The Whole World is Watching

20. August 2015 13:35 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

A country's flag is, on one hand, just a piece of cloth stitched together from homemade rags. On another, it's the banner by which a nation will distinguish itself among other nations, a symbol that allies will praise and enemies will curse. With so much riding on "just a piece of cloth," it goes without saying that a country should not take its choice of flag lightly.

The Down Under’s New Icon

The flag of New Zealand has remained unchanged for more than a century. Although it appears to be an innocuous representation of the British lineage New Zealand shares with Australia, the flag is also an uncomfortable reminder of colonization and genocide. As such, the New Zealand government decided it was time to replace the flag with a new, inoffensive design.

New Zealand flag options
Image via Gizmodo.

In May of 2015, the New Zealand government held a contest in which its citizens chose the design of a new national flag from 10,000 potential designs. As of this writing, the contest came down to four contenders (seen in the image above). The public will vote on these four in November before sending the winner to face off against the current flag in March. It remains to be seen how the rest of the world will react to a new New Zealand flag, but the citizens of New Zealand have made it clear how ready they are for change.

Where have we seen THIS before?

Being the country chosen to host the Olympic Games is an honor fraught with controversy. Japan has found itself in the middle of a unique controversy as it prepares for the 2020 games. In particular, its logo for the event has raised quite a few eyebrows.

Japan Olympics logo comparison
Image via BBC.

Critics have noted that logo’s use of a red dot against a white backdrop bears more than a passing resemblance to the Japanese flag. What has stirred up even more conversation, though, is the accusation that the T-shaped logo was plagiarized. As seen above, the logo bears a striking resemblance to a 2013 Belgian design for the Théâtre de Liège, as designed by artist Olivier Debie. Debie filed a lawsuit at the behest of the theatre, and Japan withdrew the design. Although Japan has yet to reveal a revised design, it’s safe to say that it—like the games themselves—will have the eyes of the entire world upon it.

Let it Fly

The New Zealand flag is being changed because it represents an offensive chapter in the country’s past, while the Japanese Olympic logo is allegedly a rip-off. If there’s one thing both of these cases prove, it’s that, in choosing an icon, it’s impossible to please everyone.


The Politics of Logo Design

25. June 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

There’s an old saying from the world of advertising: “You’re selling the sizzle, not the steak.” It holds that the quality of the item sold is secondary to the methods used to sell it. Indeed, many of us could probably exhaust ourselves very quickly just thinking of all the mediocre products we’ve purchased because they had great catchphrases.

In a world increasingly defined by an overabundance of advertising, the importance of a single recognizable brand cannot be overstated. It all comes down to timing, demographic, and most importantly, design. Whether running for public office, or simply trying to promote a new film, the right logo at the right time can make or break your entire campaign.

Political Print

On June 24, Louisiana governor “Bobby” Jindal became the latest candidate to throw his hat into the already-crowded field of nominees for the 2016 presidential election. As pundits and analysts mulled over his positions on hot-button topics, there was also a small collection of analysts who paid close attention to the logo he’d chosen for the campaign. As we’ve mentioned before, the logos for the current candidates have been subject to scrutiny from the moment they were each revealed. Jindal’s logo was no exception, with analysts noting how it follows the current trend of contemporary presidential: a single letter using the primary colors of the American flag.

(via Washington Post)

With so many logos boasting such similar designs, it remains to be seen just how effective any of them will be in the greater scheme of things. In fact, one could almost argue that the candidates will have to define themselves less by their logos and more by the politics they represent.

Celestial Font

In the mid-1970s, George Lucas was having a devil of a time selling studios on the idea for his next film. Having already experienced one sci-fi flop with his debut film THX-1138, studio execs weren’t too keen on the idea of him revisiting the genre with an Errol Flynn twist. Fortunately for Lucas, he quickly learned that where his words failed him, images more than made up for it. As such, he began pitching what-would-be-known-as Star Wars with a collection of eye-catching concept art and mock-ups.

(via Gizmodo)

What isn’t often touched upon is the inspiration for the series iconic title logo. Created by designer Suzy Rice, the logo was meant to evoke the fascist lettering used by the Third Reich. But by a stroke of fate, the design used was actually a modified font based on a pre-fascist German typography. For the sake of all involved, that’s probably a good thing – it would be hard to imagine one of the most beloved family franchises drawing undo comparisons to one of the worst regimes the world has ever known.

No matter who you vote for, you have to admit, a logo goes a long way. What logo do you like the most? The least? Let us know in the comments!

Democracy by Design

16. April 2015 13:16 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

There’s no escaping it: campaigning for the 2016 presidential election has officially begun. Although the election is one year and seven months away and two major parties have only four candidates thus far, those four candidates have spent years building up their reputations and solidifying their positions. But despite all the work they’ve put in and the sheer variety of issues they address, one of the real challenges is truncating those positions into easy-to-remember slogans and eye-catching logos.

The role of design is often underestimated in politics. When done right, it can define a generation. When done wrong, it turns into the sort of regrettable faux pas forever stamped in the public consciousness.

In the Information Age, reactions are instantaneous and often very strong. Such was the case with the start of campaign season. When each of the four candidates announced their nominations, reactions to visual aspects of said campaigns were as sharply divided as opinions about the candidates themselves.

(via Wall Street Journal)

The Clinton logo – whose font has already been parodied – has been compared to a road sign or delivery logo. The Cruz logo features the stars and stripes in the shape of a flame, an image with which some have taken issue. The Paul logo has been compared to that of an oil company, while Rubio logo’s use of the mainland United States to dot the “i” in his name has been criticized for its exclusion of Hawaii and Alaska. In short, none of the logos have been met with much immediate acclaim.

Still, it’s important to note that the impact of these logos on the campaigns is, like the campaigns themselves, still in its infancy. As such, it’s impossible to determine the long term effect they’ll ultimately have. Yet the reactions have ultimately proven the importance of design in the digital world and necessity for brand recognition in distinguishing oneself. As Wired design writer Liz Stinson points out: “A political candidate’s logo isn’t just a static thing that gets slapped on the side of a bus. It’s a symbol that will be deployed in all sorts of different material, potentially in many different forms.”

When one wishes to lead one of the most powerful nations in the world, the strength and influence of that symbol cannot be underestimated.

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