Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Coca Cola - The Company

I can understand to rebrand a parent company you must remember where it came from. I appreciate the effort to marry the script with a modern typeface, but I do not think the results are as successful as they could have been. The tagline typeface does not serve as a companion, but more of a nuisance. It speaks more to the streamlined look of the formerly macromedia.

As far as making every drop count, the drops are too tight and far too close to the script. The relationship between the drops and wordmark does not sit well, and even though the drop graphic is reminiscent of a variety of unrelated brands such as the new Quarkxpress logo, it does have potential and could have been executed with more attention to proximity and orientation.

In terms of the brand extension and the website, albeit very entertaining with the animation, this is where the technical elements really come into play. For a site that seems to be put together well, the complete disregard for rationality is unsettling. The phrases, ‘Get Smarter, Get Refreshed, Get Active’ coupled with The Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness page, which sports a debacle of the Coca Cola logo, seem to be informational at first. Yet, when the following was featured on the main page under ‘Get Smarter’ and I quote, ‘Yes coffee and soda are two ways to help you stay hydrated’, all credibility is lost. Coca Cola, best known for its sugar infused products, should stick to what they know.


Only gamble what you can afford to loose

(Image from News 14 Carolina)

You are starting a major undertaking, like, say, a state wide lottery to benefit education. You hire a full service ad agency, but decide your staff can design the logo themselves, rather then using the educated professional you hired.

After all, anyone can design a logo right? It's just a little picture and some text. Look at Nike's logo, any ten year old kid could make that.

Well, the North Carolina lottery commission has learned their lesson the hard way. When their logo was unveiled:

"A roomful of people at the lottery commission meeting stared, for the most part, in puzzled silence. They studied the boxy blue and green figure, billed as the symbol of the state's games. It would be on posters. Billboards. Tickets." (from The News And Observer)

A lottery commissioner and the chairman both wondered why they used a plant in the logo.
A trade mark check forced them to pull it, twelve hours after it was released. It turned out it was clipart, so their were insurmountable copyright and trademark problems.

Not only that, but there are serious usability problems. Imagine what it will look like faxed, or teeny-tiny on a business card. The green is barely legible against the blue as it is. I also wonder whether this effort to raise money for education minds that it would be shelling out for four-colour printing every single time it reproduces it's logo. An I won't even mention the subject matter.

You'd think the lesson here is, if you are designing a logo, don't use clip art. I think it's if you use an amateur, you'll get plants instead of fireworks, or worse.

Having an amateur create your logo is much like playing the lottery. Sometimes you win, but your chances of getting hit by lightening are higher than of getting a decent logo.


Fighting the Fight

When should we be standing up for good design and where do you draw the line on work that should be presented? Internally, there are several levels of approval, as well as the numerous committee heads, and meetings, that work will inevitably be subjected to. How does one act on behalf of one’s work in and of its own right, and ‘sell’ it to its audience. Should we be forced to sell our ideas, or does the work not speak for itself? Unfortunately, there will always be disagreement and if you have been hired for your expertise, that should be taken into account. At what point do we say that something is not correct regardless of what the other party has in mind? How do you gauge ‘correctness?’ Perhaps in the end, that is the only way to stay in the game, and on top of your game. Compromising your work is a difficult habit to break.

On the other hand, what does it mean to compromise your work? Do we let certain things slide because we know that is what has been asked of us? Can we really protest ‘bad design,’ if it solves the problem, gets the message across? If that is what the ultimate goal is for any design, for it to be used, consumed, and/or understood, then can we really say it is bad? Any design that completes its task, no matter how ephemeral, serves its purpose. I suppose the question is to fight or not to fight? The answer lies in the intention of the individual piece. For this we look to the pizza flyer.


Good-night Moon, A Global Rebrand:

Global television has joined the ranks of the newly rebranded. The previous logo was a bland and unbalanced swoosh (see left image). Swooshes are so easy to create, and so prevalent, I have to wonder why this problematic design made it past the reviewing process. When Global began to branch out into divisions, the original logo created even more problems. They decided to simply add any secondary identifying text to the end of the name (see old and new examples here), amplifying the unbalanced logo even more.

So, hurrah to the decision to rebrand. However the redesign isn't brilliant, nor complete. Same colours, same fonts, different icon and placement. I have the feeling there was some strict guidelines placed on the designers. They probably also had a number of people at the corporation involved in the approval process. Usually, the more people involved in the approval, the worse the result. But this result is at least an improvement on the earlier version.

Walter Levitt, SVP of marketing for television and radio at CanWest (Global's parent company,) had this to say about the new design:

the creative inspiration for the new logo came from the 'greater than' mathematical symbol, representing the company's goal to provide viewers with "greater insight, greater perspective and greater understanding."

Arrow moving forward, greater than symbol, two sides of a 3-D box, see what you will. It's better then the earlier version, but I say global has effectively boxed themselves in by not giving greater freedom to the designers.