Those familiar with San Francisco’s landscape will recognize the iconic landmarks depicted on Fort Point Beer packaging. Those who aren’t will simply appreciate the packaging for its lovely minimalist design and smart, consistent execution. Designed by San Francisco-based Manual, the packaging is illustrated with geometric-line drawings of the undergirding of the Golden Gate Bridge, the rooftops of old Army barracks, the windmill in Golden Gate Park, the Ferry Building clock, the Alcatraz guard tower, and other well-known sites. Like scaffolding, the graphics form an arched frame around the Fort Point brand name, setting it apart.
San Francisco’s fastest-growing craft beer brand, Fort Point Brewery is located in San Francisco’s historic Presidio, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio was originally built as a military outpost in 1776 when California was owned by Spain. It was subsequently occupied by the U.S. Army between 1846 and 1994.
The Fort Point Brewery, founded in 2014 by brothers Tyler and Justin Catalana, resides in an old Army motor pool building near Fort Point, which stands at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Fort was constructed at the entrance to San Francisco Bay just before the Civil War, circa 1854, to keep the California gold fields from falling into rebel hands — just a few historical factoids to reflect on while enjoying a can of Fort Point beer.
Pigment in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo is the kind of art supply store that fine artists dream about. Pigment carries art supplies that are considered rare throughout the world. It offers over 4,200 colors of pigment, more than 200 antique ink sticks, 50 types of animal glue, traditional “washi” papers, and brushes for every technique. The store is staffed with experts to advise customers on the unique features of each painting tool and how best to use it, and holds workshops taught by art professors and supply manufacturers. Designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma, the modern and spare interior is constructed using organic curved surfaces inspired by bamboo blinds. The bamboo stretches from the roof to the eaves, with the environment displaying products in a manner that seems more like a museum exhibit than a show of retail wares. This is a store that has reverence for the arts and treats the tools of the trade as works of art in themselves. Read More »
A great book cover should be striking, memorable, profound, and, most of all, eye-catching. It should pull a reader across a bookstore with a flash of color or a slick effect. But today, designers must think beyond the physical bookstore and consider the digital one as well. The parameters of each differ in nearly every respect. So, how have designers adjusted? With the huge growth in online sales, has the digital bookstore begun to drive the design process?
Here are some tips offered by Penguin Random House experts on cover design and selling online.
The Sizing Challenge.
The most noticeable difference between a cover’s presentation online and in person is its size. On the shelf, a cover might be 10″x6″, but online it shrinks to about an inch on a computer screen—and even smaller on a mobile device. Given this discrepancy, you might think that the solution to this conundrum would be creating two different covers—one that works on a larger scale and one that pops at a fraction of that size. But designers warn against this. The cover is the most obvious consumer-facing branding of a book, and designers want to ensure that a reader can recognize that brand across all formats and platforms. Whether a reader sees the cover in a promotional email recommending the book, in the window as she passes her local bookstore, or online when she goes to buy it, she should see the same image every time. The consistency bolsters her relationship with the book and increases the likelihood of purchase.
What happens when two branding experts join forces to start a sushi restaurant? Maki-san, that’s what. This one-location, create-your-own sushi place in Singapore looked too well conceived to be a humble local startup. A little online snooping unearthed the fact that Maki-san was started by art director Joseph Koh and copywriter Omar Marks, whose roots trace back to McCann Erickson Singapore. That explained why the brand concept seemed to cover all the essentials — graphic tone of voice, color palette, market positioning, typography, logo, target audience, etc. — indicating that professionals were involved.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s famed “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans” painting, the soup company has just released a limited run of pop art soup cans in select Target stores around the country. The commemorative packaging is a collaboration of the Campbell’s Global Design team and the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Warhol, who died in 1987, had an eye for what was iconic in American culture, albeit a soup can, Brillo box, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, or Mao Tse Tung. The founder of the Pop Art Movement, Warhol began his career as a commercial illustrator, then manipulated our view of everyday objects so we could appreciate them as high art.
IKEA is redefining retail catalogs by making theirs come alive. On July 31, the Swedish ready-to-assemble home furnishings giant will begin sending their 2013 edition, so keep your smartphone handy. Interspersed throughout the catalog are augmented reality codes that you can access by downloading a free IKEA catalog app onto your Android or iPhone. Look for the smartphone icons on the page and hold your phone about eight inches above the image to activate the digital layer.
Created by McCann agency with Metaio technology, the app-friendly catalog takes you beyond the printed page and launches interactive content – three-dimensional products, video stories about the product designers, an x-ray look behind a cabinet door, etc. It’s a digital magazine and shopping advisor that piggybacks on paper. For IKEA, the largest portion of their marketing budget goes toward the catalog, of which they print 211 million copies translated into some 20 languages. Enabling access to digital content is like expanding the number of pages without adding pages. Unlike websites where you have to find a way to make consumers visit your site first, the printed catalog puts the marketing piece in the consumers’ hands and then encourages them to linger longer, read deeper and return to the catalog repeatedly to discover what else is there.
Anyone who has witnessed a food photo shoot knows that there is a vast difference between making food look delicious through the lens of a camera and actually making it taste great. This is true of both gourmet dishes concocted by renowned chefs and fast foods sold from a drive-thru window. Under hot studio lights, fresh vegetables wilt, peaches turn brown, hot foods coagulate and moist foods dry out. Photographers use “stand-in” foods during set-up and have back-ups in case the “star dish” proves not to be photogenic. Food stylists have an arsenal of tricks to simulate, imitate, and enhance ingredients to create a “just-made” illusion. Styling this hamburger shoot for McDonald’s is tame compared to most food shoots. What it didn’t show is what a Big Mac looks like after it has been wrapped in paper flattening out the bun and squashed into a bag with fries on top.
We are not sure where the nautical theme originated, but the anchor that serves as an ampersand in the John & John logo implies that there is some sailing connection. This may have inspired The Peter Schmidt Group in Hamburg to design packaging that subtly suggests the geometric shapes of maritime flags. The handcooked potato chips are made in the UK and imported to Germany by Hamburg-based Market Grounds. Each chip flavor is identified by a bold black number, so that even if German consumers can’t recall which flavor they like, they can recognize it by number. The prominent numbers also serve to brand the entire John & John potato chip line, giving the brand greater store shelf presence. They also make it easy for customers to see when another flavor has been added – just look for a new number.
Morrisons, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, recently unveiled its rebranded entry-level “value” line, now bearing the name “M Savers.” The work was done by brand design agency Coley Porter Bell as part of a strategic assessment aimed at transforming Morrisons’ own label into a more coherent brand. With some 17,000 products and their variants in Morrisons’ own brand, positioning different tiers and categories of products was a daunting task.
Morrisons’ entry-level value line presented its own unique challenges. Stephen Bell, creative director at Coley Porter Bell, said that the term “value” had a negative meaning to some consumers. “Value ranges tend to be somewhat utilitarian, using template designs and basic corporate colors. Research shows that consumers are often ashamed to be seen with them. But with the economy stalled for the foreseeable future, value ranges will be competing on more than just price. We wondered why shouldn’t entry-level products have some charm and engagement?”
Up until now QR code technology has seemed more gimmicky than practical. Holding your smart phone up against a QR matrix on a magazine page or a storefront window to reveal the secondary message feels like a bothersome extra step that quickly grows tiresome.
But here’s a QR use that promises real convenience and time-savings. Tesco Homeplus in South Korea opened virtual supermarkets in subway stations, permitting commuters to use their smart phones to make grocery purchases. Designed by Cheil ad agency in Seoul, wall-size displays along the passenger waiting platform simulate the experience of shopping in a real supermarket, showing images and prices of a broad range of frequently needed products. Shoppers merely have to scan the QR code of any product they want to purchase to add it to their online shopping cart. The transaction is all completed online and the purchased items are delivered straight to shoppers’ homes.
Coca-Cola has gotten very good at reclaiming the containers that hold its beverages. In 2010, it recovered 400 million pounds of cans and bottles in the U.S. alone. Much of this has been converted into everything from chairs and clothes to jewelry. But building a sustainable planet demands more than reclaiming product packaging, so Coke has come out with the industry’s first 100% recyclable merchandise display racks for use in grocery and convenience stores. Made from corrugated cardboard and soon from recycled PET plastic too, the merchandise racks are the first step toward a comprehensive closed-loop retail equipment program. Coke’s “Give It Back” rack is meant to be returned or recycled to keep it from being tossed into a landfill. The recyclable rack is being tested in select U.S. markets now and should be widely available before yearend.
Aside from the fact that we find these shopping bags funny, they show the possibilities when designers literally think outside of the bag. When approaching an assignment, designers typically focus solely within the boundaries of the product itself, whether that is the edges of a page or the shape of a three-dimensional object. But sometimes the cleverest design answer presents itself in the way and in the environment in which the product will be used. What’s terrific about these shopping bag designs is that the user unwittingly is made part of the graphic solution. It takes the user’s participation to complete the visual pun.
Bear with me. This is hard to explain. We got interested in this story because we loved the graphics and packaging for the new Museum of Unnatural History in Washington D.C., which isn’t a museum and not a real store either. It’s the Washington D.C. location for 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing and publishing organization founded to assist kids aged six to 18 with their writing skills. It got its start at 826 Valencia Street (hence the name), a storefront location in San Francisco’s Mission District. To make the place seem “cooler” to kids, the 826 founders decided to disguise it as a “Pirate Store” and stocked it with pirate supplies like peg legs, message bottles and hooks. Kids loved it and sales helped support the tutoring programs.
Tokujin Yoshioka, who created shop designs and installations for fashion designer Issey Miyake for 20 years before starting his own studio in 2000, communicated the essence of the Hermes brand with utmost simplicity in this window display for Maison Hermes in Tokyo. Only two props filled the display area – a black-and-white image of a beautiful woman projected onto a monitor and a hanging Hermes scarf. Each time the woman appeared to blow gently on the colorful scarf, it swayed in response. Ethereal, poetic and uncontrived, the scene is devoid of anything that would detract from appreciating the ultra-silky elegance of the scarf.
Historically house brand packaging has been sad to look at. It’s as if shoppers were being told, “You want it cheaper than the national name brands, then don’t expect us to spend any money on pretty wrappers.” Increasingly, stores are concluding that packaging that looks inferior to national brands present a missed marketing opportunity. Instead of communicating value, it gives bargain-hunting shoppers the impression that the merchandise inside is just as shoddily produced.
In San Francisco, the best retail window displays can be found in one of the most unlikely places – a hardware store. With four locations in San Francisco, Cole Hardware has been serving local do-it-yourselfers since 1926. It lives by its slogan: “Hardware for the soul.” That soulful spirit is visible in its amusingly artistic window displays created by the two-women visual merchandising team – Noelle Nick and Dominique Tutwiler.
Nick, an engineer who once worked at Bechtel, and Tutwiler, who majored in illustration at San Francisco’s Academy of Art, have literally turned circular saws, toilet balls, rubber gloves and other utilitarian objects into works of art. One display, which they titled “Louvre,” presented ornately framed “recreations” of Van Gogh’s sunflowers made from yellow-rimmed circular saws in a yellow vase and Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel made from two rubber gloves striking an imitative pose. Benjamin Moore paint dribbled onto a canvas paid homage to Jackson Pollack’s abstract expressionist art. These window displays are not a departure from Cole’s hardware products. Nick says that they are made entirely out of products carried by Cole.