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Category: Typography

It’s back again!

Many (actually shockingly many) years ago the US part of the charity YMCA did a re-brand. A in my mind rather underwhelming one. I wrote about it back in 2010.

And – it’s back again as the logo for estate agents yopa – yopa.co.uk – which in itself sounds like they want to catch everyone mistyping zopa into google 😆

It’s still not bowling me over – but it did make me remember the YMCA and its long standing efforts to help homeless youths – which may also be exactly the kind of association one should perhaps try to avoid when selling houses?

brand perception, brand personality

Ups, I forgot to mention…

…. the name of my product!

Don’t walk up too closely to this banner stand in the local cinema. What looks like a standard ad for Doritos quickly becomes a giggle when you see that the actual ‘new flavour’ had been forgotten (unless this is a new way to style roll up banners) and had to be stuck on with paper and the perhaps slightly uninspiring line ‘Have you tried Chilli flavoured Nachos ??’
I won’t even mention the typography (or lack of).


And why would a triangle have a thinking bubble? Perhaps it is a dream cloud and the designers found themselves in a little bit of a nightmare…

Title screen designer – you’re fired.

I know it’s personal taste and subjective but where was it ever a good idea to mix left aligned and centred especially in such close proximity and without any apparent need to?
The Apprentice titles are never a typographical feast for the eye but this really narks me. It would have been so easy to add a sub title that matches in style – or was this one of Lord Sugars’ unpublished tasks for ‘the candidates in the process’?

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typography

Dracula 2000 and a case of lost type artistry

I’ve been away most of July and August – what an amazing Summer! It’s an ongoing challenge to get back into everyday work and family life, kids starting school and bringing home bugs. I’ve been coughing for all of September now but we are getting there – if only because no matter how poorly I feel, some things still bug me that others probably won’t care about but I have to mention them. This typographic blatantly obvious mishap for example.
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Did they spend all their budget on Gerard Butler (is it really him?) and the graphic design department’s working hours were cut? Or the proof reader’s for that matter?
Making sure it really was Gerard, I came across this poster from imdb and the name of Dracula is not even listed?
20130912-123504.jpg
What did Gerard do not to be on the it? And why do they show five characters (minus vampire) but only four actors are referenced?
It may be that they felt a vampire’s name wouldn’t appear in print (mirrors and all) but I think it reflects the general quality of the script that is in my mind seriously lacking some bite even as a “late up with a cough and nothing else to watch movie”…
Bring on Gary Oldman!

movies, typography

Oneustonsquaredomainname

Nice brand name execution, shame about the brand domain name execution…

Oneustonsquarebranding
Clever use of colour to highlight the location name

The jury is out on this one… What looks like a really slick and simple branding concept for One Euston Square (which forms part of a pedestrianised southern approach to Euston station) has been flawed by an in my mind over keen design of the small print. Whilst the logo works beautifully with the detail in the letter ‘q’ featuring a square, this is lost in the domain name oneustonsq.com perhaps for legibility reasons.
However, because of the colouring going hand in hand with the brand logo itself, the missing square somewhat weakens the brand concept and leaves the thought in my mind that they may have been better off leaving the web address as a ‘normal’ piece of information that is not treated as another interpretation of the brand identity concept.
This very ‘square’ element has been nicely reflected on the website where information is displayed in square shapes adding consistency and continuity to the brand logo.
Oneustonsquaredomainname
Perhaps better left alone and simply displayed as a domain name
since they didn’t show the detail of the square in the letter q.

It’s hard as a brand manager to always know where to draw the line between graphic interpretation and sheer practicality and it’s by no means easily definable.
Lumejet S2000 product name typography
The product logo is a sans serif type, but for this brochure spread it was
vital that the name fitted into the concept with both the colour and typography.

Looking at it the other way, a client I am working with at the moment was really concerned about using their product name in a playful manner on a ‘fashion spread’ advertising their product because the typography is designed to go with the content of the pages rather than be an advert for the brand per se.
We did explore the subject and came to the conclusion that the brand should have the confidence to use the name of their product in different styles since there is good reason to do so (rather than compromise the message) – but it really is one of those things where you have to assess on a case by case basis using both gut feeling and common sense.

Brand Managment, brand message, Design, graphic design, Logos, typography

When Thinking Backwards is a Step in the Right Direction

fitflops-covering-beach-with-logo
What are they saying?

Imagine a vast landscape covered with your logo, visible at every step. Would be nice? Meet fitflop, the brand who had the chance to do just that, but decided not to.
fitflops-beach-branding
Turns out, they are saying nothing at all! What a pity, ’cause they could have had their logo plastered all over the sandy beaches of the world…

Their fashionable take on flip flops with a ‘special’ sole has been present on the UK high street for a while now and has become another summer shoe brand alongside Crocs .
On the bottom of their shoes emblazoned in large letters is their logo in a distinct type. It seems that nobody in the product design department saw the potential of the beach shoes spelling out the brand message on Britain’s sandy shores and overseas. Instead, they leave a rather uninspiring ‘golftit’ or just a jumble of what could be letters.
It seems such an apt carrier  for their brand message (beach, sand, sandals, big letter logo…) I can’t believe no-one jumped at this opportunity!

Brand Strategy, Branding, graphic design, typography

Wilkinson – A Big Brand Let Down by Poor Typography

They have seemingly filled the gap on the high street left by Woolworths. Wilkinson has become a household brand in the purest sense – whether you need a bucket or some baby wipes, some wallpaper or gardening tools, they stock a wide range of household goods at a cheap price compared to the more specialised retailers (Boots for baby items, B&Q or Homebase for DIY, the usual supermarkets for household goods.)
It makes sense to highlight this versatility in a marketing campaign and even more so on their delivery vans for the mail order side of the business. But whilst their online appearance seems to be professional, with attention to detail (such as this 404 not found page design), their lorry advertising is just plain awful.
It’s not only the forced justified type that causes huge gaps between some of the words and looks dubious, it’s the inconsistency in the use of the singular or plural that follows no rule or reasoning. It’s a nice concept, but the execution lets it and the brand down big time.

wilkinson brand identity
A clean, simple logo…

Wilkinson-truck-typography
… spoilt by poor typography.

Wilkinson-truck-typography
Jarring even in the dark..

Wilkinson-404-fun error 404 message
That’s better! Makes you want to get to an error 404!

The concept has been visualised by other stores in a more sophisticated manner. John Lewis’ tissue paper shows outlines of all sorts of products, and Bob Gill did the concept of visualising ‘we do all sorts of things’ many, many years ago in a poster that showed the goods of a department store arranged to a nearly out of context graphic with the interest kept by ignoring the actual scale of the items and arranging them, no matter what their real size, next to each other.
It may be that the back of a van does not make or break a brand, but poor typography does reflect on the professionalism and attention to detail of any business (even if Wilkos could have done worse – they could have used Comic Sans)….

Brand Identity, graphic design, typography

A Logo is a Logo is a Logo…

They famously sparked the usual rebranding debate in 2010 when Waterstones changed their logo from the traditional serif W to a rounded sans serif. It was linked to a campaign ‘feel every word’ – and the typography that ensued always struck me as uncomfortably familiar to Unilever, rebranded by Wolff Olins.

Waterstones rebrand 2010
Feel every word… I feel the world ‘familiarity’

Waterstones Logo 2010
Familiar concept? Compare it to the Unilever brand…

Unilever branding
Plagiarism is a form of flattery…

Early this year they have undergone a backward revolution, I suppose, by abandoning the sans serif FS Alberta Pro back to Baskerville and by dropping the apostrophe. Perhaps it got a bit crowded in the logo marketplace when even Tesco adopted that visual type style.
Tesco welcome typography
Another Unilever inspired brand visual…

It’s an interesting decision by the brand owners, and a somewhat brave step to go ‘back to the roots’.
Waterstones brand evolution
From brand evolution to brand revolution – and back again…

They did however still keep that very Unilever style, now on the new old type.
VentureThree rebrand of Waterstones
VentureThree sticks to the Unilever branding approach…

With all this happening, one can excuse the shop owner of the bookstore chain for struggling to keep up with the latest brand guidelines! This Birmingham outlet seems to believe that if in doubt, stick them all on the shop front – something for everyone…
Waterstones-brand-confusion
Brand confusion? If in doubt, stick them all on!

Perhaps the brand guidelines never made it up to Birmingham, or perhaps there is a hidden message here – but it makes me smile in disbelief that such an established brand can allow a clash of identities…

brand guidelines, brand management, Brand Managment, brand message, Brand Strategy, Brand Vision, typography

Saw this and it made me smile…

Brand Advert for Virgin Mobile
Speaking a brand’s language – visually and in the copy. Nice one.

Here is  just one of those nice ads that don’t try too hard and don’t try to be too clever, either.
I love the typography and the feeling they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. The Virgin brand at its best. Talks the language and has a light feel around it. Shame they still send me unsolicited mail every week which is irrelevant to myself and puts the brand values down a notch in my own mind.
 

advertising, brand language, brand message, Branding, typography

What Were They Thinking?! – An Innuendo Logo

Hertling logistics brand identity
Anyone feeling a sense of innuendo? Do they really not see the resemblance to a male body part? 

From their website – anyone notice a familiar shape?
This may be a case of juvenile association – but perhaps I am not the only one wondering about this choice of logo shape. Even describing it as an icon symbolising fluidity and movement seems inappropriate. If it was a word, I would understand – plenty of those happened when international brands made cultural slip-ups with ill-advised translations. But this is surely an international symbol and I can’t help but not take their branding serious!

cultural references, Funny

More Typography

… another week, another ad. Referring back to my earlier post on typography used in a local brand identity, here is another example of a poster where typography makes me stumble.
T-Mobile chose not to separate or highlight in any way their product or package – and it reads rather peculiarly ‘You fix your kids’…

T-Mobile Brand Advert
You fix your kids - and other innovative products from the T-Mobile brand.

What difference a bit of type treatment makes to a brand message.

typography

Give me some space please!

It jars – and makes me question the brand's accuracy in terms of hair styling, too!

Nevermind the name… ‘bad apple’ perhaps not my first choice to establish a salon and retail shop for hair – but I don’t know their target market so it may be just right. (Remember the worries of dying hair blonde which sometimes reacted with swimming pool water to create a green streak?!)
Why do I not know who they are after? I am just not at all tempted to venture into the shop simply because of the signage. How sad am I. It is clearly legible despite the incorrect use of the short hyphen between their strap line. Call me a typo nerd, but these things all add up to the whole brand image in my mind, and since the use of hyphens, n-dashes and m-dashes is not super clear these days, the overriding rule should be that of legibility and aesthetics. When I first walked past, I read hair-dedicated and was intrigued how they came up with that new word until (very shortly after) my eye had caught up with the rest of the sign and felt distracted by the poor typography rather than thinking about the content.
Even if you ignore the punctuation issue, I’d still ask for a teeny bit of space on either side (or to make it into a two-liner) to let the statement talk about the brand rather than shut up any interest.

typography

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