Twitter Goes Visual

Twitter page for Channing Tatum


Last month Twitter announced photo tagging and the ability to upload up to four photos to a tweet. In a continued effort to move away from the straight text filled timeline, Twitter announced a complete redesign of their profile pages on their official blog last month.


The new design takes a few visual cues Facebook and it all starts at the top. Your profile now has a large header image that expands the width of the browser window. This goes along with a profile photo that is layered above the left column and the cover image. Stuck to the header image you’ll see the common Twitter navigation items with their respective counts; including Following, Followers and a large ‘Follow’ button. The individual details for the profile, including bio, location and website, appear move to the left column under the profile photo. Rounding out the left column we have links to Photos/Videos and the shared followers with the user.


Tweets take center stage as the main column contains the main feed. Along the top of the feed you get two tabs to flip between: “Tweets” and “Tweets with Replies,” highlighting how users interact with each other within the Twitter world. Using the new Facebook Newsfeed as a reference, tweets that contain Videos and Photos now show a large preview within the timeline. Showing videos/photos in the feed keeps the user engaged with visual content without leaving the feed.


New Michelle Obama Twitter Page

Tweets Take Center Stage in the new Twitter design


The timeline also has two new features that are worth highlighting. First is the ability to pin a tweet to the top of the timeline. This allows users to highlight a specific announcement or information without having to retweet it every 2 hours; Fast Company points out that “this acts as almost a supplement to your bio: while the latter tells people information about you, the pinned tweet is a snapshot of what you’re all about now”. The other feature is the appearance of “Most Popular” tweets in a timeline. Twitter has always tracked tweets and shown the number of interactions they received. Now, they are using those stats to display the most favorite and retweeted posts, with a larger font size.


Personally, I am not a big fan of the new navigation below the header image when it sticks below the main navigation (fixed at the top of the window) as you scroll down the timeline. It is really strange that there is a gap in between the navigation bars—it looks more like a mistake than anything else. I would have preferred to have those links fixed along the left or right sidebar to clean up the header area as you scroll down. Another interesting issue that some of our clients have experienced is that it is no longer possible to add photos or patterns to the background of a Twitter page—instead users are limited to selecting solid colors only. This is meant to avoid distracting from the twitter feed, but some users will miss this feature.


The new GoodNewsForPets Twitter Page is only able to be customized with Profile picture and bacnground image.


Overall, it is a fantastic redesign. It shows that Twitter believes visual content is very important to its future, while showcasing Twitter as a user-friendly platform to new users. Detractors will point out that the new profiles are similar to Facebook; but this doesn’t take away from the fact that the cleaner, more visually engaging layout is a sure winner for Twitter.


By: Emilio Servigon, Web Designer & Developer

Nations Need Branding Too

What do you do when your nation’s flag is too similar to the country right next door? When other countries confuse your nation’s flag with the other? Or when over half the population no longer thinks that it is relevant to them or represents the diversity of people living there? These are the questions that Kiwis from New Zealand have been debating and will possibly be voting on later this year.

Australia and New Zealand flags compared

Can you identify which of these flags belongs to which country? In case you couldn’t spot the subtle differences between the Australia flag (on the right) and New Zealand’s flag (on the left), you’re not alone—even officials in Canada displayed the wrong flag throughout Ottawa when Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke visited in 1985.


The problem with Australia and New Zealand’s flags, aside from differentiating the two fierce rivals, is that they both use the Southern Cross constellation of stars on blue. From a perception and nationalistic point of view, many in New Zealand feel that their national flag doesn’t truly represent their culture or values; especially the qualities of the indigenous Maori people.


The similarities between Australia and New Zealand’s flags are not an isolated issue. Several former British colonies, now part of the Commonwealth of Nations, face the same dilemma in that it is hard to distinguish one from another just by viewing their flags.


Commonwealth Flags Compared

The Union Jack, as the United Kingdom flag is called, is created by merging St. George's Cross of England, St. Andrew's Cross of Scotland, and St. Patrick's Cross of Ireland.This “branding” problem stems from the days of the former British Empire—when flags based on naval insignia and colors were used to identify the territories administered by the English crown. All of these flags incorporated the Union Jack (United Kingdom flag) displayed on a red, blue, or white field. A corresponding crest, pattern or other graphic device was then used to signify individual colonies. Many of these nations are still part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and use the same flags from Imperial times to distinguish their national identity.


The debate that is currently raging regarding changing New Zealand’s flag is how best to represent the country’s diversity, character, and values. Ideas for a new flag include changing the flag to that of the country’s beloved All Blacks rugby team: a black flag with a silver fern. Such a drastic change would be similar to the one that Canada went through in 1965, when it changed from its Imperial-rooted flag to the now ubiquitous and beloved Maple Leaf.


While the debate over the Kiwi flag is far from over (a recent vote in their parliament tabled the conversation for now), it is very likely that a new flag will be designed and flown soon. Branding New Zealand by adopting a new flag will help build perception and relevance in the eyes of its people, as well as differentiate them from the Aussies next door.


Some Kiwis have proposed replacing the current flag with the one used by the AllBlacks. A more evolutionary approach could incorporate the silver fern with the Southern Cross.


By: Ryan Hembree, Principal | Brand & Creative Strategy

The Tonight Show Goes Full Circle

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon logo

Jimmy Fallon is having quite the career—from SNL, to film, to having an ice cream named after him, to late night, to hosting the Emmy’s, to becoming the host of The Tonight Show. He seems like a guy that has worked, and worked extremely hard, to get where he is. While some people are disappointed that Jimmy has taken over The Tonight Show, many are delighted to have his fresh personality as the new host. Fallon seems like a good evolution to late night comedy: less standing on a stage and saying funny jokes, and a more modern approach using skits and viral video to get a laugh.


His previous endeavor, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, was incredibly successful. He has a knack for getting well known celebrities to join him in ridiculous comedic skits, allowing him to take advantage of the more accessible YouTube approach to comedy. But I’m not here to rave about Fallon, let’s talk about the new identity for The Tonight Show.


The new identity, produced by Pentagram’s Emily Oberman, uses a simplistic sans-serif logotype encased inside a full, silver-ish moon. This is a big change from the crescent moon, which had been in use since 1962, when Johnny Carson took over as host from Jack Parr. The new look utilizes the full moon as a vessel for the logotype. The chosen typeface has a metropolitan feel without being too delicate, which is perfect for the show’s move from California to New York. The first and last letters, “T” and “N”, break the border in almost a perfect diagonal across the moon. Using both left and right alignment creates an eccentric feel, but a strict underlying grid brings it all back together.


Evolution of the Tonight Show Logo


Comparing the new Tonight Show logo to the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” one is bittersweet. “Late Night’s” logo used bright colors and an overall more “fun” approach—with a slightly compressed typeface and a distinctly funky “J” that was just weird enough to be perfect for late night. The bright colors were a nice touch as well, symbolizing the charismatic and outgoing Fallon. The new logo, however, does not have these characteristics, but perhaps is more appropriate to be a bit toned down, less outgoing and more “classy.” When Conan made his run at The Tonight Show, the logo introduced for him was beyond strange, and looked more like a game show than the longest running, regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States.


The campaign leading up to Fallon’s takeover was executed in a stylish way, using the exaggerated moon in different photos of the New York landscape and next to iconic landmarks. Using de-saturated colors and perfectly planned perspectives, the new logo lives in smart spaces. Personally, I like the contrast between Jimmy’s fun, almost ridiculous personality and the new look—if it was as outgoing and strange as Fallon, we would hear people saying that it makes him seem unprofessional, or too “out there.” This is The Tonight Show, and that alone deserves a logo that can be respected and enjoyed for many years. Overall, I think Oberman achieved that goal and has well exceeded it by creating a perfectly integrated campaign.



tonightshow2The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon image

In developing the new Tonight Show logo, Oberman and her team investigated the history of the late night television universe, using circles. Definitely worth taking a look at the infographic, below (click on the image):


Evolution of Late Night Television Infographic


By: Neil Ryan, Art Director


Take a Taste of Safeway’s Snack Brand

When I think of any private label brand, an ultra-generic package with simple text describing what’s inside often comes to mind. Rice Pops, Corn Flakes, Detergent. Even the names sound generic. No interjection of style, no slick marketing buzz words, and very little thought taken into consideration. Take for example the picture below.


safeway generic brand image


The premise that a store brand has to exude a “cheap” look is broken by a snack artist–one in particular. Appropriately dubbed ‘The Snack Artist,’ Safeway’s private label packaging is quite the opposite of “cheap” or “generic looking.” It is playful, whimsical and unlike many other store brands, actually has some personality.

Snack Artist Brand Packaging


It’s not uncommon for a private label brand to have good design (see Target’s Archer Farms brand), but Safeway’s brand has a different overarching theme with clever names and interesting doodles. Each product has a photo of the enclosed item, placed front and center (and if that is where the design stopped, this article wouldn’t exist). Inked on top of that image (always in black), is an illustration that takes this packaging from bland to flavorful. The illustration style has much personality with thick and thin lines, and the interaction between photo-realistic and illustration adds to the personality. There is a nice balance between illustration and product image–giving a glimpse into a deeper story.


Mariacheese Packaging


The naming goes hand in hand with the illustration: “Mariacheese” next to an Amigo using a triangle-shaped Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chip as a musical instrument is perfectly executed. The front center does not feature the name of the item, and I couldn’t be more delighted. There is something to be said for letting the image and illustration elements take the main stage of each package and creating an interaction between the buyer and the package.


The personality is written (or drawn) all over the package, and all of this personality makes me think I am buying something more unique, not just a pre-boxed food item—something that could be framed and hung on a wall. And at a much lower cost than a large brand, this is a huge benefit, making this a win/win for both Safeway and the customer.


By: Justin Leatherman, Art Director

7-Eleven: A Healthy Rebrand

7-Eleven is a convenience store and gas station with more than 51,000 locations around the world. Their Big Gulps, Slurpees, hot dogs and other snacks are enjoyed by millions in 16 different countries. 7-Eleven has been known as a place for the not-so-health-conscious­; until now. The chain is beginning to change from the inside out.


New 7 Eleven brand


The old 7 Eleven Brand


As 7-Eleven shifts its target demographic to health-conscious women and millennials, it realized it needed to change its identity. From an updated logo, to a new interior design, to restocking shelves with healthier options, 7-Eleven is continuing to transform its retail stores—thanks to a little help from WD Partners (Dublin, OH).


WD, a company specializing in customer experience for global food and retail brands, began to innovate 7-Eleven’s customer experience with a fresh update to the logo. The outdated, 43-year-old logo looked as though it was ready to retire, with its ever-present green and orange stripes and nocturnal, greasy rest stop feel. The new logo looks modern and fresh, while maintaining a connection to the former identity through the use of a red and orange color scheme and the numeral “7.” It places an all-lowercase “eleven” to the right of the “7”, except for smaller placements, when it appears across the seven on a bright green background.

The fresh logo compliments the interior’s new, “green” feel. The overall design of the stores includes bright colored paint accents, white tiles, granite flooring, green furniture, and food stations marked with light, catchy sayings in simple serif fonts. It appears as though 7-Eleven is trying to create an all-natural vibe, saying “so long” to processed foods and “hello” to healthier, freshly made edibles.


I am impressed with both the external and internal changes 7-Eleven is beginning to implement throughout its stores. Many retail stores advertise to try and fool their customers into believing they are achieving a healthier lifestyle; or change their look. 7-Eleven, however, is actually going beyond their fresh rebrand and revitalizing their menu to incorporate a new line of fresh foods, such as lean turkey and yogurt parfaits, while taking existing products and slimming them down into smaller portions. Not only does 7-Eleven’s new brand look good, but it tastes good and is better for you, too.


7 Eleven outside

New 7 Eleven aisle

New 7 Eleven counter

New drink station at 7 Eleven


By: Ashley Faubel, Designer

All images from FastCompany.


Power Your Mornings

Started in 2008 in New York City, CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series for creative people, open to anyone and free to attend. Attendees are treated to breakfast and a short talk one Friday morning every month. Today, it has grown to 58 chapter cities that host CreativeMornings talks every month, all organized by volunteer members and all around the same global theme.


Creative Mornings Homepage

In September, after a successful Kickstarter campaign that gathered donations from 1,200 individuals, CreativeMornings launched their new web presence.  The first interactions with it make it feel friendly and easy to navigate. The homepage has a very clear message that includes an introduction to the program, the latest global theme and the upcoming events.


Comparing this site to other talk-centric websites such as TED or BigThink, we can see that CreativeMornings has focused more on content and left unnecessary, flashy elements aside. The presentation of the homepage is clear, modern and concise; nothing feels over the top and all of the content serves a purpose, even the section below the fold that displays all of the social media content. This area helps showcase the community aspect that has helped CreativeMornings grow throughout the years.


I’ve followed CreativeMornings primarily as a source of creatively inspiring talks, which makes the complete archive of every single talk a perfect place to start digging into the site. The ‘Talks’ page offers a comprehensive filtering system that allows users to separate talks by different search criteria, including: Themes, Language and Location. Once the user clicks on a specific talk, we are treated to a large viewing area above the fold, and below more details about the talk including the Chapter, a short bio of the speaker, and technical details of that particular day such as location, date and sponsors for the day.



Another aspect that separates CreativeMornings from other conference-like events is the sense of community. The new website encourages users to sign up and be part of a global network of attendees. Users can tag quotes, share talk photos, and post comments on each individual talk page. You can also create a profile, follow other attendees, and save talks to watch later.


Overall, CreativeMornings a beautiful site full of vibrant colors and a great contrast between images and complementary elements. The City chapters are color coordinated, with their own three-letter code. Built with responsive technology, the site degrades perfectly across mobile devices, with only slight changes in the navigation. After what I would consider a successful redesign, CreativeMornings now has a web presence that pairs well with the great content they have providing creative individuals for the past five years.



By: Emilio Servigon, Web Designercreative_mornings_cities-screen


Stanley’s Renovation

stanley logos


As someone who frequents the hardware store, walking through the aisles of tools and gadgets making imaginary wish lists, Stanley has become a part of my DIY vocabulary. Established in 1857, Stanley has withstood the test of time by evolving with the industry, continuing to produce quality products. Recently, the brand merged with Black & Decker, creating Stanley Black & Decker. This has carried them in to a new realm, from Healthcare and Security products to Engineered Fastening and Oil Pipeline Services. As any S&P 500 company would do in this situation, they decided to update their branding.


Partnering with Lippincott, a global brand strategy and design firm, Stanley worked extensively with all touch points of the brand to preserve its essence. Keeping the signature black and yellow color palette, Lippincott freed the Stanley logotype from the black badge-shaped enclosure, instantly modernizing the logo. Changing the typeface from stout and bold to slightly taller and less heavy was another choice that seemed to update the look. The “N” is cut diagonally, leaving a right triangle pointing upwards. At first look, I think of a square tool, communicating a theme of precision.


In their press release, Stanley describes the arrow as representing “action”, which seems to have been chosen directly from a generic word library for logo meanings. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and stick with the square tool idea. Besides the “N,” there is the incredibly strange “S” at the front of Stanley. The awkwardly angled end, or terminal, of the “S” runs directly in to a perfectly square bar on the “T.” This detracts from the intention of the precise arrow. It may be nit-picky, but in contrast to the previous “S,” which curved around to end parallel to the baseline, the new “S” seems like a mistake. I don’t love it, but all in all, I can live with wonky “S” and appreciate the reminder to measure twice, and cut once.




Next, Stanley has revamped all of their packaging to include the new look. The products have a strong look with the clean, new logotype applied. However, the actual packaging uses the logo so large that it starts to seem more like a generic “house” brand of a chain store. In my opinion, using the logotype smaller, left-aligned on the packaging could give it a more premium feel. Large and centered seems cheaper than the Stanley name deserves. It may take until the final product reaches the shelves to get a good impression of the new packaging, but for now, I will have to hope that the design gets a few updates.


stanley web stanley_5


Overall, I applaud Stanley Black & Decker for updating the logo, going for a slightly modernized approach but still keeping things simple. The black and yellow color scheme has become well recognized and will continue to do so. “I believe that this new logo has the strength and power to carry us for decades to come”, said Scott Bannell, Vice President of Corporate Brand Management. This may be correct, especially with Stanley’s history of consistency. The new logotype will look fantastic embossed directly on to metal or printed on Stanley’s tools, as well as on the vast array of products the newly formed corporation will deliver. Until then, I can live with the “S” and generic packaging, and appreciate the presence of fresh design in the hardware store.


By: Neil Ryan, Art Director





Coming Soon to your iDevice: User i[OS]nterface 7

iOS 6 vs. iOS 7 (side-by-side comparison)


Get ready for a new feel when you touch your iDevice. Well, not a literal sensory feel, but a visual feel. You’ll still be touching a high-quality glass screen, but what’s underneath is getting a makeover. I’m talking about the iOS 7 icons, Apple’s new iDevice operating system. No more ultra glossy icons to tap; at least after you install the update. Apple is rolling out its new iOS 7 look in the fall of 2013, and this will the first major update since 2007.


While first getting some criticism for not releasing a new iPhone at the WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers’ Conference) in June, they did unveil a completely new iOS 7 operating system. Why the update? Apple says, “…Our purpose was to create an experience that was simpler, more useful, and more enjoyable — while building on the things people love about iOS. Ultimately, redesigning the way it works led us to redesign the way it looks.”


So what’s the difference? What’s new? The most noticeable iOS Phone icon comparisonchange is the gloss-less look (applause sign please). Icons for apps no longer have an overly cheesy, “trying to make 2-D look 3-D” kind of dimensionality. They are now donned with ultra bright colors and subtle gradients. The rounded corners are now more round, and each icon uses a slightly lighter weight typeface (Helvetica of course).


Do people like it? After all, the masses will be using it. Despite the heckling coming from the haters, most users polled prefer the new iOS 7 icon design to iOS 6. According to Polar, a mobile polling tool built by Input Factory to gauge user opinions, users prefer the new look and feel two to one, with over 46,000 people answering. However, the complaining has not ceased. Some are calling the complete design ‘hideously ugly,’ but I don’t agree.


In my opinion, the design has been long overdue. I enjoy the brighter colors and flatter look of the icons. It exudes sophistication while also feeling like a consumer device. It’s apparent that more focus is devoted to typography and simplicity, making for a clearer user experience. Are there things I would change? Yes, but they are small: make the corners more square and maybe reduce the saturation of the eye-popping colors.


iCal in iOS7


In order to justify the cost of a high-end device that makes calls and does a thousand other tasks, the user experience needs to look sexy and expensive–and that goes further than the encasement. Many users are so used to the previous look that I think for some, the disdain is a knee-jerk reaction. Will the redesign mean a few less sales of iPhones? Perhaps. But I think the redesign will eventually be embraced. After all, Apple is trying to give users something they don’t realize they want, which is not an easy thing to do.


Sometimes it is necessary to do a little “spring cleaning” and de-clutter, even when you don’t think you do. That’s what Apple has done with iOS 7. In their own words, Apple says they made the new look and feel to “work and look beautifully.” I agree.


By: Justin Leatherman, Art Director

Why is Adobe Scuttling Their Brand? (how customer perception helps your company sink or swim)

Adobe's Creative Cloud Changes Everything...literally.


Navigating the waters of brand perception can be tricky, but if done right, customers will remain fiercely loyal to your company’s product or service offerings. This is accomplished by providing positive experiences for your customers. If, however, brands provide inadequate, inauthentic, and unsympathetic customer service, those companies’ perceptions will sink and customers will flee in droves.


One company that is in very real danger of scuttling their brand is Adobe, an iconic brand that provides software for the creation and editing of content. The vast majority of creative professionals use Adobe’s Creative Suite of products (which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, and many more content-creation and sharing products).


Adobe has been a leader within the creative software space for over a decade, and customers loved their products. It also enjoyed a solid brand perception; that is, until May of this year, when Adobe drastically changed its business model by abandoning traditional software pricing models and moving instead to a subscription based one. Now, customers who rely on the software will find themselves paying more—much more—to keep their software up-to-date.


For the past ten years, Adobe’s Creative Suite has offered bundled software packages to users for a one-time fee per license, with upgrades priced at a percentage of the full version cost. Each version’s features could be counted on to serve customers’ needs for at least 2–3 years, meaning that it was possible to leap-frog at least one full version of the software before upgrading. With the subscription-based pricing of Creative Cloud (what Adobe is now calling their Creative Suite of products), users will have to pay from $50–$70 per month (that’s $840.00 per year) PER computer. What’s worse, if users stop paying for their subscriptions, they will lose the ability to view, edit, print or export their work. In essence, Adobe is holding users hostage to their products so they will continue to pay for a subscription— indefinitely.

At Indicia, the subscription for Adobe's CC would be $5,040 per year. Compared with one-time costs of $2,500 per license and upgrades at $500 or so every three years, the new pricing has creative professionals looking for alternatives.

Adobe’s drastic pricing shift has caused users of their products to question the value of the brand: not only does it appears that the company is trying to increase “shareholder value” at the expense of its customers, they are sending a message of arrogance and mistrust (part of the reason why Adobe wants to verify subscriptions monthly is to decrease or eliminate software piracy) to their customers.


In turn, creative professionals and users (this one included) are lashing out at the company. In a survey of over 1,600 users conducted by CNET and Jefferies, 76% of respondents using the latest “boxed version” of Creative Suite (6.0) indicated that they would “never” move to the subscription-based Creative Cloud. Users of earlier versions said they were strongly disinclined to move to the subscription model as well. The lesson Adobe should learn from these types of surveys is that customer loyalty must be earned; it cannot be forced upon users. In doing so, the company has irreparably damaged its brand perception.


Ironically, Adobe is facing a similar fate to its old archrival in desktop publishing software that it vanquished in the early 2000s: Quark. Quark Xpress had been the industry standard software for years, but when Apple updated its operating system and the company refused to immediately recode its software to work with the new system, users jumped ship and adopted Adobe InDesign instead; it was this foothold in creative professionals’ toolkits that allowed Adobe to saturate the market and become the leading brand.


What will end up happening, in this author’s opinion, is that Adobe’s customers will seek cheaper alternatives…there are a plethora of other software choices out there for users to buy, and for a one-time fee. Though other products may not be as comprehensive as Creative Suite—yet—within a couple of years these alternatives may finally drown Adobe’s brand.


By: Ryan Hembree, Principal | Brand and Creative Strategy

How Pinteresting! Popular Social Network Updates Look

America’s third most popular social network, Pinterest, updated their website this month with a goal of bettering users’ experience and interaction. The new design improvements include a simpler and cleaner layout and an array of new discovery features that make pinning your favorite things quicker and easier than ever before.


Pinterest Look and Feel

The Top 5 Social Media Sites


For those of you still exploring social media and what it means for your brand, Pinterest is an online pinboard, or social bookmarking website that allows users to create, share, and save interests, hobbies and/or events to topic-based collection boards. When a user shares an image or video on Pinterest, they are “pinning” content. Each pin is represented as an image and can be linked back to its original source. Pins can be organized by theme, and on different boards. Users who want to save what others have “pinned” will “repin” that content to save it to their own collection boards. Users also have the option to “follow” other users who share similar tastes and interests.


Three years after its launch in 2010, Pinterest embarked on a redesign to make the site easier to navigate, without drastically changing its look. After a three-month test period with select members, Pinterest analyzed feedback and began implementing the new site redesign to the rest of its 48-million+ users. As an avid Pinterest user, I was excited try out the new look and features.


With the redesign, Pinterest is even more user friendly. Navigating around the site is easier and more fluid for users, with pinners and boards featured more prominently than before. The pins are larger, and higher-quality images and feature-related pins make it easier to discover similar things. Suggested search terms, and the ability to view recent searches have been added, as well as a drop down to show popular topics. Pinterest notifies users when they are posting duplicate content, helping to eliminate clutter on their boards. My favorite new feature is that all content shows up on the same page, so you never have to leave it to view content; now I never lose my place while browsing.




Pinterest has also made it easier for users to interact with each other and discover material from like-minded individuals. It is now possible to send pins to friends, and even include a personal message. Pinterest users can now find friends from Twitter and Facebook that are also on Pinterest.
After testing the site, I’ve been very pleased with Pinterest’s updated look and new features. I appreciate that the company is interested in bettering users’ experiences, and takes the time to listen and evaluate their opinions. The new design is very helpful in managing and sharing my continually expanding boards. Pinterest is one of the top places for inspiration on the web and with the redesign it’s an even more beautiful visual experience.


By: Ashley Faubel, Designer