Posts Tagged ‘design’

“L” Stands for loser.

February 10, 2012

Another Super Bowl is in the books. Over hyped? Yes! Bad halftime show? Yes! But the game was great and Super Bowl Sunday has become a holiday so why not enjoy.

Now it’s time to prepare for next season. The NFL players are resting, getting needed surgery and getting prepared for mini camps. Just like the players, the NFL is already working on future Super Bowls. And that’s a good thing because the NFL has a little problem with Super Bowl 50. Ever since the first Super Bowl, the league has numbered them using Roman numerals. That would make Super Bowl 50, Super Bowl “L”. “L” stands for loser. This creates a heck of a problem to solve. The league has managed it’s way through and around  Super Bowl IV in 1970 and Super Bowl XXX in 1996. But having a giant “L” with a sponsor’s logo like, say, Nike’s swoosh right above it could be a little awkward. Not to mention being awkward for the host city.

SO. Just like players trying to get stronger and faster, a crack team of designers and sharp thinkers are squirreled away trying to solve this big problem for a big client. Maybe they will take this opportunity to convert the Super Bowl to Arabic numerals. After all 50 is a huge mile stone. They didn’t think there would be ten Super Bowls let alone fifty. Maybe they’ll have the “L” stand for something other than “Loser” or find a way to hide it in the design. Who knows. But what a fun challenge that would be.

I have a lot of great ideas. I’ll just sit back a wait for the NFL to call.

THE LOGO EVOLUTION; an optimistic revolution

January 18, 2011

A logo update often speaks of a company trying to stay up-to-date in its offerings while strengthening its’ connection with consumers. But, with Starbucks falling into the bucket of recent logo evolutions within the last few months, I was forced to put down my Venti, Non-fat, Carmel Macchiato and ponder – could it mean something more? Could we be on the cusp of a branding revolution?

Every New Year begins with the hope for better things to come. Resolutions are made to convince ourselves that we can try harder and be more than we were the year prior. Every January, we are motivated to turn over a new leaf, conceive and commit to a better version of ourselves, and to accomplish big things. 

Essentially, a rebranding.

I believe the growing appetite for brand evolutions may possibly be an effort by these companies to demonstrate a new promise for the future – even in spite of familiarity feeling more sensible to their consumers.

Perhaps after being smacked around by the impact of the recession – and still jostling from the residuals – we are all eager for a more optimistic perspective.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, twice as many Americans think the U.S. economy will be better rather than worse in 2011.

2011 Expectation (vs. 2010) In Terms of the Economy (Percent of Group)
  Expectation % of Group
Group Better Same Worse
National adults 52% 21 25
   East 55 24 21
   Midwest 56 25 18
   South 51 20 27
   West 48 17 32
$75K or more 55 23 22
$30K to $75K 52 21 25
Less than $30K 51 20 27
Republicans 46 23 31
Independents 50 23 26
Democrats 62 19 16
Source: Gallup, December 2010

Recent tracking results show that consumers only became increasingly optimistic about the economy as 2010 came to an end.

Gallup analysts suggest this could be due to our general optimistic nature as Americans, or it could possibly reflect views of a recovering economy.  

Or it could simply mean that we are all ready to move forward.

And, honestly, was it the attempt these organizations made to put forth a new image that has been debated? Or the lack of creativity, planning and strategic foresight that has forced us to question the success of these new brand transformations?

As Paul Rand said, “Good design is Good for Business.”

And bad design will get you posted on every blog and Facebook page known to man!


As simple as skiing downhill

February 24, 2010

I really enjoy watching the Winter Olympics even though I know nothing about most winter sports. I’m from the South. That’s not to say that southerners don’t enjoy winter sports. I know a lot people who ski, ice skate and play hockey. But I’m not one of them. While watching a skier prepare for her event, the camera zoomed to a close up of her face. I was struck by her focus; she could have burned a hole through steel with the look on her face. I’d never thought of the focus and concentration it must take to be a good skier let alone an Olympian.

Which brings me to my point. It’s nothing new or earth shattering to our business, but it’s more important now than ever before. We need to keep our clients’ marketing/advertising messages focused and simple. Finding that single laser-like message isn’t easy and outside forces can easily complicate the message. But, like the skier, we need to shut out distractions and keep looking and moving ahead.

It’s not a revolutionary concept, but it’s something we can easily forget. So take a deep breath, get focused, keep things simple and great work will follow. Maybe even a medal here and there.

I wish I’d thought of that.

December 7, 2009

Most creative types start every project with the same hopeful thought, “this will be the best work I’ve ever done.” So you dig into your creative briefs and pore over the research. You think, brainstorm and execute. Finally, you step back with great pride and think, “they are going to love this.” You present the work and you are correct. They love the work and everyone is happy. Then, several months later, you thumb through a Communication Arts, Print or some other industry book and you think to yourself, “I wish I’d thought of that.” You look back at the work you just did and you know it could have been better.

Your work is still good. It’s on strategy, very effective, and your client loves it. But, as you look back, you realize at one point you were on the verge of something unique. Then you put your industry-specific hat on and unwittingly watered down a great idea.

Wait. Hold on. Timeout.

You always want to know the nuances of a specific industry in which you are working. It comes with the territory. But most of the time we pull that industry specific hat down over our eyes for one reason: fear. We use specific words and images because we think we have to. We forget that every human brain – whether it belongs to a consumer, creative or client – craves and notices novelty.

Like a lot creative people, I’m guilty of being afraid to develop something that may seem too radical from time to time. But not anymore. I’m more afraid of looking back on a project and thinking, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

Get off the sideline

September 17, 2009

HelmetFor those of you who know me, you know I really LOVE football. I played from the age of eight until I was a college sophomore. The players I most admire are those playing multiple roles. You’ve seen them. Guys who play defense and offense. Running backs that play on the kick-off team. Receivers that return punts. For the football illiterate I am simply saying this: versatility on the gridiron is good.

Another place versatility is vital these days is any advertising, marketing, design or other creative shop. While most agency folks are assigned a title (web designer, art director, copywriter, etc.) those titles can be blinders that prevent people from doing their real job: coming up with great ideas for clients.

In our creative department we take versatility seriously.

For example, we have a copywriter who makes music, art directors who design websites and anything else they can get their hands on and a web designer/developer who also happens to be a talented art director and overall idea guy. These discoveries weren’t the result of some agency wide cross-training effort; they happened because people saw beyond defined roles or titles. They got out there, tried new things and helped each other out. The result has been great work for our clients.

I believe the best path to great ideas is across the lines of job titles and disciplines. Get out there, return a few kicks and see what happens.

Like I said, I like football. In fact, here’s a blank helmet so you can design your own team helmet. I know you can do it. While you’re at it, send me your creations. We’ll post the winning designs.

Creative Brain Freeze

June 17, 2009

Dean SmashYou’re feeling good. You’re loose. You settle in to what will surely be another fantastic brainstorming session with your trusty notebook and lucky pencil. It’s magic time. Time to come up with an idea that makes the Earth move. Then, nothing. You try to refocus and get it together. Still, nothing. Next thing you know, you’re in a quiet brainstorming session that’s been zapped by creative brain freeze. Mmm. Not good.

Whatever your profession, everyone has to come up with ideas now and then. But for creatives, it’s the raison d’etre, well, that’s what it is if you’re a Raising Arizona fan. When a creative team member can’t generate ideas, he or she might as well hang it up.

When it happens to me, I get frustrated and think, “Maybe I’m not focusing hard enough.” Then, I get angry. “I’ll never come up with a good idea! Maybe I’m not as smart as I think I am. Maybe my work is mediocre. Ahhhh!! Dean SMASH!!!!”

Before resorting to wholesale office destruction, I now try the following:

  • I change my environment. Different place, different chair, anything different from the status quo.
  • I seek the opinions and thoughts of others.
  • I try 100 mph thinking (coming up with as many thoughts possible as fast as possible).
  • When all else fails, I try 180 degree thinking (coming up with ideas that are the exact opposite of my goal).

These are just a few tricks I try to overcome creative brain freeze. Tell me how you thaw your brain when the creativity gets all gummed up.

I could use a few new options for the days when my feet are exploding out of my shoes and my shirt is tearing across my back. The days I find myself screaming, “I don’t know how long I can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within!” Just kidding.

But seriously, how do you beat the freeze?

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