It’s been seven decades since J. Gordon Lippincott and Walter P. Margulies set up shop as Lippincott & Margulies, and the brand strategy and design firm, now known simply as Lippincott and part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is both celebrating its septuagenarian status and using the occasion to get introspective. In the below video, directed by Matt Kalish with creative director Brendan Murphy, the firm looks to its past and its future to ponder the eternal question, “What is a brand?”
branding + identity
An activist named Sean Strub convinced Keith Haring to donate his now-famous image of a person dancing out of a closet for National Coming Out Day, which takes place annually on October 11. This year marks the 25th anniversary of that image, and the Human Rights Campaign is celebrating with a colorful new commission: the organization invited New York-based artist Ryan McGinness to create new artwork symbolizing National Coming Out Day.
“I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Keith Haring,” says McGinness. “I developed three final images and invite you to vote for the one you like the best.” Voting closes at midnight on Thursday, and the design with the most votes will be released as a t-shirt on Friday.
As a student at Cooper Union, Sagi Haviv already had designs on a job at Chermayeff & Geismar. He landed an internship at the storied firm—the creative brains behind identities for the likes of National Geographic, the Smithsonian, NBC, and Chase—in 2003 (the year he graduated) and didn’t look back. Fast forward a decade: Haviv has been freshly elevated to principal, with his name accompanying that of Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar on the company masthead (the first addition in 56 years).
Haviv recently helmed the firm’s identity overhaul of Women’s World Banking, a global nonprofit that works with the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions to serve 19 million low-income entrepreneurs in 28 developing nations. Replacing the less-than-memorable “WWB”-beneath-a-rising sun logo is an identity (below) that can stand alongside those of the global financial heavyweights with which the organization partners. Read the abstract symbol as you will: an opening flower? a coin entering a purse? a globe? a winged figure? We paused in our Rohrshachian reverie to ask him about the project, his process, and memorable moments in his brief yet blindingly bright career thus far.
How did you approach the task of designing the new identity for Women’s World Banking and what did you design?
The approach was the same approach we always take when solving a client’s identity problem, which is to first understand the issues around the current identity, and then to consider what the organization is trying to accomplish. For Women’s World Banking, we felt that the mark they had been using needed to be replaced with a more modern identity that emphasizes the full name. We created a new symbol, a simple geometric form that can have many interpretations: a flower, an empowered figure, or a coin entering a purse.
Tell us about your decision to feature both the name of the organization and the symbol.
We felt from the get-go that the initials WWB weren’t an effective shorthand, especially since they are not actually shorter to say–seven syllables as opposed to the five syllables of the full name. The name is meaningful, with “women” as its first word, so why not feature it prominently?
What is your greatest graphic design pet peeve?
All form, no concept.
Sure, Francois Nars‘s formulas are great, but Fabien Baron‘s rubbery matte black packaging and assured Helvetica Neue identity for the makeup artist’s eponymous line helped it zoom to enduring global glory (and eventually earn Nars a mega-payout from Shiseido, which acquired the brand in 2000). Marc Jacobs is going shiny.
The designer—and Nars buddy—is angling for a piece of the wildly competitive color cosmetics market with a 122-product line created in collaboration with Sephora, owned by longtime Jacobs-backer LVMH. On August 9, Marc Jacobs Beauty will arrive in Sephora stores and select Marc Jacobs emporiums in packaging designed by New York-based Established.
Once the temperature tops 85 degrees, evolution has programmed humans to suppress all executive functions and focus on securing ice, preferably of the creamy and sweet variety. But we can’t just switch off our aesthetic sensitivities upon approaching the freezer case, a sweating showplace of less than delicious design. Ben and Jerry’s pint containers have become increasingly oafish since the company’s acquisition by Unilever, Edy’s taste in typefaces conjures baked goods rather than frozen goodness, and we’ve long been dubious about faux-Danish Häagen-Dazs. The solution, of course, is gelato, and no one does gelato logos and packaging better than Louise Fili.
The New York-based designer and her crack team are behind the dreamy, la-dolce-vita look of L’Arte del Gelato (the logo was inspired by pasticceria papers, ice-cream hues, and peppy Italian script samples from the 1920s), and have just added to their list of gelato-related achievements with mouth-watering packaging for Gelato Fiasco. Fili’s overhaul for the Brunswick, Maine-based gelateria included upgrading the flimsy takeout container to a sturdier clear cylinder that reveals the vibrant colors of flavors such as Dark Chocolate Caramel, Wild Maine Blueberry Crisp, and Everything’s Coming Up Roses. Please pass the Pomegranate Chocolate Chunk.
The crew at mediabistroTV took their cameras inside the multiple-floored space occupied by Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in Midtown Manhattan’s News Corporation building.
Hosted by Wendy Bounds,Wall Street Journal editor and host of WSJ’s video offering “Lunch Break,” the guys were greeted by one of the legendary standing receptionists, got as close to a Pulitzer Prize as they’re ever going to get, took a color-toned glimpse into the paper’s past with wall sized silkscreens of old newsroom photos and managed not to end up as gossip fodder on the twitter page of the lobby’s chandelier.
You can view our other MediabistroTV productions on our YouTube Channel.
“The most interesting stuff [in product, packaging, and communications] is coming out of the interactive world, because you can tell a much longer story. There is nothing wrong with print, but it’s going to be two-dimensional.
Interactive has gone from zero percent of our business to 70 percent. That being said, my aesthetic is modern and beautiful. People with an interactive background have absolutely no idea how to make anything look good. People who can make stuff look beautiful have no idea how to do interactive. That’s where the rubber hits the road—to find people who understand both. It doesn’t happen everyday. I wish it would happen more. It’s starting to.”
-Neil Kraft, president and CEO of KraftWorks, in an interview with Jenny B. Fine published in WWD Beauty
There’s a trend a-brewin’ in the form of deconstructed, shape-shifting graphic identities for art museums. We still can’t stomach the “responsive W” that Experimental Jetset cooked up for the Whitney, but Project Projects is onto something with its dynamic new look for the RISD Museum. Part of an overhaul that included a name change (it was formerly known as The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design) and the first website redesign in the museum’s history, the fresh mark was inspired by the architectural space of the RISD Museum—composed of five buildings located on the historic East Side of Providence, Rhode Island–and consists of a stylized “M” within which the letters R, I, S, and D are positioned.
Check out the identity’s fluid, interactive application on the new website, also a Project Projects project. “Throughout [the site], colorful bands function as gallery walls and create a sense of progression from room to room as the visitor scrolls, dimensionalizing the site and connecting it to the identity system’s emphasis on the museum as a space,” note the designers, who have mixed the bands with “button-like tags [that] foster a more networked type of discovery through the museum’s collections from Ancient to Contemporary, grouping objects by time period, genre, material, and technique to emphasize methods of making across disciplines.”
We’ve never visited the Mall of America, but we know it’s home to an amusement park, an aquarium, a 34-foot-tall LEGO robot, and, until recently, a logo that suggested a high school show choir with a deep repertory of patriotic medleys (and hey, for all we know, such a bunch is permanently stationed between Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Lenscrafters). The 21-year-old Minnesota megaplex, which describes itself as “the Hollywood of the Midwest,” tapped Duffy & Partners for a fresh look–spanning brand language, logo, environment, promotional merchandise, website, social media pages and interior branding–that reflected its ever-changing assortment of outlets and attractions: today Mike & Ike and a new sea turtle, tomorrow Pinkberry and Cirque de Soleil. “For Mall of America, we knew we had to harness the dynamism of their unique experience, the equity found in their American ingenuity, and embrace all the ‘new’ that is their DNA,” says Joe Duffy. “The new identity system is a dynamic evolution that moves and morphs and wraps and celebrates and highlights.”
With its imminent move downtown to new Renzo Piano-designed digs, the Whitney Museum of American Art decided that its graphic identity was also in need of an overhaul. And so it’s out with Abbott Miller‘s 13-year-old wordmark (which, like a fine wine, would only have gotten better with age) and in with a…spindly, shape-shifting line? The new identity, created by Amsterdam-based Experimental Jetset and unveiled today along with the museum’s redesigned website, is an anti-logo: lacking distinction, gravitas, and the ability to be seen from across a room. The “responsive ‘W’,” intended to dynamically “illustrate the museum’s ever-changing nature” with an elastic take on the letter “W,” is paired with a redrawn version of Neue Haas Grotesk, in all caps. With an infinite array of options, the identity can evoke the work of Dexter Sinister or Lawrence Weiner, the slanting logo of W magazine, or a line graph that got lost in a museum on its way to a sales report. But mostly, it leaves us wondering, Why?