Science Channel Rebrand

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I often have a hard time explaining to clients how modern identity work can be multi-dimensional and dynamic, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a great job of it. But this little video announcing a new logo for the Science Channel is about as good of an example as I can think of.

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Evolution of Logos

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It’s pretty interesting to see how some of the most famous brand identity work has evolved. It’s pretty rare for any of these companies to completely rebrand, usually there are just some some adjustments made in each iteration.

Post-publishing note: I had grabbed this image from somewhere and stuck into my folder of things to blog about. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep very good notes as to where I found this collection. Tineye didn’t turn up any results, but it appears as though this was originally from Inc.com which has some nice notes for each brand and is worth looking at.

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Nike Swoosh Logo Retrospective

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Imprint recently posted a nice retrospective of the Nike logo, which just turned 40. I’m fascinated by this brand identity, which is perhaps the most famous mark in history, yet the work was originally underpaid and unappreciated. As someone who has designed some identities that I really believed in – only to have the client say that they didn’t love it – this story resonates strongly with me.

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1976 NASA Graphic Standards Manual

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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.

Via Aisleone.

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Really Clever Fruit Juice Packaging

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Not only clever, this fruit juice packaging by Naoto Fukasawa would look distinctive in almost any environment. Toxel.com quotes him:

I imagined that if the surface of the package imitated the colour and texture of the fruit skin, then the object would reproduce the feeling of the real skin.

I’m really interested in how this kind of design affects how people experience the brand. I imagine that the design would certainly allow for a hefty premium to be charged on the product, and the packaging itself to be cherished by its consumers.

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Pentagram Dresses Drake’s

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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.

Make sure you have a look at the interiors (also by Pentagram) on their website.

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Are Logos Important?

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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.

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I’m a Professional!

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I had intended to join the GDC (Canada’s professional graphic design organization) some time ago. But life, and a frightening application process, kept me from making the effort until recently. While not impossible, joining the GDC at the professional level requires you submit yourself, and your work, to some amount of scrutiny. Enough at least to cause a few stress-filled weeks despite my self-confidence in my practice and abilities.

I’ve just received confirmation that I’ve been accepted as a Professional Certified Graphic Designer with the Alberta North chapter of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. I guess that makes me Taylor Garries, CGD. Time to order some new business cards.

What is a CGD?

For practicing designers, including web and new media designers, professional design educators and design administrators with at least seven years of graphic design education and professional practice.

From the GDC website.

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Michael Bierut’s Best Work

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Michael Bierut is a star in the design world. When it comes to practicing designers, he might be one of the best known—and for good reason, too. While his work has received almost every accolade, honour, and mention that the profession has, it’s his insights into the practice of design that I enjoy the most. (His Creative Mornings talk about his clients remains an absolute favourite of mine.)

I stumbled across this at HowDesign.com. It profiles Bierut’s all-time best piece of work—a tremendously creative solution to the challenge presented by the project. Like anyone who has mastered his art, Bierut makes it look so simple and easy.

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The SR-71 is almost 50 years old, and still stunningly futuristic

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Look at it. Just look at it. The SR-71 aircraft still makes me stare in slack-jawed wonder (and I’ve seen an F-117 in person).

Beautifully designed things can remain fresh-looking for incredibly long periods of time, if they’re truly exceptional. The SR-71, designed in the early 1960s by Kelly Johnson, is just one example. It was so fantastic of a design that twenty years later it still “inspired” many comic book imitations (X-Men, Transformers, and GI Joe, off the top of my head).

There are some other classic designs that really stand up over time:

The Barcelona Chair, designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1929 for the World’s Fair.


Levis 501 Denim Jeans, designed in 1857.


American Airlines logo, designed by Vignelli Associates in 1957.

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