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Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category


A Cautionary Tale

February 13, 2013

I am writing this to all small business owners who are looking have a website built for their businesses for the first time. Regardless of how computer/internet illiterate you think you are please, do not work with a web designer or company that insists on buying your domain name and/or hosting for you. The person or company may be great at what they do, they may produce amazing work, they may even be nice people, but if they want to purchase your domain name and hosting for you they are bordering on what I consider unethical. Now obviously there are exceptions to this, but as a rule of thumb you should not have your designer also host your website and you should NEVER let anyone else own your domain name. A good designer can walk you through this process (perhaps for a small fee), and should want you to own...

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Orphan Initialism

January 22, 2013

It is an extremely technical sounding set of words. But simply put, Orphan Initialism is when a company takes an acronym by which they are known that USED to stand for something and drops the actual meaning of the words so that their brand BECOMES the acronym. Below is a list of some of the most well know of the Orphan Initialized:1 AAA: Formerly the American Automobile Association. AARP: Formerly the American Association of Retired Persons. ACT Assessment: Formerly the American College Test. AT&T: Formerly American Telephone & Telegraph Co. FFA: Formerly Future Farmers of America. KFC: Formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken. SAT: Formerly Scholastic Assessment Test, and before that, Scholastic Aptitude Test. Initialism can be done for a variety of reasons and in most cases these Initialisms are long overdue and have been the company's de facto brand for long before the company officially adopts it. In the case of...

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A Stroke of Genius

October 24, 2012

I find this type of advertising refreshing. It is clever, honest and well done. What am I talking about? Its Playboy's latest ad campaign, titled "Pleasure in Your Hands". It is simple, so simple that anyone could have thought of it. But to have the guts to do it…that is something that not many people could have done. The audacity, even more so than the design, is what I admire the most about this campaign. Playboy is far from what has become "mainstream" pornography, yet it is still pornography; to embrace a well known yet rarely acknowledged application of said pornography is something with which our culture tends to have a problem. At least in public. I have no doubt that the men that have seen these ads have quickly sent links to all of their friends and had a great laugh, as well as perhaps a reminiscing to their...

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Framing the Issue

January 20, 2010

Seth Godin recently wrote about Scott McCloud’s book on comics as it relates to marketing. As a huge fan of comics i just couldn’t let the opportunity pass without adding my two cents. Godin’s focus is a take on McCloud’s thesis that much of the action takes place “between the frames” and how that relates to marketing. I would agree that marketing is the action that takes place between the frames, but i believe Godin glosses over the importance of the frames themselves when he says “It’s the in-between frame stuff that matters. And yet marketers spend 103% of our time on the frames”. The action that takes place between the frames COULD NOT EXIST without the frames themselves, and without the ability to extrapolate what happens between the frames there is no context to what we do. Both elements live in symbiosis with one another, and while we have...

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The Empire’s New Clothes

December 6, 2009

July 1st marked the beginning of Levis new campaign “Go Forth” which places a huge emphasis on American Exceptionalism, our fight for independence and manifest destiny. They have invited us to take part in the campaign, the illusion they have created (and make no mistake it is an illusion). They have declared us "generation denim"… The design is rough (intentionally) with lots of hand written text and it spans the gamut from print to web to video. It follows all the new dictums of branding, touch everyone everywhere. Technically, with few exceptions, the campaign is astonishing. It is visually beautiful, inspirational, and conceptually rich. Levi’s (or more aptly their agency Wieden + Kennedy) has co-opted the voice of Walt Whitman to tell us that we are pioneers (if we wear Levis). The design strikes an emotional chord. It is not an appeal to rationalism, it is an attempt to link...

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K Street Revival

November 12, 2009

You can’t say ‘restaurant’ in Sacramento without saying Paragary’s. The two have gone hand in hand for longer than I have been alive, and Paragary’s Restaurant Group (PRG) latest foray into the restaurant business is simply swinging! I am not talking about the food, Paragary’s seldom misses on that mark, what I am talking about is the identity. The logo. Paragary’s has created a modern day “Rat Pack” feel right in the heart of Sacramento. Bottom line, Cosmo is cool! Without even setting a foot through its doors I already have a solid feeling of what kind of place it is. It is hip, swingin’, and a place that respects history, and I am guessing a place with one hell of a martini. The modern twist on the retro look and feel tells me I am in for a treat! But what is it that makes Cosmo so cool? The...

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STORI-Book Design

October 15, 2009

Recently I stumbled across a series of ads produced in 2006 for a men’s clothing company by the name of Stori. I have to admit that the first thing that caught my eye was an image of Spiderman getting dressed, but upon further inspection I noticed a few other things that I thought made these ads worthy of the awards they won.     What is it about these images that are so striking? Why do we remember them forever once we see them? One word. Contrast. The studio has created a number of layers of contrast and used each one to add to the perception of the product. CONTRAST 1 – Color For the most part these ads are very neutral in their color palette. The two page spreads ads are very monochromatic, using greys whites and beiges to create a very restful place for the eye. Then we...

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Socially Transmitted Design

September 17, 2009

Identities get redesigned, that is just the nature of design evolution. A company starts with and an identity and five, ten, fifteen years later the company has evolved. Their mission, their audience, their culture is different. Their original identity no longer reflects where they are, let alone where they want to be. Naturally the thing to do is to redesign the identity. And when an identity is redesigned a host of things will come into play. From competitor logos to what is “expected” from your field in terms of color, form, image, symbol, even type. Audience must come into play as well. Who will see this? What impression would you like them to take away from it? Where will they see it? All of this is in some part determined when the redesign is done, and what is going on in the culture at that time. Logos always seem to...

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Speak Without Words

August 11, 2009

That is what design is all about. How does one communicate a feeling, a thought, an idea to a wide range of people who have different experiences, different understanding, different points of view purely through a visual representation? And what happens when that idea becomes more and more complex? Take wine for example, it is complex, it has all manner of classification and variety, each with a surprising number of subtle nuances. How would one explain wine, a topic of much interest here at Merlot, to a relative novice? This is how. This information map was crated by Carl Tashian of NYU in order to explain the complexities and characteristics of various wines. It is an exceptional piece of design, explaining a hugely complex subject with a fair amount of organization, ingenuity and a system that allows for quick assimilation of the information required for understanding of the complexity that...

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