After our lecture on Typography we were asked to perform an audit on the newly fitted way finding system within the London College of Communication, without any prior research into the designers. Having started the audit in the main entrance, we investigated the signs in each block of LCC, recording them through photography. The system takes on a simplistic form, using colour coding to differentiate between the varying blocks of the university and the simplistic, sans serif typeface Helvetica to emphasise readability.

A key part of the task was to ask someone within the university about the sign system. The question that I posed was ‘How do you feel that the new way finding system works in comparison to the previous Cartlidge Levene system?’. I did not get the name of the person I questioned, but I did find out that they were in their first year of studying. Having experienced the old signage during their application process, they said “the old system was very unhelpful due to the fact that parts of it had fallen apart and replaced with temporary signs, so there was no real consistency in design. The new signage has helped massively when it comes to finding my way around the building, particularly with me still being relatively new. The use of colour has been the most effective aspect of the signs, as I still struggle with the names of the blocks.

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Previous LCC directional signage: Cartlidge Levene.

 

Having completed the audit, we then returned to class to conduct some secondary research into the Pentagram designed sign system. During this research, I discovered how adaptable the system truly is. Having created the signage to fit onto a grid of screw holes, various elements of different sizes can be slotted together with ease. Also due to the proposed move of the university, it means that the way finding system can be kept and easily adjusted to the layout of the new building.

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Big Bang Data: Morag Myerscough.

The Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House explores the connection that we have with the infinite universe of data, with one of the key focuses being how the use of data has grown exponentially. Through the democratisation of technology we have been able to access electronic devices on a day-to-day basis and generate approximately two and a half trillion bytes of data daily. This data can be as simple as cookies stored by a web browser or posts on a social media website. However through these daily activities we are posting an abundance of personal data online, which is made evident by a number of the exhibition’s installations. For example, there is a piece that tackles this issue in a slightly less serious sense by showing the user that through the data they post online, the location of their cats can be tracked. This cat-tracker is a website called IKnowWhereYourCatLives and is the creation of media artist Owen Mundy. Having explored the site whilst at the exhibition it hit me that if an online platform can find out the location of cats on a global scale, then it will be extremely easy for someone to find out personal information based on what we post online.

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IKnowWhereYourCatLives: Owen Mundy.

The show also focuses on the positive impact of data, by exhibiting ‘Thingful’ from the studio Umbrellium. “Thingful is a search engine for the Internet of Things, providing a unique geographical index of connected objects around the world, including energy, radiation, weather, and air quality devices as well as seismographs, iBeacons, ships, aircraft and even animal trackers”(Umbrellium, 2016). This online community enables to exchange of vast amounts of data, allowing users to to connect to devices and find out bits of information that may lead to the solving of concerns or the answering of questions.

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Thingful: Umbrellium.

One aspect of Big Bang Data that I found to be extremely compelling was the depiction of data in a physical manner. The first installation that you are presented with is a large scale projection of the machines behind the internet and shortly after that you are shown the sheer scale of the ‘cloud’. Having always thought of data in a digital sense, it was quite shocking to discover that there is five hundred and fifty thousand miles worth of web traffic carrying cable under the sea and that a 183-acre data centre is behind the powering of the iCloud.

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Apple Maiden.

Despite questioning the positive and negative impacts of data through the installations and infographics of various designers, the exhibition leaves you with no form of answer to these questions. However the exhibition does prove that data is becoming a key part of design and can help towards the solution of many design based problems.

The space in which the exhibition is held is split into a number of sections, each of which is announced by a large piece of signage created by Morag Myerscough. These signs utilise a combination of bold sans serifs letterforms and vibrant colours taken from the cables that move and store data. Also through the positioning of the letters and the applied three dimensional effect, Myerscough has captured a sense of movement within the typography. This typographical motion portrays progression and links back to the growth of data. This in turn relates to the identity of the exhibition, creating a strong sense of consistency throughout the designed elements of the exhibition space.

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Big Bang Data: Morag Myerscough.

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Big Bang Data: Morag Myerscough.

Reference
Umbrellium (2016) Thingful. Available at: http://umbrellium.co.uk/initiatives/thingful/ (Accessed: 21 February 2016).

Prior to starting the CTS2 option of Critical Graphic Design Theories we were asked to look at three pieces of text, these were:

  • Kinross, R. (1992) Modern typography: an essay in critical history, Hyphen Press
  • De Bondt, S. &  de Smet, C. (eds.), (2012) Graphic design: history in the writing (1983–2011), Occasional Papers
  • Ellen Lupton, (2009) Deconstruction and graphic design in Design Writing Research: writings on graphic design, Phaidon (http://elupton.com/2009/10/deconstruction-and-graphic-design/)

It was these texts that formed the basis of our first ‘Research Methods’ lesson, in which we had to analyse the introductions of each book. Through our examination of the text, we were asked to pick out keywords and phrases that we felt would help towards compiling a conceptual sentence about the contents of the book, as well as form a S.W.O.T analysis of the whole book.

 

Design Writing Research

Conceptual Sentence – A manifesto that utilises the design processes of Ellen Lupton and Abbot Miller to form a series of small pieces of writing, that look to find a way in which we can pair design theory and practise.

S – Lupton and Miller apply their theory in a practical manner. Visuals weaved into the text.
W –
O – An insight into how my knowledge of design theory can be applied to the work that I produce in the studio.
T – Has the possibility of becoming outdated, unlike the other two books that focus on the history of graphic design.

Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983-2011)

Conceptual Sentence – A book that utilises the writings of numerous academics to analyse the history of Graphic Design.

S – By using a combination of leading academics work, the book gives for a greater variation of opinions and ideas about the history of graphic design.
W – The cover of the book features a typographical error – The title states the date range to be 1983-2011, whereas the first line of the blurb states it to be 1984-2011.
O – Unlike the other two books that focus on one particular topic, this text features writing on a wide range of topics, thus allowing me to broaden my knowledge of graphic design’s history.
T – Restricted by the fact that they only used texts that had been published in English.

Modern Typography: An Essay in Critical History

Conceptual Sentence – An essay that explores typographical literature to construct a critical argument about the the history of typography.

S – Due to the book’s specialisation in typography, it offers a comprehensive look into the subject.
W – Having read the majority of the book, I would say that certain sections of the essay are quite heavy going.
O – Insight into the history, terminology and processes of typography.
T –  n/a

The term ‘greenwashing’ refers to the act of deceiving consumers into thinking a company’s product and policies are more environmentally friendly than they actually are. This is usually done in a number of ways, be it through a product’s identity or an advertising campaign that looks to make an organisation appear more ‘green’. These techniques are used heavily throughout the food industry, it enables a company to make their products seem more eco-friendly and healthy. In Anna Kealey’s Eye Magazine article, ‘Natural Fantasy’, Kealey talks about a number of companies that make use of greenwashing. One of the featured companies is fast food chain Burger King. This is one of many companies that we associate with the selling of an unhealthy product and not one that looks to provide us with fresh ingredients. However through a redesign by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the company have devised a method to highlight the fresh and healthy ingredients of their food. The new brown paper bag looks to emphasise the vegetables, the freshest element of their product, allowing the meat patty, cheese and bread to blend into the background. “As well as implying an environmental ethos, brown also aligns the product to the natural or organic food market.” (Kealey, 2014).

 

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In relation to the concept of greenwashing, I also read ‘Authenticity in America: Class Distinctions in Potato Chip Advertising’ by Joshua Freedman and Dan Jurafsky. This piece of text focuses on potato chip companies and how the more expensive brands are utilising the techniques of greenwashing. Jurafsky and Freedman explore a number of brands, putting them through a series of tests, to decipher the difference in greenwashing between cheaper and more expensive brands. The main focus of these tests was the language that could be found on the crisp packets. Through the use of the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, they examined the correlation between the price of the potato chips and the language that was used on the packet. They discovered that the more expensive the brand, the more complex the language was. The expensive brands that were tested had a Flesch-Kincaid score that related to the reading age of a 17 year old, whereas the inexpensive brands language was similar to that of a 13 year old’s reading ability.

In our lecture, we conducted a similar test with a variety of brands. The two packets that I chose to investigate were Walker’s Monster Munch and Kettle Food’s Kettle Chips. The Kettle Chips packet expressed a sense of purity, with its matte white bag and gold foiled embellishment. The Monster Munch on the other hand appealed to a far younger demographic, with a vibrant blue and yellow character taking up the majority of the packet. My initial assumption was that the Kettle Chips would be a far healthier alternative to the more artificial looking Monster Munch. However when comparing the nutritional values of the supposedly healthier and hand made Kettle Chips to those of the Monster Munch, it turned out that there was a higher fat content in the Kettle Chips, a finding that I was definitely not expecting.

 

 

Reference List

Freedman, J. & Jurafsky, D. (2011) ‘Authenticity in America: Class Distinctions in Potato Chip Advertising’, Gastronomica, vol. 11 (Winter), pp. 46-54. California: University of California Press.

Kealey, A (2014) ‘Natural Fantasy’, Eye Magazine, no. 87 vol. 22 (Spring), pp. 34-39

The Museum of Brands, London, features a vast selection of packaging and advertising memorabilia from the early 19th century to the 2000s. The collection was started by Robert Opie, an avid collector of all things packaging. His obsession first started when he “was struck by the idea that [he] should save the packaging which would otherwise surely disappear forever.” (Museum of Brands, 2015). Due to the recent relocation of the museum, I was told that they hadn’t fully set up and the complete collection was yet to be displayed. Having been told this, I entered the first room expecting to see very little. However I was met with an abundance of product packets, from the likes of Heinz, Persil and Guinness. It was interesting see how the previously mentioned brands, among others, had managed to retain the core image of the brand from birth to the present day. In particular Heinz, a food product that has been around since 1869, is still using the same unique shape on all of its products as well as a very similar typographical layout.

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The second room of the museum featured a timeline of products ranging from Victorian and Edwardian times to the 2000s. Each section of the timeline featured a short write-up about the happenings during that particular decade, however the description failed to mention anything about the products on display. I found the consumer timeline to be the most effective means of displaying the museums products, as it granted me the ability to see how each brand had progressed and adapted to the times and consumer needs.

Just by looking at the packaging from each decade, it became very clear as to how much of an impact world events and social behaviours have on consumerism and branding. For example, the packaging from the time of the Second World War was produced using cheap materials such as thin card and tin. In comparison to the other sections of the timeline, there was also a blatant lack in colour, with most packages looking very faded and dull. In contrast, the packaging of the 60s displayed nothing but colour and optimism. With an influx in the amount of households with a television, it became evident that characters from the most popular show would sell. This was a trend that lasted up until the 90s, with all sorts of food and hygiene items sporting the faces of Spock (Star Trek), The Flintstones, Scooby Doo and so on.

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The bringing together of all these items provides the viewer with an in-depth look into the past and present trends of branding and advertising, enabling them to view the progression and adaptation of an organisation’s product for consumers.

Reference List

Museum of Brands (2015) Robert Opie. Available at: http://www.museumofbrands.com/about-us/robert-opie.html (Accessed: 3 November 2015).

“The sign consists of the Signifier, the material object, and the Signified, which is its meaning. These are only divided for analytical purposes: in practise a sign is always thing-plus-meaning”

– Judith Williamson (Williamson, 2002)

The reading that we were given for this lecture was a piece by Judith Williamson (author), called ‘Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising’. The text thoroughly analyses a range of advertisements from the 70’s, focusing on the ideas of semiotics and how this impacts the message perceived by the consumer. Williamson looks at a Silk Cut advert and investigates the meaning behind the objects that are featured within the image. She refers to this advertising technique as ‘connecting an object with an object’, this is based on the fact that the colours of the cigarette packet and the coffee cup are the same. Williamson goes on to explain that this relationship between the colours of the two objects enables us to make a link that the two products are of a similar quality. Coupled with a hint from the tag line, ‘The mild cigarette’, we can see that the intention of the advertisement is to imply the cigarettes offer ‘mildness [and a] slight suggestion of richness’ (Williamson, 2002). Another advert that Williamson dissects in her writing is a piece by Lambert & Butler. This advert works in a similar way to Silk Cut ad, in that the people, colours and shapes in the background all relate to the cigarette packet in the foreground. Williamson describes this link as the people being the contents of the room, much like the cigarettes are the contents of the packet. Therefore a connection is made that the ‘distinguished’ and ‘stylish’ nature of these people are qualities that can be obtained with the purchase of these cigarettes (Williamson, 2002).

SilkCut Lambert

After reading the text, I wanted to apply the ideas of Williamson on some contemporary advertisements. The advertisement below is from the Swedish vodka brand Absolut and was part of the ‘In An Absolut World’ campaign that aired 2007. The image consists of a number of signifiers, two men in suits; one of the men has a Pinocchio-esque nose; the lectern and the background resembles a number of areas in Washington, D.C. When we combine these signifiers we can see that the advertisement is referring to the untrustworthy nature of politicians and how they have the tendency to occasionally lie. The advert’s underlying message is that the consumers should have confidence in the brand, as they have nothing to hide from them.

absolut-politician


Reference List

Williamson, J. (2002) Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising. New York: Marion Boyars.

For my Branding Choices essay, I have chosen to explore the relationship between typography and the identity of a brand. Focusing solely on type, I will be looking at typographical elements such as layout, kerning, typefaces and more to discover how these factors can alter the emotive response that a consumer has. There are two key pieces of text that I have found to influence this topic greatly, these are:

-Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works. by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger

-Branding with Type: How Type Sells. by Stefan Rögener, Albert-Jan Pool and Ursula Packhaüser

Both books look to analyse the personality of type and explain how each typeface carries a certain meaning behind it, one that a brand can take advantage of when selecting the type for their identity.

Visual Examples.

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Current Sources of Research [Books].

– Evamy, M. (2007) Logo. London: Laurence King.
– Evamy, M. (2014) Logotype. United States: Laurence King.
– Kane, J. (2011) A Type Primer. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King.
– Rosentswieg, G. and Chase, M. (1998) The New Typographic Logo. New York: Madison Square Pr.
– Rögener, S., Pool, A.-J. and Packhäuser, U. (1995) Branding with Type: How Type Sells. Edited by E.M. Ginger. Translated by Stephanie Tripier. Mountain View, CA: Adobe Press,U.S.
– Spiekermann, E. and Ginger, E. M. (2002) Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works. 2nd edn. Berkeley, CA: Adobe Press,U.S.