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.

Lots to Love about LEGOs!

It should come as no surprise that we’re LEGO fans. Who isn’t? Kids turn them into houses, adults turn them into sculptures, and they even inspired a hit film. LEGOs have been popular for more than 50 years with no signs of slowing down. And with the recent news that they will soon be fully sustainable, the time seemed right to once again take a look at some major LEGO development.

Another Brick in the WALL*E

It’s no surprise that LEGO has created special sets to tie in popular film and television properties. From Star Wars to Batman, every franchise that’s any franchise gets a LEGO set eventually. But there have been surprisingly few sets for Disney or Pixar Animation properties. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

LEGO-WALLE.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

This past February, LEGO announced they’d begun production on the titular character of the hit Disney/Pixar film WALL*E. The model is being designed by Angus MacLane, a Pixar animator who worked on the film. Although the model is expected to be pricey ($65) when it hits store shelves in December, it’s also expected to be one of LEGO’s bestsellers for 2015.

LEGO V8

One of the defining characteristics of LEGO is the amount of attention paid to the tiniest details. It isn’t always easy, especially since the typical brick is a solid rectangular block. But the company’s designers have always made it a point to adhere as close to the original designs as possible, even in ways you wouldn’t expect.

LEGO-Ferrari-F40.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

Ferrari is one of the most popular car companies in the world, so it’s no surprise that they would eventually have a LEGO incarnation. What wasn’t expected was how the set – based on the popular F40 model from 1987 – would have so much detail that it would also include a LEGO-style V8 engine as well. The set is expected to hit shelves in August with a $90 price tag. How many other chances will you have to say you own a Ferrari?

A Work of Art

As we’ve already mentioned, LEGOs appeal to people of all ages. This is most likely due to the fact that no matter what your age, you can make a design all your own. Well, now machines are trying to get in on the fun.

Jason Alleman’s specialty at JK Brickworks is to find new uses for 3-D printer technology. So it was only a matter of time before his unique line of work was combined with one of his favorite hobbies. Alleman created the Bricasso, a modified 3-D printer that creates mosaics out of LEGO pieces. Although the images created have to be heavily pixelated to conform to the bricks used, the Bricasso has created some incredibly detailed images for a machine that works with tiny blocks.

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.

2016-campaign-logos.jpg
(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.

Star-Wars-original-logo.jpg
(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!

A Bridge to the Future

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

Nature and technology are often seen as two contradicting forces whose collision is a sure sign of a changing world. This can be for better (technology discovers new medicines to fight natural illnesses and diseases) or for worse (deforestation displaces wildlife and destroys the ecosystem), but once it’s done, there’s often no going back. What symbol better represents both progression and the combination of two disparate entities more than a bridge?

Build Your Own Bridge

Dutch designer Jorish Laarman has big plans for Amsterdam. His research and development company, MX3D, has spent the last few years thinking up some of the most outlandish-yet-realistic uses for 3-D printing. And their latest plan is their most ambitious yet. They want to construct a 3-D printed bridge over an Amsterdam canal.

But this isn’t the usual case of people assembling a bunch of 3-D printed parts. No, Laarman and his team intend to leave all the work to a few robots. These robots will both create and construct the entire bridge mid-air, starting at one end of the canal and moving to the other.

Although the project still needs approval and the selection of a specific canal, Laarman expects to begin around September of this year. He says “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.”

MX3D-3-D-printed-bridge.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

What 3D-printed construction projects would you like to see in the future? Let us know in the comments.

Piece by Piece: 3D Printing Implants

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

We’ve mentioned before how the applications of 3D printing in the field of medical science have changed the way both doctors and patients think of surgery. Whether it’s creating missing limbs or growing new tissue from scratch, the technology continues to move closer and closer to levels of sophistication once only thought of as science fiction.

But even as strides are made with visibly noticeable attachments, such as limbs, it’s the parts that aren’t always obvious which can go unattended. Fortunately, there are pioneers in the field who are devoting their attention to those specific “overlooked” areas.

The Titanium Skull

Jessica Cussioli was fortunate. She was able to survive an automobile accident in her native Brazil, but needed extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild her face. Even after that was completed, there was still a 12-centimeter piece of her skull that was missing, leaving her head disfigured. What’s worse, the type of prosthesis that would assist with her condition proved far too expensive.

Fortunately for Jessica, her parents were resourceful. After contacting doctors at UNICAMP, the doctors agreed that Jessica would be a perfect candidate for a custom-molded titanium implant, created using 3D printing.

Jessica-Cassioli-post-surgery.jpg
(via IFLScience)

After an eight-hour procedure, Jessica’s implant was declared a success. The material is light weight, yet durable. Jessica is expected to make a full recovery, at which point she plans to return to her studies.

Robo-Claw

Until recently, a common complaint about prostheses was that they were both physically cumbersome and cosmetically unattractive. What’s more, they were often only effective for the most rudimentary functions of the missing limb. For instance, a prosthetic arm and hand could hold simple items, but the simple act of turning a key would prove difficult.

Then came the HACKberry.

HACKberry.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

Created by the Japanese company exii, the 3D printed HACKberry is major step forward in prosthetic functionality. In addition to its sleek design, the prosthetic boasts enough articulation in the wrist and digits to grab small items, flip through book pages, and even tie shoes. In addition to that, the hardware is able to be updated and added upon as the technology improves.

Both of the above innovations serve as reminders that while nearly all prosthetics serve a necessary purpose – substituting that which was lost – there’s also a sense of familiarity to be considered. It isn’t simply a case of finding a missing piece, it’s also trying to get it to work as well its predecessor. It might not be the original, but engineers doing their best to make the next best thing.

A Home of Our Own

4. June 2015 12:21 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

It’s said that when one ignores the past, they’re doomed to repeat it. Others learn of history and push ahead with their plans all the same. It’s hard to say which of these scenarios is more likely to be responsible for the current US housing crisis, but it definitely smacks of a repeating pattern. Maybe it’s a residual effect of the market crash of 2008, maybe it’s an inevitable effect of young people suddenly finding themselves flush with income, or maybe it’s a combination both and more. The only thing known for sure is that people need affordable homes.

Fortunately, modern technology is offering a few solutions to the problem.

Man-Made Material

When one is in need of a home, two pressing concerns will be time and money. Unfortunately, a lack of the two isn’t likely to get you very far, especially if you’re trying to build your home from the ground-up. That’s what was on the mind of USC professor Behrokh Khoshnevis when he put his industrial and engineering skills to work. Khoshnevis designed an automated construction system that uses 3-D printer technology to create an entire 2,500-sq. ft. home in roughly 20 hours.

With 3-D computer models and concrete-based materials, Khoshnevis’ system maintains the human element in terms of its design, but drops it at the construction stage.

Contour-Crafting.jpg
(via Engineering.com)

Fixed Pieces

And that design process is crucial in the creation of a domicile for human inhabitants. It isn’t simply a concern of location and materials used, but also layout and design. With that in mind, architect Damien Murtagh decided to turn the 3-D designs he built on his PC into physical models he could assemble by hand. He created the Arckit modeling kit for structural designers to create practical designs they could put their hands on. The project has proven so popular that Murtagh has begun considering selling Arckits in children’s toy stores.

Arckit.png
(via mental_floss)

No matter where you lay your head, these new 3D printing technologies could help you get there faster in the future.

Knowing Art when You See It

Although the digital age has made it easier than ever to see the world's greatest art in vivid detail, nothing yet compares to the experience of witnessing it yourself in a museum or gallery. Sure, you can browse books and websites about the Louvre and the Sistine Chapel, but they don't hold a candle to standing in the buildings themselves. From school field trips to couples on first dates, art exhibitions are a unique visual experience.

The only problem is how to appreciate them when you don’t have full visual acuity. Even with the most detailed of audio guides, a blind person will only walk away with a vague impression of a piece of art. Well, one museum in Spain is using 3-D printing to make art available for those who can’t see it – and it requires breaking one of the art world’s well-known rules.

"Do not touch" has been one of the most steadfast rules for visitors to businesses and exhibits the world over. From museums to zoos, guests are told early and often to appreciate the work from a respectable distance. But at the very least, the average guest is able to visually absorb what is around them.

(via NPR)

In order to make some of the world’s most famous art pieces accessible to the blind, the Museo del Prado in Spain has used 3-D printed versions of the art to create the braille equivalent of paintings. The museum has 3-D printed works of Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, and even Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa".

With the versatility of each piece – including the equal attention paid to both visual color and physical texture – the experiment is also popular with both the visually-impaired and the visually proficient. Spanish collegiates have found the experiment a refreshing new take on art appreciation, and the blind have begun to regard it as a missing link in their experiencing popular art in a way others take for granted.

The museum will be running the experiment until June 28 and there are no specific plans for running the experiment again. Nevertheless, 3-D printing has once again proven to be an invaluable tool in making accessible what was previously thought impossible to the human experience.

 

Saving our Skin

21. May 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

This blog has mentioned before how 3-D printing has already changed the face of medicine and promises to do even more in the future. One such innovation is the technique known as bio-printing, in which organic material is created for use with living tissue. When 3-D printing is added to the process, it not only expedites the production of the material, but it increases the number of applications for which the process can be used.

Not only has 3-D bio-printing become a crucial tool in the avenues of stem cells, heart repair, and the treatment of cancer, but it could also eliminate one of the most controversial factors of the pharmaceutical and beauty industries. Although animal testing is regarded as a scientific necessity amongst scientific academia, it’s an incredibly divisive topic that has long stirred the ire of animal rights groups and humanitarian organizations. But soon that argument could become a moot point.

The L’Oreal company, one of the largest beauty companies in the world, recently announced a partnership with the bio-printing company Organovo. The aim of the partnership is for Organovo to provide L’Oreal with bio-printed human tissue for use in testing their cosmetics. Though still in the developmental stage, the harvested material would ideally provide more accurate results with how human skin reacts to the beauty products.

The need for animal testing probably won’t go away in the foreseeable future, but projects like the L’Oreal partnership with Organovo illuminate how technology has the potential to both streamline common necessities and help eliminate the moral dilemmas surrounding them.

The Pitfalls of 3-D Printing

14. May 2015 09:42 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

Once again, another day seems to bring another new report on an innovation in 3-D printing. The technology hasn’t become truly commonplace just yet, but its proliferation appears to increase with every new use discovered. But just as more industries adopt the technology for its functional simplicity and ability to reduce production costs, there also lurks the possibility of unforeseen consequences to long-standing institutions.


(via Forbes)

Creating a Monopoly

One such concern is the threat of a monopoly over manufacturers. Although the number of companies exploring the technology seems innumerable, two companies – 3D Systems and Stratasys – control an overwhelming market share of printer manufacturing. Over the past decade, the two companies have engaged in seemingly endless acquisitions of smaller manufacturers. Although some credit the push by these two companies as being instrumental in the recent prevalence of the technology, it also raises the concern that smaller manufacturers will be left with one of two choices: allow their companies to be acquired or watch the companies flounder.

Replacing Manual Labor

Another equally pressing concern comes from those in industries traditionally done by hand. The worry amongst these industries – such as model-makers – is the idea that they will be entirely replaced by an assembly line of machines. Though this concern is often dismissed as alarmist, it does hold a basis in reality: the automobile industry does the majority of its once-by-hand assembly through machines, and a series of jobs that traditionally required human interaction are being outsourced to machines in large numbers.

Will Science Fiction Become Fact?

Only time will reveal the true impact of 3-D printing technology on the world at large. The problem with adopting a new technology with seemingly limitless potential is the ambiguity of when and where its applications will stop. Such is the stuff of science fiction. But if that genre has taught us one indisputable truth, it’s that technology is merely a tool with no moral compass of its own. Rather, it is the use of the tool that reflects the motivations of its users.

 

Where I Lay My Head

7. May 2015 23:52 by Steve Leigh in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Who didn’t dream of becoming their favorite hero? As soon as kids learn to pronounce the names of the people they see in movies or read in comics, they soon wind up turning their bedrooms into mini cathedrals dedicated to their daring feats.

For most of us, this is pretty simple and inexpensive – a few posters here, some video games and DVDs there, maybe some matching bed sheets – but then there are the folks who go the extra mile. Here are a few fans who turned their love of sci-fi and superheroes into tributes the heroes themselves would envy.

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