A great book cover should be striking, memorable, profound, and, most of all, eye-catching. It should pull a reader across a bookstore with a flash of color or a slick effect. But today, designers must think beyond the physical bookstore and consider the digital one as well. The parameters of each differ in nearly every respect. So, how have designers adjusted? With the huge growth in online sales, has the digital bookstore begun to drive the design process?
Here are some tips offered by Penguin Random House experts on cover design and selling online.
The Sizing Challenge.
The most noticeable difference between a cover’s presentation online and in person is its size. On the shelf, a cover might be 10″x6″, but online it shrinks to about an inch on a computer screen—and even smaller on a mobile device. Given this discrepancy, you might think that the solution to this conundrum would be creating two different covers—one that works on a larger scale and one that pops at a fraction of that size. But designers warn against this. The cover is the most obvious consumer-facing branding of a book, and designers want to ensure that a reader can recognize that brand across all formats and platforms. Whether a reader sees the cover in a promotional email recommending the book, in the window as she passes her local bookstore, or online when she goes to buy it, she should see the same image every time. The consistency bolsters her relationship with the book and increases the likelihood of purchase.
Wine packaging is steeped in tradition and sometimes unfounded biases, and connoisseurs are quick to form opinions about the quality of wine inside by the bottle’s shape, color and design. The cork versus screw cap debate, for instance, has been going on for well over a decade. So, it will be interesting to note the wine-drinking market’s response to Paperboy, packaged in a bottle made entirely from compressed recycled paper. UK packaging producer GreenBottle teamed with California wine producer Truett-Hurst to unveil the world’s first paper wine bottle. It is being sold in Safeway supermarkets on the West Coast now, with plans to offer it across the U.S. soon. London/NY-based agency Stranger & Stranger designed the Paperboy label graphics, which were printed with natural inks.
GreenBottle reports that the paper bottle, with a liquid-tight insulated plastic bladder inside, has a carbon footprint that is one third of an equivalent glass bottle. The bottle is feather-light, weighing about an ounce when empty, thus reducing shipping, handling and energy consumption costs. Despite its lightweight, Paperboy bottles are said to be rigid and strong, and ice bucket safe for three hours. Sounds good. Now let’s see if wine snobs can get past the fact that they’re drinking a brand sold in a paper bottle.
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.
The visual identity system for Southern California-based Dripp Coffee Shop is intriguing for what is fixed and what is flexible. Designed by Turner Duckworth San Francisco and London, the Dripp branding system centers around a hand-drawn script logotype which angles upward. The rest of the visual content is structured within a grid of color blocks with minimal flat-graphic images. The flourished style of the letters sets the logo apart from the rest of the visual content and, by contrast, draws attention to itself. The silhouetted objects themselves can be changed to suit the product, season or event, as long as they retain the stylized look and simplified color palette of the brand – as shown in the set of posters below created by Turner Duckworth. This graphic system also accommodates changing needs and uses, including this sleeveless hot paper cup design by Istanbul-based designer Salih Kucukaga.
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.
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.
More4, a digital television channel in the UK run by British broadcaster Channel 4, has a new brand identity and on-air look. Channel 4’s communications company, 4Creative, teamed with design and motion studio, ManvsMachine, to create a flexible logo that morphs from one triangle of color into another through a series of flips, folds and reveals.
Inspired by the intriguing ever-changing logo, 4Creative saw its possibilities as installation art and collaborated with Jason Bruges Studio and students from Middlesex University to design and build over 400 individual flipper units that would work together as a single mechanical system. The three-dimensional piece was set up in different environmental settings –- an interior staircase, an abandoned fishing boat on Dungeness Beach, a tree trunk in Victoria Park –- and filmed on location. It made for a memorable on-air debut of More4’s new identity. It also is further evidence that logos are not static graphic forms anymore. In the digital age, more and more logos are designed to be interactive, dimensional and animated.
Typically, the observation platforms of landmark buildings are designed to offer breathtaking views of the city, not vice versa. At the ARoS Museum of Modern Art in Aarhus, Denmark, the recently completed viewing tower on the roof is its own work of art. Designed by renowned Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the circular glass walkway is a multi-colored halo crowning the brick cubic structure built in 2003 by Aarhus-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.
Known locally as “Your Rainbow Panorama,” the museum’s walkway invites visitors to see the city through curved colored glass arranged in the color spectrum. Explaining his intent, Eliasson says, “I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving.”
In cafeterias and restaurants around the world, the coffeepot with a distinctive orange band around the neck is immediately recognized as the one containing decaf coffee. Today most people don’t know how that tradition began. Actually, it was once one of the world’s most effective branding campaigns, even though these days consumers don’t associate the color with the product that started it all.
The orange label premiered in 1923 when Sanka, the first commercial decaf coffee, appeared on grocery store shelves in America. In 1932, General Foods bought Sanka (a catchy contraction of “sans caffeine”) and set out to promote the brand to restaurants and diners by giving away free “Sanka-orange” coffeepots and a few samples of the product. Customers and waiters came to recognize that orange signified Sanka, and over time it became the generic color-code for any and all decaf coffee brands.
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