Artists and designers should never dress like lawyers. Someone walks through the door and they look like they’re ready to stand in front of a courtroom, that’s not the person you really want to be asking to design, illustrate, photograph, paint, or otherwise do something artistic for you. Just saying…
Taking some much needed time away from stock production to focus on new client work. Lots of cool things in the works with cool people. Unfortunately not anything that can be shared yet. Maybe soon…
The state of Colorado unveiled their new logo and slogan recently, both part of a year-long re-branding initiative that has left most Coloradoans (as well as folks across the country) scratching their heads. I’ve been looking at this issue from a somewhat unusual perspective, one of someone who happened to have designed a stock icon last year that looks strikingly similar to the new Colorado logo, and wondering where the line gets drawn between a useful icon and a reviled logo.
The two designs are similar enough to say that each could be swapped with the other and still do the job. Neither really present anything new in the whole “how to graphically depict a snow-capped mountain” conversation. They are both obvious solutions, and maybe that is the problem for Colorado. As a simple icon to stick on a website or in a brochure, the stock icon works. Try using it as a logo, one to represent an entire state no less, and suddenly the design becomes dull, predictable, and so absolutely simple that it quickly gets compared to numerous other logos, icons, signs, and various graphics.
So where is the line? When does the simple icon become a successful logo and when does it fail? And if it fails, why?
If the Colorado case is any indication of where we draw that line, it seems to be at the point where the audience stopped being a consideration. The most common criticism of the new logo is that it doesn’t represent the colorful culture of the state, and reduces the image to a very simple and common depiction of what Colorado appears to be, even on the state license plates; green, snow-capped mountains. But ask any Coloradoan and they will tell you there is far more to it than that. Even purely visually, the consensus seems to be that a more colorful logo would better represent the state.
As a logo for a small business or a little-known manufacturing company, the new logo might work. But “simple” is rarely going to cut it when you are talking about the image that will represent so many people and so much heritage. And I’m not saying that this needed to be a complex, intricate design, just that it should have more seriously taken into consideration exactly what it was meant to represent. Visually, a simple logo can work. Conceptually, a simple logo intended to brand an entire state lacks the requisite depth and meaning necessary to win over the people who are to be expected to proudly wear that logo.
I often receive emails asking about use of my stock images as logos. The response I often send is this: Can you use a stock image as a logo? Yes and no (license terms prohibit it, but I’m not going to give anyone a hard time if they do it anyway, as long as they don’t try to trademark the design). The real question is, does a stock image adequately represent your business? In some cases, the answer will be “yes”. In most, though, if you are really being honest with yourself, the answer will be a resounding “no”. Because a general-use image that only offers an obvious and expected view of your business and doesn’t speak to the core values of what that brand stands for.
For Colorado, I doubt there will be any changes made. There is too much time (supposedly) and money invested in the process, and the folks behind the new logo have been hard at work trying to explain and justify the results of that process ever since the new logo was unveiled. Unfortunately, negative reactions to bad design rarely result in any change, and the folks affected by this will have to just learn to live with it. Alumni of The College of New Jersey, my alma mater, have been living with a similarly unfortunate logo redesign that took place while I was a student there, one in which a comparatively obscene amount of money was spent on a terrible logo that few people liked. It has taken over a decade for that logo to finally be phased out of use, currently relegated to the footer of the website.
Coloradoans may see this logo phased out eventually as well, but probably not before they have to live with it for several years to justify the expense.
Sort of a version 2 of an old stock image set, featuring some vintage badge designs with some subtle texture. Available over at Ember Stock.
A Shutterstock photographer is being investigated for selling photos through the online stock image licensing company that are alleged to not be legally his to sell. The twist here is that the photos are self-portraits.
After sending in photo ID proof that he is in fact the person in the stock photos, the investigation continues because the complainant continues to demand that the images are of him and belong to him.
As if photographers don’t already have enough to worry about as it gets harder to make a living with a camera, now you have to worry about being accused of stealing photos, even if the photos are of your own face.
Working on a set of vintage style summer-camp-inspired badges.
Been having trouble with the office phone number, so it’s temporarily shut down. If you need to reach me directly, use the contact info at the bottom of this page, which includes a link to start a Skype chat.
Working on some new stuff. Yes, I know how to spell “milk”. Google “malk” if you don’t already know the reference.
Some new stock work. http://www.flickr.com/photos/emberstudio/9152485927/
Working on something inspired by this week’s release of the movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, World War Z.
A community of stock photographers and illustrators recently brought up the idea that for artists selling their work directly to customers, maybe the Royalty-Free license was no longer appropriate. After all, many artists today have been trying to distance themselves from the mega-companies selling stock images by offering customers a way to easily license images for use at affordable prices and helping the artist keep 100% of the money from the sale. So in the effort to distinguish themselves in a crowded market, does it makes sense to kill off the RF license and related terminology in favor of more progressive licensing names and terms?
Wrapped up a logo design project recently, complete with new letterhead, business/appointment cards, and 1-inch buttons. Part of the logo was repurposed into a page footer mark with the tagline “Behind the Smile”.
We know that it’s not enough to simply show up to the social media party. Success in social media is found, in part, through conversations. You engage in conversations with your customers, clients, and prospects, to allow them to get to know you and your product/service better and be more likely to purchase that product or service thanks to the social conversation they participated in.
These conversations don’t always result in a sale or a signed contract. And in some cases, the intended conversation can turn into an angry mod scene very quickly.