August 30, 2007

mtv comes clean

A few weeks ago mtv launched a new on-air design that is more comprehensive than anything I've seen on mtv in years. The look is simple and clean, with colors and typefaces that give a knowing wink to the audience. It talks up to them, which is a huge accomplishment for any network that caters to the exceptionally media and marketing savvy youth market. For years, mtv's brand has been in its voice, but its visual style never had any consistent look. I often wondered if this was intentional, as an acknowledgment that their audience didn't respond to a consistent look - mtv is well known for intense audience research, after all. Regardless, I love their new look. The typography is smart, the variations on the theme and palette offer endless combinations within a consistent look, and the use of the cropped logo is a great wink at the audience, letting them know that mtv gives them some credit for their intelligence. If I find any info on the designer or firm responsible, I'll pass it on. I am curious to see how long they stick to the look after years of having many different looks on air at once, but for now, they're looking better than ever.

August 29, 2007

dawg day afternoons

My friend Russ from San Fran visited me this week, so I spent the last couple days playing host and tour guide (which I like to do). Tuesday we accidentally stumbled upon the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market, which was a pleasant surprise. And I even discovered a new - and really tasty - fruit that I'd never heard of - Pluots. Apparently they're a combination of Cherry, Plum and Apricot. They were damn good, and lots of varieties too. We had just had lunch so we were already stuffed, but maybe I'll go back for some someday. Otherwise, we just enjoyed a couple sunny days around the beach and South Bay.

August 27, 2007


Saturday I made a pilgrimage up to Lancaster to go with my friend Dave to the Antelope County Fair (and Alfalfa Festival - really!). I asked Dave if they had fried Alfalfa and he said no. The only Alfalfa I found was the blue ribbon hay display (Alfalfa is King! who knew?!). Reba McEntire was in concert, which was my main reason for making the drive, but its always fun just to go to their fair. Its smalltown life at its best. Not to mention the Sioux Burgers - essentially a turnover filled with hamburger (and spices and potatoes maybe?) served with a cup of salsa. I've never seen it anywhere else. I'm already looking forward to having one again a year from now...

August 25, 2007


Just when you thought you'd seen every iteration of "What a Wonderful World" there is, and the cynic in you finds it hard to find the joy in it anymore; along comes this one - featuring shadow puppets by Raymond Crowe. Try, just try, to watch it and not feel good.
  • YouTube: Raymond Crowe - A Wonderful World
  • August 24, 2007

    la gallery ii

    more passing views of the mix of character and culture that makes la...

    August 23, 2007

    la gallery

    Some random slices while driving across LA. (relax, I wasn't driving, I was in the passenger seat...)

    August 22, 2007

    rising roo

    You may not have noticed a few weeks ago that Qantas Airlines changed their logo and branding. Where Chrysler (or Delta) is a classic example of how not to refresh an existing brand, Qantas is a perfect example of doing it right. In other words, don't fix what isn't broken. Qantas has one of the best designed airplane liveries anywhere in the world. The cleanliness of the white planes with the bold red tail always stands out. They and FedEx both smartly take advantage of the tailfin shape and extend the shape through the entire plane, creating a dynamic wedge that defines their look. The Kangaroo speaks volumes with its simple bold shape and color, and the accompanying type was bold and forward-moving without overshadowing the 'roo. The impetus for the logo refresh was Qantas new A380 fleet - the kangaroo just didn't work with the shape of the new huge tailfin (also true for the shape of most recent Boeings in their fleet), so they fixed it, and in doing so, gave the roo a sleeker smarter shape that shows even more motion and power than the existing one. The new roo no longer gets cut by the other fins on the tail. It's worth noting that Qantas kept the previous logo for 23 years - worth praise to the company for keeping it that long, and also for it looking as strong and current as it does for its age. As for the refresh, As much as I love the new 'roo, I'll admit that I don't love the new typography. Qantas has adopted a new custom-drawn typeface that to me is a little too trendy and not as bold - and the almost-but-not-quite ligature between the Q and the A creates a very awkward open space at the upper half of those letters. Plus I feel like the trendy typeface makes it not likely to last 20 years without looking dated. It almost makes me wonder if they felt they needed to change the type to justify the expense of such a subtle re-do. Regardless, the refresh is successful in putting Qantas in a place to continue moving forward for years to come without sacrificing any of its existing brand equity. A textbook example of smart.

    August 20, 2007

    falling star

    A couple weeks ago, Chrysler began its latest chapter as a new private company. They made the announcement with great fanfare over their new logo. What they may not have expected was the universal disdain and dislike that the logo would be greeted with. In addition, there seems to be great confusion over what this logo is even for. My guess - because I can't find confirmation anywhere - is that this is the new corporate logo, but not the logo that will appear on the vehicles. If that's true, thats the one good decision Chrysler has made. Several years ago, as Chrysler was releasing well-designed sleek vehicles and dispelling their boxy 80's K-car image, they began using the "wings" logo above. The wings logo is smartly built around the original Chrysler medallion logo from the 20's. It was a stylish logo change rooted in history. However, the "pentastar" logo that originally appeared in 1962 continued on as the corporate logo; (just not the logo used on vehicles). Again, a good move recognizing the equity of the pentastar that shouldn't be abandoned, while understanding a need for a new sleek public face on its vehicles. I can't believe Chrysler would be stupid enough to return to using the pentastar on its vehicles now. But then again, I also wouldn't have expected them to ruin the pentastar the way they have. Once again, its yet another case (a la AT&T, UPS, Chevron, etc) of a classic clean and bold logo being mucked up and muddled with additions of unnecessary shading, gradations, dimension, bevels, edges, blah blah blah. The flat logo that created dimension through a brilliant play on negative space is gone. "The new Pentastar, with some changes by Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President — Design, conveys strength and precision by fusing the ends of the five triangles to enclose the star and complete the pentagon." Holy crap. Thats the kind of mistake I would expect some marketing guy to make, but a designer? sheesh. I almost wonder if the message wasn't "We're closing the doors now - we're now a private company. We can do what we want and don't have to answer to anyone anymore." Clearly whoever did the accompanying typography wasn't answering to anyone. Borrowing the type from the wings logo just plain doesn't make any sense: its reference of a retro feel is completely out of place with the monolithic pentastar. And tacking "the new" on to ANY logo is inexcusable. Ever. If you have to say it literally with words on a logo, you haven't done your job. And to do so with such poor typography is even worse. Tony Spaeth of Identityworks didn't mince words in his review: "I have seldom seen so graphic an expression of how far we have fallen, in 45 years, from the skill and confidence of modern design. There is nothing in the new mark that is consistent with a corporation of stature and quality." It seems the new Chrysler has made its mark.

    August 19, 2007

    sunday in the park with george

    My friend George joined me today for a Dodgers game. After an almost three year dry spell, I finally got a signature on my ball! Laugh all you will, but thats a big deal to me. (Thanks, Hillenbrand!) The game was fun (and hot - after living at the beach for a couple years, I forget how hot it can get inland). Afterward we went to the Sunset Junction street fair for a lot of great people watching, culminating in a concert by the O'Jays. Who can resist a rousing chorus of "love train"?!