Signs of the Times

5. November 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

For regular readers of this blog, it should come as no surprise that we appreciate the importance of a good logo. A lifetime of training and precision can go into creating pieces of brand recognition. Though logos may be seen only momentarily, they generally leave a lasting impact on the people who see them.

This is just as true for independent business and creators as it is for corporations on Madison Avenue. The "little guys" might not have the financial backing of their larger counterparts, but what they lack in financing they can make up for in creativity. Once designers make a connection with their intended audience, they can inspire a sense of loyalty bordering on the religious.

Rock & Rule

The basement or garage may not seem like the most auspicious place to begin a successful career, but many of the world's most memorable innovators started their careers right there. From Hewlett/Packard to Apple computers, the garage has proved to be a breeding ground for creative mavericks.

Perhaps no industry has benefited more from "garage innovation" than rock music. Metal music in particular has always stood on the fringes of the musical mainstream. It's no wonder that logos created for many metal bands reflect that same outsider status.

heavy metal band logo
Image via Wired.

A typical metal logo wouldn't look out of place on a horror-film poster, and that's not an accident. The logos lend visualizations to the dark and aggressive music. In designer Mark Riddick's new book Logos from Hell, he collects and comments on 600 logos from metal acts over the past 30 years. "The genre kind of commands a particular style of logo that the listener can identify with," says Riddick. "I want people to recognize this as much more than a high schooler scribbling in his notebook and calling it art. This is legitimate serious talent. It's a subculture that's create a whole look and feel unlike any other. That's a powerful thing."

Bunny Hop

For more than 60 years, Playboy magazine has been the industry standard for showcasing some of the world's most beautiful women. The magazine's first issue featured a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe and has since gone on to feature award-winning actresses and renowned supermodels, often wearing nothing more than a smile.

That tradition is about to change, in light of the recent announcement that the magazine will no longer feature nude pictorials. It's a bold move, to be sure, but it raises the question whether Playboy's photo spread's were ever as important as its famous logo.

Playboy bunny logo
Image via Wired.

The Playboy bunny logo was reportedly created in just half an hour by Chicago artist Art Paul. Founder Hugh Hefner commissioned a design that, like the magazine he was assembling, would be "a projection of the wonderful world I dig." After the recent announcement, WIRED magazine design columnist Magaret Rhodes argued that the company's award-winning writing and legendary icon were more important than its infamous photos. "Losing the nudes shouldn't pose a big threat," writes Rhodes. "If you're looking for pornography in 2015, you're not likely to pick up a print edition of Playboy. For a lifestyle brand that once claimed to prize Picasso, Nietzsche, and sex equally, that can only be a good thing."

Medium Cool

Since its creation in 2012, Medium has quickly become one of the Web's premier platforms for longform writing. The layout is intentionally simple so that focus is kept on the written essays rather than on flashy design. But that hasn't stopped the site from making noticeable design changes, the most recent of which was the introduction of its new logo.

Medium logo
Image via Medium.

Although the original "Stag M" logo—which consisted of a white "M" against a black background, or vice versa, proudly represented the site's simple design, the creators felt it was time for a change to something less monochromatic. "This simple geometric interpretation of the M felt fun, like a delightful game or a deeply satisfying puzzle," said Medium reps Erich Nagler and Karen Jaimes. "We couldn't stop ourselves from playing with all the different treatments, mutations, and color combinations it was practically begging for."

Although there were no announcements about expanding the design to other parts of the site, the reps maintained that they were happy with the design, which does not distract from the essays for which the site is still known.

Same Name

People remember a logo even when they don't remember what a company actually does. That said, making brand recognition the sole focus risks making the services purely superficial; failing to evolve the brand itself risks making it obsolete. In the end, a beautiful design will catch people's attention, but adherence to high quality will keep them coming back.

A Sense of Social Media Style

6. August 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

As a company changes and grows, so will the design it uses to identify itself. When two of the world's most recognizable companies began to implement changes to their logos, millions of people took notice.

Simple as ABC

It's hard for Google to make changes and have them go unnoticed. The entire tech world sat up and paid attention when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced the creation of a holding company named Alphabet. And with the creation of this new company came immediate reaction to its logo.

Alphabet Google logo
(via Wired)

The logo was regarded by some as a sign of the 16-year-old company’s maturity. "Their [Larry and Sergey's] design sensibility may have just matured with them," says Natasha Jen of Pentagram. "That’s radically simplified and nuanced from the original Google identity design. There’s an elegance in it that comes with maturity. And I see that elegance in the Alphabet logo." But the design was also criticized as looking unfinished. "I keep getting drawn back to this lowercase 'a', which lacks the subtlety of the other forms, like it missed a week of letterform school," says typographer Tobias Frerer-Jones. "On the whole, I think it’s a well-made mark that could have borne some more polishing." What impact that new company and its logo have on users remains to be seen.

Something to Tweet About

When Twitter altered the background image for its users' home pages, the backlash was immediate: its membership stalled, and the company lost ground to contemporaries like Snapchat and Pinterest. Many in the tech world are pointing to  the company’s design scheme as the chief reason why Twitter isn’t as prominent as it was just a few years ago.

Twitter logo
Image via Wired.

Besides tweaking background images, Twitter has made some subtle changes that only longtime users have noticed. One such change—replacing the "Favorite Tweet" star with a red heart—has already gotten a mixed reaction. "The concern is misguided for a few reasons," says Wired design writer Brian Barrett. "Hearts are intrinsically different from stars, sure, but they’re also much clearer in what they represent. A star can be a superlative, yes, but also a bookmark or a brush-off. A heart carries no such ambiguities." The heart is just the first in a series of planned changes suggested by CEO Jack Dorsey. As he said, "Our goal is to show more meaningful tweets and conversations faster, whether that's logged in or out of Twitter." The micro-blog company has occasionally been accused of trying to emulate the look of Facebook.

User-Friendly

Perhaps neither of these companies will owe their success or failure to their designs, so much as to the experiences they create for their users. Still, it's the first impression that is undeniably the most important. What do you think of the new logos? Tell us in the comments!

Best of 2014 Roundup

It's easy to call 2014 a rollercoaster year, given all of global unrest. But 2014 was also a year where a lot of amazing technological innovations occurred, and where arts and business did things we've never seen before. Given all of the innovation. We wanted to highlight some of the best of the year. Apart from 3D printing, we remain pretty impartial, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't sound off in the comments section. What mattered most to you in 2014?

More...

Nike's Human Printing Press

27. September 2013 04:50 by Calvin Yu in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

 

Printing presses have been around in the Western world since 1450, but Nike has found a way to innovate printing press technology by making it come alive with athletes' individual sports. How, you must be asking, can human atheletes use their physical prowess directly in the printing process? Nike's branch located in Turkey launched "Made By Movement" to directly engineer a printing press to work with the activities athletes partake in. The result was a multi-faceted challenge to encourage physical health and show the beauty of each athletic skill through a video that documented the process. More...

Month List