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Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

pepsi

So at this point, anyone who is a fan of Pepsi will have noticed the major overhaul that has been done. The old red white and blue “swash ball” logo with the sans serif block font has been replaced with a new, slimmed-down look with lower case thin lettering and a renovated swash on the ball. This change seemed to come out of nowhere to me, and I was surprised at first, and not really sure what I thought of the new look. 

Now, the more I see it, I’m thinking I agree with a lot of the commenters here. The new typeface is elegant, understated and clean; but the crooked white swash in the icon is really annoying. It’s not a smooth curve and one is left wondering what exactly that shape is meant to invoke. The old shape was a simple, even curve through a ball, but the new shape has a fat part and a thin part, and angles in such a way that one wonders if it’s supposed to be a sail, a ribbon, a road? Some have even compared it to a smirk, which is not a very positive association to make.

I discovered today on Pepsi’s website that the swash ball actually changes from can to can. Now that, to me, seems like a colossal branding mistake. Your icon is your image – why throw off your consumers by making it fluctuate? I think I see what they’re trying to do, by communicating “Pepsi Max” with a fatter swash and the low-cal options with a thinner swash. But the problem here is you probably wouldn’t notice the difference unless you were comparing the cans side-by-side, so they end up looking like they couldn’t decide between logo versions 1-4 during the design process and decided to just use them all. 

What do you think? Some have compared the icon to the Obama campaign logo or even Girl Scouts of America. Do you see any other similarities?

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Some less enthusiastic viewers of our new president’s transition into office have pointed out that “Change” isn’t a very unique platform – that most candidates from the opposing party of an incumbent throughout history have run on a similar platform just because they figure the people are tired of the old. Time will tell how well Obama will uphold the hopeful and uplifting message he’s delivered so far, but one major change has already taken place, and it’s an important one. 

The digital face of the White House got a makeover.

Gone is the texty static site from the Bush era. The new website features a brilliant, clean blue-on-white design with red accents, a classic but modern typeface, up-to-date photography and an inviting interface. There’s a blog, a flash interface with featured information, lots of video and a very nice site map right on the front page.

The new president seems to be emphasizing the point that one of the benefits of being a young president is that he understands digital communication. But I think what he’s also underlining is the importance of carefully planned design in that communication. Clean, beautiful design invites exploration. It draws you into the information which is served up in small bites, brevity is king, media is queen. 

I, for one, see this change in our government as one leading in the right direction.

new_gov

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I’m a huge fan of the Sony Bravia commercials that feature brightly colored randomness in public places (San Francisco bouncy balls, exploding paint barrels on old apartment buildings, claymation bunnies in downtown New York City). I’ve even reported on an apparently local effort for the same effect, colored string on a pyramid. But a good advertiser should know when it’s been “done” and move on to newer things.

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the case. A new TV spot goes back to the big “balls” success, now attempting to wow its audience with streets filled with soap foam. People play in the foam. They photograph the foam. They get hit in the face with foam. And overall, the spot comes across as a dry attempt to cash in on past success. 

It’s quite sad, really, but it’s a reminder to advertisers out there who are tempted to return to the same old ideas that worked before – a new idea only works when it’s new. Creativity doesn’t run out, people just get lazy. The last thing a client wants is an audience rolling its eyes and saying, “Next!”

Found on AdFreak.

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A few months back I discussed how men are being used in advertising as the ultimate fall guys. When comedy is needed and someone needs to look stupid, ultimately it’s the guy in the spot who has to act the part. Fathers and husbands especially are the clueless “Homer Simpson” types who can’t do the simplest task without being correctly by a patient and amused wife, or even the exasperated kids.

It seems that this view is beginning to gain steam in the advertising community, as demonstrated by an article found today on Advertising Age called Men Are Not Idiots. I say it’s about time. I’m all for comedy in advertising, and taking these messages with a grain of salt – but equal-opportunity bashing is called for here. When was the last time an ad was shown where the bumbling, clueless character was the cute-as-a-button little girl in pigtails?

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Dories

Found today on my favorite packaging design blog, a challenge to a student was to create a package for “sweet green mung bean durian cakes” that would appeal to the American consumer. In case you’re not familiar, a durian is an asian fruit that looks like a spiky avacado on the outside, with pods of yellow, pulpy, stringy flesh on the inside that smells strongly like a mixture of dog waste and rancid cream cheese. I’ve never gotten past the smell to actually taste the stuff, but apparently the flavor is quite lovely, like almond custard.

The “cakes” themselves are spirals of green and yellow hard gelatin, a bizarre kind of exotic treat. The original packaging appears to be something in which you’d expect a breast of chicken to be wrapped at the grocery store – styrofoam tray with clear plastic wrap and a sticker. The student designed new packaging for these treats and won a design competition. The result is a lovely, clean sleeve-and-box configuration that looks to me more like something I’d expect to buy at Bath & Body Works with decorative soaps or candles inside. Would it appeal to Americans? Would they buy the pretty packaging and discover this most overlooked exotic fruit?

My opinion, having experienced the fruit as well as the hard, oddly-textured “jello” stuff that the bean cakes are made out of, would be absolutely not. There may be a few brave souls who would give them a nibble or two, but when it comes to our treats, we don’t usually prefer the very unexpected. And I doubt that these “Dories” could have gotten rid of the smell, which brings us back to the very reason durians are still considered quite exotic and very much an acquired taste.

And what’s up with the “sweet green mung bean” thing? Mung is usually a word that means to destroy (Mash Until No Good). Green mung just sounds like something that has gone bad. All in all, a valiant and well-designed effort to dress up a product that won’t be going anywhere very soon.

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