I saw him speak years ago, and this video by Lynda.com captures the inspiring nature of Doyald Young. You may know me on Twitter as a #fontnerd, and today designers all over are regretting the loss of such a great pioneer in our field.
The latest culprit is another shoe company, albeit an online retailer rather than a manufacturer, as I wrote about last time.
Hey designers, HikingBoots.com loves you! At least, that’s what their CEO says. He says that the company has a “deep admiration for great designers and sophisticated design.” In this love note, he implores us to “get involved because you love design, too.” Your payment for creating this sophisticated design? A chance to win a 13″ MacBook Air, Photoshop CS5 and your choice of boots. Oh, and the visibility you’ll get if you make it to the final round. But be aware, “the most technical, the most sophisticated or the most creative design may very well not win.”
I won’t rehash all of the reasons design contests bug many of us creative professionals. You can read about that in the last post on this subject. But, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that HikingBoots.com decided to host a contest for their new logo design. After all, if a well-known and respected company such as Simple just launched one… Seems to me that HikingBoots.com is trying to emulate the big guys with this contest. Perhaps they’re hoping visitors to their site will be impressed that designers would compete on spec to create the “winning” logo?
I think this is a lazy marketing ploy to get traffic on the HIkingBoots.com site. When people read the news release about the contest they’re likely to visit the site to see what the current logo looks like, then click through the site to look at the products. Designers entering the contest are instructed to review the site to gain an understanding of the company and its products, and will undoubtedly return many times while developing their work. Entrants will tell others about the contest, driving more traffic. Et cetera…
Lastly (and I promise to stop here), unlike the Simple contest, there is no clear outline about the selection process for this contest. The rules state that the company’s judges will choose a winner by 2/15/11 – nothing further. Designers, if you elect to spend time creating work for contests such as these, at least be sure that those judging your work are qualified to do so.
It seems as though logo contests are becoming more prevalent lately. (I’m afraid to Google the topic.) My hope is that companies considering this route for their new identities instead apply their energy to finding a design firm that is a proper match for them, and who will become a trusted partner to their brand.
During a week of falling yellow leaves, this week’s palette recalls a day at the crag in early summer. Look at those bright green leaves!
Okay, when I first read the title of this article on Market Watch about Simple Shoes launching a design competition with Behance, my first response was: OH NO, ANOTHER CROWD SOURCING PLOY FOR FREE WORK.
You see, designers and design firms sell ideas. Our intellectual capital is how we earn a paycheck, so we’re very sensitive to spec work situations and companies requesting free ideas to be thrown at them under the guise of a “design contest.”
I read a little further into the first paragraph and saw: THE COMPETITION CHALLENGES THE DESIGN COMMUNITY-AT-LARGE TO TAKE ON A FULL-SERVICE CREATIVE AGENCY IN THE CREATION OF A NEW BRAND IDENTITY FOR SIMPLE. Hmmm…So the agency they’ve been using will have their work devalued by having to compete with people willing to work on spec? If your client trusts your judgment and creative expertise enough to hire you as their agency of record in the first place, a prospect such as this would surely rattle your bones. How do you compete with free, even if your solutions may be creatively superior?
Then, I read a little further.
It seems that Simple is running this thing the right way (according to us design-folk). They are conducting the competition in the paid brief style. Designers on the Behance network submitted their best identity work to the branding team for review. Five “winners” were chosen to compete based on their merit, meaning that they are being paid to present their ideas to Simple. Applause for this.
These five freelance designers’ solutions are pitted against Simple’s existing agency’s solution, where one of the six designs emerges as the new logo for the shoe company. Apparently, the agency is gung-ho about competing against these other creatives, saying the competition style is a “perfect fit” for them. This strikes me as PR speak, with the agency not wanting to appear as sour grapes.
While it’s commendable that Simple is respecting the firm and freelancers by compensating them for their work, if Studio 22 were asked to be part of a competition like this, we would decline. The title of the competition unsettles me – “You Vs. Our Agency”. It focuses on the business model of those creating the work, rather than the ideas. I feel there are other issues at play:
- If a client feels they need to seek other solution providers, there is likely an underlying disconnect between the original parties anyway.
- Good creative is good creative. Whether it comes from an agency, small firm (like us!), or freelancer, shouldn’t influence clients’ buying decisions.
- Creating an identity for a brand is serious work, and any good designer will develop the mark with future brand strategy in mind (i.e. advertising campaigns, point-of-purchase, marketing collateral, etc.). To have one designer create the identity, then hand over their work to another to execute subsequent work is counterproductive for the client.
I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this showdown. Will the agency win and keep the client’s account? Will a freelancer win and hand over the new logo – or become Simple’s new designer?
This week’s color palette is inspired by a photo I took while taking an unexpected detour on Monday.
I know that the weather was crisp and leaves were blowing around the street while I shot this. However, the resulting color palette is surprisingly refreshing.
So, I missed out this weekend. My friend (and colleague) Ryan organized a short backpack trip along the Appalachian Trail and I didn’t go. And to rub it in, he sent me this photo from the camp site:
But instead of feeling down about missing out, I created this color palette instead. Called “Time to Camp” and based on the colors in the photo above, we’ll hopefully get to use it in an upcoming project soon.
We’re working on the latest piece in our client, Naukabout’s, marketing mix. This being the largest piece the lifestyle apparel company has produced, we’re planning the multi-page booklet to be as resource-efficient as possible.
The image above shows resources used and saved for the 16 interior pages of the brochure we’re designing.
We use the tools at re-nourish for all client projects so that we can make responsible decisions at the design level and plan accordingly.
While your business’ website surely has more tasteful content than what you’d find in the tabloids at the checkout line, there is something to be learned from their covers.
Magazine covers aren’t meant to tell the whole story, they’re meant to pique your interest enough that you part with $4.99 to read the contents.
When planning out your website – particularly the home page – take some cues from the magazines:
- Pay attention to hierarchy and organize the most important information in places of prominence. They eye moves from the upper left corner of the screen to the lower right (one reason the company logo is in the top left corner on most sites). This visual path will help you configure your page.
- Use punchy lines of text with small blurbs that link to the interior content pages of your site.
- Keep as much information on the home page “above the fold” as possible (okay, this is newspaper-speak, but still works here). In other words, you don’t want to lose any critical bits off of the bottom of the screen.
- Above all, keep the home page layout simple – engaging, but simple. A magazine cover can’t hold all of its interior content, and neither can your home page!
Please, take one: I just wrote a short article called “5 Things Your Small Business Website Needs to Engage Your Customers“.
Well said, Mr. Bass.
For the non-designers out there, Saul Bass is an icon of American graphic design who created the well-known logos for Dixie, Continental Airlines and the United Way (just to name a few). You may have also seen his work in the titling sequences for the movies Psycho, Spartacus and Casino, among many others.
I came across some snippets of a documentary about his career on the web and was enlightened to hear him say,
“It costs every designer money to make it beautiful, because you have to spend more time, you have to futz with it, you have to noodle, you have to push…You’re eating up your budget.”
We’ve been asked many times if we could shorten our schedule for a logo design, or if we can reduce our price if the client promises one round of revisions instead of two. The answer is usually, “No.” Not because we like to be difficult or don’t like to commit to a delivery date, but for the reason Saul Bass stated above.
It costs time (and time = money) to make beautiful things. Things that are not beautiful don’t leave our shop. If you’re a client of ours, chances are good that our attention to detail and craftsmanship are why you arrived at Studio 22 HQ—and are also why you’ve stayed!
By now, most of us are familiar with word clouds. Right? Okay, maybe not, but there is a site on the web where you can create and customize your own in a few minutes. It’s called Wordle and you should check it out. I played around with text from our home page today for a mid-afternoon visual break and some inspiration.
Here are a few favorites:
Imagine using this to come up with word combinations for product names; or entering your brainstorming notes to see new combinations of phrases for a marketing campaign; or for creating a tagline. Anything that helps you look at something from a new perspective can give you a creative charge.