Wednesday, January 30, 2008 refresh


Monday, January 28, 2008

You think you need a logo but you really need a communication strategy.

An old friend of mine called me a few months ago and asked me to give him an estimated cost to design a logo for his companies new business. We worked together in the past and I've always liked helping him out but it was time that we moved beyond our old ways of doing business (like paying for my services in beer) so we formalized our business arrangement. Now when it came to working together he'd treat me like a hired consultant and I'd treat him like any of my other clients. When it came time for him to review my estimate he felt it was too expensive and included a few things that his business really didn't need. Needless to say he decided to take a less expensive route. 

Fast forward to a few days ago when the same friend called me for some help. He was less than trilled with the logo work he was getting and didn't know how to move ahead. He was asking me for advice on design ideas, tag lines, colors, typefaces and everything else in regards to launching this new image for his business. I was more than happy to review the work and give him some feedback to help him out. 

My point to all of this is that many business owners (or those managing the identity work) typically don't know what to ask themselves before they enter this (corporate identity) design process. There is usually no design or communication strategy because many business owners just think they need a logo and everything will fall into place. But once they get into the process it reveals a host of other issues and opportunities that they need to plan for to stay on strategy, to save time and money over the long run.

So this entry is a (short and incomplete) list of some very basic questions someone should consider before they hire someone for a logo or identity assignment. 

1) What are the communication and design objectives?
As good starting point is to simply document the objectives on paper so the designer has something concrete to respond to.  This should help open a dialouge and set some basic expectations around the assignment. This can be an informal document but some of the language and ideas may find their way into a formal RFP or other agreement.

2) Do I need to hire a pair of hands to execute an idea or do I need a creative partner to help guide my business (or brand) into new territory? 
Sometimes an identity project is more of a philosophical and exploratory process than just a graphic exercise. Sometimes it's as simple as just cleaning up or streamlining an existing logo. In either case a change is happening because there's a philosophical shift within the company. It's important to hire someone who has a proven process that can accommodate this transition for your business.

3) What other problems (and opportunities) will a new identity create? 
Depending where you are at in your business a new identity should mean more than just "swapping out" the old with the new. Think beyond the logo itself and begin to map out how your business will transition to the new identity. Your designer can help in this process with a design audit and a communications strategy recommendation.

4) How does designer A work versus designer B?
A designers portfolio doesn't tell you everything you need to know about how they work. Ask designers about their approach and process when it comes to identity work. Try to get an understanding of how they really work, how they problem solve and if that is a good fit for what you are trying to accomplish.

5) What types of asset will be provided to me?
This is more of a technical point but in your agreement make sure that you spell out exactly what your designer will be suppling you with at completion of this project. You'll probably need at least one 4 color process vector file for print materials and one screen resolution file for digital communications.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Studio Jam >> Chicago Tribune Redesign

The Chicago Tribune recently evolved its Page One nameplate following the industry trend. From a design perspective this is a step in the right direction.

But this is less about redesigning a newspaper and more about information design. Newspapers have lost their edge and newspaper publisher have been forced to look at their product differently to compete in a more complex environment. It doesn't matter if you're a publishing a newspaper, a website or an annual report it's all about presenting large quantities of information in an effective and interesting way so the message/content has an opportunity to connect with your audience.

No matter the medium today the content has to be free and dynamic. For the Tribune that meant getting rid of the blue band across the top. Although many would argue that the blue band was a visual hallmark for the paper it was an element that visually competed with the content below. Its time had past and it was a wise decision to move beyond that solution. Not only does it free up the design of the front page it becomes easier to compliment the look of the Tribune's online format. There are some other minor refinements to the mast head that allow for a cleaner presentation as well.

But to see the real design story at the Tribune you need to look across all of their publications. Quietly over the last year or so most of their newspapers, websites and broadcast outlets have been going through design upgrades. For me it has been interesting to see a design strategy in progress. They are doing a nice job of segmenting their customers, refining their products and developing new markets. But if you look close enough you can see what they are really doing which is combining graphic design and technology to develop an integrated content infrastructure across their business. That’s the real advantage of using design strategically.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Draw something everyday

I'm trying to live up to my mission by drawing something everyday. This is a quick sketch idea for an identity (about this blog). It still needs a lot of work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Crash Course

Doritos is in the middle of their Crash the Super Bowl promotion and to date I think they're one of the only brands that I've seen building a fully interactive promotion for the game. Even though the idea is an online rip off of American Idol at least Doritos is doing something that has the potential to live beyond the 30 second spot. 

I hope Doritos can follow through with on this promotion with some authentic real rock and roll spirit. Something with an edge, a little spontaneity and maybe even a little dangerous. But I won't hold my Doritos breath.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Responsible Design

I'm probably breaking a few copyright laws by scanning this article right out of Timeout Chicago but this article needs to be shared. Typically I enjoy seeing design work where a designers individual voice is expressed but there are times where the designer needs to be unselfish and socially responsible. 

I really admire designers who can work anonymously and deliver solutions that really do communicate clearly and authoritatively. Sometimes it looks so obvious but it rarely is.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One of the great ideas in 2008.

Spam 365 is an interactive project that I hope the world become involved with over the course of 2008. It's important on many levels. Not only will it be a great distraction from the real work I need to accomplish during the day it's documenting something that is socially relevant. Forget global warming, the war and rising oil prices we need to have a better understanding of this phenomenon so we can elevate the quality of life in this country and enrich the human experience throughout the world. 

Here are a few key dates that I am looking forward to in 2008. 
• June 30th. The half life celebration.
• August 1-3. Forget Lollapalooza I'm celebrating Spam-Jam 08.
• December 2008. The final days of Spam 08.

In 2009 I am looking forward to these products to be released:
- Spam365 Flip Book
- Spam365 The Documentary (with time lapse and directors cut)
- Spam365 Celebrity Tour
- Commemorative Knife and Fork
- Spam-Jam 2009
- iSpam widget cam
- Spam appearance on Inaugural Day 2009
- Construction begins at the Spam Museum for the 365 Project

On a serious note the real reason I love this idea is that Spam is one of the few brands that people have real fun with (and the stuff in the can really doesn't matter anymore). It has a life of its own. Even if Hormel never sold a can of meat again they still have this cult relevance in society. The trick now is to turn that relevance into sales. As we speak Spam/Hormel is launching a new ad campaign so it will be interesting to track the success of that initiative as well the progress on Spam365. 

Check out Spam365 at:
It's brilliant.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some ideas that inspired me in 2007

Unlocking the globes potential

Rethinking an industry

Pushing mass customization

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whatever happened to

Does anyone remember this site? This was really funny when it was being produced. It would be great to see the Editor back at work.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How do you measure creative innovation?

I've been looking for a way to measure creative innovation. This is the best example I've seen to date. If you have another method please post it here. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

This is something I saw pinned to the wall in a co-workers office a few years ago. I think it's a good reminder of what it is we really should be doing more of. 
• Read something everyday
• Write something everyday
• Draw something everyday
(This doesn't count) 

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's a new year but you knew that already.

About 1 blog is being created every 1.4 seconds so what's the purpose of creating this one? Does the world really need another blog? I'm not sure if the world does but I do. The purpose of this entry is to set some ground rules for this blog. The main objective is to document creative inspirations, observations and other related ideas that impact me (and possibly you) throughout 2008 so that I can be more aware of my own instincts, process and overall thinking. 

I plan on posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There may be some additional posts along the way as ideas come up as well as some guest contributors. 

See you Wednesday.