My most recent assignment for my MFA program is a pretty exciting one. Our task this semester is to pick a dead, dying or defunct brand and revitalize it. We are free to choose pretty much whatever we want so long as we can make a case for its need of a makeover and/or repositioning. The goal is not only to develop a new identity system for the brand, but also to extend its focus into untapped commercial avenues. For this part especially, we are encouraged to let our imaginations go wild. At the end of the project we will have an overhauled identity system, new product extensions, and an imagined history starting from wherever we picked up — the only thing that must be carried over is the original name.
Pan Am, a most beloved brand, would be a great example of something that would work really well for this project. Picking something that is familiar to people and in the public consciousness is always a good strategic choice. Although, you do run the risk of competing with a powerful history and a previously very effective identity. Another good example that Scott and I discussed was General Dynamics.
Today in class we went over everyone’s choices and there were some pretty cool ones; some very random, and most with lots of potential for sure. I am still on the fence with my choices, but I think I’ll come round this weekend when I have more time to think of potential futures. Right now, I’m thinking it might be fun to try and make No Fear cool again. They obviously aren’t an extinct brand, but if you visit the website you’ll see there is room for some…improvement.
Anyone think of other brands that are in desperate need of a renovation or rebirth? We found this list, but most I had not heard of. I’m sure there must be some others out there just screaming for an overhaul. Sound off in the comments.
After writing last month’s post on the Swisscom rebrand film I stumbled across this page at Moving Brands’ site containing the images you see above. I have to admit that it cast the project in a whole new light for me. I still can’t say I’m a fan of the core logomark in all it’s gradient-clad glory, but on a large scale across various formats I think the branding system is very strong. I’m really enjoying how the logomark works in 1 color mode, looks sharp and far more focused. At any rate, I just thought these photos were great and really capture a nice aesthetic that I hadn’t fully appreciated the first time around. And of course the hot air balloon seals the deal. There’s something about well designed hot air balloons and sails; that’s about as good as it gets. Swisscom should all pitch in on a yacht and make a badass sail with the logo on it and they could all wear these.
I noticed some people weren’t too keen on the logo when I last posted on it, do these images change your mind? Let us know in the comments
I can’t say I’m in love with Swisscom’s new logo by itself, but I will say that the overall rebrand feels right as a whole. The type treatment is solid and the logo — although downright ugly standing still — lends itself well to motion and reinterpretation on packaging. The rebrand was headed up by Moving Brands (apparently with help from Dalton Maag).
I’m not trying to diminish what Moving Brands has done — they know way more than I’ll ever know about brands and how people perceive them, and hell, for all I know this is the best logo ever made and it’s singlehandedly going to increase Swisscom’s annual revenue by 1600% — but seeing a room full of designers standing around an idea board like that and thinking about the hours and weeks and months and millions of dollars that go into a project like this… Well, I sometimes wonder why these big corporations don’t just surf Behance for like and hour or something, find the kid with the best logos, throw him like $50K (which will completely blow his mind and make him your slave basically) and give him like 6 months. I bet he comes up with something just about as good and you saved like $20 million or whatever the hell they pay huge agencies these days. Ok, that’s probably all a bit of a stretch, but it does cross my mind, and if I become CEO of a european telecom giant you better believe I’m at least going to look into the idea. Actually, Moving Brands should have just done the same thing and pocketed the difference, all those guys would be doing burnouts in Ferraris wearing whale skin jackets now instead of standing around a chalkboard.
All that aside, what’s amazing to me is that these companies had the presence of mind and resources to film the process. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the poor designers over at Moving Brands having some guy with a camera always looking over their shoulder, sounds like a nightmare to me. Of course, a lot of this could have been compiled after the fact, but it’s still an interesting look inside the process of high level design shops. I’ve always wanted to do something similar for one of my posters — capture it from start to finish — but I’m convinced that the second I started the camera I would make the worst thing ever and as hard I tried I would never actually catch anything good happening. Maybe that would be more fun, the time-lapse frustrated designer movie. Video Link
If you’re like me, you have piles and piles of notebooks filled with half-baked name ideas for firms, bands, and the like. When I was in college, I think I went through about 30 pages of (truly) terrible names before settling on something for my former band*. Basically I’ve never really perfected this technique. Whether it’s for a new band, new client, or my own (eventual) design studio, it is always a long and arduous process to think of the perfect name. (Herein lies the problem — looking for the “perfect” name is often the creativity killer for me.)
My process generally starts with a pencil, thesaurus, dictionary, and my iTunes playlist (pieces of song titles have served me well). It’s worked in the past, but for a recent project, I decided to try something new. I based my exploration off of Josh Levine’s useful chart that divides naming styles into six categories. You can see the chart above for examples and read the full descriptions here. I tried to go through the list three times, thinking of a potential name for each category on every rotation. What ended up happening was I thought of about 30 names in the metaphorical category, avoided the descriptive, and thought of one or two for each of the others. After about two hours I had my name, at the bottom of my metaphorical category list.
Of course, my normal process is not unlike this most recent one — but the added structure and formulaic approach really seemed to help me in this case. I just hope to be able to replicate it in the future. I would recommend giving this chart a try if you are looking for new brainstorming techniques. Just switching things up is really all you need to spark something cool. I’m sure everyone has their own strategies and I’d love to hear some if you’ve got them!
*Crazy story actually — the name I eventually decided on (Running Lights) was the same name my Mom had sent me in response to my plea for suggestions. We had thought of the exact same name, on the same day, without any direction or communication. I told this story to my band mates and that was that — how could we go with anything else!
Whenever I see Danesi Caffe cups I always mean to post the brand on the blog, I don’t know if its just the D logo in brown on white that grabs my eye every time but after seeing their site and looking at the coffee bag branding i’m a fan, now I just have to actually taste the stuff.
Seriously impressed by the diverse portfolio of Danish designer Sebastian Gram (currently art director of Hello Monday). The first image (interactive design for fashion brand Revolution) made the FFFFound rounds a while back, but it wasn’t until recently that I explored his portfolio further and found the rest of his exceptional work. Each project, whether it’s a logo or full blown identity system, is considered down to the smallest detail. It’s also cool to see process shots along side the finished product; gives you a sense how much time and refinement went into it.
I was especially intrigued by the typeface for Vertica, developed by Gram and Creative United. My guess, based on progress images like the one above, is that it was designed as a custom face for Vertica and is not commercially available. Too bad, those are some sexy letterforms. Like much of Gram’s work, it manages to rock out with a rigid, corporate aesthetic, without being boring or common. I would love to see my name written in that font.
With all the fuss over the Pepsi and Tropicana re-brands it’s nice to see something that I think most people can agree on. Under Consideration’s Brand New recently ran a piece about the new Jack in the Box branding. I don’t think they have these in San Francisco, but in Sacramento they were everywhere and as much as I can’t stand their television campaigns (the exploits of their terminally unfunny and somehow vaguely 80′s-esque — in a bad way — globe-headed CEO) I have to say that they really did a good job with this new identity. The re-brand was headed up by Minneapolis-based Duffy & Partners and I think they really nailed it from a purely aesthetic point of view. The only question now is whether people will still recognize it as a fast food joint. I don’t know if everyone is familiar with Pluto’s or Jack’s Urban Eats, but that’s the sort of restaurant this branding conjures up for me. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but you have to wonder what sort of effect it might have on what I’d have to imagine is Jack in the Box’s core demographic: people looking for quick, cheap food. So what do you think, design success or design fail?
I remember seeing Lego a few years back having simple Lego pieces as business cards and thinking that was amazing but they took it a couples steps further by matching hair, gender and glasses for their employees new business cards, pretty creative, read more here.