For decades, ramen has been considered “cheap eats.” Dry ramen noodles with a flavor foil packet could be bought for less than 30 cents a box. Just add a cup of boiling water, steep, and eat. More than one college student has subsisted on instant ramen for months at a time. Ramen wasn’t featured on the menu of fancy Japanese restaurants. That’s no longer the case. Now Americans are being exposed to the delicate yet complex flavor of true ramen. Freshly made ramen noodles is served with a wide selection of broths, including pork, chicken, seafood, and beef, and served with artfully arranged toppings such as vegetables, mushroom, seaweed, meats, egg, and the like.
Trendy ramen bistros are popping up all over the U.S. One of the most notable upscale ramen houses is Afuri in Portland, Oregon. The sleekly modern restaurant, which seats 90 diners, features ramen as its main specialty, and is renown for its signature ramen dish made with a citrusy yuzu broth.
Portland-based Murmur Creative was commissioned to develop a sweeping design branding program for Afuri that combines the Japanese aesthetic with the Pacific Northwest’s inviting style.
Lacoste’s familiar white polo shirts is swapping out its signature embroidered green alligator logo temporarily for ten endangered animals to raise awareness and help conservation efforts. The limited edition “Save Our Species” polos made their debut at the recent Paris Fashion Show, and include the Vaquita porpoise, Sumatran tiger, Anegada ground iguana, California condor, Kakapo parrot, Saola ox, Northern sportive lemur, Burmese roofed turtle, Javan rhino, and Cao-vit gibbon.
Created in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN), the Save Our Species Lacoste shirts have been produced in very limited number – 1,775 in total. The number of shirts produced for each species corresponds with the population of each species still surviving in the wild. For instance, only 30 polos will be made featuring the Vaquita porpoise, and 67 for the Javan rhino. The extremely scarce polo shirts, costing roughly $183 each, will be available for as long as they last from ICUN’s Save Our Species site.
Many companies pick brand names for reasons that only they understand. Some names just feel good on the tongue or will look strong on packaging. OXO, for instance, was named by kitchen tool founder Sam Farber, because it was easy to pronounce in any language, spelled the same in any direction – forward, backward and upside down, and fit on any size packaging. This quiz challenges you to match the brand name with the clues below, and then identify the original source for the names.
Subway, the world’s largest submarine sandwich chain with more than 44,000 locations around the world, has refreshed its identity with a new logo and symbol. A brighter, cleaner, bolder version of the chubby outlined wordmark that Subway has been using for the past 15 years, the new logo maintains the equity of its two color wordmark, but this time the “Sub” is a richer yellow-orange and the “way” a bright green. The signature arrows remain, but look more whimsical and less like a freeway turnoff. What’s really special about Subway’s rebranding is its new symbol – two opposing arrows shaping an “S” inside. Subway plans to install its new graphic identity in all of its restaurants in 2017. According to a Subway spokesperson, the design work was a cross-functional project led by an inhouse creative team, working with a variety of design partners. Read More »
Tokyo, the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, unveiled its logos for the games recently. Designed by Tokyo-based Kenjiro Sano, founder of Mr. Design Inc., the logos are not merely pleasing graphics; according to the Olympics press release, they were intended to convey a deeper meaning. The Olympic mark has a large black and gold “T”, which we are told represent “Tokyo, Tomorrow and Team.” The red circle, which looks like the red sun on the Japanese national flag, is described instead as a symbol of “inclusiveness and the power of a beating heart.” The same graphic elements are used for the Paralympic games, but the gold and silver shapes are placed within parallel bars to form the universal symbol of equality. The “beating red heart” is placed within one of the bars. The meaning attributed to the graphic elements is poetic, but not immediately apparent to anyone seeing the logos for the first time. The fact that the symbolism has to be explained to be understood makes it seem contrived by a public relations committee, trying to read more into a nice-looking logo than is actually there. That’s totally unnecessary. The logos are graphically compelling on their own. Read More »
More than 3,000 mourners came to the rural Japanese village of Kinokawa last weekend to pay their final respects to Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station, the last stop on the Wakayama Electric Railway line. Tama was elevated from stray cat to stationmaster in 2007, at a time when the regional rail line was $4.7 million in the red, forcing the layoff of all employees at Kishi Station and leaving the stop unmanned. Reluctant to evict the charming calico cat that hung around the station, the railway’s president announced that he was appointing Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station — a position that included free housing in the ticket booth, her own litter box, and an annual salary paid in cat food. For her official duties of meeting and greeting passengers, Tama was outfitted in a tiny custom-made stationmaster cap and cape.
What started out as a playful marketing ploy to raise awareness of the railway’s plight quickly turned into a media sensation with tourists from across Japan and around the world flocking to the village to see Tama at work. Train ridership increased significantly, and Kishi Station itself became a tourist attraction.
The railway’s management capitalized on Tama’s appeal and developed an extensive line of souvenir items bearing a cartoon likeness of Tama, including T-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, and even a full set of dining room furniture featuring carved silhouettes of cats. In 2009, Wakayama Electric Railway rolled out a train car decorated with cartoon images of Tama, and redesigned the exterior architecture of Kishi station to resemble a cat’s face. Read More »
As of this writing at 3:05 p.m., June 24, 2015, there are 25 declared Republican candidates and 14 declared Democratic candidates for the 2016 Presidential election. Of course, the count is still in flux, with about a dozen other wannabes rumored to be exploring entering the race. Shown here are the logos of the declared candidates who have logos (many don’t). Based strictly on their logos and nothing else, which candidate communicates “the right stuff”? Has anyone’s logo changed your opinion of his/her qualifications?
Recently Bloomberg Politics reporter Ali Elkin asked designer Sagi Haviv, a partner in legendary New York design firm, Chermayeff & Geismar @ Haviv, to critique the graphic brands of the then-current slate of Presidential candidates (now outdated). His critique is on the video below.
Disclaimer for U.S. voters: The brand identities of the 2016 Presidential candidate, shown here, do not in any way reflect the preference of any @Issue staff member for a particular candidate or logo. Apology to non-U.S. @issue readers: If you don’t know anything about half of these candidates, don’t feel out of touch. Neither do a lot of Americans. Read More »
Shocase is a new social network site with some of the intentions of LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook, but is targeted specifically to the 100+ million marketing professionals worldwide. It acts somewhat like the old Blackbook directories, but in a friendlier, more interactive and constantly updated way.
Shocase CEO Ron Young explains, “Members can present their work, skills and experience in the best light to the audience they value most; brands can find the right marketing professionals to suit their needs in any discipline. The site is designed to help build working relationships, and ultimately help members grow their business.”
With Walt Disney Pictures, the entertainment starts with the presentation of the graphic identity. Ethan Jones posted this compilation on YouTube to show how the studio has adapted the Disney brand logo to suit the featured movie. Every variation retains the key elements of the brand – the castle, the shooting star and the Disney script signature.
Through the use of neon signs, Mehmet Gözetlik, Istanbul-based art director of Antrepo design agency, demonstrated how 20 of the best-known Western brands might be translated into Chinese.
In an interview with the International Business Times, Gözetlik pointed out that China is now the world’s largest economy and has a current population of 1.35 billion people. Yet, he adds, foreign companies take a literal and phonetic approach to presenting their brand, instead of considering how the logo translates visually and culturally. “Most of today’s Western brand identities are created by Western design companies, based on Western culture. It means we have two separated worlds, because of our DNA. So, there is more misunderstanding than we thought. We don’t actually understand many things we assume that are understood. We are like a person who misses the view while reading on the train. We are not aware of where we are coming from, going to or passing by,” Gözetlik said. Read More »
When it came to designing a graphic identity for the city of Porto in Portugal, one visual symbol wasn’t enough. Porto-based design firm, White Studio, brainstormed what made Porto memorable and unique, and asked people on the street how they viewed the city. No two answers were alike. White Studio concluded, “We felt we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all of the cities that exist in this one territory….It became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.”
The designers also needed a way to create a single unified look that would serve as Porto’s one graphic identity. The answer came in the decorative blue ceramic tiles seen throughout the city for centuries. The line drawings and illustrations on the tiles depicted visual stories about Porto’s history, landmarks, and natural surroundings. That inspired White Studio to create 70 pictograms that represented Porto and its people. The pictograms were designed to fit on a grid that could be combined into a network of images or used individually. The logotype itself is a simple blue sans serif against a white background within a blue boxed border. The beauty of this visual system is that it allows elements to be changed out frequently and still be recognizable as Porto’s graphic identity. It works. Read More »
Now in its second year, the Tusk Conservation Awards single out individuals who have done outstanding environmental conservation work throughout Africa, with particular focus on protecting endangered species and their threatened habitat. The prestigious honor includes a monetary contribution of £30,000 and £15,000 to support the goals of the winning projects. What the fledgling award didn’t have, however, was its own graphic identity. For that, London-based The Partners stepped up and provided their creative talent pro bono. Read More »
Hand-drawn script logotypes convey a lot about the personality of a brand. The letter may look breezily dashed off, elegant, relaxed, energetic, confident, approachable, quirky or playful. The thicks and thins of the letterform, the extra embellishment, or lack thereof, hint at how the company wants to be perceived. Script letters feel more like personal signatures – individual and unique. This quiz is to see if you can name the brand that owns these logotypes. See answers after the jump. Read More »
At first glance, the new Nescafe logo does not look significantly different from the old logo. The typeface is still in all caps but more rounded, a crossbar still extends from the “N”, an accent still hovers over the “e”, and red is still a dominant color. And yet, it feels more contemporary, more capable of competing cup-to-cup in a Starbucks world.
When introduced by Nestle in 1938, Nescafe (Nestle + café) instant coffee was the height of modern convenience. Even today, Nescafe remains one of the world’s most distributed brands of instant coffee, sold in over 180 countries. But until recently, Nescafe had no single global identity; each region was allowed to interpret the brand elements for their own market. Increasingly, however, young consumers have come to think of Nescafe as the passé powdered drink found in their grandparents’ pantry. The brand looked tired and disjointed.
Founded in New York City in 1993 by two writers Jeff Fligelman and David Grae, Gotham Writers’ Workshop has since grown into one of the nation’s largest adult education writing schools offering both private and online classes in every genre, from fiction to screenplays to poetry to memoirs. After 20 years, however, Gotham felt it was time to move from a more generic-looking logotype to a customized brand identity.
Brooklyn-based design studio Hyperakt was asked to evolve the brand to give it greater presence. After conducting in-depth research, Hyperakt distilled the essence of the brand message to “craft igniting creativity.” To better represent the scope of Gotham’s offering of online classes and events, Hyperakt recommended that the name be shortened to “Gotham Writers,” dropping the word “Workshop” completely. “The shift better represents the school’s community of writers and promotes a sense of belonging,”
It’s not always as simple as applying a single set of graphic standards across the board when a brand expands into foreign markets. In some cases, the brand name may be difficult to pronounce in the native language or the letters may translate into a word that is negative or obscene. Or the graphic mark may include a detail that may be perceived as insulting or culturally taboo. The challenge for brand designers is to adapt the logo to the region, while preserving enough elements to make it recognizable in every part of the world. Ideally, travelers to a foreign country will recognize the brand identity on sight even if the letters or image differ from what they are used to in their own culture. See if you can name these brands. (Answers after the jump.)