I love corporate identity documentation, which is normally a terribly dry thing to love. But this NASA Graphic Standards Manual from 1976 is really exceptional. There aren’t enough details, but I can see how much of this design influenced anything related to space for the next 15 years. From sci-fi movies to my favourite sets of Lego (the early space stuff was tops in my books), looking at these manuals is very evocative. I just wish there was more to see.
This is already pretty old, but it’s worth seeing regardless. I won’t get into this too much, because others have already done a really good job talking about this (original post | analysis by Brandchannel).
The amount of effort that’s gone into this is impressive; even the employees think they’re legit Apple employees. The BrandChannel post observes that there is a Sony store nearby, and they wonder if anyone considered whether it is a knock-off as well. An odd question, as (based on the last time I was in a Sony store), the experience design in a Sony store is completely unremarkable. Who would want to knock-off a Sony store?
It makes me wonder though, have you ever made something so good, people wanted to steal it?
Graham Smith has done a masterful job of mashing up two logos, often from competing brands. It’s a fascinating look at brand identity design, and raises questions about the relative importance of the name and the design.
A while ago I realized that there are only two kinds of brand names: unsuitable names and good-enough names. There is no such thing as a perfect name. While unsuitable names can ruin a brand’s chance of success, no name can guarantee a brand’s success. In fact, when you start looking at the most successful brands, their names were often created almost accidentally.
That’s why I liked this graphic I stumbled across recently. It tells the story of how some of the biggest brand names came about. Not one of them was a thoroughly designed name, that branding experts considered perfect.
Once again, Pentagram rolls out some really strong branding work. It’s a fantastic example of what I think of as really great brand identity design: a elegant mark, impeccably applied to the collateral.
It’s exactly what I was thinking about when I asked if logos are important. The logo doesn’t aspire tell the whole story of the brand. It’s “just” a very nice wordmark. Instead, William Russell and John Rushworth (and their teams) build the brand’s visual vocabulary in the collateral.
Here’s a clever way to show that you’re in-touch with your audience. The best part of this is that there’s no explanation or instruction: you either know exactly what that means or you don’t.
What is it that makes a corporate brand identity? I used to think that this meant the logo, but the more I see and the more I practice the design of brands, the more I realize the logo enjoys exaggerated importance in the design of the brand identity.
Bad logos are either aesthetically unsuitable for the brand, or are simply unsuitable for technical reasons (e.g.: reproduction difficulties).
But if the logo isn’t outright bad, it can probably work well in the hands of a skilled designer. I’ve noticed that it’s novice designers who rely the most on a great logo to design good materials, where great designers can make mediocre marks work wonders for the brand.
This is because it’s the overall aesthetic that is created for the brand that really matters. In the end, the logo is really just a tiny aspect of the overall identity. I think it’s easy to see how this works when you start looking for it: have a look at your favourite brand design, how often does the logo really matter? While there will always be exceptions to the rule, you’ll often find that the logo itself has very little to do with the aesthetic given to the brand identity.
In fact, some of my favourite personal work has been done when I hastily applied the client’s logo as a last measure, because I hated the mark so much. I simply designed around it, and everyone was much happier for it.
K-Swiss has produced a fantastic video designed to go “viral”, and it will. This foul-mouthed bit hits a lot of perfect notes, and does a great job shifting the perceptions of the brand. Like the old Rebook Terry Tate Office Linebacker campaign, it’s tone is spot on with the audience and works hard to provide genuine entertainment.
Recently my MacBook started acting up, so I took it in to the Apple store to have it looked at. While there, I realized that there’s a big difference in how different companies brand tech support.
Typically, companies take a kind of tongue-in-cheek approach to their tech-support departments. Best Buy has the Geek Squad. A private Canadian mobile tech support company is called Nerds on Site. Nerds, geeks, and dweebs all make frequent appearances in the names of tech support brands. While the derogatory names are intended in an endearing way, I can’t help but wonder what the effects of this branding is on the way customers relate to the brands.
At Apple, the tech support is called the Genius Bar. It’s a name that achieves similar messaging as the Geek Squad–that these people know their stuff, stuff that you don’t–but without the backhanded insult applied to the people that work there. I also think that this more positive branding prepares everyone, staff and customers alike, for a successful relationship. As a customer, your time with the Apple “Genius” is a little less antagonistic than your time with a “Geek” might be. There’s a more healthy respect in the relationship.
I am forever fascinated with the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that brands use to strike the right tone in their communications. I love seeing little bits of whimsy in what can otherwise be a sterile landscape. Surprise and delight, I often say, are some of the key elements for building a memorable experience and eliciting passion from your audience.