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.”
For decades, Moleskine has been renowned for its little black notebook that artists, designers, and writers carry with them everywhere to capture their first inklings of brilliant ideas. Other brands offer notebooks too, but only Moleskine, in iconic black with its external elastic band and ribbon bookmark, signals that you are an authentic and serious creative type. So, Moleskine’s announcement that it is releasing its notebooks and planners in four bright colors, in addition to black, is newsworthy. Insecure creatives may be reluctant to buy a color other than black.
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.
If this thermostat looks like something that Apple would have designed had it been interested in home heating, there’s a reason. Tony Fadell, who conceived of the iPod and then went on to work on the iPhone while at Apple (he left in 2008), came up with this household device through his own company, Nest Labs. The clean Apple aesthetic and intuitive ease-of-use are evident in the Nest Learning Thermostat. The temperature is displayed in bright, clear numerals, and the rim ring acts as the dial. The LCD-lit center turns red if you are raising the temperature and shows blue if you are lowering it. A green leaf appears under the number to indicate a setting for optimal energy savings. Not only that, the Nest programs itself, using software to analyze and track your usage patterns over time. Once it learns your preferences, it adjusts itself automatically, and even turns itself down to the “Away” mode, if it doesn’t sense any movement in the house. The Nest also comes with a mobile app that lets you change the temperature and schedule remotely by laptop, smartphone or pad.
Programmable thermostats, even ones that can be controlled remotely, are not new to the marketplace. What makes Nest exceptional is that it is designed for the user. You don’t have to squint to read the temperature gauge or gnash your teeth when trying to figure out the instructions to get it to do all the things that the ads promise it can do. It doesn’t try to impress consumers by displaying the complex engineering of the product. That’s more intimidating than impressive. What good design does best is create an interface with the user that makes the complex simple. Given the large number of consumers (including me) who don’t know how to program their existing thermostats, a device that is pleasing to view and as easy to use as an iPod is a welcome advance.