Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colman's Mustard and Penguin Books

Every year, corporate logos and their applications are changed, revised and completely redesigned. Sometimes, these changes are necessary and welcome to the consumer. They can also present a rude awakening that make you wonder why it was ever decided that they should be changed.

As a consumer and a designer, I can see both sides. I enjoy seeing the design world always changing and developing. I also hate when brands I recognize change just when I was starting to recognize them without effort.

Two brands that have a recognizable logo and style but have not made major changes for the consumer are Colman's Mustard and Penguin Books. Both also have beautiful packaging.

I love the details and bold colors used on the tin package. The typography and illustrations are also amazing! They are very decorative and yet this package stands out as being very simple and classic when comparing it to others on the shelf. The design was added to the bottles and tins in 1855 and it has remained the same ever since.

Penguin Books is a publisher founded in 1935. The logo has undergone some minor changes over the years, but without completely confusing the consumer. The orange has remained and the publisher has always had a host of great designers, turning out some amazing covers.

There is even a great book called "Penguin by Design: A Cover Story, 1935-2005." It features some of the amazing book covers over the years.

Logos and identity systems will inevitably change as the world around them changes. As a designer, it is a great lesson to keep in mind. How do you create a design that is classic and can withstand minimal changes? Is something modern or traditional the best approach for longevity? There is no right answer for these questions. Look around and appreciate the identities that have remained the same for the most part. Why are they successful?

Beer Bottles

A couple of Christmas celebrations ago, I created a special gift for my older brother. Inspired by a project from work, I hunted down and packed a wooden crate with beers from around the world. Each one was chosen based on its original location and its interesting packaging. It was called, "Mark travels around the world in 20 beers." Needless to say, it was a big hit! All of the beers were found at the great Surdyk's Liquor in Northeast Minneapolis. It was such a fun experience to go through all of the bottles and choose the most interesting and tasty.

After that experience, I became even more aware of the amazing packaging out there for beer bottles. I began to compile images of some of my favorites and wanted to share them here. Of course, the packaging does not always make the beer. Some of the best beers do not have the best designed bottles and visa versa. As a designer, I am biased towards what looks good, but for someone like my brother, the taste of the beer is what is worth buying.

Creative gift ideas can sometimes provide the best ideas for other creative inspiration that you can use in your design work later.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Design in Black and White

Often when I am teaching students, I have them work on a design in only black and white. This is mostly based on my belief that this technique helps you focus on your typography, layout and concept without relying on color tricks to help you distract the eye. It is also because it is amazing what beautiful results you can create with this simple combination.

Black and white emphasizes the negative space and the sharp edges of shape and form. I think it is a technique that designers often overlook as a potential solution to some design problems. It really can create more opportunities than may be obvious at first. I have attached some samples of designs I have found in black and white. They are inspiring and just as amazing as color examples. In some cases, they are more powerful, especially in packaging, where black and white is rare.

Typography is especially strong in black and white. It helps emphasize all the details and negative space in between.

Because black and white is so rarely seen in design, it can be hard to approach your own designs that way. If time permits and the brand will allow it, at least for initial concepts, I try and start some of my designs in black and white. I have always felt that if the layout is strong without color, than color can be used for branding purposes and details. I have attached some of my designs that I began in black and white before adding color.

Coca-Cola Company concept anniversary card

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept poster

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept awards album spread

Coca-Cola Enterprises concept banner

Qwest concept poster

I almost always start logos this way as well from practical purposes (possible faxing, copying, etc.) Some stay black and white because of their strength without color.

iRoam logo concept

MillerCoors Beer Garden logo concept

Black and white in graphic design can be an amazing exercise and can offer potential opportunities for unique marketing and visuals.