This week the U.S. Treasury unveiled new $100 currency redesigned to discourage counterfeiting. If counterfeiters are deterred by ugliness, this should do the trick.
Okay, we understand the need to incorporate high-tech security features, but was it really necessary to make statesman Ben Franklin look like comedian Jack Benny? Who’s idea was it to stick the Liberty Bell in an orange inkwell and feature the back side of Independence Hall instead of the front? And why was Franklin dressed in a lavender jacket and shoved off-center so an offensive blue 3-D security ribbon could run down the middle? It seems like our most revered American symbols are being mocked.
Still… if anyone offered to give us a suitcase filled with ugly new $100s if we’d stop complaining about the bad design, we’d gladly accept.
Hong Kong recently unveiled its newly revamped brand identity – a stylized version of its previous fiery dragon logo, which had been in use since 2001. The new dragon appears friendlier and has a colorful kite-like tail and boasts the tagline “Asia’s World City.” It looks less exotic than the old logo, but more welcoming.
That got us to wondering what other national tourism brands were out there, and what we found told us a lot about how countries try to appeal to foreign travelers. When we lined up 50 or more national logos, similar visual themes emerged. This said more about what some nations thought tourists wanted to see than about what made them distinct as a destination. On the whole, there was an inordinate use of breezy brushstroke lettering, bright tropical colors, “sunny” O’s and dotted I’s, and hearts and flowers. Some felt appropriate to the flavor, personality and tempo of the place. Others like the logos of former Soviet bloc countries felt generic and not reflective of a region that many associate with rich earthy colors, mysterious architecture and temperature extremes. A beach culture it’s not.
When nations consider their exportable resources, design is often far down the list, but a 2008 study conducted by the Victoria government in Australia revealed that over $300 million in state revenue can be directly attributed to design-related exports. The state ’s design sector, centered in Melbourne, contributes $7 billion annually to the economy and employs more than 76,000 Victorians – this in a country with a population of just 21.5 million people. The study made apparent that design talent is a highly desirable and exportable commodity. The Australian creative industry could be as marketable abroad as iron ore and manufactured goods.
Australian designers have skills sought in many parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing areas like neighboring Southeast Asia. In fact, the vast geographic size of Australia actually makes the flying distance from Melbourne to Singapore or Indonesia shorter than from Melbourne to Perth. As it is, many studios in Singapore are heavily staffed by Australian designers.
Understanding where the market is and where it is heading is critical to every aspect of design and business. Savvy marketers look for clues everywhere and draw connections to launch new products, tailor their brand messages, and determine which industries will thrive. This intriguing video provides statistics that are shocking and thought-provoking…but what do they mean? What are the ramifications for commerce and design, mar-com and management? We don’t know, but we feel they are important to consider.
With so many people feeling blue because their 401Ks have tanked, what color is likely to resonate with the public today?Color forecaster Laura Guido-Clark, who has consulted on the “skin” (color, material, finish) of everything from cars to computers, toothbrushes to carpets, uses a process she calls “climatology” to survey the economic, political, emotional and social temperature of the times to arrive at a palette that consumers will find satisfying and exciting.Guido-Clark tells the San Francisco Design Center’s 3DMagazine, “We are in a time of deep introspection and fear is running as an undercurrent, but hope is what keeps us going. Optimism is the polar opposite of despair, and we will see people drawn to colors that reflect that reaching out for a brighter future.Deep, vibrant and saturated colors such as raspberries, yellows, oranges, royal blues and purples are important. You are also starting to see a softening of the palette with grayed pastels — perhaps our way of landing softly in tough times. People are also being drawn to pliable materials such as wire and sculpted metals that show flexibility and a willingness to bend and change. We will be mixing more metals in unique ways and breaking rules as we come to terms with a new way of thinking. We also expect that earthy textures, woods, deep piles and fabrics with a rich, tactile surface will be more appealing as people seek to make their homes feel like they are cocooning and safe from outside forces.” www.lgcdesign.com