With Walt Disney Pictures, the entertainment starts with the presentation of the graphic identity. Ethan Jones posted this compilation on YouTube to show how the studio has adapted the Disney brand logo to suit the featured movie. Every variation retains the key elements of the brand – the castle, the shooting star and the Disney script signature.
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.
Today would have been the legendary Saul Bass’s 93rd birthday and Google Doodle has paid tribute to him on its homepage by piecing together some of his signature film title sequences – “Vertigo,” “The Man with the Golden Arm,” “Psycho,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “West Side Story,” among others.
This brought to mind my brief encounter with Saul. About two years before he died, I was assigned to interview him for an article on film title sequences. In his late 70s then, Saul had downsized his Sunset Boulevard studio maintaining what he called “a repertory group,” a small core staff with additional expertise brought in on an as needed basis. At the time, he was doing a title sequence for his friend “Marty’s”(Scorsese) film, and explained that at this stage in his career, he only wanted to work with “nice people who respect and like us and who we respect and admire…I don’t want to deal with clients who think we’re just doing a job for them. With rare exception, all our clients think we are wonderful and we think they are wonderful.” From a career standpoint, that seemed to me like the ultimate luxury.
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.
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.
“Enough with the typography already!” My complaint to Kit is that every other story he wants to post in @Issue has to do with type. So, I’m writing this somewhat under duress.
“Humor me,” Kit says.
But the truth is that perhaps more than any time in history, the average person on the street is acutely aware of the differences in typefaces. Thanks to the computer, we can pick the digital font that suits our mood and voice. As a culture, we have become type snobs, sneering at Comic Sans, forming snap opinions about people who make Arial their default font, arguing over whether Helvetica is deserving of its popularity, and ridiculing some faces as “so last century.”