December 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
Russian photographer Andrew Osokin takes ridiculously close up photos of snowflakes. Snowflakes as sculpture, that’s what it is. Beautiful! Via This is Colossal. You know, I love paper, and print, and the internet…but really, nothing trumps nature when it comes to design. And this week, especially, we could all use a little inspired beauty, don’t you think?
December 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’ve been neglecting my caffeinated friends lately. They stayed with me during my coffee | served daily adventure and continue to check in and send me photos of their fabulous cups. I kind of miss the days when all I had to do was muster up a cup of coffee, though I love mustering up all kind of other trouble. So here we go, coffee with friends.
Sally Mitchell, Cornwall, UK.
Tonya Russ Price, Charlotte, NC.
Brendan Albano, Chicago, IL I believe this was taken in Eugene, OR.
Kate Barbaria (my daughter!), Chicago, IL . Coffee in Eugene OR and Davis CA. In fact, I think I recognize my kitchen counter. She’s a sly and stealthy one, that Kate.
Brenda Gaumer, Brea CA. My favorite aunt and world traveler (along with Uncle Bob). Turkish tea ceremony, overlooking the Black Sea.
And my own coffees, at Temple Coffee in Sacramento, CA.
December 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’m sharing a piece I wrote on the studio website blog about branding and opinion, and what happens when everyone on the planet thinks their opinion matters. Which it does. And doesn’t. But regarding this particular branding kerfuffle, I think the conversation is worth paying attention to. What do you think?
Whose Brand Is Is Anyway?
I live in a town built around the University of California Davis. I care about design. I have a daughter who, as a freshman at Oregon State University, is now forever branded as part of the Beaver Nation. And by association, so am I (and believe me, I have spent the last year reconciling that fun fact). So I took notice when the University of California’s new logo was introduced, and the subsequent branding kerfuffle. Heck, it’s a full on brand brawl.
This isn’t good. And I am not talking about the logo. That’s good enough. I don’t love it, and I don’t hate it. There are some clever thoughts behind the system, and I can see how it will be useful (check out this video, it’s kind of cool). However, at least 50,000 people, who probably aren’t privy to the design brief, have been having a social media bash-a-thon over the logo on Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t seen any comments that related to the strategy or the design brief. I was shocked when I saw Gavin Newsom’s tweet, and then wondered why our Lt. Governor even had time to comment. And for full disclosure, I made a few snarky Facebook comments myself…though I blame the late night wine for my lack of discretion.
What is good, is that this many people feel like they already own the UC brand. They feel connected, or at least connected enough, to comment. This could be just mob mentality that will be forgotten in a few weeks. Or it could mean that the millions of people who have been educated or associated to the UC system have a lasting relationship with their experience and the articulation of the brand. I don’t know if this is authentic and active connection, and I suspect it won’t result in increased alumni donations. But I do believe, this is about perceived ownership and change rather than quality design. The new logo could have been anything, and it would be bashed. How interesting that a university, which represents learning, inspiration and change, is being attacked for…change.
I’ve read that there was an 11-person team on this three-year project. I have to believe that they knew what they were doing. That there is strategy and smart thinking and millions of details that we aren’t privy to. Design isn’t just an end product, it’s an evolving process that requires vision, thoughtful consideration, and inclusion. I don’t know who was engaged in focus group testing, but there must have been enough confidence in this program to move forward. I’ve long been a proponent of process as an integral part of successful design.
I’m all for engaging folks in design. But not everyone gets to have an opinion. Just the folks with a vision, commitment and responsibility for the project. If 50,000 folks get to vote on design, it’s the same as crowdsourcing. And we will end up with pretty mediocre stuff that incites no passion, energy or conversation.
Unless you’ve been under a rock (or haven’t been checking Facebook), here’s the background. The UC System has been using this new brand device since the summer. It’s a flexible system that is intended (from what I can tell) to add some spark and life into the marketing materials and align all of the UCs and their affiliates (like the medical centers). Somewhere along the way, someone thought the new system is replacing the 100-year old UC seal, which it’s not. Social media chaos ensues. The mainstream media joins in. Everyone is a design expert (which isn’t a new problem for us, is it?).
It’s actually replacing this:
And the materials it will influence could look like this:
(Images from brandnew)
There are two really excellent articles on this, and if you care about branding, change, ownership and process, I encourage you to read both of them: It’s Not About The Logo, by Christopher Simmons at California Collage of the Arts and Armin Vit’s insightful post on Underconsideration.
If you’re still reading, check out this brilliant letter from Armin to the UC Regent’s office. And if you’re looking for a great designer gotcha (because who doesn’t love a good gotcha?) check out his note below his signature.
University of California, The Regents Office
Jason Simon, Director, Marketing Communications of the University of California
You have hired a group of designers to do a job. You interviewed and vetted them. You gave them the go-ahead to embark on a redesign from within. (You can’t imagine how angrier the backlash would have been had you hired an outside branding firm and paid them money). You saw the work evolve and slowly enter the visual landscape of your university system. This is a decent logo deployed through an attractive and smart identity system. Trust me. I literally see hundreds of identities each year. I know shit when I see it. I know gold when I see it. This is neither. This is simply good, solid work that will require time to implement and to be accepted as part of the visual vocabulary of your communication. Also trust me when I say this: In six months time no one, and I mean no one, not even Mr. Reaz Rahman, starter of the petition, will remember what all the fuss was about. Trust the decisions you have made. Don’t succumb to the mob. They do not — DO NOT — know better than you. If you are asking yourself, “But 50,000 people can’t all be wrong.” Read their comments, not a single person has identified what makes the seal so effective or proven how the new logo will bring the school to ashes. And keep in mind your overall constituency of “220,000 students and more than 170,000 faculty and staff, with more than 1.5 million alumni” — 50,000 is only a fraction.
Someone who would hate to see a decent logo die because someone didn’t like the way it looked. Funny story: You know what Nike founder Phil Knight said when he was presented (and proceeded to select) the swoosh logo? “I don’t love it. But it will grow on me.” Give the logo a chance and make good institutional decisions and put out great students who are proud of where they earned their degree. THAT’S what will define if your logo is good or not.
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Michael Paukner is a freelance designer in Vienna, Austria who sees, and draws, the bigger picture. All of his work is intriguing, but some of it stops me in my tracks. He made me look twice, which I guess is the point. Check his work out here.
December 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment