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I’m searching for ‘green’ today. Let it pour like a visual remedy! I started the hunt this morning looking through photos of a recent journey to Spain, and by the end of the day I’ll eat all sorts of green things in a salad. The psychological effects of color can have great benefits, better than most meds. The 4 psychological primary colors are red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, mind, the emotions and the balance between these three. For me today it’s the need of green.
Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the center of the spectrum, it’s the color of balance—a more important concept than many people realize. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Green shows us harmony, rest, peace, refreshment and love. But I want to give it to you straight… negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used can perceived as being too bland. Make your greens grow and you’ll be fine.
The spritzer bottle just makes me giggle, I have a passion for green plastic, and the chocolate wrapped in green makes me think of the evergreen cocoa tree, very exotic and dark. I have a new favorite artist who uses lots of it too, Matt Magee.
At the beginning of projects we ask our clients all sorts of questions. It’s the way we learn the design objectives and the heartbeat of the project—whether it’s a book, an interpretive panel for a zoo, a tourism exhibit, or packaging for tea.
There’s generally a pretty close parallel between the commercial “purpose” of a product and the goals our client articulate for its design. A tea importer, for example, wants their tea packages to be evocative; a travel tour company promoting Rome will likely want to showcase the attractions of the Eternal City. But sometimes, there are surprises—and they’re frisky and fun.
“Fun” is a particularly difficult concept to define. And one that has an arguable association with safety. Sometime things we think of as fun don’t always keep us safe. What’s fun for one person may be fear-inducing for another. But none of these caveats came into play (pardon the pun) because our ultimate client, in this case, wasn’t a person.
It’s a dog.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s sat at a stop light and cringed, watching the dog hanging halfway out the window of the SUV. Probably “fun” for the dog, but safe? It was this relationship of fun and safety that inspired the invention of BreezeGuard® car window screens. Custom-made, designed to keep pets safely inside your car while allowing in cool breezes—especially important on warm days. In our initial conversations with BreezeGuard® owner and inventor Sue Stipanovich, she noted, “Safety is definitely the #1 priority, but folks who use my product get to travel with their fine, furry friends and have fun!”
How do designers have fun? Make new worlds, design our own t-shirts, promote favorite causes… or perhaps go back to our typographic roots and create word pictures. We were instructed to do such things in design school. We learned about the type masters, from Giambattista Bodoni to Matthew Carter. We would get assignments to dissect and create typographic illusions. Our goal was to embody the fonts and be possessed by them. We were awed by each type font’s unique superhero powers.
Being empowered by typography, communication is enhanced and unique messages are possible. A logo and brand can become a beacon and almost nothing has to be said to fully understand its meaning.
And look, we’re still up to it today… going to the type-gym for our workouts. With these four illuminated screen-shots we’re using one font and turning it every which way. In this case we’re indebted to the font Bebas Neue created by Ryoichi Tsunekawa.
A branding program strives to tell one core story and Island Grown in the San Juan Islands grows out of an island community’s resolve to recognize and preserve its agricultural heritage and future. This luscious pear sailing off in a seafaring dingy inspires, creates interest, and visually explains the program’s primary mission. Plus, it puts a smile on your face. Communications is key element to Island Grown’s success and its logo provides an important synergy, quickly bringing together farmers, restaurateurs, businesses, island residents and visitors.
Graphics guidelines, multi-tier promotions, signage and collateral communications bloom for Sunrise Village, an outdoor retail shopping village nestled in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, just south of Seattle. The pages shown above are from the Sunrise Village Branding Guidelines and Standards, and explains the origins of the visual logo and how it relates to the demographics of the surrounding communities as well as illustrating a sense of how the program will inhabit the environment. Partners in Design collaborated with Tarragon Inc on the Sunrise Village project.
For any emergency management agency, communication is an invaluable tool. But in the mix of ubiquitous public and commercial clattering, its messaging needs to be clear, quick, appealing and instructive to be effective or the cost will be lives lost. Who is responsible for making this happen? In more and more communities an autonomous department provides this vital link and Partners in Design was excited to be part of this important effort by the San Juan County Department of Emergency Management. These particular graphics speak broadly to an isolated island-vulnerable community in Northwest Washington and our challenge was to fuse words and graphics together into a meaningful and high-performance dialogue.
Integration and unity are key factors when developing a strong visual identity program. The primary branding logo for the Bellevue Botanical Garden determined the visual style for all subsequent Garden interpretives and related signage: from entrance kiosk, garden trail markers, print, and even the Garden’s web site graphics. The logo features the Trillium, a species native to Northwest gardens and a symbol for sustainable gardening practices. The shape of the logo were further developed into a series of icons for each garden (shown below).
Greensboro Historical Museum serves up rich history daily. Local people making extraordinary connections at the Greensboro Historical Museum are introduced to Greensboro’s native sons and daughters and shown how their ancestors contributed great things in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Partners in Design’s approach brought historical artifacts and history into contemporary relevance by bridging the span with bold typography, and using icons and color that would reflect and complement the historical symbols of this well-loved museum. Building banners and dynamic grid graphics targeted students, researchers and families to study and learn about events in colonial Guilford County including the Civil War, the roots of the Civil Rights Movement, and the rise of textile manufacturing in the South.
NatureMed Essential is a natural health store that promotes naturopathic and herbal remedies. The program’s branding and packaging finds its inspiration in the forms and forces of nature, and Partners in Design has supported these health key concepts with visual links. A primary objective was to visually place NatureMed Essentials uniquely in a field poised for explosive growth. The NatureMed program includes a store design and outlook highlighted by a custom-designed computer information system, a Health Elixir bar, and 8 departments of private label supplements and herbal preparations, including Spa Therapy, Weight Management, Immunity, Anti-Aging, Baseline Screening and a Kids Health Club.
Last week the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that after 42 years it would no longer be issuing its candy-colored metal buttons as proof of paid admission, replacing them instead with paper tickets. As with many things in life, with that decision came the sudden realization of how much something would be missed once it has been taken away.
While living in New York City for over 15 years, I have many memories of finding those little metal buttons everywhere. The little icons were such a ubiquitous part of NYC life. Yet who knew the colors actually had names? It was always a pleasant surprise when visiting the Met to see what the day’s button color would be, and a fun decision determining its placement. Depending on what you were wearing, it might look best on the collar, the strap of a handbag, a pocket edge, or even affixed to the cover of the book you were carrying. A default location was always calling on a buttonhole to do double duty. And a day’s visit would inevitably include the distinctive pinging sound of someone’s button falling to the marble floor.
In theory, you were asked to deposit your buttons in a clear plastic receptacle when exiting the museum but I didn’t know anyone who did. Either you simply forgot or you were prescient enough to think about amassing a full collection, either for the nefarious reason of a future paid admission or simply because they were beautiful little objects. Days later, while doing laundry you would inevitably find one of the little guys still affixed to a collar or pocket. And I’m certain I’m not the only person who, more than once, while waiting for a street light or a subway, noticed a glint of recognizable color near my feet, miles and boroughs away from Fifth Avenue & East 89th Street.
After finding a full set going for a starting bid of $200 on eBay, I spent an hour today searching through old storage boxes in my closets hoping to find just even one. I found two! One inside a jumbled box of little-used jewelry and trinkets and another tucked inside the empty matchbox from Lisanne one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants which closed in 1989.
My buttons’ colors are Joker and Positano.
Some companies and organizations pride themselves with the successful longevity of their branding. A good brand indicates stability and confidence. But when does this all go sour? Case in point, may the Sherwin Williams Paint emblem depicting our mother earth being douched with petroleum-based paint be out of date? What a toxic clean up… it would put BP to shame.
Your brand can define the basis of your corporate and institutional culture, your philosophy, origins and strengths. When Partners in Design was creating a new brand for a nutritional school program in Washington State we knew that the public’s view of school meal programs was dismal. International food expert Jamie Oliver had just pronounced that America was poisoning its children. Our response was go back to basics… the food groups, be honest, and put a good face to it… the food icons are smarties and laughing (see below).
What rebranding does for your company internally is a watershed of benefits in itself. A great amount of self-discovery happens in the process of identity-finding. Rebranding pinpoints who you really are, what you stand for, and understanding your business culture. It also observes whether people see you, as you want to be seen. If there’s disparity, you need to change your brand to better target your market.
If your well-established brand still resonates with current and prospective customers, don’t change for the sake of it, or because it might help generate more sales. Don’t tinker with your brand of relevance for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Partners in Design has helped rebrand and create original brands for neighborhoods, retail villages, school districts, all sorts of services and widgets, so we have a few tips about when is a good time to rebrand, and how to look for the best branding team, process and implementation.
A brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our institutional image, our marketing materials, and when they decide to interact with us. Now if you look at the example of Sherwin Williams perhaps this paint company should ask how their audience emotionally feels about this graphic… nostalgia or environmental global fear.
4 Good Reasons to Rebrand
You Need to Reposition The most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. If your goals, products and positioning have changed, rebranding will send a clear message. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers don’t understand you.
Brand Confusion and Brand Promise Disappointment If people don’t recall your brand, or confuse you with your competition… you are then losing money and influence. Your identity should be unique and memorable. You may see your brand as representing you well and working, but how does the customer see it? Is this a shared perception? Not being on the same page may be economically disastrous.
Your Brand is Outdated Look at our example of the eager paint seller who sadly wants to encase the world in oil. A 50s perspective probably doesn’t work today. Engage in research to determine your brand’s relevancy. If your product range or services change significantly, ensure your existing brand matches the new reality. The same applies if you are targeting a new market — is your brand still effective in the new environment? A new brand that reflects this change would give your profile a massive boost.
Your Market Position has Shifted Many businesses still have the same brand as when their company started… is it still relevant? If it was done in a rush and on a budget, it may no longer represent your business. Markets change constantly, as do customer expectations, so brands can become outdated. Another good time to give your brand image a kick in the pants is during an economic downturn when competitors are tightening purse strings and the industry is talking doom and gloom. Rebranding at this time shows you are alive and kicking, and, more importantly, optimistic about the future.
So this is the topic of this blog spot… the ever-expanding… ever-bulging… or pure absence of design in our world. It’s a subject of rags or riches. Or is it? All lies! If humans have been around long enough, design is there. It’s there and it’s wonderful to see and figure out and talk about endlessly. As designers, we’ve done our share of making design a little easier to understand, to convey a message of importance, or folly… in the end to make a good impression. These days, hopefully with a lot less waste, but not any less fancy.
We thought it might be interesting to pull out a little design sandpaper and start scratching the surface of the myriad of things we’ve been looking at, eating, spending time doing, reading, listening. We unabashedly love design and have utopian thoughts about all of it. You’re invited to challenge or take-away a few things we’ve learned and add your own perspective. Design is the skin over just about everything… so very few things are off-topic here.