At first glance, the new Nescafe logo does not look significantly different from the old logo. The typeface is still in all caps but more rounded, a crossbar still extends from the “N”, an accent still hovers over the “e”, and red is still a dominant color. And yet, it feels more contemporary, more capable of competing cup-to-cup in a Starbucks world.
When introduced by Nestle in 1938, Nescafe (Nestle + café) instant coffee was the height of modern convenience. Even today, Nescafe remains one of the world’s most distributed brands of instant coffee, sold in over 180 countries. But until recently, Nescafe had no single global identity; each region was allowed to interpret the brand elements for their own market. Increasingly, however, young consumers have come to think of Nescafe as the passé powdered drink found in their grandparents’ pantry. The brand looked tired and disjointed.
When evaluating the visibility of a logo design, most designers consider how it will look in all kinds of situations — printed on advertisements, cast in metal, embossed on letterhead, foil-stamped on packaging, blown up to a mega-size for environmental signage, etc. Logos for apps, however, are different. The most important test is how the mark will look at less than a quarter-inch high when viewed on a smartphone or laptop screen. Here’s a quiz to see if you can name these app brands, shown here larger than they are normally seen.
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.
Imagine that you are a regular Italian commuter on Line 2 of the Milan Metro subway. The train pulls up to Moscova station and you get off as usual. But wait! This isn’t right! You must have dozed off. This doesn’t look like Moscova station; it doesn’t even look like Italy. Like Captain Kirk in “Star Trek,” you’ve leaped time and space and have been beamed to Shibuya station in Tokyo.
When it comes to brand mascots, birds seem to soar above all the rest of the creatures in the animal kingdom. It may be because bird species are so distinctively different, not just in how they look and sound, but in temperament and personality traits. Some are peace-loving; others aggressive. Some are sweet and melodious; others playful and loud. Birds also are closely identified with specific regions of the world. No matter what your brand attributes are, there is probably a bird species that is right for you. Which brings us to our quiz. Guess which brands these birds represent.
Leo Burnett India ad agency commemorated the 141st anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth (October 2, 2010) by creating an alphabetical font in the Devanagari script in the style of Gandhi’s trademark wireframe eyeglasses. The special typeface was the brainchild of Burnett’s national creative director KV “Pops” Sridhar, who wanted to inspire younger generations with the teachings of Gandhi. The glasses symbolize Gandhi’s vision and his visionary thoughts on truth and nonviolence. Sridhar explains, “The way he saw the world is completely different than the way we do – and hence the glasses, to subtly nudge people into thinking like him again.” Gandhi had originally given the glasses in the 1930s to an Indian army colonel who had asked the great leader for inspiration. Gandhi reportedly gave him his glasses and said, “These gave me the vision to free India.”
It was bound to happen. Publisher Shogakukan in Japan has just issued the second of two manga Twitter comic books, explaining the benefits of social media. Drawn by cartoonist Yoko Gendai, the first Twitter manga called “Mitaka no Chushin de Nau wo Tsubuyaku” – or “I Tweeted Now at Mitaka” – depicts in manga cartoons the artist’s experience in registering with Twitter and mastering Twitter protocol. The second manga Twitter book, released September 25, called “Koma de Tanoshimu Tonari no Twitter” – or “Twitter – Joy of Twitter in 4-Frame Cartoon” – is drawn by Ajiko Kojima and relates amusing incidents that Twitter users face regularly. These two manga Twitter books follow on the heels of a Twitter novel called “Twitter Shousetsu – 140 ji no Monogatan” – or “Twitter Novels – 140 Letters Stories,” published by Discover Twenty-One. It features very very short 140 letter stories by ten established Japanese authors. One reviewer pointed out, however, that Japanese characters can convey roughly double the information possible in equivalent 140 English letters, so maybe that isn’t as impressive as composing a Twitter novel in English. Then again, the Japanese invented the 17-syllable haiku and the 35-syllable tanka poetic forms, so literary brevity is an inherent part of the culture.
Lately it seems that every webinar, workshop, conference and business publication includes advice on optimizing social media marketing, which is why we thought this study on Twitter and Facebook use would be of interest to our readers. Part of the Gadgetology Report produced by Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping site, the online independent survey sampled 771 respondents from across the United States (so we can’t tell you how the answers compare with people in other countries.) The Retrevo survey also reveals that men are more than twice as likely to use Facebook or Twitter after sex than women, and iPhone users are three times more likely than Blackberry owners (no surprise there). We don’t have any suggestions on how to calculate this into your social media marketing strategy, but some savvy marketers will understand the ramifications.
Editor’s note: People often ask the difference between how a public relation expert goes about wooing customers versus an ad agency, a designer, etc. In his top-selling book Zag: The No. 1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands,Marty Neumeier summarizes the differences in this tongue-in-cheek visualization. Neumeier is the author of several books on branding, lecturer and Director of Transformation for Liquid Agency, where he helps companies build their brands from the inside out. His book was published before social media caught on, so we don’t know how Twitter would fit into this comparison? Maybe a courtship between two emoticons.
About 12 years ago, we presented a quiz titled “Alphabet Soup,” (Vol. 3, No. 2) to see if our readers could identify a company simply by the first logotype letter in its name. Since then, new companies, and whole new industries, have risen to the forefront. Some of the brands featured in that quiz don’t exist anymore. So, we have created a new alphabet quiz out of logotypes from some of today’s best-known companies. Keep in mind that the most recognizable letter is sometimes in the middle of the name. If you’re stumped, take a peek at the answers.
With text messaging, Twittering and typing with two thumbs on your cell phone, spelling is becoming an inexact and undervalued skill. The question is how far can this go before the human mind fails to comprehend? Too far, we’re afraid, as this fictitious Cambridge study proves.