Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Marks of Excellence Summary (Communication)

The Communication section, in Marks of Exellence, speaks the of idea that trademark communication exceeds the realm of graphic design, breaching into other relative aspects of study, such as semiotics. The social role and interacting systems (semiotics) of a sign is communicated through the language of graphic design via symbols, letters, and words.

Communication is a transport of meaning, or a social interaction through message. Semiotic manipulation focuses interest on the sign produced. As Charles Sanders Pierce stated," a sign is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity."

As Shannon and Weaver's Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948) proclaims, there are three apparent problems that arise with trademark communication; the signal, message, and influence. The Signal deals with a symbol's accuracy (is it visible enough?), while it's precision of meaning is handled via message (is it understandable), and influence is displayed by the mark's effectiveness (will it create the desired effect). For example, the Montblanc Pen Co. trademark was designed to represent the snow-capped summit of Mt. Blanc through a rounded six-tipped white star on the tip of the black pen. This proved a conflict in similarity with the star of David symbol.

Noise is noted as anything that hinders the correct decoding of a message. There are generally two types of noise. Engineered noise relates between the trademark and the surrounding visual environment in which it exists. Opposite that, semantic noise is created between the similarities of a trademark and it's competition. The audience will naturally react in different opinions.

The image of Mercedes-Benz' logo as a hood ornament conveys a multi-transferable (dimensional) mark. Trademarks are a visual phenomena due to the transferability through several channels by different media forms. These channels exist physically by which the signal is being engaged. The technical means of transmission through acts/presentational and works/representational media. Constraints and biases do exist in the different formats. Cultural regionality is one example of these constraints.

Trademarks can retain a primary visual phenomenon along with a secondary audible quality. These phenomena create the context of a trademark. Dimension and perspective also shapes context. The temporal relationship of drinking is present through the context of spatial stages of consumption in Cassandre's iconic Dubonnet poster.

Another function of the communication vehicle is linguistics. In 1960, Jakobsen's communication model created a linear model of the Shannon and Weaver theory by relating factors of context, message, addresser, addressee, contact, and code. The double function of language is either referential or emotional. Referential language is thought of as objective and calls for attention, whereas emotional language is subjective; further inviting participation. Linguistics covers referential (dealing with the message and the referent), emotive (dealing with the addresser and the emotional message), conative (message and effect on addressee), poetic (message and it's characteristics), phatic (communication; establish/continue), and metalingual (understood clarity of communication) subfunctions as well.

Signs interact through different layers and interpretations based on the physical sign itself, it's symbology and the reaction the sign generates.

Beyond the physical, communication can function in code; a semiotic system of signs incorporating relations and meanings which can be objectively and/or subjectively referenced. Logical codes are either paralinguistic (ideas instead of sound), practical (instruction/coordination), or epistemological (classification/calculation). Expressive codes are interpretive and emotional.

Trademarks operate in subjective or objective modes. Each mode can exist with the other in variation through three fields of communication. Indication refers to a single being, Induction to action, and representation through knowledge.

All signs are conventional in the sense that the level of meaning is determined by that convention's strength. Motivated conventions are natural, whereas arbitrary signs require understanding beyond literal connotation; both existing in degrees. Symbols simply are non-figurative communications, linked arbitrarily to the objects. Icons are linked in similarity with the object, and can be conveyed through images (representation of real object), diagrams (showing structural schematics), and metaphorical (shared conceptual qualities with the object). Indices are physically connected to the object through designations (acquired meaning through relation of location) and reagents (effect via casual association with the object). All of these elements aid the relationship between the sign and what it stands for.

Trademarks carry multiple meanings. Distinction describes a referral function, meanwhile description through categorization and attribution are emotional references. As Paul Rand states, "A trademark is created by a designer but made by a corporation." The quote is as genuine as it is true. Furthermore, semiotic subject matter is the production of meaning. The purpose of a mark's meaning can be broken down through the control of visual identity, external identity, internal identity, rationalization, economics, business goals, encoded meaning, individualization, categorization, attribution, aberrant decode, performance based, and wild decode.

'Form follows function', as Sullivan once said. This idea definitely applies to graphic design as trademarks allow immediate identification, while invoking values of visibility, application, competition, legality, simplicity, attention, decency, color/grey reproduction, vehicles, holding power, description, tone, fashion, timelessness, graphic excellence, marketability, medium, pronunciation, nonverbal sounds, discretion, and favorability.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marks of Excellence Summary (p 1-63)

This book is about the history and classification of trademarks. Trademarks are understood as signs of identity whose purpose is derived from the examination of its nature and meaning. A lot is written on the laws of trademark, however there is little written on the actual function thereof. Visual identifiers allude to the nature of the product and can have value through reputation. When dealing with trademarks, several fields of study are involved. To effectively evaluate a trademark one must know of difference in utilization.

Trademarks have been around for at least 5000 years. Motivation to create these marks can be traced to identification in social, ownership, and origin matters. All of which are motives of either need or desire.

An early form of trademark is heraldy; which is the study of armoral signs and symbology. Heraldy has been around since the mid-12th century, used as identifiers between knights. The design consists of shields, lines, shapes, and icons. Better combinations of these forms where manipulated to create simple trademarks, omitting anything non-essential.

Monograms are another early form of trademark, rooting from Greek as 'single line'. Usually written or drawn in outline, recognizability is the readability. Familiarity was also used for livestock branding. For the past 5000 years, branding has become a system for showing relationship between living product and owner. Earmarks and farm-marks stemmed from the idea of branding.

Since Greek antiquity ceramic marks have been another facet of trademark through which the traders who bought ceramics from potters marked their ownership. Two types of signature styles were executed in the form of dipinti (brush marked) and graffiti (incision marked). Just as ceramic marks and other trademarks, stonemason's marks communicated ownership. More specifically, medieval architects, engineers, and craftsmen laid claim to the mastery of technique, construction, and style. These particular marks are design-based on square, circle, and/or triangle grids in stone.

Hallmarks provide the audience with further information than simple ownership. Gold/silversmiths would utilize these marks to communicate composition of material, location, date, along with the sponsor.

In deviation, printers' marks are intended to mark products of the printer as a direct result of the Gutenberg press. These were made through the same wood/metal cuts as the letter presses. Similar to printers' marks, watermarks also marked paper products. However, watermarks are impressed into the paper (without ink) while in the mold.

Furniture marks, another aspect of trademark, were seen as a form of control due to French government guilds making members mark the furniture they produced. This was to protect themselves against unaffiliated manufacturers.

So, a very basic summary of the function of trademark is identification. This is further based on design program and branding.

Design programs control visual identity through elements of trademarks, typefaces, and colors. These elements are utilized through applications; dealing with correspondence, sales literature, advertising, products, packaging, vehicles, signage, shop fronts/interiors, and uniforms. The goal of a design program is to create an identity attractive to relevant groups. Furthermore, this identity should share a dynamic statement of their aspirations and portray an understanding of the self, as well as the visual external. Economic circumstances also affect from within and externally.

Through trademark, branding denotes the name, reputation, and atmosphere of companies, products, and groups. The book compares branding and sales to mechanization and production in that both facilitates advantages of scale (similar to design programs).

Different types of corporate identification structures consist of organizational or branded identity. Either of these structures can be monistic, endorsed, or pluralistic; further creating 6 different identities. Application for trademark identities work as assumed names or practical pseudonyms for social, ownership, or origin matters. This links entities and brands for identification purposes. There is differentiation in identification, including: uniqueness, value, holding power, description, association, tone of voice, graphic excellence, reputation, discretion, or repetition. Some unifying, some working in opposition.

Classmate Blogs

I took the time to comment on a couple of interesting blog posts.

Take a look here...

...and here

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Furniture logos

GOOD logo
Business Type - Manufacturing
Logo Type - Wordmark
- La-Z-Boy Furniture

The use of all capital Copperplate typeface definitely speaks the idea of a quality furniture supplier, such as La-Z-Boy. The typography portrays solidity and foundation with slight stylization, as seen through the font's thin serifs. I believe the angled ellipse surrounding the 'Z' continues to convey this reclining comfortability associated with th
e furniture. La-Z-Boy uses a pure white and a touch-darker prime blue as support, further communicating the immaculate nature and the solid professionalism of the product. This Wordmark is clean, simple, and concise, which is perfect for a furniture company.

BAD logo
Business Type - Manufacturing
Logo Type
- Wordmark

Business - Wayside Furniture

Wayside Furniture is a functioning furniture business, operating within the past few decades around Akron, Ohio. Their royal blue on white wordmark needs an upgrade to diversify themselves from the competition. The company uses an overly italicized script-style typeface; which provides a nice level of interest, but an inaccurate portrayal of the company's ideals. Furniture is intended to be structurally sound and comfortable, and I feel this logo strays left of center. Also, there is not much else to the logo beyond the typography. The royal blue utilized here feels a bit tacky in comparison to it's upper-middle class target demographic.

Garden logos

GOOD logo
Business Type - Service
Logo Type - Wordmark
- Young's Garden Center

Operating out of Fort Mill, South Carolina, Young's Garden Center provides quality service and products. Just as the logo suggests, healthy flowers and vegetatio
n are a main focus. The serif typography alludes to the foundation of a family-run business, and also the organic nature of a garden center. A flower extends from the right stroke of the letter 'y', colored with a golden sun-like yellow throughout the petals. Utilizing a color palette involving greens and yellow is a great communicator of something positive and plentiful. I notice that using all lower case letterforms in this wordmark aids this theme even more. Young's logotype is simple, yet it's treatment is very successful.

BAD logo
Business Type - Service
Logo Type
- Wordmark

Business - Donzell's Flower and Garden Center

Donzell's Flower and Garden Center is located in Akron, Ohio. As one can see, this logo is very bland and boring. The only point of interest here is seen through the serif typeface, and even that is slightly contrived. Using a horizontal division line only separates the business title, and is equally uninteresting. Expanding the color palette might bring some life to this logo, as the pairing of forest-green/blue and light tan seem limited. I feel like this logo could be so much more creative, especially when considering any business involving nature. There basically isn't much else to say about the logo one way or another.

Soccer logos

GOOD logo
Business Type - Professional
Logo Type - Emblems
Business - Cleveland Force & Columbus Crew

The Cleveland Force was a professional indoor soccer team affiliated with the Major Indoor Soccer League from 1978 to '88. Meanwhile, the Columbus Crew plays in the Major Leagues, and have been since 1996. Both of these American soccer teams are understandably similar in sport; however, the two also relate on the unique individuality of a quality logotype.

The stark contrast of a construction crew emblemized on a shield represents the spirit of not only a hard working ball club, but the entire supporting fan base. The black monochrome triad and dirty yellow furthers a team symbology of fortitude and energy. Fortitude is also created through the use of black capital sans-serif, reading 'THE CREW', contained in a quarter-thick heading stripe of yellow. When initially viewing a shield I think of defense, yet the idea of a badge can also imply action. I believe that the rendering of the three crew members communicates an overall value and reality of integrity.

Another energetic solution can be seen through the literal swirling forms of the Cleveland Force's figure emblem. Although a retro logo, the effectiveness of capturing visual interest remains timeless. The depth of field is heightened by an enlarged soccer ball overlapping a dynamically pacing figure, rendered in high contrast. To me, the color scheme of prime blue, yellow, and white creates a lively and active mood. While the quality of the typography is compromised a bit; the word, 'FORCE', is form-fitted within the largest portion of the swirling forms. Three parts of this emblem commendably summarize the idea of soccer specific force: the ball, the player, and twisting forms.

BAD logo
Business Type - Professional
Logo Type - Emblem
Business - Cleveland City Stars

Founded in 2006, the Cleveland City Stars are a professional soccer team with a bland logo. At first glance, the typical European club badge style does not provide much appeal, as the form relies on a rich and pleasant tone of green. There is a weak connection between the logotype and team name. I feel that this emblem could stand to further read 'STARS' to communicate the full name. Since this team plays strictly in America and is not well known, I'm not so sure that depicting a half-soccer ball / half-globe maintains a clear message. Although, the team pulls players from other parts of the Earth. The fact that the stars on the shield are so downplayed really disappoints me. The skyline of Cleveland is not very recognizable to begin with, and pairing a black cityscape on top of forest-green cuts down the level of dimensionality. Reading 'CLEVELAND CITY' is the only obvious indicator of location. Soccer, although played within a series of boxes, is such a free flowing and open ended sport; it does not seem to do the game any justice by placing an alternating vertical bar pattern in the background. This conversely signifies too much restriction and order.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Test, test

Check; one, two, three...