It’s not always as simple as applying a single set of graphic standards across the board when a brand expands into foreign markets. In some cases, the brand name may be difficult to pronounce in the native language or the letters may translate into a word that is negative or obscene. Or the graphic mark may include a detail that may be perceived as insulting or culturally taboo. The challenge for brand designers is to adapt the logo to the region, while preserving enough elements to make it recognizable in every part of the world. Ideally, travelers to a foreign country will recognize the brand identity on sight even if the letters or image differ from what they are used to in their own culture. See if you can name these brands. (Answers after the jump.)
The Maribor Theatre Festival is the oldest and most prominent theatre festival in Slovenia. In recent years, it has evolved into an international event with symposia, and foreign guests, producers and performances. The festival has been the scene of exciting arguments, thought-provoking insights, unexpected reversals, and controversy. If the bold graphic identity designed by Nenad Cizl for the 48th Maribor Festival is any indication, attendees can anticipate works of equal originality and drama. Cizl explains that the visual theme for his art is intended “to address the attitude of Slovene politicians toward culture.”
Rather than single out any one art style or type of graffiti to serve as the identity for the Madrid Street Art Project (MSAP), IS Creative Studio adopted a bold asphalt black-and-white street pattern to brand the program. Devised by Martin and Diana Prieto Martin and Guillermo de la Madrid, MSAP is a nonprofit project designed to support and enjoy public art in Spain’s capital city. Through guided tours, workshops, exhibitions, publications and artistic actions, MSAP aims to bring street art to citizens. According to MSAP’s website, “To come up with the [logo design], we relied on the city streets where street art was born and lives. Due to the diverse activities of this project, we thought that the identity of the Madrid Street Art Project should be flexible. We developed a logo that looks like a map….Streets often lead us in opposite directions to our destination. We think this is a great representation of the reflection which street art invites us to think about.” MSAP’s structured logo also contrasts beautifully with the bright colors and amorphous shapes of graffiti drawings.
Picking the most recognizable icon to represent a city can be daunting, especially for a multi-faceted place like San Francisco. There are so many famous landmarks, cutting-edge industries, and innovative happenings to choose from, that settling on only one symbol doesn’t do justice to the vibrance and diversity of the Bay Area. So, San Francisco-based designers Primo Angeli and Stapley-Hildebrand chose not to choose. Instead, they packed as many icons as they could into a mosaic to create a new brand identity for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The “C” logo is meant to denote the Chamber, the city and the community. To reflect the Chamber’s key mission, they added the tagline “Our City, Your Business.”
When evaluating the visibility of a logo design, most designers consider how it will look in all kinds of situations — printed on advertisements, cast in metal, embossed on letterhead, foil-stamped on packaging, blown up to a mega-size for environmental signage, etc. Logos for apps, however, are different. The most important test is how the mark will look at less than a quarter-inch high when viewed on a smartphone or laptop screen. Here’s a quiz to see if you can name these app brands, shown here larger than they are normally seen.
An aesthetically pleasing logo is great, but when it is wrapped around a charming story, the brand becomes all the more memorable. Landor Associates did both in developing the design and branding for the ultra-exclusive Nine Suns Wine of Napa Valley. Playing off the Chinese heritage of the owners, Landor recalled the ancient Yao Dynasty legend that claimed that once 10 suns lit the earth in rotation, until one day the suns grew tired of taking turns and decided to rise all at once. The unrelenting heat from the suns scorched crops and trees and caused much suffering. Emperor Yao summoned Hou Yi, the god of archery, to save the land. The archer quickly shot nine suns out of the sky, but left the tenth sun to keep heaven and earth in perfect balance. The winery’s brand mark represents the nine suns myth with the nine black dots lyrically configured to spell Nine Suns.
There are some retail brands that we can spot a mile away, driving 65 miles per hour, even before we can make out the letters in the name or the logo. We recognize the brand by its signature colors. Color is a critical part of any graphic identity system. Some designers reformulate colors by tweaking the hues –making shades richer, darker, lighter or more orange, green or purple, etc. — to strengthen their proprietary link to a brand. Others simply choose “off-the-shelf” colors but display them consistently in the same combination –e.g., red, white and blue and a certain North American country. This quiz challenges you to match these color swatches with the brands they represent. Good luck! See answers after the jump.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is no ordinary shopping mall; it’s an entertainment destination. The 4.2 million square foot complex boasts more than 520 shops and the nation’s largest indoor family amusement park. Yet its old traditionally patriotic logo in red, white and blue evoked an era that pre-dated the digital revolution. No longer. The Mall teamed with Minneapolis-based Duffy & Partners to develop an identity system that looks like a multi-colored translucent ribbon merrily transforming itself into different shapes and shades, ultimately forming a star. The new identity anticipates a variety of animated applications and color changes for special events as well as how it will look as a stationary symbol. The myriad possibilities match the Mall’s new tagline “Always New.”
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.”
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.
When this museum’s main attraction is a shawl, its ingenious to drape one in a way to form the logotype “M”, as Moscow designer Vova Lifanov did for the History Museum of the Russian Shawl in Pavlovsky Posad. The colorful, lavishly patterned shawl is a national symbol of Russia. Like Russia itself, the shawl traces its roots to a mix of East Asian and European influences. Centuries ago trade with Persia popularized the wearing of Persian shawls bearing decorative patterns that looked strikingly similar to Persian rugs. The word “shawl” itself is of Persian origin. When Russia began producing its own shawls, it integrated its own Russian ornamentation into the design. Lifanov captured all this for the museum by creating a flexible identity program that allows the use of different patterns and colors on objects ranging from business cards to shopping bags and coffee mugs.
When it comes to brand mascots, birds seem to soar above all the rest of the creatures in the animal kingdom. It may be because bird species are so distinctively different, not just in how they look and sound, but in temperament and personality traits. Some are peace-loving; others aggressive. Some are sweet and melodious; others playful and loud. Birds also are closely identified with specific regions of the world. No matter what your brand attributes are, there is probably a bird species that is right for you. Which brings us to our quiz. Guess which brands these birds represent.
It is hard to say what will happen to the penguin logo when Penguin Books and Random House complete their merger, announced in October, but I can’t imagine that the pudgy little bird won’t survive. Founded in the UK in 1935 to bring well-designed quality paperbacks to the market, Penguin Books made the flightless bird its trademark from the start. The first penguin was drawn by designer Edward Young, with Gill Sans specified for the typeface, and covers showing three bands of color used to organize titles by genre – orange for fiction, dark blue for biographies, etc. Typographer Jan Tschichold modified the logo in 1946 and redesigned some 500 Penguin books and also wrote a four-page design manifesto, “Penguin Composition Rules.” In 2003, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland tweaked the penguin logo some more.
When Icelandic Glacial Water rebranded itself, it shifted the focus from the generic word “glacial” and placed the emphasis on “Icelandic.” That made all the difference. Designed by Los Angeles-based Team One, the new logo, bottle and packaging establish a sense of place for the brand. The frosted label features the geographic shape of Iceland with a black logotype that looks like it was hacked out of shards of Arctic ice. Instead of a predominant mineral cobalt blue color, the new label is a translucent sapphire blue that evokes the pristine purity of Iceland’s famous natural resource. The back panel, printed in contrasting varnishes, reveals the tagline “Source of the Epic Life” as if visible through a veneer of frosty ice. The new design positions Icelandic Glacial Water as a premium brand – so much so that you wonder if it contains expensive vodka.
There are many reasons why corporations update, revise or simply abandon their logos. The old mark may feature antiquated technology or not be politically correct by today’s standards. It may no longer reflect who they are, the size of their current business or what they sell. Or it may have been drawn by the founder or a promising art student when the firm was a cash-poor startup. Whatever. The result was a logo that looked amateurish and generic. This is a tough quiz, made harder because we had to remove the brand names on some logos so they didn’t give away the answer. When you pair the logo with the brand however, you’re likely to be surprised. Good luck!
Even though I am an unabashed carnivore who enjoys eating meat with most meals, I have no desire to be on a first name basis with my food and prefer not to know their extended family, much less admire their fashion sensibility. Still, this concept for Don Belisario, a rotisserie chicken restaurant in Lima, Peru, is playful, charming and thoughtfully executed. Conceived by Lima-based agency, Infinito, the brand revolves around Don Belisario, the patriarch of a distinguished and well-heeled poultry clan. The chicken family’s framed woodcut-style portraits grace the walls of the eatery, with each of their names shown in the brand’s unique typographic style. Every detail – from the napkins, dinnerware, restroom signs to the menu books — integrates the theme. It’s a fun concept, but I keep imagining ordering my meal by name. “I’ll have Dona Filomena oven-roasted, and my friend will have Pascual hard-boiled.”