but not immediately apparent to anyone seeing the logos for the first time. The fact that the symbolism has to be explained to be understood makes it seem contrived by a public relations committee, trying to read more into a nice-looking logo than is actually there. That’s totally unnecessary. The logos are graphically compelling on their own.
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Steve Frykholm is rare among in-house graphic designers, who tend not to make a career in one company for fear that they may become stale and repetitive. Frykholm joined Herman Miller in 1970, and has produced an impressive graphic communications portfolio for the celebrated furniture maker over the past 45 years. Back when financial annual reports were the design showpiece for most companies, all eyes were on Herman Miller to see what Frykholm came up with. Inevitably, it was something wonderful, fresh, and engaging. Frykholm established a graphic brand for Herman Miller that didn’t emphasize the repetition or placement of the logo, as much as meeting the company’s reputation for bold, original design. So, it is not that surprising that the silk-screened posters that Frykholm produced for the annual company picnic over the past 20 years have been included in New York’s Museum of Modern Art permanent collection. This brief video was produced by Dress Code, a New York-based production company.
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As of this writing at 3:05 p.m., June 24, 2015, there are 25 declared Republican candidates and 14 declared Democratic candidates for the 2016 Presidential election. Of course, the count is still in flux, with about a dozen other wannabes rumored to be exploring entering the race. Shown here are the logos of the declared candidates who have logos (many don’t). Based strictly on their logos and nothing else, which candidate communicates “the right stuff”? Has anyone’s logo changed your opinion of his/her qualifications?
Recently Bloomberg Politics reporter Ali Elkin asked designer Sagi Haviv, a partner in legendary New York design firm, Chermayeff & Geismar @ Haviv, to critique the graphic brands of the then-current slate of Presidential candidates (now outdated). His critique is on the video below.
Disclaimer for U.S. voters: The brand identities of the 2016 Presidential candidate, shown here, do not in any way reflect the preference of any @Issue staff member for a particular candidate or logo.
Apology to non-U.S. @issue readers: If you don’t know anything about half of these candidates, don’t feel out of touch. Neither do a lot of Americans.
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It might be considered tacky to give a bar of soap as a gift, but not if it is beautifully wrapped.
Established in New York more than 30 years ago, Michel Design Works found its niche merchandising tasteful gift products in lovely garden-themed designs and packaging. Scented bar and bubble bath soaps, body lotions, paper napkins, coasters and placemats, kitchen towels and potholders, and the like are delightfully decorated with antique botanical prints. In the case of the soap, the wrapping paper makes the product look like a luxury item, but is inexpensively priced to give as an appropriate hostess thank-you or as a shower party favor. The packaging for the soap even features the Michel Design Works’ elephant logo as a hot-wax seal. What makes this soap “gift-worthy” is not the actual bar of soap (however good it is); it’s the packaging. The packaging defines the brand.
With Walt Disney Pictures, the entertainment starts with the presentation of the graphic identity. Ethan Jones posted this compilation on YouTube to show how the studio has adapted the Disney brand logo to suit the featured movie. Every variation retains the key elements of the brand – the castle, the shooting star and the Disney script signature.
When it came to designing a graphic identity for the city of Porto in Portugal, one visual symbol wasn’t enough. Porto-based design firm, White Studio, brainstormed what made Porto memorable and unique, and asked people on the street how they viewed the city. No two answers were alike. White Studio concluded, “We felt we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all of the cities that exist in this one territory….It became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.”
The designers also needed a way to create a single unified look that would serve as Porto’s one graphic identity. The answer came in the decorative blue ceramic tiles seen throughout the city for centuries. The line drawings and illustrations on the tiles depicted visual stories about Porto’s history, landmarks, and natural surroundings. That inspired White Studio to create 70 pictograms that represented Porto and its people. The pictograms were designed to fit on a grid that could be combined into a network of images or used individually. The logotype itself is a simple blue sans serif against a white background within a blue boxed border. The beauty of this visual system is that it allows elements to be changed out frequently and still be recognizable as Porto’s graphic identity. It works.
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A monogram perhaps may best be described as a logo with attitude, a certain snob appeal. It’s more than just graphic shorthand for a brand name. In the fashion world, the right monogram says luxury, refinement, and discerning taste. Consumers like being associated with these qualities and usually don’t mind if the monogram is prominently visible on their shirt or purse for all to see. How many of these monograms can you name? Answers on the next page.
At first glance, the new Nescafe logo does not look significantly different from the old logo. The typeface is still in all caps but more rounded, a crossbar still extends from the “N”, an accent still hovers over the “e”, and red is still a dominant color. And yet, it feels more contemporary, more capable of competing cup-to-cup in a Starbucks world.
When introduced by Nestle in 1938, Nescafe (Nestle + café) instant coffee was the height of modern convenience. Even today, Nescafe remains one of the world’s most distributed brands of instant coffee, sold in over 180 countries. But until recently, Nescafe had no single global identity; each region was allowed to interpret the brand elements for their own market. Increasingly, however, young consumers have come to think of Nescafe as the passé powdered drink found in their grandparents’ pantry. The brand looked tired and disjointed.
Rather than single out any one art style or type of graffiti to serve as the identity for the Madrid Street Art Project (MSAP), IS Creative Studio adopted a bold asphalt black-and-white street pattern to brand the program. Devised by Martin and Diana Prieto Martin and Guillermo de la Madrid, MSAP is a nonprofit project designed to support and enjoy public art in Spain’s capital city. Through guided tours, workshops, exhibitions, publications and artistic actions, MSAP aims to bring street art to citizens. According to MSAP’s website, “To come up with the [logo design], we relied on the city streets where street art was born and lives. Due to the diverse activities of this project, we thought that the identity of the Madrid Street Art Project should be flexible. We developed a logo that looks like a map….Streets often lead us in opposite directions to our destination. We think this is a great representation of the reflection which street art invites us to think about.” MSAP’s structured logo also contrasts beautifully with the bright colors and amorphous shapes of graffiti drawings.
Picking the most recognizable icon to represent a city can be daunting, especially for a multi-faceted place like San Francisco. There are so many famous landmarks, cutting-edge industries, and innovative happenings to choose from, that settling on only one symbol doesn’t do justice to the vibrance and diversity of the Bay Area. So, San Francisco-based designers Primo Angeli and Stapley-Hildebrand chose not to choose. Instead, they packed as many icons as they could into a mosaic to create a new brand identity for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The “C” logo is meant to denote the Chamber, the city and the community. To reflect the Chamber’s key mission, they added the tagline “Our City, Your Business.”
When evaluating the visibility of a logo design, most designers consider how it will look in all kinds of situations — printed on advertisements, cast in metal, embossed on letterhead, foil-stamped on packaging, blown up to a mega-size for environmental signage, etc. Logos for apps, however, are different. The most important test is how the mark will look at less than a quarter-inch high when viewed on a smartphone or laptop screen. Here’s a quiz to see if you can name these app brands, shown here larger than they are normally seen.
An aesthetically pleasing logo is great, but when it is wrapped around a charming story, the brand becomes all the more memorable. Landor Associates did both in developing the design and branding for the ultra-exclusive Nine Suns Wine of Napa Valley. Playing off the Chinese heritage of the owners, Landor recalled the ancient Yao Dynasty legend that claimed that once 10 suns lit the earth in rotation, until one day the suns grew tired of taking turns and decided to rise all at once. The unrelenting heat from the suns scorched crops and trees and caused much suffering. Emperor Yao summoned Hou Yi, the god of archery, to save the land. The archer quickly shot nine suns out of the sky, but left the tenth sun to keep heaven and earth in perfect balance. The winery’s brand mark represents the nine suns myth with the nine black dots lyrically configured to spell Nine Suns.
There are some retail brands that we can spot a mile away, driving 65 miles per hour, even before we can make out the letters in the name or the logo. We recognize the brand by its signature colors. Color is a critical part of any graphic identity system. Some designers reformulate colors by tweaking the hues –making shades richer, darker, lighter or more orange, green or purple, etc. — to strengthen their proprietary link to a brand. Others simply choose “off-the-shelf” colors but display them consistently in the same combination –e.g., red, white and blue and a certain North American country. This quiz challenges you to match these color swatches with the brands they represent. Good luck! See answers after the jump.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is no ordinary shopping mall; it’s an entertainment destination. The 4.2 million square foot complex boasts more than 520 shops and the nation’s largest indoor family amusement park. Yet its old traditionally patriotic logo in red, white and blue evoked an era that pre-dated the digital revolution. No longer. The Mall teamed with Minneapolis-based Duffy & Partners to develop an identity system that looks like a multi-colored translucent ribbon merrily transforming itself into different shapes and shades, ultimately forming a star. The new identity anticipates a variety of animated applications and color changes for special events as well as how it will look as a stationary symbol. The myriad possibilities match the Mall’s new tagline “Always New.”
What happens when two branding experts join forces to start a sushi restaurant? Maki-san, that’s what. This one-location, create-your-own sushi place in Singapore looked too well conceived to be a humble local startup. A little online snooping unearthed the fact that Maki-san was started by art director Joseph Koh and copywriter Omar Marks, whose roots trace back to McCann Erickson Singapore. That explained why the brand concept seemed to cover all the essentials — graphic tone of voice, color palette, market positioning, typography, logo, target audience, etc. — indicating that professionals were involved.
When this museum’s main attraction is a shawl, its ingenious to drape one in a way to form the logotype “M”, as Moscow designer Vova Lifanov did for the History Museum of the Russian Shawl in Pavlovsky Posad. The colorful, lavishly patterned shawl is a national symbol of Russia. Like Russia itself, the shawl traces its roots to a mix of East Asian and European influences. Centuries ago trade with Persia popularized the wearing of Persian shawls bearing decorative patterns that looked strikingly similar to Persian rugs. The word “shawl” itself is of Persian origin. When Russia began producing its own shawls, it integrated its own Russian ornamentation into the design. Lifanov captured all this for the museum by creating a flexible identity program that allows the use of different patterns and colors on objects ranging from business cards to shopping bags and coffee mugs.