Aside from prime time for Le Corbusier-inspired couture confections, the days bounded by July 4th and Labor Day are high summer, a time of sunshine and swimming pools, ice cream and reruns, flip-flops and the illusion that you will read—or at least lovingly stroke—that teetering stack of books that have been accumulating on and around your nightstand since Christmas. But while the December holidays are celebrated with a great decking of halls (as well as homes, trees, yards, websites, and social media platforms), summer is typically welcomed with little more than picnic-themed grocery store displays before it is ushered offstage in a blaze of back-to-school-themed commercials. Not so fast! The sunny design types at Rich Brilliant Willing are savoring the season with “an unofficial seasonal logo” (pictured), which transforms their minimalist monogrammed hexagon for something a little more playful. Need more help lightening up? We suggest RBW’s “space- and earth-friendly” Delta table lamp.
branding + identity
The countdown to the revamped and revitalized version of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum begins now. At a press conference held this morning, director Caroline Baumann detailed plans for the reopening, set for December 12th, along with a wave of changes that debut today on the museum’s new website, a WordPress-powered affair created in collaboration with Pentagram and Matcha Labs.
The first thing to notice is the 117-year-old institution’s new name—Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum—which dispenses with the hyphen and the “national” of old. There’s a bold new Eddie Opara-designed identity to match, with an eminently scalable wordmark that forms a perfect rectangle. “Cooper Hewitt’s new identity is straightforward with no play on visual or theoretical complexity, no puzzling contradiction or ambiguity, no distracting authorship,” says Opara [cut to the Whitney's neurasthenic W, cowering in the corner of a billboard]. “Function is its primary goal.” As for that non-nonsense sans serif, it’s the work of Chester Jenkins of Brooklyn-based Village. It’s available as a free download here.
Rushing water, DNA helices, stop-motion footage of a city at night. Put ‘em together and what have you got? A generic brand video. Royalty-free stock footage purveyor Dissolve.com seized upon the formula outlined by Kendra Eash in a recent piece for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and brought it to life in this amusing short, made entirely with stock footage and narrated with an avuncular twang by Dallas McClain.
Here at UnBeige HQ, every week is Internet week (if the wi-fi goes down for even a few minutes, we become testy and commence the hoarding of foodstuffs), but capitalize that “W” and you’re talking about a “festival of technology, business, and culture” that has been taking place in New York since 2008 and in London since 2010. Each Internet Week consists of hundreds of events that draw thousands of people, and yet the festival’s logos have long been, well, less than cutting-edge—sufficed to say that at one point there was a pixellated apple involved. Then they got Collins on the case.
A team that included Brian Collins, Dave Frankel, and Ali Ring looked beyond familiar tech tropes—the slash, the dot, the leaning arrow—and onward to the bracket. A three-dimensional pair is at the core of their flexible new identity for Internet Week. Not only can the brackets open to accommodate copy, photography, and illustrations but their angles play nice with the letterforms involved, all of which can be layered at various weights to simulate a blinking cursor. Keep an eye out for banners real and virtual that herald the next installment of the festival, which gets underway on May 19 in New York.
It’s been almost four decades since Saul Bass whipped up the jaunty Avery logo, its leaning red triangle of paperclips a beacon on many a binder, label, and even the collection of Hermès knockoff totes rolled out under the “Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery” brand. But change is afoot, and the new parent company of the office and consumer products division of Avery Dennison is looking to place a giant divider between the primarily business-to-business company Avery Dennison and the consumer products brand now known simply as Avery. Enter Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, who were challenged to create a new visual identity for Avery. It had to be distinctive and modern while retaining the brand’s recognition in the marketplace and (d’oh!) work within Avery’s existing package design, which was to remain unchanged—all as the ghost of Bass peered over their shoulders and whispered strong opinions about the capital “R”. Their solution? Keep the off-kilter red square, and move it behind a redrawn Avery wordmark.
“A name cannot only be spoken, it needs to be visually expressed, and it’s useful if it can look good when it is. Flower names, beast names, object names, time length names and space and size names all have good visual potential. I’m thinking Pointerdog for a search engine, Five Mile for a minicab firm, Ringlets for a children’s jewellery range. Names that have something interesting or attractive about their letterform also have good visual potential. I’m thinking MOOD with its circles and curves for a perfume, or Dignify with its two nice dots for an over-60s face cream. Don’t give a graphic designer an abstract name with awful letter forms and expect them to do a good wordmark or logo, or to be happy.”
There’s nothing like an imminent Olympics to get the world talking about logos (did you know that Sochi’s rather chilling mark is the first to lack drawn elements?). Anne Quito looks across the pond at a classic.
The city of London teems with icons—from Big Ben, to the red double-decker bus, even to polarizing 2012 Olympics logo, or lately, the much parodied “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters. There is no shortage of visual symbols for the city. But perhaps the most ubiquitous among them is their transport logo, or the roundel, as it’s officially called. Introduced in 1908, the original circle-and-bar design has remained mostly unchanged, surviving the tides of brand makeovers for over a century.
A Logo for London (Laurence King, 2013) explores the evolution of the symbol vis-à-vis the socio-political climate of the city it represents, written as a kind of biography for this enduring brand mark. Packed with a treasury of archival images and drawings, this well-researched volume by the design historian David Lawrence casts the roundel as trademark that evolves to become a cultural marker and a civic symbol.
“The branding for the logo was designed to make the magazine look like it had been on the shelf for 50 years, and the challenge was to make it look both classical and also capture the digital newsness of the brand all at the same time. The capital-height lower case ‘e’ is given an italic emphasis to feminize the design, and is a subliminal wink towards the online functionality.”
-Robin Derrick, creative director of Porter, the print magazine from Net-a-porter that debuts next month on newsstands worldwide and via subscription.
NPR moved into a new Washington, DC HQ earlier this year, and as if the dulcet tones of Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish weren’t enough to woo visitors into the 440,000-square-foot complex—LEED Gold, bien sûr—there’s a two-story digital mosaic and now a place to purchase assorted NPR merch (do they have the heavily discounted Carl Kasell pillow? Wait, wait, don’t tell me). Part retail store, part event space and tour group corral, NPR Commons makes it debut with a visual identity by Poulin + Morris. The New York-based firm anchored the branding program in the iconic NPR logo and brought in dynamic patterns and colors that nod to radio frequencies. And of course, every shopping bag, gift box, label, hangtag, and sign is made of recycled materials.
Lippincott worked to unify the brands of merged airlines Avianca and TACA. The three-year project culminated in the recent unveiling of a bold new visual identity.
With a client list that includes 3M, Delta Air Lines, Hyatt, Samsung, Starbucks, and Walmart, Lippincott has spent the last seven decades combining strategy and creativity. (The recent brand face-lifts of Stanley and eBay? All Lippincott.) At the helm of the firm, which is part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is Rick Wise, who oversees innovation in Lippincott’s design and strategy practices while also advising clients on their branding issues. The Wharton alum made time to chat with us about some recent Lippincott projects as well as his branding pet peeve, what’s on his desk, and why the Taj Mahal never gets old.
Lippincott turns 70 this year. How are you celebrating?
It’s a big year for us. We’re celebrating by both looking back on how the industry has evolved, honoring the moments Lippincott has influenced and the iconic brands we built, as well as looking ahead to what the next 70 years will bring. For instance, in May of this year, we designed “Pencil to Pixel” in collaboration with Monotype—an exhibit documenting the past, present and future of typography. As part of this, Lippincott developed an exhibit of its own—curating artifacts and designs throughout our history. As part of that we also moderated a roundtable discussion on the future role of design and brand expression with executives from Coach, Warby Parker, Virgin America, Chipotle, and eBay.
Tell us about a recent Lippincott project that you are particularly proud of and why?
We are very proud of the work we did for Avianca, the Latin American airline formed by the merger of Avianca and TACA airlines. We worked hand in hand with Avianca for three years to create a new unified brand, developing the new logo, aircraft livery, plane interior, visual system and frequent flyer program. It’s a really beautiful system for an airline that aspires to be the regional leader. But what we’re most proud is our work helping build a unified brand from the inside out—making sure the cultures were aligned, the employees were energized, and most importantly the customer experience could live up to the promise of a unified pan-Latin American airline.
As a specialist in brand strategy, what brand (aside from your current or past clients) would you single out as an emerging brand to watch?
I’m a huge music fan, and it’s been really interesting to watch the growth of Beats by Dr. Dre. It’s pretty amazing to see the brand they have created in just a few years, focusing on the overall music experience. They have taken a page out of Apple’s playbook by focusing on innovation delivered in great packaging and design, and took a product many thought might be obsolete and made it relevant again.
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