December 31, 2010

Have a colorful new year!

Well that is one of my intentions for the new year. While working during the mid holiday I have  inbetween made up some new year resolutions for 2011 too. Here's some:
1. Eat more ice cream
2. Walk 30 minutes every day
3. Have some alone time every day
4. Travel a place I never been before
5. Accept that flaws is part of making us what we are - perfection is overrated. 
6. Start working for real on my color project! (read below)
7. Not beat myself up if I'm not able to fulfill 100% point 2 - 6. 

For several years I've had an idea about a book project related to colors. It will be highly subjective and intertwined with professional and personal knowledge with sole purpose of being inspirational. In a busy life it has been difficult to set aside time and it's the kind of project that I probably will need late night and wee hours to accomplish; but I sure would like to get started! As a parallel to this project I hope to trickle some into my blog and follow up with colorful news every month.

In the meantime here's an article from Landor about color trends: Trends in color direction

Warm digital bagels

A fun "back to the future" ad just before we enter into a new year. I found this related to the article recently posted by COLORlovers showing work of the artist Karl Addison; a nice confirmation of the fact that hand drawings and more personal visual styles are on the rise. Quote: 

"..there has been a resurgence with straight-up hand-drawn logos & advertisements rounding out many companies identities. This style can give an old fashion, home-made, classic, tactile feel and it adds in a sense of craft that is often not translated to the consumer through photography".

To see the works of Karl Addison: Karl Addison's Bagels & the Hand-drawn Ad Trend

A related blog posting about this issue is:  Imperfect is the new perfect in packaging trends

Have more fun in 2011 !

Well, that is the new year's  resolution for  the Australian ad agency Droga5  - and it really isn't such a bad idea is it ? The copy-rich ad was published earlier this  month as a full page ad in  "The Australian"

To see the ad:  

December 30, 2010

Protective architecture

Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Here is a link with updates and photos from the global seed vault that in December 2010 reached 500 000 seed samples! 

Some call it the doomsday vault, since it is a protector of global biodiversity in a changing world vulnerable to natural disasters, war, lack of management and finance. In a more positive perspective it is at least a confirmation of  insight into our human vulnerability and a legacy of will to try to think, plan and act for a future and future generations. The architecture itself is fascinating. For obvious reasons related to shape (and some more subtle meanings) I get a visual parallel to the monolithic symbolism in Stanley Cubrick's movie "2010".

Design trouble ?

Blue Vertigo
An interesting interview with acclaimed designer Gadi Amit. This is much like putting hands into a fire because I know it is a subject with many opinions. But just as art and design products are subject for discussions every day so should the school systems of designers be. I am not to judge either about the American design school system or Mr. Amit's opinions. (Some I agree with and some I don't)

The possibilities, integration and need for technology the last decades, especially in regards to design, have left some school systems behind catching their breath  while others have chosen to run too fast. Which leads to a quote from the interview:  

"Many come from engineering programs that claim to be "design" programs. Lots have been taught some version of "design thinking," but most of that is devoid of any cultural, aesthetic, or form intelligence."

I believe a streamlined school system is not necessarily a guarantee for producing good designers. I think versatility in design education is just as important. Why? Look back in art and design history and you will find many examples of artists and designers sometimes paving way for new main directions within art and design, just because of a different background or training.
A concern is also if basic drawing skills in general is evaporating from design education. Even though most sketches in our digital world will only be part of a pre stage of a design project it is so important to have some elementary drawing skills; whether it is about the golden ratio or perspectives. Sometimes you need to get yourself out on a field or any space with a pen and paper to catch the true notion of distances, light and shadows. These are perception skills that can be difficult to learn in front of a computer screen. Again a quote from the interview:

"Anecdotally, the one skill that does "glue" design together, hand sketching, is slowly eroding. Mainly seen as a quick ideation phase before CAD, this skill should be seen as a way of thinking--combining visual thinking with personal aesthetics" 

To read the interview:  American Design Schools Are a Mess, and Produce Weak Graduates

December 29, 2010

The Human Factor

It's not long ago that Leo Burnett published a new book called "The Human Kind". The book presents several campaigns done for McDonald, Nike, Heineken, Canon and World Wildlife Fund. All which had a certain impact and touchdown moments in regards to active participation with the consumer. 

I like the introductory video related to the book so much that I want to share it. The video focus on participation, "Acts not ads", which first and foremost is about connectivity. This brings me back to yesterdays posting of "11 consumer trends for 2011"where trend nr. 9 is categorized as "Planned Spontaneity" ("'expect to see consumers in 2011 rushing to sign up to services (the PLANNED part) that allow for endless and almost effortless mass mingling") The video itself gives you a feeling of something instant and it points elegantly towards humans as individuals with individual experiences against the framework of a fragmented and connected world. And most importantly our vulnerability. 

It is a lot of focus on emotional marketing these days; like we woke up recently and found out we forgot about the human factor. It's always been there, but in the near past we may have gone astray a little in our quest for digital global domination. It's like we all got a little "pixelated" in every walk of life. It's just an observation and only one point of view: The more digital and technological advanced our world becomes, the more obvious will our vulnerability as humans appear; from our mortality to our ability to make mistakes. But as humans we also have the unique ability to dream, smile, make miracles happen and....connect. This is what makes us special; the human kind. Writing about this subject made me think of a classic;  Bjork's "Human Behavior" from 1993, which has been around for quite a while for all marketers, and Bjork points her finger right at it in her lyrics:

" get involved in the exchange
Of human emotions is ever so satisfying"

Bjork - "Human Behavior" 1993

View Leo Burnett's video: "The Human Kind"

December 28, 2010

Trendspotting 2011

Here's a great trend watch report that sums up some very possible mainstreams in consumer behavior 2011; from online status symbols to emerging generosity and urbanomics. Something for everyone!

One time somebody told me they thought reports like this were a cynical way of dissecting innocent consumers. Of course as with many other things in life companies will try to utilize the information for profit reasons and anyone with a marketing background will look upon it as a vital part of macro research.  But it really isn't only about that. These reports are based on current human behavior and I have always liked to read them because they offer a unique opportunity to feel the pulse of human life and thought patterns, in many ways much better than any news hour could ever offer me. It is like a mirrored reflection of our beliefs and disbeliefs, colored by global and national events and opinions, commercial or not. To read the report:

11 crucial consumer trends for 2011

December 24, 2010

....track Santa!

Pepper Cookies
We're waiting on the beaches of Miami for Santa Claus! In the meantime tracking him on Google earth:

December 20, 2010

Warming up for the Holidays

A well deserved pre-christmas treat after a long Sunday preparing for the holidays: Homemade oatmeal cookies & cocoa w/cream. Yummy!

The fella in the background is a Yule goat that followed me all the way to Miami, which is one of the oldest Scandinavian and Northern European Christmas symbols. The origins go as far back as to pre-Christian days. The Yule goat was part of mythical believes and looked upon as a protector of holiday preparations. As part of farm culture it was common to slaughter a goat for the holidays believed to bring good fortune.

And then there is the tradition with the Christmas buck This originated amongst pagans that worshiped the Norse god Thor (w/the hammer!) riding his chariot driven by two goats. During holidays they would disguise their appearance by dressing in a goatskin and go house to house carrying a goat head! Christian missionaries modified the tradition and divorced its meaning from Paganism. In modern times this has been a tradition carried on by children going door to door in the neighborhood in the days between christmas and new year singing christmas carols in exchange for little gifts and sweets (similarities to Halloween). An interesting aspect is that this tradition (as per Wikipedia) is still found in areas in America with large populations of Scandinavian descent such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Alaska.

For more info check link:  Wikipedia

December 14, 2010

For the love of food, design & functionality

Here' s something to dive into for everyone that likes to indulge into food not only for the taste of it, whether you're an expert, novise or just curious. Another aspect is to look upon it as a trend, inspiration and literally food for thought in regards to design in other areas. I am sure you will find something interesting in this article from Dezeen.  Here's an example and quote:

"Far from gazing into the future, as you might expect, contemporary designers seem to be more interested in learning from the past, or from other less developed cultures, and re-evaluating lost knowledge about food. This chimes with wider trends that have swept through the design world in the last few years, noticeable for example in the return of craft, decoration, vernacular forms and traditional materials in avant-garde design" 

 To read article:

"Food and Design: a report by Dezeen for Scholt├Ęs"


Something timeless - USP's

Rosser Reeves

To the left, the creator of the USP theory, Rosser Reeves - A photo with "Mad Men" ambiance all over it - To read more about Rosser Reeves:

The article I refer to addresses the overuse and erosion of marketing terms in markets that are getting more noisy and crowded and argues that the theory about a USP is more important than ever.

This article reminded me of a project I was involved with earlier his year. I was doing a job for a company that proudly can say they're making healthy products. A company that puts effort into creating food that are natural and without preservatives. So what are a company with these values going to do in a market that are flooded with products claiming to be natural? It seems like a choice between drowning or screaming.

In regards to packaging, there are rules and regulations any manufacturer has to follow in regards to product description and information to the consumer. Whatever space left is available for copy and design, the question is sometimes what to fill those spaces with. In the process of upgrading old packaging, my client was so in doubt about their old natural marketing statement (the feeling of drowning)  they at one time proposed to use the term "real ingredients" and that's when my alarm went off, and I told them: "Don't even go there, it sounds desperate, like you' re trying to convince too much about something.. It's a statement that leaves an uncomfortable consciousness/question about what is real or...not real ". My client decided to go for another solution that was realistic and to the point. But it's kind of ironic that it can be so tough even for a company that belongs to a market segment to find  it's "voice" and I would dare to say it is highly complicated by a flood of "wannabe" products that doesn't belong in the same segment.

December 10, 2010

Can colors transform life, hope and involvement ?

I found this article and happy to see what they have tried to accomplish in some parts of Rio's slum and shanty towns. It doesn't change the hardship of life and neither should it be considered as a cover up of the tough reality. But if it can change and inspire one child's mind growing up there, i would say that it's worth it.

Rio slum transformed into canvas bursting with colors

Once upon a time there was an oil tank...

Puts recycling to another level and should be an inspiration for everyone in regards to renewal and new thinking. Amazing transformation of an oil tank to a home!  

Article written in a language spoken by less that 5 mill., so don't be discouraged if you don't understand much :-).   Look for the left and right-side navigation tool on the photos, I promise they will tell you the (short)story!

John Maeda: "Innovation is born when art meets science"

"Superior innovation comes from bringing divergents (the artists and designers) and convergents (science and engineering) together."

Read more of the interview with John Maeda that talks about why mixing of disciplines are so important. Even though the focus is on science, technology and design it should be a lesson for many industries.

"Innovation is born when art meets science"

Not sure where I found this fella' Isn't this the cutest moose ever?! Is it just me seeing the outline of a Formula 1 and a snowplough too ? 

OK, Yes!, it's been a cold and busy week in Miami ! :-)

What frequency do you pick up ?

Frequencies 2010
An interesting "words for thought" video that opens up on perspectives for everyone trying to understand the impact of social media, especially related to marketing. PS - Listen through it to catch the point:

"The future of publishing"

December 9, 2010

Timeless ad icons

It's incredible how some icons have the ability to survive changes and trends - Or maybe it's about recognizing intelligent creatives that see recycling opportunities in old values ?

 "Little Debbie writes new marketing recipe"

Digital antiques

Here's an article that should please anyone that loves green apples, computers and collector items!:

December 5, 2010

Passionate branding

An article with a down to earth perspective on the new tools available in regards to social media and marketing. A reminder to not analyze and dissect your tools to much:

"Passionate people build passionate brands that attract passionate customers" 

Copy in the raw

Copy is not dead! -  In this article you can read about Sugar in the Raw's new ad campaign which has a surprisingly long copy. I guess we're talking about emotional connections again:

"Creative gurus serve some seriously sweet copy"

The nature of patterns

Interesting photos of nature with a little different perspective:

"Earth's most stunning natural fractal patterns"

Brands & customer loyalty 2010

Read this article to learn about the connection between emotions and brand loyalty and a brand list over who's hot and who's not in 2010:

"Which brands have the most loyal customers?"

Sweet cookies from IKEA

IKEA's cookbook 2010 "Homemade is best"
IKEA is doing it again and this time by baking up some real sweet treats. Whether you’re a fan of minimalism or not, check out the article and video. From my point of view, this is a good example of added value in marketing by simply introducing new perspectives to your customer. In other words, if you sell a map try to introduce a couple of visionary destinations to the traveler, and if done correctly you might be asked to provide more tools.

The article praise the creation and innovation of the new campaign but does not address how this in practical terms will impact the IKEA customer. What is the effects?  If you as an IKEA customer have received this gift (which is a positive thing in the first place) and you really enjoy the cookbook and you start using it, it is repeated exposure to the IKEA brand over a long period of time. Every time you use it it will work as a reminder to where you should go next time when you need something new for your kitchen!

December 4, 2010

Is your favorite color determined by experience ?

A favorite subject of mine! It is widely known that colors can have different meaning from culture to culture and the influence this have on our choices of colors in design, marketing materials and product development all over the world.

Through studies and research scientist have even found that our perception of colors can be linked to physical factors. For example: Do you know there is no other color the human eye can distinguish more hues and nuances of than green ? Scientist believe this is a direct result of our evolution as humans. Linked back to a time where the ability to distinguish different green nuances in the nature was a matter of survival.

But there is of course a clear and overwhelming amount of psychological aspects and reasons to our  perception of colors. This article adds some interesting perspectives:

Imperfect is the new perfect in packaging trends

This is an article I read earlier this autumn and I have kept it because I think it has relevance not only to the use of packaging materials but to graphic design in general. If it is pointing towards a trend it means we will see less picture perfect packaging and images/messages related to marketing.

"'By using naturally made - or naturally looking materials, you separate yourself from the pack. More importantly, consumers connect to the imperfect. It reminds us we're human."

In regards to graphic design  we have seen for a long time, let's say the last 10 years, a polished look on everything from websites to packaging. Some of it of course generated by new software programs and expanding possibilities in regards to digital design. From my point of view it has sometimes looked like a massive migration down the alley of web 2.0 style; the clean  polished corporate look and  I think many have adapted to it simply because it has been a trend and everybody else is wearing it. I miss more integrity and diversity in the way companies and individuals think about how to visualize their branding. But let that be said: for huge market areas and many companies this is definitely the design galaxy to be in because the clean corporate style visualizes in a strong and positive way their corporate being. But it doesn't mean it is right for everyone and that every logo for every business should look like a website gadget. If this article is onto something this might be changing: