Project K, a Korean Film Festival, has turned into a popular annual event at the Bockenheim campus at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Dubbed “Four Days in Seoul,” the festival is co-hosted by the Korean consul general of Frankfurt; KGN, an organization of second-generation Korean Germans, and the University’s Korean Studies Department. In addition to screening Korean box-office hits and experimental, shorts, animations and indie Korean films, the festival features activities that give students a chance to learn about Korean pop culture and traditions.
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When it came to designing a graphic identity for the city of Porto in Portugal, one visual symbol wasn’t enough. Porto-based design firm, White Studio, brainstormed what made Porto memorable and unique, and asked people on the street how they viewed the city. No two answers were alike. White Studio concluded, “We felt we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all of the cities that exist in this one territory….It became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.”
The designers also needed a way to create a single unified look that would serve as Porto’s one graphic identity. The answer came in the decorative blue ceramic tiles seen throughout the city for centuries. The line drawings and illustrations on the tiles depicted visual stories about Porto’s history, landmarks, and natural surroundings. That inspired White Studio to create 70 pictograms that represented Porto and its people. The pictograms were designed to fit on a grid that could be combined into a network of images or used individually. The logotype itself is a simple blue sans serif against a white background within a blue boxed border. The beauty of this visual system is that it allows elements to be changed out frequently and still be recognizable as Porto’s graphic identity. It works.
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How familiar are you with brand and generic names? Probably less than you realize. Some revolutionary trademarked products have achieved such market dominance that their name has become synonymous with an entire category of product or service. Particularly for breakthrough products, consumers spontaneously use the pioneer brand name generically, even when referring to later entrants in the field. Occasionally companies lose their proprietary rights to a trademark if they let competitors use the name as a common “descriptor” of a category of products and not linked to any one brand. At that point, the word can no longer be registered, a phenomenon known as “genericide.” In other instances, the trademark owner decides not to renew registration and simply lets the trade name expire.
This quiz challenges you to identify whether the name is: 1) trademarked (registered to a specific company), 2) generic (never trademarked), 3) genericized (once trademarked but now a common noun) or 4) former TM (trademark allowed to expire). Answers after the jump.
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Now in its second year, the Tusk Conservation Awards single out individuals who have done outstanding environmental conservation work throughout Africa, with particular focus on protecting endangered species and their threatened habitat. The prestigious honor includes a monetary contribution of £30,000 and £15,000 to support the goals of the winning projects. What the fledgling award didn’t have, however, was its own graphic identity. For that, London-based The Partners stepped up and provided their creative talent pro bono.
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Lasso Tyres, based in Turkey, chose a novel way to urge customers to be prepared for winter weather by linking their treads with threads. Designed by Happy People Projects creative agency in Istanbul, these print and outdoor advertisements invite the viewer to make the connection between deeply grooved tires that will hug the road even in the worst weather and very pronounced knit sweater stitches. Very clever and memorable.
What’s black-and-white and impossible to ignore? The graphic identity of 52 North, a hip restaurant and bar in London. UK-based design studio I Love Dust and interior architects 44th Hill used scale and contrast to make us aware of the geometric beauty of typography. The huge letterforms become another shape in a collage of stripes, dots, stars and diamond angles. In 52 North’s restaurant and bar, warm wood furnishings soften the starkness of the letterpress-style mural, but the mural itself becomes like a “menu” of decorative shapes that can be mixed and matched on packaging and printed materials, making each piece look slightly different yet part of the overall brand. It’s a complete identity program with room to grow.
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Naming is a discipline that strikes many as part voodoo, part marketing strategy, and totally mysterious. We suspect it was easier a century or so ago when founders named the brand after themselves — e.g., Ford (Henry Ford) and Wells Fargo (Henry Wells and William Fargo) – or simply described what they made – e.g., International Business Machines (IBM). Now, it is not so easy, and companies usually turn to professional naming firms to come up with effective memorable brand names that will resonate with consumers. On top of that, they have to make sure the name can be trademarked, pronounced easily, have positive connotations around the globe, and stand out on a retail shelf, on a website and on its own. Here are some tips from David Placek, founder and president of Lexicon Branding, the firm that developed the familiar names you see below.
1. A Brief for the Development of a Name Is Different
Than a Brief for an Advertising Campaign.
(1) A naming brief makes sure that distinctiveness is a primary goal and that risk will be rewarded.
(2) A naming brief answers this fundamental question: How can the name help this new brand to become a winner?
(3) A naming brief defines a specific role for the name rather than the product itself, messaging or design.
(4) A naming brief tells the story of the brand so that the brand name becomes an essential part of the story — better yet, the title.
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Founded in New York City in 1993 by two writers Jeff Fligelman and David Grae, Gotham Writers’ Workshop has since grown into one of the nation’s largest adult education writing schools offering both private and online classes in every genre, from fiction to screenplays to poetry to memoirs. After 20 years, however, Gotham felt it was time to move from a more generic-looking logotype to a customized brand identity.
Brooklyn-based design studio Hyperakt was asked to evolve the brand to give it greater presence. After conducting in-depth research, Hyperakt distilled the essence of the brand message to “craft igniting creativity.” To better represent the scope of Gotham’s offering of online classes and events, Hyperakt recommended that the name be shortened to “Gotham Writers,” dropping the word “Workshop” completely. “The shift better represents the school’s community of writers and promotes a sense of belonging,”
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Hermes is one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” brands. Its silk scarves are coveted and collected as genuine works of art, the ultimate in elegance, refinement, and taste. Artists around the world are commissioned to produce unique designs for Hermes scarves. Each pattern is painstakingly engraved by Hermes artisans who typically take 750 hours to achieve Hermes’ nuanced colors and detailed design. Requiring an average of 27 ink colors, the image is silk-screened onto fine silk cloth. Although more than 2,000 Hermes scarf designs now exist, with 20 new designs issued each year, the look, classic and opulent, is decidedly Hermes. Dramatic colors and bold designs are the signature of the Hermes brand. Saying anything more would be redundant. This explains why the catalog and video ad for Hermes’ spring 2014 Soie Folle collection is without voiceover or marketing text.
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At first glance, the packaging for Coven, a new hand-crafted vodka made by Arbutus Distillery in Nanaimo on tiny Vancouver Island in Canada, looks deceptively traditional, fitting right in on retail shelves with the products of large spirit producers. But darkness changes everything.
Asked to develop a product name, brand personality and package design for Arbutus Distillery’s inaugural product, Nanaimo-based agency, Hired Guns Creative, sought to take consumers into the deeper realm of the spirit world. Hired Guns chose the name “Coven” for the Arbutus vodka brand, not only because it was a play on the idea of spirits, but because it suggested gatherings, mystery and a hint of sexual allure. From a design perspective, creative director Richard Hatter also found Coven “a very clean, balanced word that is easy to work with on a graphic level. And, of course, there are the other obvious criteria; it was easy to spell, say, pronounce, read from a distance, and it was available to trademark.”
To bring credibility to this new product in stores, Hired Guns used several traditional indicators of quality: hand-dipped wax, die-cut label, foil and embossing details, and lots of whitespace. What isn’t seen in daylight, however, is a gathering of witches and night creatures made visible through a glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent coating overprinted on the bottle. The text on the back label adds to the haunting impression: “Shrouded in the mist of the West Coast, a timeless rite enchants those who seek a greater spirit. Initiation requires strict dedication to the craft. There is power in numbers, so gather together because when the lights fade, the ritual begins. We’ve been waiting for you.” Drink up and be merry; the spirits are alive.
Even though today’s consumers are likely to buy their Coca-Cola in a can, the original contoured bottle shape and bright red color are instantly associated with the beverage in every part of the world. Istanbul-based Ayse Celem Design felt no need to call out the product by name, but let shape and color serve as the brand identity for this promotional calendar for Coca-Cola Turkey.
What happens when two branding experts join forces to start a sushi restaurant? Maki-san, that’s what. This one-location, create-your-own sushi place in Singapore looked too well conceived to be a humble local startup. A little online snooping unearthed the fact that Maki-san was started by art director Joseph Koh and copywriter Omar Marks, whose roots trace back to McCann Erickson Singapore. That explained why the brand concept seemed to cover all the essentials — graphic tone of voice, color palette, market positioning, typography, logo, target audience, etc. — indicating that professionals were involved.
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Orchestre Symphonique Genevois, comprised of about 70 amateur musicians, is Geneva’s premier amateur orchestra. In rebranding itself, the Orchestre sought an identity that combined the elegance of classical music with contemporary communication and interactive media. Swiss brand strategists KW43 Branddesign took this assignment literally and developed a logotype that evoked both the look of music and the actual sound. The dot of the “I” and the whimsical finials for letters like r, y and g can be read as musical note heads. Put the notes together and they create a melody that the Orchestre calls its new “sound logo.”
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The votes are in: The iron is out; the cat is in. Facebook followers have spoken. Let it be so.
Anyone who has played Monopoly over the past 78 years knows of what I speak. Invented by Charles Darrow in 1935, Monopoly is a board game where players roll the dice for the chance to move his/her token across the squares on the board. The square their token lands in gives them the chance to wheel-and-deal, buy properties, collect rent, pay taxes, build, earn dividends. Fake paper money changes hands. Fortunes are won and lost. Banks repossess and auction off assets. Bankruptcies are filed. Players land in jail. Only the dapper banker, Uncle Pennybags, stays rich. You know, kind of like real life.
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Asked to rebrand the 7-Eleven convenience stores in Sweden, the Stockholm creative agency BVD decided to whole-heartedly embrace the 80-year-old company’s graphic roots. BVD made 7-Eleven’s signature green and orange bolder and brighter, stenciled its old Helvetica typeface, and turned its traditional broad stripes into pinstripes, reversing out the “7” and suggesting “Eleven” with two orange lines. The look is contemporary yet retro, and it doesn’t run away from 7-Eleven’s original concept, which was to provide people with a handy place to go to buy an emergency supply of milk, eggs and other basics late at night. The new Swedish graphic identity refreshes 7-Eleven’s identity without trying to disguise it as something more upscale than it is.
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Brand consultant Alina Wheeler has developed a phased process for researching, clarifying and implementing a brand strategy. A reminder that building a strong brand demands more than a logo, Wheeler outlines a disciplined approach that has been used with success by several major companies. Her book Designing Brand Identity: Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team (John Wiley & Sons, third edition) distills this process into five easy-to-follow steps. It’s worthwhile advice. Following this process will not guarantee branding success, but ignoring it will inevitably lead to a muddled identity program that confuses consumers and employees alike.