Category Archives: Branding & Design

Google have been doodling…

googleYes, yes I know it’s the design story de jour, but it’d be awful remiss of me to let the rebrand of one of the most influential companies in my generation’s lives go without commenting.

It’s not that I don’t like the new logo – I mean granted it’s not entirely dripping in inspiration, but I just don’t think it’s Google.

It’s a clunky typeface which I can’t help but feel isn’t kerned very well, and the heavier weight of the new typeface probably contributes more to that impression optically. It’s just too dense. Google of yesterday had an airy lightness to it, an openness which represented a key facet of Google’s corporate identity as a new moon-reach company of the future.

The new logo’s heaviness just lacks that transparent optimistic feather-light transparency. Instead replaced by something; I feel –has all the optimism of  a sullen teenager brooding in the corner frowning so deeply as to give the whole room the impression that the world could quite possibly end if you were to try and engage – and yet that isn’t the worst part!

That e – christ alive, it’s such an utterly clunking catastrophe – it totally misses the mark of being a nod to the previous incarnation; instead it just gives me the  impression that Google might have stalked Dell up a back alley only to rough it up and run away having stolen it’s corporate typeface for shits and giggles.

It’s not just that it’s a bad technically though, nor just that it no longer seems capable of symbolising the corporate culture, No. The hub of the matter, what has really upset the designer in me about this change, is Google’s total blindness to how influential it’s brand is.

Overnight in branding terms Google went from zero to ubiquitous, a brand on par with Coca-Cola, or Ford. A brand recognised by almost every human on the planet… With that level of ubiquity has to come the intelligence to understand the responsibility of being a good steward. You of course can argue that Coca-Cola and Ford have updated their logos – quite a lot in fact as younger companies – but the point was that they weren’t icons when they did that; and since then they’ve recognised the importance of key strands and features of their identities; of course they meddle, but fundamentally what you expect them to be is just what they are.

It’s easy to be glib, but as a man who grew up in the middle of the dot com boom from my perspective – in the context of my life – Google changed the fucking world – it’s brand is an icon of our age, and it just feels like this redesign has entirely failed to grasp the weight of it’s own identity and in doing so they’ve fundamentally failed to act as a steward of a global icon.

The City maketh the Culture.

Gilbert & GeorgeThis is reproduced from an article I wrote on the Vivid London blog – if you’re interested in design, pr or marketing it’s well worth bookmarking.

If you’re very blunt cities are just a collection of buildings, roads and infrastructure where people happen to live and work; they’re essentially just a theatrical backdrop to the daily dramas of each individual’s life – but i like to think they’re more than that.

Cities aren’t just backdrops, they define cultures and movement, some much more so than others. For years certain cities have grabbed their denizens shown them the lights, whether it be London, Berlin, Köln, New York, Paris or Florence the greatest artistic, political and cultural movements have sprung forth from the cities that spin their inhabitants like whirling dervishes into creative thought and action.

Take the naturalistic beauty of that Florence that inspired generations of not just artists, but real masters, you think of Florence and you think of the whole Florentine School cabal which amongst others gave us Donatello, Botticelli, Masaccio and Michelangelo. And to this day artists flock to Florence to be inspired, to take in the winsome tuscan countryside, the exquisite architecture and the delicate palette of colours, smells and tastes that float through every Florentine street and piazza.

Or consider the roaring seething orgy that still is Berlin – through generations this city has inspired biting satire, political activism and an art scene that could only be described as brutally honest portrayals of the world around them. Politically this is the city that saw the rise of Communism and National Socialism in the 30s, during the cold war it saw political activism like nowhere else with a plethora of strong protest groups and even today ferments real dissent and anti-government feeling with activists still keeping Angela Merkel’s coalition quite firmly on it’s toes. Artistically, this political melting pot drives the art scene, from the vicious social commentary of George Grosz or Kathe Kollwitz to the glorious revelry in the debauchery of the cocaine fuelled metrosexual nightclubs as portrayed by Otto Dix and more recently the free-wheeling poor but sexy Berlin as captured so marvellously in my opinion in the joyous canvases of Ann-Kristin Hamm.

London again twists it’s inhabitants, the driving ever-changing scene in London opens new doors every day; one person’s crap is another person’s treasure, from the decaying East End of the 1980   that inspired the mega-canvases of multi-cultural faces in Gilbert & Georges seminal work ‘Are you angry, or are you bored’ to the gawking polemic on Britain’s celebrity obsessed culture embodied so well in Damien Hirst’s ‘For the love of God’ (better known as the diamond encrusted skull). Over and over again London like Berlin or New York has allowed a level of expression that no other city in it’s shadow could foster. It’s taken in the waifs and strays and given them a canvas to play with: and that – that – is why we love our cities.

Vivid London – it’s not just a name: it defines us, the city we’re based in hones our approach. Life should be Vivid, and London inspires us. It truly is a vivid city, the cultures, languages, art, theatre, cinema, architecture, the whole simmering mass is exciting to be in, and because of that creative thought thrives.

A classic look

This is a superb design schema, carried through strong typography and absolutely essential use of simple design elements. You very rarely see design of this standard in my opinion; we should promote this attention to detail in all design courses in the UK – because the tiny details are what makes a superb piece of design stand out from the every-day.

Paul Tebbott Design

Via: Fubiz

This is beautiful

A year, in 90 seconds

One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

Re-designs aplenty!

Well it’s been bloody ages hasn’t it – but this time there is a good reason actually related to this website, oh yes – because I’ve been working on the new design and brand new content. It’s all very exciting, radically different to this site in so many ways, and it’s been a real labour of love that’s slowly come together over the past few months, so expect everything to be changing soon!

Elsewhere I see that the Guardian is redesigning too – and what a beauty it is, lovely use of Egyptian serif fonts, good use of colour to separate out sections and lovely little details such as PNG24’s splicing straight through dividers – let’s hope this is the design that finally makes it across the whole site as recently they’ve looked a bit ‘all over the place’ with the comment is free site having had a face lift and the rest of the site not. The biggest, and for me most important thing they done is probably the simplest – they’ve w-i-d-e-n-e-d the whole site, finally shaking off the last vestiges of the confines of 800 by 600, something that I’m rather keen on myself *wink*.

Gadgets

There are loads of video’s about showing the latest cool gadgets, most of which pass me by, but this is really clever… doesn’t look comfortable, but it’s rather cool I think.

The truth about ad-sales.

Came across this the other day, it’s cringe-worthy, but so true… I have (shamefully) sat in meetings like this with lots of people bigging up their ego’s whilst trying to sell the client bollocks. The little thing about zig and zagging… I wonder who that could be aimed at… answers on a postcard please.

Round Up

You’ll have to excuse me, as I know I’ve not blogged for decades: I have, as the the generic excuse of every lazy blogger goes, been busy.

I’ve been running all over the place doing all sorts of things, including, directing and shooting a fashion shoot for a well known tailor, attending endless meetings discussing everything from the details and minutia of an innovative start-up to bowels and bloating with another (and there really is a reason for this…), doing another shoot taking photos of bus lanes, buildings and traffic islands for later digital play and many other things. I’ve also been feverishly picking up new camera parts, searching for a new HD-DV cam (thinking of the Canon XH1) and preparing several pitches for several new and interesting potentials.

Alongside all of this the house hunt is once again picking up pace, with everything above and more it’s been a slow process, we’ve also done some (shock horror) socialising, coffee, films and galleries.

I really must whinge about the new Tate Modern exhibition, having made the effort to cross the river eariler this week, meeting dave mid-way across the Millennium Bridge (very Spooks), to go and see the much talked about “Slides”, we were very disappointed to find only two were open, and both of these were filled with devil spawn and their pushy-mummies while the others, gated and guarded by a surly looking Tate modern attendant were apparently ‘fully booked’ – and fuck me they looked it, not. So miffed at not getting to have a go on the slides, we were ultra critical of the installation which seemed even more pointless when you can’t get the endorphin hit they’re supposed to provide on the way down… to us they seemed badly lit, poorly constructed (horrid welding… if you’re into that sort of thing), and just a little uninviting: they certainly weren’t embracing like the Weather Project was, so disappointed at Tate.

However I really must enthuse about The Devil Wears Prada, which is wickedly funny; well shot, beautifully styled and strangely true to life in many of it’s nuances, anyone that’s worked in or around the fashion industry will be able to see someone they know in any one of the main characters. Meryl Streep as Anna Wintour ahem, Miranda Priestly is stunning whilst Anne Hathaway puts in a sterling performance as ugly duckling turned swan. Whilst on the subject of movies I must also say that since Odeon took over the UCI at Whiteleys the seats are now so much more comfy, avoiding that horrid mid-movie-numb-bum, that used to be a danger whenever visiting that particular cinema.

I must also positively drool over Notting Hell, Rachel Johnson’s new book all about the trials and tribulations of life on the communal garden in my favourite part of London, again if you live, or have ever lived in W11 this book will give you deep deep joy, and it’s hilariously accurate, although I’ve yet to come across any reference to Dutch neighbours who fake orgasms every saturday morning – so I’m guessing that that’s just one of our personal experiences.

So it’s Monday morning, admittedly a long time before work is to start, but Monday none the less – I’m promising myself that I’ll do more blogging this week, I’ve got a phone full of more tube fashion disasters and I’ve got tales of a conversation overheard in Starbucks Notting Hill Gate which I’m just too tired to explain the utter ridiculousness of right now, but I promise I’ll do that some time this week!

Vindicated

Ha Ha! I bet some smug editor at the BBC is crying into their coffee this afternoon as Centre Pointcame bottom of the 5 “ugliest” buildings in London, despite BBC LDN appearing to try and rig the vote by using only Centre Point’s image in the web article and making a point of describing it as pre-cast concrete (something they failed to do for all the others despite at least 3 of them being of the same construction). But it appears that the public have voted with their feet ignoring the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s assertions that it’s a bad building because the pavement around it is small and the BBC’s apparent bias against the building.

Centre Point is obviously well loved as it only got 6% of the vote, with the generally loved 30 St.Mary’s Axe getting a higher proportion of the vote, which in my opinion is a good thing: yes some 60’s architecture was rubbish, some was poorly thought out and even more poorly constructed, but Centre Point, and several others (including Goldfinger’s masterpiece Trellick Tower) are having a renascence, and rightly so, as they’re fantastic buildings that are iconic and of their time, testament to the designers who conceived them and the materials they’re made out of.

A profile of the Bank

A very interesting article for anyone who’s fascinated by odd buildings: a profile on the Bank of England, including some facts about the second largest gold bullion in the world being below the Bank, and how the vaults underneath the 3 acre site of the Bank in the heart of the city being larger in floor space than Tower 42: Having said that anyone that’s followed the history of London buildings will know that floor space was always Tower 42 (or as it was then: The Natwest Tower’s) achilles heal, it’s unique cantilevered design that gives it such a small street footprint impinging on it’s internal square footage from the very moment it was placed on the drawing board, although at the time of design the lack of internal pillars within each ‘leaf’ of the tower was seen as sufficient as they’d failed to foresee the future of large electronic trading floors.