Words of Wisdom from Scott Bedbury

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Creative Titans: John Maeda and the Art of Simplicity

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Born in 1966, John Maeda is a world-renowned graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist. Throughout his successful career as a programmer and as an artist, he has found a way to seamlessly interconnect the two.

During his time studying at MIT, famed designer Muriel Cooper persuaded Maeda to pursue his passions for fine art and design. He did so by teaching typographers and page designers to explore the freedom of the web through computer-aided design. Many designers credit him with laying the groundwork for interactive motion graphics.

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Maeda wrote the book on simplicity – literally – in 2006. His book, titled “The Laws of Simplicity”, covers the 10 laws and three key principles of simplicity, which range from thoughtful reduction to organization and time-saving.

In his early work, he redefined the use of electronic media by combining artistic techniques with advanced computer programs to create truly unique pieces. He is also a proponent of the “STEAM” movement: He strives to have an “A” for Art added to the STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Maeda focuses on creating simplicity in the digital age by intersecting complicated technology with art and design. As a member of the Technical Advisory Board for Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, he is constantly faced with the challenge of creating something that is simple, yet still meets our complex needs.

Design Strategy

Maeda aims to balance simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design. To achieve this, he said: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” He believes that we can learn to simplify without sacrificing quality, both in our professional and personal lives.

He has taken influence from Paul Rand and his love of creating pieces that are less structured. He also frequently praises Apple’s designs and how they simplify our complicated needs. Maeda found that “while great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clear.”

His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris. It is also a part of the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the NYC Museum of Modern Art. Along with his museum contributions, he has also worked with companies like Absolute Vodka, Reebok, and Shiseido to create limited edition designs that showcase his appreciation for art and technology. He is also the founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab.

He is the recipient of many awards, including the Smithsonian Institution National Design Award, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany, and the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan. He was also named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire and deemed the “Steve Jobs of academia” by Forbes.

Original Packaging that was Better than the Redesign

Package redesigns are famously tricky. On the one hand, updating a product’s look can be an important part of appealing to new consumers and staying fresh in an evolving market. On the other hand, companies risk losing valuable brand equity when they sacrifice recognizable design. When faced with the challenge of a redesign, sometimes brands just don’t get it quite right, and would have been better off sticking with their original look. Here are three recent examples of redesigns that did not deliver the effect that companies intended.

Miracle Whip

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In Kraft’s defense, Miracle Whip was due for a modern upgrade. The redesign that they chose in 2009, however, was uninspiring and bland. It’s clear that they were trying to go more minimalist, but the result made the product look unappetizing and generic, with no indicators of flavor other than the words “The Tangy Original”. Kraft quickly realized the error of their ways, and in 2010 a new design was released that retained more of the fun and color of the original packaging.

Weight Watchers

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In 2012, Weight Watcher’s had their logo redesigned by Pentagram. Keeping with the trends of the time, they opted for a gradient and a heavy font, with no space between the words. The company, which sells products related to dieting ranging from books to packaged foods, wanted their new look to highlight the transformation that consumers experience through the brand. What they were not counting on, however, was that a vulgar British slang word was now smack dab in the middle of the logo, which consumers in the U.K. found very difficult to look past.

The Happy Meal

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Few things are as iconic to the children of America as the Happy Meal box. The simple, sweet design had a lot of personality, and it represented years of brand loyalty that McDonald’s had built with families. In 2014, the company decided to reintroduce mascots into their branding, including a new one in the form of “Happy”, whose realistic smile and crazy eyes terrified consumers. The new boxes quickly became the subject of public ridicule and scorn, inspiring everything from memes to thinkpieces about how McDonald’s had evidently lost their minds.

An important thing to keep in mind here is that all three of these companies – Kraft, Weight Watchers, and McDonald’s – are multimillion-dollar corporations with huge marketing teams and expensive consumer research, yet even they have gotten redesigns very, very wrong. It’s difficult work, and both the design community and the food and beverage industry are still figuring out the best ways of going about it. But for every failure, we all learn a little more about how to do better next time, which is especially true for companies that are as large as these three. If the public disaster of the new Happy Meal box prevented us from having to deal with more disturbing mascots that may have been in the works, then it was worth it.

5 Designs We Love: Experiential Package Design

Experiential packaging involves the use of typography, color, imagery, and content to create a new environment and a truly unique experience for the consumer. By changing the way that clients interact with a product and making the experience more enjoyable, many companies have seen increased sales and more brand loyalty. Experiential packaging can serve as an effective sales tool by pulling the customer in.

In order to use this design strategy most effectively, the packaging should be visually appealing, memorable, and provide an experience for the prospective buyer, before they even get to the product. By creating a sensory experience for your consumers, you can connect with them on a more personal level. We have highlighted some of our favorite examples of successful experiential package design, which uniquely engage with their consumers and stand apart from the rest.

 

Black Forest Chocolate

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The Black Forest Chocolate packaging goes beyond presenting chocolate as a present (which this packaging also accomplishes). By focusing on all five senses, the consumer can create their own environment entirely focused on the appreciation of chocolate. The package includes chocolate to eat, a chocolate candle to smell, and by placing the candle inside the packaging, the light shines out of the logo cutouts to create a forest in the room while the consumer is enjoying their chocolate.

 

La Vita Mini Oliva

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This award-winning experiential design makes these small olive oil packages more intriguing and attractive to consumers. The individual packages are user-friendly, enticing, and are the perfect size for vending machines and counter sales. La Vita’s marketing team also offers design services to help businesses create a unique presentation stand to further boost sales and entice consumers.

 

Festina Profundo Dive Watch

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What better way to advertise that these watches are waterproof than with this packaging? Berlin-based agency, Scholz & Friends, came up with the idea to pack the watch in a transparent bag filled with distilled water to prove that they are truly waterproof. After all, the company’s motto is “We believe in what we see”. By submerging the watch in water, it creates a visually appealing, shareable experience (and also makes for a unique gift).

 

Jose Cuervo

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These limited edition Day of The Dead bottles feature a festive image that is reminiscent of tattoo art, which draws the consumer’s eye. The best part is that the color-changing bottles become more colorful and festive when the bottles are chilled, creating an experience for consumers. Khortytsa designed the bottles to connect with the millennial generation in order to increase sales both in store and in the bar/club scene.

 

Nike Air

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To complement one of the most popular sneaker designs ever released, Berlin-based agency, Scholz & Friends, realized they would truly have to do something “outside of the box”. They packaged the shoes in an air-tight plastic bag to appear as if the sneakers were floating in air. It immediately grabs a buyer’s attention, is highly shareable advertising, and even helps reduce the risk of damage from shipping.

What are your favorite experiential package designs?

Colors that Yell

With the trend of minimalist, stark packaging still going so strong, some brands are pushing back with designs that scream from the shelf. Hot pink, blood orange, teal – all are showing up in product categories that have never gone so bold. We know that color choices evoke different emotional responses for consumers, and playing with combinations can help shoppers connect with brands. Clashing colors are also usually more memorable and therefore are great for brand recall, especially when the colors are unique to the product.

Using loud, expressive colors is a way for brands to differentiate a special edition product, allowing them to break out of their standard molds and appeal to new groups. This can be highly effective for brands looking to target younger consumers, who are appreciative of companies that are willing to take on a little edginess and aesthetic risk. Large brands looking to emulate the look and feel of small brands should take note of how the following companies have successfully crafted exciting packages by taking chances with color.

 

Harper Macaw

Last spring, D.C. chocolatier Harper Macaw released a series of bars inspired by the election. Naturally, the wrappers use bold reds and blues, and the result is gorgeous and striking. Rather than feeling like political cartoons, the chocolates are elegant and find the beauty within the absurdity of our current political climate. For a time that has been so stressful and dividing, at least we got a little something sweet out of it.

 

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Bud Light

Bud Light is now the official beer sponsor of South by Southwest, and the funky, psychedelic cans that they issued in limited release last year were such a hit that they are coming back for the 2017 festival. With bright blues, orange, yellow, red, purple, green, and a shock of black, the packaging perfectly captures the vibe of the festival and of the famously “weird” city of Austin.

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Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP

Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP sticks out like a sore thumb among competitors, with a heavy fuchsia font that pops (pun intended) against solid feminine backgrounds. This is a great example of how color clashing can be used in a way that is playful without being childish – this design communicates maturity while remaining effectively eye-catching. The color choices here indicate that the snack is something indulgent and luxurious, a cut above all of the Orville Redenbachers and the Act IIs.

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Wild Leaf

Most tea brands try to communicate the same themes: tranquility, peace, smoothness, etc. Wild Leaf has decided to take an entirely different approach, with wild colors that would be striking on their own and are even stronger when put together. Energetic and youthful, with a large callout for its specific properties, it’s certainly more fun than your grandma’s Lipton.

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Ciao Bella

The bright, beautiful color palette that Ciao Bella used for their line of gelatos is a great example of risk paying off. Brands of ice cream and similar treats often struggle with how to clearly target adults, and the rainbow of color could have easily made it seem like it was a dessert for children. Instead, the careful color pairings elevate the packaging to a new level of sophistication, while still looking just as visually interesting and trendy as competitors like Ben & Jerry’s.

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Unexpectedly Iconic Designs

Sometimes brands just don’t understand the power of their own designs. Bad design can result in catastrophic failure for even the most successful and well-established companies, as seen with Tropicana’s disastrous attempt at a redesign in 2009. The packaging was so reviled that it caused sales to plummet by 20% over a two-month period, costing the juice company $30 million in lost transactions and a huge undisclosed sum in costs associated with reverting back to the old design.tropicana

On the other hand, good design has the power to multiply profits several times over – as was the case with Botanical Bakery, whose 2010 redesign tripled sales in a single year. This is the dream of most brands, and, usually, companies will invest heavy amounts of time and money to make sure that such a project is strategically sound. In a few cases, however, brands have taken risks by choosing designs that they did not feel especially strongly about, only to see huge rewards for their gamble. Below are three examples of designs with low expectations that went on to become iconic, generating untold profits and consumer loyalty for the brands attached to them.

 

The “Jazz” Solo Cup

In 1991, the Sweetheart Cup Company selected a design by employee Gina Ekiss in an internal contest to be featured on cups and plates. Gina received no bonus, awards, or recognition for her contribution, which was called “jazz”. The design – featuring a teal blue zig-zag under a thin purple zig-zag – went on to become the company’s all-time bestseller, and is now a pattern considered to be emblematic of the nineties. Gina’s identity (and status as an unsung hero) was only discovered in 2015 after someone on Reddit with the username “mcglaven” started a thread dedicated to tracking down the designer. Today, the design has a cult following that has inspired everything from apparel lines to social media pages.

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La Croix’s Groovy Look

When National Beverage sought to differentiate their seltzer drink La Croix from competitors, they hired Alchemy Brand Group to redesign the can. Of all of the options presented, National Beverage liked the current “Picasso-esque” design the least. However, it tested so incredibly well with consumers that they decided to take a chance with it, and the distinctive design is credited in part with La Croix’s massive success today.

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The Anthora Cup

Leslie Buck – born Laszlo Bück  – immigrated to America after World War II, after having survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald. After starting a paper cup manufacturing company with his brother (who was also a Holocaust survivor), he moved to a startup called Sherri Cup in the 1960s. It was there that he designed a hot cup in the colors of the Greek flag, aimed at the predominantly Greek diner owners of New York City. Buck did not receive any royalties from his design, but the company sold hundreds of millions of what is now considered to be an extremely recognizable piece of New York iconography.

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Creative Titans: Banksy and the Rise of Street Art

Banksy and the Rise of Street Art

Banksy is a prominent UK-based graffiti artist who has changed the way we look at street art. His street art portrays his thoughts on politics, poverty, controversial social themes, and life in general.  While some critics have referred to his pieces as vandalism, his fans consider them artistic works of social commentary.

Banksy has remained pseudonymous over the years, despite intense popularity with the public.  In fact, he has not had a face-to-face interview since 2003. There have been rumors that the man behind the mask was revealed in 2013, but he is most commonly associated with the masked image that has defined him throughout the years.

Popular Work

Banksy started his career somewhere around 1990, when he began as a freehand graffiti artist. Banksy’s work can be found in exhibits, books, films, on street corners, and in publicly visible places around the world. While much of his work is free for the public to enjoy, some of his pieces have sold for more than $1 million each.

The popular 2010 documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was a film created by Banksy about the story of Thierry Guetta, also known as “Mr. Brainwash”. The film was nominated for a 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.  Banksy also created 10 street artworks around Park City and Salt Lake City around the time of the screening.

Design Strategy

Banksy’s work tends to focus on one eye-catching color or design.  His art masterfully combines stenciling, spray paint, and fine brush painting.  Banksy has been quoted as saying, “I use whatever it takes.  Sometimes that just means drawing a moustache on a girl’s face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing.  Efficiency is the key.”

Banksy released the book, “Wall and Piece”, where he better explains his craft and design strategy.  In it, he revealed his love of stencils, which can save time, reduce the overlapping of color, and allow him to finish a complete work of art in one sitting.  While he has never specified exactly how he creates his intricate stencils, many have speculated that he uses computers for some images.  Regardless of what method or materials he uses, Banksy’s work will continue to be criticized and beloved because no one else can do it quite like he can.

For a greater insight into his style and thoughts on art, Banksy has been quoted as saying “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

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Color Theory & Package Design

Custom Packaging & Color Theory

When it comes to branding and packaging, color is crucial.  Colors are often used to trigger sensory reactions and emotions, and to prompt consumers to make assessments about brands.

In an article in the Journal of Management History entitled Impact of Color on Marketing, researchers found that 60-90% of people make snap judgments about products within 90 seconds based on color alone.  “Prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitude towards certain products.  Given that our moods and feelings are unstable and that colors play roles in forming attitude, it is important that managers understand the importance of colors in marketing.“

Marketing studies suggest that our habits prefer instantly recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity.  Color Research & Application recommends that new brands choose colors that specifically differentiate them from established competitors (Coca-Cola’s can is red, Pepsi’s is blue, 7-Up’s is green… see where this is going?).

All that said, it is important to note that the symbiotic relationship between brands and color can work for you, but it can also work against you.  The reason is that there are hardwired connections between colors and the products they represent.  Yellow is often used to trigger hunger (Golden Arches, anyone?), possibly due to the fact that starches and breads are often yellow and brown.  Blue is subdued and suppresses appetite, and dominant blues and greens are historically unpopular in food packaging design (save in generic household cleaning products and cereals).

Researchers at the University of British Columbia showed fake ads to a group of students, and studied their feedback after seeing different colors.  Red produced a positive evaluation of the imaginary product.  Blue evoked images of water and tranquility: oceans, openness, peace, calm.  They found that blue in product packaging was successful to accomplish specific goals in consumers’ minds—a whitening toothpaste that stops tooth decay –– while red was best to illicit an emotional response and trigger memory.

While certain colors are closely associated with specific traits (e.g., brown with “ruggedness”, black with “sophistication” and “luxury”, red with “passion”), most design and branding professionals agree that it’s far more essential for a brand’s colors to support their personality and messaging rather than reinforcing color association stereotypes.  There is a strong correlation between the use of colors and consumers’ perceptions of a brand’s personality.  Predicting consumer reaction to a product’s color and custom packaging design is far more important than the color itself.  Remember, branding and packaging design can be aspirational… purchasing decisions reflect how the consumer wants their lifestyle to be, not as it actually is.

There are no absolute, concrete parameters or set of guidelines for choosing a brand’s colors and packaging color scheme.  Shoot instead to capture subtle feeling, mood, and brand image, because this has the ultimate power of persuasion.

With all that said, here’s an infographic from First Site Guide that speaks to many of these issues, as well as many others! 

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ABSOLUT-ly Artistic

Remember when ABSOLUT dominated the vodka world with distinctive bottles, minimalist yet elegant packaging and an advertising campaign that focused on the memorable bottle shape? ABSOLUT’s marketing and design team created not just a player in the spirits industry, but rather a cultural icon that became one of the most recognizable products in the world.

Now, in a small way, ABSOLUT seems to be trying to tap into that cutting edge spirit with a packaging redesign for its flavored vodka line. Today there are dozens of vodka brands on shelf that offer a variety of fruit flavors, and the vodka aisles have become cluttered with a multitude of varieties from companies ranging from national brands to mom and pop distillers. ABSOLUT sought to stand out with a very bold and unconventional packaging design architecture that should distinguish their bottles on the shelf.

ABSOLUT preserved their brand identity in the logo and typography to remind customers that they are still the renowned, trusted brand that has been a mainstay in this category.  At the same time, however, their marketers and designers opted for an abstract and memorable treatment for the fruit varieties with an emphasis on bold colors.

Below are the before and after design styles:

The company elected not to use traditional fruit illustrations while opting for abstract art in an attempt to convey “the essence of the fruits,” rather than a literal depiction.

According to Anna Kamjou, Global Design Director at ABSOLUT, “this is one of the most dramatic changes we’ve ever made, and our biggest and most transformative design project ever. Our goal was to give our customers distinctive designs that are unlike anything one has ever seen. Vibrant, captivating bottles that bring energy to any occasion and celebrate the fact that every flavour in the Absolut Vodka range is something extraordinary. The standard thinking says a fruit-flavoured vodka requires a picture of the fruit on the bottle. We wanted to break that convention. We asked our design team to reach into the symbolism and myths tied to the ingredients to find each flavour’s core essence – and then amplify that essence through art.”

 

 

Source: Design Taxi

Coca Cola’s Split-in-Two Can

My how consumption trends have changed. Gone are the days of “Big Gulp” soda options and “Super Size” me offerings. It used to be about getting more bang for your buck, but now it’s about enjoying the finer things in life…in moderation. Of course that’s why you choose the “mini dessert” option on the list at restaurants. Just a sliver does the job, right? Well this includes beverages too. Indulging in a Coca Cola is indeed a splurge in this health conscious society. But why feel bad about splurging? That’s why Coca Cola developed the clever idea of a mini can coupled with innovative custom product packaging as shown below. A splurge is something special. It should make you feel excited. What’s there not to get excited about when it comes to minimal consumption in a cool and fun can? Such a win-win!

Source: Co.Design

Coca-Cola's Amazing Custom Product Packaging

 

Coca-Cola's Amazing Custom Product Packaging