Archive for the Process Category

Naming Your Brand // A Tip

Posted by Alex

Sourced from Man About Town -- note the interesting article name

A while ago I posted on an article about different techniques for naming your brand. I’ve found that method of brainstorming to be particularly helpful, but sometimes you need an extra spark. I wanted to put another tip out there I’ve found success with recently. Maybe if you’re in need of a brand name this will help you find what you’re looking for. (Of course this sort of thing works for band names too — really any entity that you’re charged with naming.)

So if you’re like me, eventually you run your brain dry of ideas if you’re just sitting around trying to think of the perfect name. Per project, I usually have about two or three days worth of *just* thinking in me. After that I go crazy and try desperately to convince myself that something I thought of is actually amazing. One week later, when I realize I’m delusional, I am back to the drawing board, nameless. My favorite place to look for inspiration these days is no longer song lyrics or the dictionary — it’s fashion magazines.

I suppose any sort of magazine would do, but fashion magazines seem to work best. The titles of articles and photo spreads in fashion magazines are rife with clever turns of phrase and exciting word combinations. Basically anywhere they have to think of clever titles for something pretty abstract is where you want to look. A photo shoot where everyone is wearing black for example, probably has some unusual name (otherwise it’d be really boring). You don’t really see it on blogs, but print writers seem to have a insatiable desire to think of the cleverest name for every article they ever write. Some are completely useless for our purposes, but you can usually find enough of a catalyst to get on the right creative track. I like to make a two column list and combine cool words at random, in hopes of striking something exciting. Here is a short list of a few I noticed in the magazines sitting on my desk (and my thoughts on what they could refer to):

Away with Words (maybe for a publisher?)
Under Statements (minimalist clothing line)
Mind Field (think tank or angel fund)
Sharpsuiter (lame prom-type clothing line)
Her Friend the Bandit (versatile…could be clothing, or maybe a hipster joint)
Elements and Gravity (probably for a jewelry line OR cosmetics)

Some fun ones — if you look for long at all you are bound to find something amazing. Of course it may be perfect for a project you aren’t even working on, but it’s always good to keep a running list. I have the PERFECT name for a bar if I ever decide to start one (I’m not telling). Anyway, it’s an idea, hopefully it helps out!

(I realize there are elements of creative thievery at work here. In a way, you are harvesting another person’s creativity for your own benefit, but I don’t think there are any trace elements of plagiarism at work. In most cases, the phrases or words implemented by the writer are common, and are structures you would have come across eventually, either in conversation or everyday life etc. People may disagree, but I think this is a safe technique.)

Boarding Pass/Fail

Posted by Alex

I have been flying a rather insane amount over the last few weeks. I complain about a lot of things when I’m traveling: the food, babies, people that insist on stuffing overhead luggage when it will NOT fit, etc. The one thing I have never considered is the boarding pass. Tyler Thompson has written an excellent article on why the boarding pass is indeed worthy of scrutiny. Take one look at the old Delta pass above and you’ll see why. As he states, “It was like someone put on a blindfold, drank a fifth of whiskey, spun around 100 times, got kicked in the face by a mule (the person who designed this definitely has a mule living with them inside their house) and then just started puking numbers and letters onto the boarding pass at random”.

Tyler has done Delta a big favor and redesigned their boarding pass, the design of which you see above. I think it’s obvious that aesthetically, these are much more pleasing to the eye. I would want to hold onto these after my flight was over just because they look awesome. Now of course, the design of a boarding pass has to be more than just beautiful. There are a number of criteria and limitations in place that might prevent your boarding pass from becoming a little piece of art. Worth mentioning in this regard is Timoni Grone’s response to Tylers inital designs. She runs through a meticulous process to come up with a redesign of her own, taking into account all the necessary “practicalities and priorities”.

The cool thing about his project is how he opened it up to others to submit reworkings and suggestions, a few of which he’s posted as you scroll down his page. He’s provided the Illustrator file for download and tweaking. Make sure to head over there and submit yours if you’ve got something brewing. And feel free to sound off if you too feel like the boarding pass design is indeed a fail.

I must say my favorite part of any boarding pass is the little scribbles the security guards make when you pass the initial check at the metal detectors. They do it with such purpose and apparent deliberation, that I think the scribbles must mean something. I always wonder what would happen if I augment their scribbles with scribbles of my own (or scribble before they do). Would I get sent to Homeland Security? Maybe two scribbles on your boarding pass = terrorist. Anyway. I feel safe knowing we have such a complicated system in place.

I could write a similar article about the terrible design of movie tickets, which I feel have slid drastically in the past few years. Since when is a movie ticket printed on receipt paper worth saving? I used to love hoarding all of my movie ticket stubs — now, calling it a “stub” would be an absurd misrepresentation. I call my movie tickets trash.

Thanks @rohrsh

Rebranding Playboy: Book Production

Posted by Alex

My rebranding Playboy project came to a close last week with the end of our fall semester. If you read the last article, you are familiar with the first part of this project, which was the new logo for Playboy. While it is absolutely the flag bearer of the entire project, the logo development represented a small amount of the work we were required to do for the overall project. The final deliverable for the class was a book in which we the explain history of the brand, walk through our rationale for the new identity, explore the process of the logo development, present brand standards and guidelines, and show example brand implementations and extensions. Other than this required content, there was no specific criteria for the book. Each student also gave a short final presentation explaining their rebranding and the choices they made along the way. Everything was created for the Nature of Identity class at the Academy of Art, as part of the graduate graphic design program.

I really enjoyed the conversation the first post on this project generated. I was excited to see that the new logo was as polarizing as it was — I feel like these types of solutions are the most exciting and rewarding for me. I noticed that many people were up in arms about the idea of Playboy removing nudity and becoming an all article magazine. While I would like to note that the new strategy was purely a conceptual exploration constructed in an educational environment, I actually do think they might be well served to switch things up this drastically. Playboy was once irreverent and boundary shattering. They are no longer. I can think of no better way to recapture this audacious spirit than by doing something this extreme…

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Building a Home Studio Pt.1: Paint

Posted by Alex

I am in the process of moving into a new apartment in San Francisco. Amidst the endless furniture shopping, cleaning, painting, and waiting during absurdly long delivery-time windows, I have been planning the construction of the ultimate apartment-based graphic design studio. As I’ve always set up shop in a room with another purpose (currently my studio also serves as my bedroom and recording area), the prospect of having a dedicated design room is very exciting. I figure this move will be a good opportunity to really take my time and build the perfect work room — from the paint on the walls, to the the table tops and filing cabinets — every detail will be meticulously considered.

The room itself is 11.5′ x 9′, plus a generous closet. The purpose of the room will be a place where I can work, file, cut, store, display, print and create. Basically a little graphic design super room. Unfortunately there will not be space for my music set up, so my guitars are going to have to bunk with me in the bedroom. You’ll notice there is also a small window. Ideally, for consistency reasons, I would prefer to have no window — but I’ve come around on the issue in hopes of the keeping studio morale high…

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Sketching and Design

Posted by Alex

Spencer Nugent posted an interesting article on the Levels of Sketching over on IDSketching (that’s his image above). I don’t know a lot about industrial design, or the complex role sketching appears to have in the field, but I was really interested to read a little more about it. What came to mind immediately was the sketching process we are constantly encouraged to go through at graphic design school. I am always terrified of this part and try my best to avoid it (which is impossible). Of course, though the role of the sketch is different in this case — as it serves as a rough internal mock up rather than a deliverable for a client — it’s importance remains of a high level (for a number of reasons, many of which Milton Glaser explains in this video that’s been floating around the last couple weeks).

The sketching process for the project I mentioned a while back has been pretty intense. Recently I’ve been working through countless concepts and designs, sketching my hands off. I was lucky to figure out my direction/concept early on, but it’s taken me forever to figure out the right way to render it. This has meant ENDLESS amounts of sketches and crappy little mock ups. I guess I lack the patience to sketch well, and my process book looks like I was drawing blindfolded, drunk, and with my off hand.

Seeing the way industrial designers sketch, I am truly envious. To be able to render something that detailed and precise, without a computer sometimes, I can’t imagine. Of course, I am reacting this way because I grew up designing with the computer. “Process” to me has always meant keyboard and mouse, not pencil and paper. I recognize this as a potential weakness in my workflow, and have been trying really hard to incorporate sketching into this project. Results have been here and there so far, and I wonder if I will ever be able to develop my sketching ability to where it’s consistently worthwhile.

I know David Airey for one is a big proponent of sketching, and has written many interesting articles on the subject. How do the rest of you feel about sketching when it comes to the graphic design process? When starting a project (especially a logo design for example), do you start with pencil or mouse (or the hybrid, Wacom Tablet)?

Color Management: A Field Guide

Posted by Alex

Color Management: A Field Guide
Whether you are designing for print or for the web, making the leap from what you see on your computer screen to the outside world can be a tricky process, fraught with unpredictable changes and unexpected results. The web is full of information regarding color management and sifting through it can be very overwhelming. Contradictory opinions abound and it can be difficult to find reliable sources of information.

Over the last few months, Scott and I have been researching this topic extensively. With the addition of the new Epson 9900 to the studio, we wanted to be sure that our printer workflow was optimized and producing a consistent output. With the help of Kirk Economos of Meridian Cyber Solutions, we have implemented a color management system that works for us. Below we have tried to aggregate this knowledge into a simple and useful guide, designed to help you ensure your studio is set up correctly. It is not intended to be the end-all article on color management by any means — but it’s a good place to start if color management isn’t something you have previously implemented or considered.

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