Designs Both Real and Imagined

28. January 2016 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Never underestimate the importance of having a recognizable brand. Here at The Spill, we appreciate the power of having a recognizable logo. The right logo is like a royal coat of arms: an instantly-recognizable image that makes your intentions known to all who look upon it. This is as true for fictional products as it is for real ones. Any Quentin Tarantino fan, for example, knows the fictional brands Red Apple Tobacco and Big Kahuna Burger. The following two stories are about experimenting with the well-known designs of beloved franchises.

Suds Style

Sports fans' loyalty to their favorite beverages is matched only by their loyalty to their favorite team. In the battle of beers, the distinctive Bud Light logo has been a staple for decades. After more than 30 years of success, the Anheuser-Busch company decided to change it up.

Bud Light against blue background
Image via Wired.

Although the can keeps its classic blue shade, the name of the beer now sits alone in a new font. The new logo actually bears a striking resemblance to a design the beer had in the early eighties. The design change is seen as a way to appeal to the growing craft-beer demographic. Rivals Miller and Coors have likewise recently adopted minimalist designs. Although the taste of the beers hasn't changed, it remains to be seen how long-time fans will react to the changes in appearance.

May the Flags Be with You

In record time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens became the highest-grossing American film in history. The film has introduced millions of fans to the battle of the Jedi vs. Sith and created a host of new worlds. As our heroes zip from one side of the galaxy to the next, have you ever wondered what it would look like if each of the inhabited worlds had a flag of its own? One Star Warsaficionado decided to answer that very question.

Star Wars flags
Image via Wired.

New Zealander Scott Kelly has been a fan of Star Wars since childhood. Like many fans of the franchise, Kelly liked to fill in the blanks regarding details of the films that weren't specified on screen. In particular, he tried to imagine the individual societies of the galaxy far, far away. Kelly has created more than 100 flags representing the worlds featured in the Star Wars franchise. Each minimalist flag features bold colors and a simplified crest suggesting the economy and agricultural history of each world. "I tried to walk the line between traditional flag design and these far-off alien planets," Kelly says. He hasn't specified an end to his project. It's quite possible the franchise's upcoming films and TV series will inspire Kelly to make even more flags.

Little Details

Just as our world is full of products and details we take for granted, so too an imaginary world would be full of details beyond the lives of the central characters. Without uttering a single word, the brands we use every day speak volumes about us.

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.

Logo Redesign: A Risk Worth Taking

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

What is it about a particular logo that just sticks with us so well? Even when a company goes out of business, the logo can live on as a unique fashion statement. Perhaps it’s the fact that no matter what definitive thoughts one has of the business, the logo can be interpreted any number of ways.

With logos having the ability to outlive their products and companies, attempting to change one is a risky proposition. Here are a few big-name companies that recently took the risk.

A Coke and a Smile

There are few beverages considered to be as “quintessentially American” as Coca-Cola and few logos as recognizable as its iconic stripe. The logo was created in 1885 by advertiser Frank Mason Robinson and has remained relatively unchanged in the company’s 100-plus-year history. Variations are often limited to the title signature, relative to the primary language of the region where it’s sold. But the latest change removes the signature altogether.

Coke-can.jpg
(via Wired)

For the Islamic month of Ramadan, the company that been shipping limited edition cans featuring no signature; just the silver curve against the red background. The advertising company behind the new can says the altered design is part of a larger campaign attempting to fight prejudice and preconceived notions.

Although there are no plans to bring the new can westward, the reaction has generally been positive. Margaret Rhodes of Wired comments that “Kumbaya rhetoric aside, the new cans say a lot about today’s branding landscape, without saying anything at all. [..]Coca-Cola’s enduring look can go simpler without sacrificing design identity; that ribbon is enough to let us know what’s in store.”

Face to Face

In the tricky relationship between technology and personal interaction, few milestones have been as definitive as the rise of social media. And no other social media network has had the same impact as that of Facebook. Since its founding in 2004, the website has been the subject of countless think pieces, lawsuits, psychological analyses, and even one Academy Award-winning film. It’s turned its founders into billionaires overnight and connects its 1.44 billion users in an instant. Needless to say, when Facebook makes a change, quite a few people take notice.

Facebook-2015-logo.jpg
(via Facebook)

Facebook tweaks its design on a fairly regular basis, often to the consternation of long-term users. The logo has seen the fewest changes since the name was changed from “TheFacebook” in 2005. However, it was recently altered slightly as part of the company’s plan to further expand worldwide. Reaction to the change has been mixed. “It is, unfortunately, a bit plain,” says Rhodes. Although she acknowledges the “slickness” the company was attempting, “that slickness comes at the cost of personality—something corporations, especially ones designed around people, should value.”

Given the company’s history, this change isn’t likely to be the last. Only time will tell if this one is as easily accepted as those that came before.

Logic and Tech

For a company that never actually made computers, Logitech became one of the defining companies during the rise of the internet. It’s third-party accessories – most notably its mouse units – added a refreshing splash of color to the otherwise dull beige of out-of-the-box PC tools. They seem like the last company to try and change their logo, let alone their name; but they’ve done both.

Logi-logo.jpg
(via Wired)

The company has officially shortened their name to simply “Logi”. Furthermore, they’ve removed the red and green from the logo in favor of a streamlined monochromatic image. The redesign was the brainchild of the Logi’s new CEO, Bracken Darrell. He described the move as an attempt to brand the company as “a design company” rather than a technological one.

Each of the above has a secure stake in their respective market, so they could afford to take risks with brand recognition. Although the risks appear to be minimal, they do demonstrate just how much a change to a brand’s literal image could equally change their publicly perceived image.

What Kind of Year Will 3D Printing Have?

5. January 2014 18:49 by Steve Leigh in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

 

In 2013, 3D printing was technology's darling. Seemingly every week yielded a new innovation and, for the first time in its history, companies like Amazon created dedicated 3D printing pages for consumers. But what exactly will 2014 bring for an industry that seems to be growing exponentially? Will prices finally lower so that 3D printers will become a household staple? What industries are new to cash in on 3D printing? Will the growth come to a halt? We wanted to provide the inside scoop. More...

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