Sunday, November 21, 2010

Packaging Comptacular

Since I missed class this last week, here's the design for my packaging project.  My original project is deodorant, re-imagined as FixieStick -- The social camouflage for hipsters. The packaging itself is quite simple.  Just a front label, back label, and an additional double-sided removable label that goes over top of the back label to reveal drug facts (that panel is rather boring, but S+A decided I should include it since this would be applied to one's body.)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Information Overload (Show and Tell)

My example of a bad infographic certainly isn't terrible, and it probably does as much right as it does wrong. It shows corporate bankruptcies in recent history, and uses sinking ships to represent failed firms. The bigger the ship, the bigger the failure, and the ships are even color coded by industry (that's the part I like). But here's the problem: The ships themselves are really just window dressing for data that could be easily explained in a simple bar graph.  There's an entire chart included at the bottom that correlates the type of ship (dinghy, tug, yacht, etc.) with the size of the failure -- but this is completely uneccessary because that very information is already written numerically on the chart.  The variation in boat types might add visual interest, but it's a mistake to attempt to force correlation with data that's already clearly laid out.

Here's my example of a good infographic, which I dug up at but originally came from Wired. It's a visual representation of the 311 calls received in New York over a period of 24 hours.  Interesting subject, and quite easy to understand once you become oriented to the layout.

It is Thursday.

Yawn. Anybody else not really feeling this whole Thursday morning thing? You're in luck -- me neither.

Take a minute to check out Unhappy Hipsters. The blog pulls the somewhat stark photos from design and architecture publications like Dwell and ArchDaily, and recasts them with whip-smart captions that highlight the austere silliness of the whole scene. The writing is fantastic. And there are about 200 posts to wade through -- perfect for the Thursday morning doldrums.

Caption via UnhappyHipsters:
Neither wanted to be the one to admit that the parallel fireside bench had been a mistake—or that the linear peephole actually obstructed the view.

Brilliant. Although, for the record, I think the name of the site is misleading -- Unhappy Yuppies seems more accurate, but I dunno... maybe hipster is the new yuppie. These terms don't exactly have discrete definitions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coffee Talk (Show and Tell)

Considering how many Starbucks cups are carried into Room 309 every Saturday, I couldn't pass this up.

A few years ago, Starbucks started printing little nuggets of crowdsourced wisdom on their coffee cups, as part of their "The Way I See It" campaign.  They welcomed (and continue to receive) submissions from authors, entertainers, social leaders and plenty of regular ol' caffeine fiends. Some -- though not all -- of these saccharine little quotes tell a brief story or share some lesson.

And interestingly, while the outward narrative is what appears on each cup, Starbucks is also weaving its own corporate tale between the lines. The Starbucks website describes the campaign as "continuing the tradition of the coffee house as a place of conversation, ideas, and enlightenment."  By printing these cups with their customers' own stories, they're really selling the idea that Starbucks is about more than just coffee, without directly saying so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brand new

I think Pepsi must have an entire division assigned to re-branding fails. We can't forget the Tropicana disaster from last year (although, to be fair, the first time I saw that carton on the shelf, I rather liked it.) but more recently, Pepsi rebranded another of its flagship products: Gatorade.

Once upon a time, there was Gatorade. Just Gatorade. Then, came the low-calorie variants, which were branded G2. So we had Gatorade and G2. OK, nothing too confusing there. But oh wait, here come three more products: Gatorade Rain, Gatorade Fierce, and Gatorade X-Factor. Uh-oh.

And here begins Pepsi's two-year spiral into marketing madness. Determining (rightfully so) that their product line was a little convoluted, the good people at Pepsi decided it was re-brand time. So, Gatorade Rain became Gatorade No Excuses. Gatorade X-Factor became Gatorade Be Tough. Gatorade Fierce Became Gatorade Bring It.  Simple and logica -- wait, what?

Hmm... still confusing. So in 2010, ANOTHER rebrand. The answer to this mess? The G Series. Now, every kind of Gatorade has a number, which indicates the drink's level of performance. So we've got a G Series 01, G Series 02, and G Series 03. We've also got G Pro 01, G Pro 02, and G Pro 03.  And for the calorie conscious, there's a G2-branded low calorie option, within the 02 level of the G series.  So... I guess that makes it G Series 02 G2?

The whole mess is summed up quite nicely in this article at Daily Finance: Gatorade's Rebranding: So Confusing It Requires an Ad to Explain It. Stay tuned here, because one day this week I intend to create a handy little graphic to help simplify this mess. Just as soon as I figure it out myself.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Shining Example (Show and Tell)

Since this week's show and tell got all blogified, I figured I'd share some video for my example of narrative. This is a spoof trailer for the movie The Shining. All the footage is from the original, but it's been recut and given a new soundtrack and voiceover. It's amazing how those changes can recast the tone the entire film.

There are probably better examples of a narrative out there (for example, any book, ever), but I thought this was a good example of how a known narrative can be transformed into something completely different.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stop-motion Monday

Since we're all crunching away on our storyboards this week, I thought I'd post a little inspiration.

"Western Spaghetti" made the rounds on YouTube a few years ago, and it's still the coolest stop-motion piece I've ever seen. Pin cushions and Rubik's Cubes never looked so delicious.

The visuals are pretty stunning, but I think it's the audio that sells it. The viewer hears all of the familiar sounds of cooking -- knives chopping, oil sizzling, water sloshing -- and the animation becomes much more believable. Watch it once with the sound off to see what I mean ... it still looks cool, but the real-life audio makes everything much richer.