Can we chat about this typography?
Dressing up your font, pun intended, is a big thing here at Brains on Fire. Emotions and aesthetics go hand in hand, and design often fills the void when words just aren’t enough. That’s an understatement, yes. We have a tweet to back that up.
Kudos, Yvette Yang. I love how much these letters speak. Think about how this typography oozes into our world… and is a reflection of our culture at the same time. This amazing alphabet is only one example. What does it say about us? Perhaps you don’t saunter around in Jimmy Choos all day, but you are quite aware of their place in the couture culture.
One of our freelance designers, Rachel Bass, just returned from a whirlwind tour of New York City with her classmates. Below is but a small piece of her learnings.
I am hot off the press from New York City. That is right this country, home grown, Travelers Rest girl made it to the Big Apple, and what an amazing experience it was. I learned many things about myself, art, design, and most unexpected my love for red dirt. I think I shed a tear on the flight home when I saw the red dirt, there seems to be none in New York City. On a more serious note while in New York I had multiple once in a life time opportunities to meet the most gracious and talented designers the world has to offer. Everyone I met was willing to spread their knowledge to help me, a young and growing designer, learn more about this game called graphic design. I would like to share some of these nuggets of wisdom so that you too might share in growth and learning I experienced.
This was stop one and what a fun and relaxed way to start the trip. Along with the fabulous tour of Studiomates and Tattly Tattoos I learned the importance of remaining a student even when I graduate. They shared their love for knowing and growing. Their curiosity has peaked they said because they now have the free time to read, explore, and find new things to learn and develop on. This hit me with mixed emotions. Here I am ready to graduate and quit studying only to be told it is fixing to ramp up when I graduate. What a humbling and eye opening lesson to learn. Never quit being a student.
Type Director’s Club
What an honor to get to see first hand a part of the history of type. I learned so much about not only the club’s history and influence, but also the value of type. Type is not something to be thought of lightly, but rather it should be considered a great resource for communication.
This was the highlight of the whole trip. I have studied Milton Glaser for a while now and have found him to be a sort of mentor. To actually get the opportunity to meet and talk with him in person is far beyond my understanding. I could write a short novel of just the things he said in our brief 2 hour time, alas I will not. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes;
“Design is the uncovering of connections.”
“Design is not about the objects, but the space between them. You must understand what is in the space and observe it.”
“No substitues in life to commitment, dedication, and hard work.”
“Great thing about Picasso was that he was willing to abandon everything he learned. Great model.”
“If you are going to design anything, design everything.”
“I love the idea that you could make somebody feel affection for this object… without exactly knowing why.”
“Drawing is where awareness occurs.”
I could go on, but I will stop there. What a mind boggling experience of amazingness. So much can be learned from the people who have perfected the art and are still willing to learn.
Matteo Bologna is rough around the edges, self taught, and brilliant when it comes to creating works of design art. He spoke of typefaces as if it were his child, something that he has worked with and raised to it’s greatest possible hight. He spoke of how to use type and how to create brands that stand apart from all else. He used a metaphor that designers are like directors in a play and their actors are color, type, tone, imagery, etc. He also challenged us to face adversity and accept the challenges. I believe in those challenges is were true growth and communication occurs.
I got to sit in on a podcast taping of Design Matters. Her guest was Cliff Sloan, a fellow teacher at SVA. It was a joy to listen to what he had to say about cause marketing. This idea of marketing a company completely around its cause is in alignment with everything I believe. I loved listening to a pro eloquently discuss issues related to cause marketing. Something he mentioned about starting your own business is that one must, “Believe to the end.” No matter what trials come, in order to make it through with your head held high, you must “believe to the end.” Believe in what you are doing and you will do it better.
We ended our trip on a high note and a practical one. Behance gave such great advice about presenting yourself to future clients/employers. Practical advice was given about setting up our portfolios and how to handle interviews. It was a solid way to end such a magnificent trip.
The trip from start to finish was one full of learning and expansion. A trip that has changed my outlook on design, and believe it or not on life. I hold a few more values closer to my heart and I have several new tricks up my sleeves. Thank you for allowing me to ramble/emote about my trip and I hope you found these people as insightful as I did.
Thanks ever so much,
So I saw this little nugget pop up early last week, and my first reaction was… that’s cool. Then when I started really thinking about it, I completely shifted gears.
Hessian is a brand for sale–that is, a brand that represents no business or product. The designer, Ben Pieratt, hopes to sell the Hessian brand for $18,000. That includes 30 hours of design time, the URL, twitter handle, identity that’s already been designed, and a whole list of other odds and ends you can find here. The buyer will then apply it to their restaurant, start up, clothing label, etc.
Visually, the design and execution are pretty cool. I like the flying “h” through space effect; it weirdly reminds me of the flying toaster screen savers from the mid-90’s. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just what popped into my head. I must say, if I saw this identity emblazoned across a storefront or wrapped on a vehicle, I’d be intrigued. If I walked into the store and it was a nail salon, however, I’d be disappointed.
Ben mentions in his blog post about Hessian “… it seems to me that in today’s connected environment, there’s no reason designers shouldn’t be able to create designed product packages, and then sell them to entrepreneurs.” I think he is correct when it comes to maybe graphical elements such as icons, or heck, even customizable website templates, but branding? I can’t help but imagine that this type of thinking will turn the identity and branding process into something more along the lines of getting a tattoo. You walk into the store, flip through the book, and say “I want one that’s similar to this”. Now, you can always get a super duper custom one-of-a-kind tattoo, but that will cost extra.
This idea, albeit interesting, completely misses the point – in my opinion – of what branding and identity is. I may be proven completely wrong, and these guys may have invented the next big business model for identity designers. However, in my world (and BOF’s world), branding and identity begin with the client, or more specifically, the business. We have to ask what or who we are creating an identity for. How should that person or business be portrayed to the rest of the world? What are the fundamental values of that business, and how can those be incorporated into a brand mark? The list goes on.
Anyway, I don’t mean to sound cranky, I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. I also promise to do a follow up if this thing sells.
A while back.. well, a while back in internet space/time, the University of California had a new identity system designed – and there was a big to-do.
If you don’t know the story, here’s what happened in a nutshell:
The University of California unveiled a new brand identity. The new system was somehow misconstrued by the public to be replacing the school’s seal. It wasn’t, the seal was updated and was still hanging around for more formal uses while the new identity would be used everywhere else. The design team was able to pull together what had been a largely disjointed amalgam of logos and type treatments and turn it into one unified monogram and brand identity system. There was a backlash from the community (students, alumni, the internet in general), they all signed a petition on Change.org, and the administration pulled the monogram from any kind of usage… until further notice.
For more detail, here are some great write ups that follow the drama on the Brand New blog: post 1, post 2, post 3. There’s also a really nice 99% Invisible interview with Vanessa Correa, creative director of the internal design group in charge of the rebrand, here.
So, I could talk about the identity itself and say that I thought it was a breath of fresh air when it comes to large scale university branding systems, and that it does a great job pulling together many disparate organizations under one cohesive visual umbrella. Yeah, the gradient in the “c” is a little weird, but I could get used to that over time… just like when Nike founder Phil Knight was presented the swoosh logo.. he said “I don’t love it. But it will grow on me.” (quote via Brand New) But I digress…
My point about the UofC rebrand is that I think the design is beside the point when looking at the overall story. The university had confidence in their design team, accepted the redesign, and launched the new system. Then, they backed down because of public outcry over what seemed to be mis-information. Instead of standing behind their decision to move forward with the new identity, or trying to re-explain that they weren’t replacing the seal, they backed down…. and went back to using God knows what… and ended up a little in the same place that they started.
Anyway, I think it’s obvious what I think – they should have stuck to their guns and moved forward. However, that contradicts a lot of what we preach around here in letting the community decide what they want to symbolize them. An argument could be made for bad pr (mistaking the monogram for replacing the seal), but at the same time, if this is what the community wants, shouldn’t they get it? Honestly, I think there’s a time and a place when parents should step in and do what’s best for their kids no matter how much they whine. I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. Go ahead, rake me over the WOM coals… I can take it.
A few articles ago, I wrote about the famed ‘noise’ that so many marketers and businesses dread. (1)
Not too long after I had written the article, I noticed another type of noise as I walked down the aisle at my local grocery store:
Yikes. There’s a ton of noise online, but visual noise can be extremely pervasive in offline environments too.
The picture above is a hyperbole, but think about the collections of goods you see on the shelves at the grocery store – there might be 50 brands selling the same core product, but amazingly, they seem to blend together. Which brings me back to my trip to the grocery store.
As I walked down a certain aisle, I passed a sea of olive oil. It astounded me how much of the packaging blended together. Sure, there might be a different color here, or a different color there, but the fonts, the pictures, the logos all felt like they were in the same family.
But something in the middle of that sea really caught my eye:
Do you see it? It’s where your eyes are naturally drawn. Huge, bold, bright text among a surrounding of subdued greens, blues and neutrals.
I’m not a designer, and I won’t claim any expertise about retail packaging, but as a consumer, I can tell you that the olive oil in that picture is the only bottle of olive oil I can churn up in my visual memory.
Breaking through visual noise is extremely important. And, as John Moore shows us in the video below, it can be the foundation of something talkable:
(1) – You can read the first article on noise here.
(2) – You can see the rest of John’s Talkable video series on the Brand Autopsy website.