Lemieux Design

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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Brand Thinking

Posted on: February 13th, 2017 by alemieux

NY Trip

1. The Trump Building on Wall Street. 2. A view looking down Wall Street. The NY Stock Exchange is on the left of the Church building. 3. The residence of president George Washington, before there was a White House. 4. The boardroom at the NY Stock Exchange where the team met for the first time. 5. A view inside the NY Stock Exchange. 6. Below the flag is a balcony where they ring the bell to start the trading day. No trading starts until the bell is rung. 7. The live set of SQUAWK ON THE STREET. 8. The boards at the NY Stock Exchange. 9. The ringing of the bell to start trading. 10. The South Tower reflection pool. The names of the deceased are carved and illuminated around the outside. The water cascades down endlessly. 11. A view from the Observation deck on the Freedom Tower of Lower Manhattan. 12. The altar at Our Lady of Victory church near my hotel.

I had an opportunity last week to meet with other designers from my company in New York to talk about and kick the tires on a new brand direction. The company did some research and found that their current brand wasn’t reflective of how the users perceived the company. As anyone in brand knows, moving in a radical direction for a big company can be risky. When Tropicana made a big change to their orange juice packaging, their sales dropped dramatically and they were forced to revert to the old design. Other branding endeavors ended in fiascos, like the London Olympics. The challenge of setting standards and visually identifying the company’s values and appeal to its target audience is rigorous.

A core team set out to define a framework for the new brand initiative and shared that with a group of stakeholders who reacted positively to the direction the team set out on. We got to test that direction by applying those assets to everyday corporate assets – PowerPoint and email templates, website and UI/UX elements, event graphics, and video assets. Through discovery and adaptation, each working group found problems and solutions to working with the new brand assets.

What amazed me is the process, strategy and thinking that has to go into a brand. First, overall, what kind of image or idea that a brand should convey to its clients and to the public. The imagery, colors and graphics that are created can create a tone. Think of Apple’s branding and logo. Their approach is minimalistic, with vivid imagery and finely tuned typography. Even without their logo, their ads and billboards have a sense about them that unequivocally says Apple. That idea is captivating and most companies are scrambling to attain something that’s on par, if not better.

Apple Ad

Advertisement from Apple, Inc. Even without the logo, the typography and imagery tell that it is from Apple

The second thing that stood out to me is that a brand can’t be strict and unchangeable. If it’s so tight, it gets stuffy and difficult to work with. A brand that is nimble and flexible can afford itself multiple applications and still sustain its overall look and appeal. Nike has a variety of applications in the sports world – from running to soccer and xtreme sports. Yet their logo, quality fabrics, graphical treatments still represent a recognizable brand.

Nike Ad

As long as the logo is represented, this ad from Nike uses powerful imagery and effective typography to adhere to its brand.

There are so many considerations that go into a brand and its usage. Our working groups brought questions back to the core team about color when it’s presented on screen, for example. One of the chose colors in the palette didn’t end up working in presentations. We also had questions about graphics interfering with the logo positioning. We collaborated on possible solutions and it was energizing! We focused on a goal of getting the brand to work in a variety of situations. It was exciting!

A Paradigm Shift

Posted on: June 11th, 2011 by alemieux

I’ve been musing lately about how technology is shifting into the ‘mobile’ age. In Steve Jobs’ recent keynote speech at the WDDC, he heralded the end of the desktop era as everything shifts to tablets and mobile devices. Of course, desktops will be around for a long time and everything he says lately, needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

On my morning commute to work, I see people of all ages walking around the city of Lowell, MA with their devices in hands, glowing screens in their faces, mesmerized by whatever they are engaged in – thumbs blazing on the miniature keyboards. Seems that everywhere I go, in fact, someone has a device of some sorts that they are constantly looking at. In traffic on the highway after work, I see people in their cars – despite the recent laws against texting while driving – doing the same thing. I’m sure you’ve all experienced the frustration of standing in a checkout line while the person in front of you is carrying on an enthralling conversation while totally ignoring everyone around them.

The immediate gratification of the internet throughout the 90’s has paved the way for this paradigm shift. At work, my co-workers walk through the hallways with their Blackberries in their faces. In the bathroom stall next to mine, someone is checking their email and responding to it. That immediacy of information is changing the way we work, the way we learn, and sadly, the way we interact with each other. People feel more inclined to tweet something or email, poke, or Facebook a quick message to an individual with, surely, sincere intent, but without that human contact. It’s safer, dare I say more sanitized interaction.

How will this change us as a people? I was talking with a co-worker about the explosion of tablet and mobile devices and pondered on the impact it will eventually have on education. Students will no longer need to open a book. Their entire curriculum will be loaded onto their iPads. How will it affect the way a class is conducted. Instead of a student raising his/her hand, they can just text the teacher or some other digital form of hand raising.

Touch screen displays and devices will change the way we order something at a restaurant, or interact with a kiosk at a gas station. Apple has already changed the entire retail experience. Instead of walking up to a register, an employee can process your transaction with an iPhone. Who knows, maybe eventually, all we’ll have to do to vote in an election is download a voting app.

The implications here for design though is what I’m getting at and what this paradigm shift will do to design education. With the release of CS5.5, Adobe has made authoring for tablets and mobile devices from its entire Creative Suite much easier. Of course, this falls in line with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen’s vision of design once, deploy everywhere. How will this impact design?

I believe most designers are receiving traditional print design training through their college careers. It’s graphic designer’s and typographer’s that are teaching these classes. The basic principles of design are explained and experimentation and appropriation are used to propel the students through their portfolio classes. What’s the end result? Usually, a print portfolio. Surely, there are design schools who do have the ability to use technology and produce students with a portfolio that is something more than print. A website or an interactive Flash piece.

If graphic design training continues to follow the same principles, how can students be expected to incorporate more UX design practices into their portfolios? Are we at a point where the term Graphic Design is outdated? What should a design curriculum encompass these days to ensure that students have the right foundational competencies, but yet have all of the technical competencies to meet the ever changing technological landscape?

The big question is, now that we all have the tools that we need to produce mobile and tablet content, are all designers expected to just know how to do that type of development? Are they prepared enough to wade into the murky and unpredictable waters of mobile development? When someone is trained to be a fireman, they learn everything they can about fires and fire hazards and safety. A lawyer goes to school and learns everything about the law. These fields are focused and direct. In contrast, designers (in order to thrive in the current environment) need to know how to design for print, for web, for mobile, for tablet, and whatever else is in the realm of graphics (without a salary differential, mind you). They may have to understand HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ActionScript, and possibly other technologies that will allow them to do their jobs.

Another possibility is that students learn specific, narrow topics in design school to prepare them for a niche career? So one student could focus entirely on website design for the desktop. Another student could focus on mobile development. They would be acutely aware of all of the aspects of their respective fields and would be prepared to troubleshoot problems as they arise. Is this feasible though? Probably not. The thinking might be, ‘you can design a website, so you must be able to do develop one for mobile use?’ Maybe graphic design curriculum becomes more of a liberal arts study. More exploratory in nature until the student finds their interest and holds on to it.

There’s no question though, that as with the rise of desktop publishing changing graphic design behavior, tablet and mobile development will change it again. Are we ready for that change?