Design Classic

Band-Aid®: How a Brand Became a Generic

Band-Aid2
People have forgotten – or hadn’t considered it in the first place – that Band-Aid® is a trademarked brand registered by pharmaceutical and medical device giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J). For most of us, Band-Aid generically describes any kind of adhesive bandage with a gauze pad in the center. The term has even become part of our colloquial language –e.g., who hasn’t called a temporary fix a “band-aid solution.” Actually, Band-Aid was invented in 1920 by Earle Dickson for his wife, Josephine, who was a bit accident-prone around the house. Dickson, a New Jersey cotton buyer for J&J, noted that his wife often used tape to hold cotton balls over her nicks and burns, but the tape usually fell off as soon as she returned to her task. Dickson devised an easier method; he placed squares of surgical gauze at intervals on a strip of tape and used a length of crinoline to keep the tape from sticking to itself so it could be stored rolled up. All Josephine had to do was unroll the tape, cut off as much as she needed and dress her own wound. Dickson mentioned his little invention to colleagues at J&J and his boss thought it was so ingenious that Dickson’s idea was put into production. At first, Band-Aid Adhesive Bandages had to be made by hand and were an awkward 2 ½ inches wide by 18 inches long. In 1924, J@J moved Band-Aid into mass machine production and resized the product to ¾ inch wide and 3 inches long, with a thin red thread to pull off the paper wrapper. Targeted to young families, J&J promoted Band-Aid by donating the product to Boy Scout troops across the U.S. Sales took off. By World War II, Band-Aids were standard issue in soldiers’ mess kits. Band-Aid products became so ubiquitous, the brand was not only the market leader for this category of adhesive bandages, it became synonymous with all products in this category, much to the chagrin of Band-Aid’s competitors.

Design Education

Founding Fathers Stiff Flag Designer

As we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., it seems fitting to give credit where credit is due to Francis Hopkinson, who substantial evidence shows designed the first American flag in 1777. Hopkinson, a New Jersey lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, had a natural love of heraldry and art, and dabbled at graphic design (a profession that didn’t exist back then). During the American Revolution, Hopkinson was serving as chairman of the Navy Board’s Middle Department, when it got an urgent request to come up with an official banner of some sort that soldiers could carry into battle. At the time, the rebelling colonies were flying a flag that featured a variation of the British Union Jack in the canton surrounded on three sides with horizontal red and white stripes. (It looked like a knock-off of the British East India Company flag.)

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Information Graphics

Statehood History Explained with Postal Stamps

This one-of-a-kind flag assemblage, from Kit Hinrichs’ vast Stars & Stripes collection, was designed by the quartermaster of a U.S. military post office during World War II. A closer look reveals that it is not just a flag made out of a bunch of used stamps and cancellation marks; it is clever information graphics. The blue canton is made from dozens of five-cent stamps, and the stars are cut from cancellation marks mailed from the state capital of each of the 48 states that were in the Union in 1943 (see detail after the jump). The unknown artist didn’t stop there. He placed the stars chronologically according to when each state entered the Union. The red stripes are composed of two-cent stamps (yes, they once existed!), and the white stripes are pieced together from envelopes mailed from the states that were part of the Original Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776, and founded a new nation of united states. Something to think about while waiting for the fireworks to start. Happy Fourth of July!

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Architecture

Iconic Styles of Renowned Architects From A to Z

Argentine architect Andrea Stinga and Colombian graphic designer Federico Gonzalez put together this animated video of globally renowned architects and their most notable work. The minute-and-a-half long video manages to squeeze in a lot of information, including architects and landmarks from around the world. Still, art director Gonzalez apologizes that some legends had to be left out because they only needed one architect per letter of the alphabet. Stinga is a principal in Ombu Architecture, based in Barcelona, Spain. The music soundtrack is “The Butterfly” by Eugene C. Rose and George Ruble.

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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Advertising

An Ad That Has London Buzzing

The winter of 2009-2010 proved disastrous for registered beehives in London. About a third of the registered bee colonies collapsed, poising an enormous threat to food growth in the United Kingdom. According to U.N. statistics, the decline of the honey bee population in Europe is now between 10 and 30 percent; in the United States, it is at 30 percent, and in the Middle East, up to 85 percent of the bee population has disappeared. This is worrisome. Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.

London recently teamed with LIDA Agency and M&C Saatchi to launch a Capital Bee Campaign to raise awareness of how human behavior is endangering local bees. The campaign includes a series of billboards and YouTube videos to change public beehavior.

Packaging

Espolon Tequila Packaging
Wraps Itself in Mexican Legends

How do you convince consumers that your tequila is authentically Mexican and not an Americanized version of what the South of the Border drink is all about? Skip the piñatas, the sombreros and all the hokey souvenir-type imagery for starters.

For the reintroduction of its product in the United States after an absence of several years, Espolon Tequila wrapped its brand in the rich traditions, history, festivities and artistic style of the Mexican culture. Spearheaded by Landor, the rebranding program was inspired by the engravings of renowned 19th century artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, whose skeleton people are best associated with the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Finely drawn illustrations by Steven Noble pay homage to Posada’s style and incorporate iconography reflecting the legends and lore of Mexico.

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Photography

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Photoshop

As we in the United States celebrate Independence Day (aka Fourth of July), those of us in design communications can marvel at the freedoms that technology now allow. The living photograph here by Mole and Thomas was taken decades before the invention of Photoshop or even 35mm handheld cameras.

Around 1918, during the height of World War I patriotic fervor, Arthur S. Mole, a British-born photographer based in Zion, Illinois, joined forces with John D. Thomas, a choir director who liked to position choir members to form various religious icons-a talent that made him the perfect photo choreographer for Mole’s grandiose ideas. Together the two set about creating gigantic patriotic symbols by using military personnel essentially as “human pixels” and then photographing them.

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Posters

Good Climate Change Posters

Italy

The start of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this week seems like a good time to look at some of the posters produced on the subject. These are from Good 50×70 (aka Good Amsterdam), a nonprofit initiative aimed at promoting the value of social communication in the creative community, inspiring the public via graphic design, and giving select charities a database of communication tools they can use in their campaigns. Good 50×70 hosts an annual online contest inviting designers to create posters on seven critical global issues, as described in briefs by seven charities. The best 30 responses in each category as chosen by a distinguished jury are cataloged and exhibited worldwide. Here is a sampling of Climate Change posters produced from the brief provided by the World Wildlife Fund.

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