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.
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.)
These commercials aren’t selling what you think they do. They were created by London-based John Nolan Studio/Robot Factory, which boasts an impressive portfolio of film assignments including “Dr. Who” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” The Nolan’s Cheese and Nolan’s Nuts brands don’t exist, but John Nolan’s animatronic design and FX services do, and the videos show off the firm’s talent and capabilities quite effectively – little wonder that they went viral online. The cheese video came out first, and a nutty variation of the idea followed.
Clocking in at two minutes, this Honda commercial would be a very expensive ad buy on prime-time TV, but thanks to the accessibility of YouTube and Vimeo, audiences are seeking it out online. The Honda “Hands” ad starts with a cog, just like its award-winning Cog commercial (see July 24 post below). This time Honda teamed with Wieden + Kennedy London to “celebrate the curiosity of Honda engineers” who have made Honda the world’s largest engine manufacturer and racing company since it was founded in 1948. Through “slight of hand” and brilliant animation, the cog morphs into a dazzling array of products, from motorcycles and jet planes to solar-powered cars and robots. The making of this video, directed by Smith & Foulkes and Nexus Productions, is a technological feat in itself. For brands that think they don’t have the budget for such an ambitious production, consider this: Is it better to do something middle-of-the-road and run it on prime time TV or to create something awesomely original that people will “google” to see on their own. If it is good, it will go viral.
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.
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.
Pentagram, the international design consultancy, celebrated its 40th anniversary this year with a stop-motion video, narrated by a voice that sounds somewhat like the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world.”
“The Forty Story” is a tale of a boy born on the day that Pentagram opened its doors in London, and shows how his life has been impacted by 40 years of Pentagram design. To chronologically (more or less) knit together a small sampling of Pentagram’s amazingly diverse body of work, the storyline veers wildly, starting out by claiming the boy was born in a BP petrol station, walking in Clarks shoes by age 1, shaving with a disposable razor by age 3, publishing poems about Pirelli tires with a Parker Pen by age 6, and acclaimed by Reuters as a lad before being panned by Italy’s 24 Ore and resorting to antidepressants. The story goes on until he finds love and contentment, with Pentagram’s portfolio of projects flashing across the screen.
The script was written by Naresh Ramchandani and Tom Edmonds, directed by Christian Carlsson, with titles by John Rushworth.
Congratulations on your first 40 years, Pentagram! May your next 40 years be just as stellar.
What does a mascot say about a brand? Do manly brand mascots convey qualities that build consumer confidence, likeability, and trust? See if you can identify these brand icons and the product each represents. Then consider what attribute they evoke – tough, unflappable, suave, protective, devil-may-care, jovial, helpful, fearless — and decide whether he is the right guy for the job. See answers after the jump.
Extending a brand into global markets isn’t a straightforward process. Product makers have to consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers. Can the letterforms be read? Can the name be pronounced? Does it have a pleasing or harsh sound when spoken? Does the name mean something else in another language? (An example is the famous case of the Chevy Nova, which in Mexico translates to “doesn’t go.”) Then there is the challenge of trying to maintain some graphic consistency so the brand is truly global and not the same product that looks different in every regional market.
Consider how Carlsberg Beer and Coca-Cola graphically translated their logotypes into multiple languages, for example. LogoDesignLove brought the Carlsberg comparisons to our attention. With Carlsberg, note the way that the designers tried to carry over the signature style of the brand — the flat-top squared-off “C,” tri-leaf accent pattern, the swash decorative flourish under the type, the brushstroke-like serif on the last “r.” Although the letterforms differ dramatically from language to language, the various logotypes have a family look that suggests their roots stem from the original Danish Carlsberg logo.
Pssst! Need a legitimate business reason to go to Las Vegas? Come to the AIGA Las Vegas “Return on Design: Business + Design Conference on November 17-18.
According to Patty Mar Simmons, event co-chair and president of AIGA Las Vegas, “We are uniting designers and business leaders to foster a better understanding of how good design can help drive tangible results for any size company.”
On the business/marketing side, speakers include Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International; Jamie Naughton, Zappos.com; Richard Worthington, Molasky Group of Companies; Vince Alberta, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; Christina Barr, Nevada Humanities; Brian Gordon, Applied Analysis, and Luke Heffron, Shutterlfy. Design side speakers include Debbie Millman, Sterling Brands and AIGA National board member; Andrew Naudin, ExhibitForce, and yours truly – Kit Hinrichs, Studio Hinrichs and design director, @Issue, and Delphine Hirasuna, editor, @Issue.
The cost to attend is $175 per person and includes a reception on Thursday evening, plus the conference sessions, breakfast and lunch on Friday. Come early, spend the weekend. Support the Las Vegas economy. For more information, visit returnondesignvegas.com.
Social Media Week ran an interesting article last week on the 20 top snack brands on Facebook based on community size. According to a survey it conducted in April, the top brand attracted nearly 19 million fans, while the 20th ranked brand garnered 1.6 million. Here’s a quiz to see if you can rank the brands in order. Keep in mind the ranking isn’t according to sales, but on how effectively these brands used Facebook. Click here to read Social Media Week’s analysis of popular features that the brands integrated into their Facebook site.