A “shot heard round the world” is most commonly associated with the opening of the American Revolutionary War, but this week a different “shot” was heard round the world––and you guessed it, I’m talking about the unveiling of Google’s new logo, serifs not included.
Google announced the updated logo on their blog stating:
“So why are we doing this now? Once upon a time, Google was one destination that you reached from one device: a desktop PC. These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day. You expect Google to help you whenever and wherever you need it, whether it’s on your mobile phone, TV, watch, the dashboard in your car, and yes, even a desktop!
Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens. As you’ll see, we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”
Being the company’s first “real” logo change since 1999, Google claims that the new look actually has a lot more to do with functionality rather than aesthetics––and apparently, it has everything to do with those damn serifs.
What’s a serif?
The small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. See the serifs disappear below?
Form follows function
Here are a few facts about serifs and why Google decided to part ways:
- First and foremost, scalability. Serifs don’t scale, meaning that the font becomes less readable the smaller it gets. How often have you mistaken the lowercase “g” found in Google’s previous logo with an “8”? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
- Serifs suck up bandwidth. For years, Google knew that their logo degraded when viewed at low resolutions. Users with low-bandwidth connections were shown a “close” text approximation, not even the image version of the logo!
Check out the difference below, did they think we weren’t going to notice?
To accommodate Google’s low-bandwidth users, the company chose to not only redesign the logo but generate a new logo using a Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG), a vector-based file type.
In terms of logos, SVG is the way to go––and will soon be the way all logos appear, which is good news for our low-bandwidth friends.
So, what’s the verdict?
Naturally, the Internet is booming with mixed reviews of the tech giant’s new logo. I get it though––change can be uncomfortable and after 16-years with the Google logo we know and love, this news has come off as a bit of a shock. And rightly so. For some of us, our relationship with Google’s logo is the longest relationship we’ve ever had, so this silent, unbeknownst reveal has left the Internet feeling some type of way.
Tobias Frere-Jones, type designer at Frere-Jones Type was quoted on The Verge saying, “I don’t think this redesign speaks to any larger trend, because clean simplicity will always succeed, even if it doesn’t excite.” and he’s not the only one who thinks Google’s new image is a bit lackluster.
Seth Ellis, assistant professor at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan told Think Progress, “I’m not impressed, I’m just bored. It’s not a very interesting redesign. It looks like pretty much any corporate logo. It’s the average of every corporate logo from the past 50 years.”
But don’t worry, a number of graphic designers were willing to backup the brand stating “Just because Google is a #brand doesn’t mean it can’t give you feelings. The new logo “brings a smile and delight to my face, which I think is important, because their challenge is digital interfaces are scary to the majority of people,” said Jill Spaeth, president and director of design at Citizen Creative and member of the national board of directors for AIGA, the professional association for design.
Honestly, it makes sense
Considering the brand’s recent restructure from a parent company to subsidiary of Alphabet, most of us could have probably predicted that Google’s executives wouldn’t dare avoid rephrasing their central ethos and refining their core business vision.
This logo change is a small piece of a constantly evolving pie, and to think that Google doesn’t have a number of tricks up their sleeves would be naive. Much has happened since the search engine appeared 16 years ago, the company has immersed themselves in everything from car design and global mapping to net neutrality and advertising sales.
Not only did a logo change need to happen, it HAD to happen. Google is aware more than anyone of the importance of branding and this logo change is just the start.
As we make strides through the halfway mark of 2015, it can go without saying that this year has proven to be the year of the pro-social brand. What does this mean exactly? Instead of boasting their own sustainability, brands have started to publicly back sociopolitical issues like gender equality, racial justice, climate change, medical ethics, foreign aid and more.
Consumers are no longer impressed or affected by a company who anticipates customer approval through charitable giving and progressive actions towards key environmental issues––in fact, they’ve come to expect it. But, can you blame them (us)? We are constantly surrounded by brands who have been founded on the basis of charity and corporate social responsibility. Take TOMS and Warby Parker’s “buy-one, give-one” business model for example, or Charity Water and People Water, who provide clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.
So, when it comes to what YOU as a brand can do to “impress” customers and show your social respect and responsibility, they’re most likely thinking “been there, done that”.
Brands taking strong stands on social issues didn’t start gaining momentum until 2014. Last year, the Huffington Post reported on 27 major companies that boldly came out in support of marriage equality. And if 2015 has proven anything, it’s that consumers are no longer interested in brands who shy away from pivotal social issues, leaving their stance on these topics to our discretion. Instead, consumers believe companies should make it clear where they stand on the sociopolitical debates of the day.
Having a brand confidently rally behind a controversial topic, strikes the public that the issue has reached a tipping point of acceptance––and, in so doing, increases the rate of change. However, this type of heroic behavior doesn’t come without it’s fair share of criticism and condemnation.
Let us think for ourselves
Notable brands like Bud Light and Martha Stewart Living have taken quite a bit of backlash for making their stance on sociopolitical issues known, particularly marriage equality; even risking their conservative consumer base in the process. This type of advocacy has left many unruly consumers questioning if corporations belong in the political process or if they should leave their opinions to themselves and let consumers form their own viewpoint.
While this way of thinking may have been the “norm” in the past, pro-social branding’s MO is not about maliciously interfering with politics; rather, it’s about embracing today’s cultures and diversities, encouraging citizens and consumers alike to raise their voices against the oppression of the modern day.
Pro-social branding has transformed ethics
The pro-social trend has accelerated the urgency for ethical behavior. By being more politically disruptive and inspiring than your everyday sustainable brands, pro-social brands focus on outwardly taking a stance on key sociopolitical issues––rather than focusing on what a brand has accomplished internally to drive a better world.
At Creative Haus, we applaud the brands who have so valiantly taken a stand against today’s largest moral issues. Below we dig a bit deeper into a few companies and corporations who have helped pave the way to not only becoming a sustainable brand––but a more involved and committed one.
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage nationwide, many brands have taken this opportunity to show their support for marriage equality and gender equality in general.
Rayo Vallecano announced that the sale of their new 2015-16 away kit will be split between seven causes that aim to tackle discrimination. Each color of the team’s sash represents the support of a particular movement, while all six of the colors combined represents the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Most of us are familiar with Always’ “Like A Girl” campaign, which debuted in June of 2014 and then again as a 60-second national ad for Super Bowl XLIX. Applauded for changing the perception of the phrase ‘like a girl’, the Procter & Gamble feminine products brand aimed to do more than just bridge the gap between gender equality. With more than 80 million views worldwide, the Internet has been overwhelmed by the support, encouragement and positive impact the video has made.
If you haven’t, watch the ad below and see how you feel the next time someone utters the phrase #LikeAGirl.
As the first company in the U.S. to be certified with the EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) global standard for workplace gender equality, L’Oréal USA was recognized for their commitment to support gender equality throughout the workplace in August of 2014. The EDGE assessment is currently the only business certification for gender equality in the workplace that is universally accepted across industries and countries.
Everyone’s favorite ice cream connoisseurs, Ben and Jerry’s caused quite a swirl, if you will, when they announced their “Save Our Swirled” tour in March. With an updated ice cream truck (an outfitted Tesla which stored ice cream and had an e-mail sign-up station), the team set out to help build the movement to fight climate change.
By simply tweeting at the tour’s Twitter handles, the Ben and Jerry’s team made their way around neighborhoods and offices, delivering free scoops for climate change. The Creative Haus team was lucky enough to help them with their cause. The free ice cream wasn’t half bad either!
Would you believe us if we told you that IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, is also a leader in climate mitigation and renewable energy? In June, the company known for its ready-to-assemble furniture announced a $1.13 billion commitment to address the effects of global warming in developing countries.
“Climate change is one of the world’s biggest challenges and we need bold commitments and action to find a solution,” said Peter Agnefjäll, IKEA Group president and CEO. “That’s why we are going all in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact. This includes going 100 percent for renewable energy, by investing in wind and solar, and converting all our lighting products to affordable LED bulbs, helping many millions of households to live a more sustainable life at home.”
In light of the recent events surrounding Charleston, South Carolina the long-running controversy over the appropriateness of the Confederate flag has fallen into the spotlight. The flag, a reminder and symbol of the slaveholding South, has become the center of a national debate. So much so, that Walmart, Sears, eBay and Amazon all announced bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise.
In hopes to not offend consumers with the products they sell, the retailers removal of all items promoting the Confederate flag from their assortment is a step in the right direction towards racial justice.
What have we learned?
If there’s anything the pro-social brand can teach us, it’s that company’s motives are becoming more and more genuine. But this doesn’t mean that consumers won’t run into a few cases of “Causewashing” every now and then. While we would like to believe that every brand is looking out for the greater good and making a stance for/against the social issues of 2015, a business is a business (after all) and profits are generally at the forefront of every investor’s minds.
90% of Americans say that they are more likely to trust brands that back social causes. So if your brand isn’t taking part in the sociopolitical conversation, you might want to think about it.
Everyone from toddlers to seniors are walking around staring at their digital devices these days. In this era of handheld computers it’s becoming more apparent that unlimited connectivity also means constant distraction from what is going on around us.
There was once a time when conversation with another human being meant maintaining eye contact and engaging with those around you, but now it is not uncommon to walk into a restaurant and witness an entire family blankly staring at their backlit smartphone screens.
Luckily, for those of us that would rather Tinder than actually carry on a fully engaged conversation with another human being, there is the Texting Hat. The Texting hat has revolutionized the texting game by allowing you to text or surf the web, while still feigning interest in those around you.
If you’re addicted to staring at your screen, than order a Text Hat today and maintain your dignity amongst your peers, family, and coworkers.
Branding is an essential element to any companies’ success, and as we rapidly accelerate into the Digital Era, it is important to examine the elements of your branding, and how it will translate into digital mediums. Relying on antiquated branding and marketing techniques can leave even the most established brands shaking in their boots, as new start-ups that are quick on their feet are dominating in the digital market.
This doesn’t mean that well-established brands can’t reevaluate their efforts and shape their marketing and branding initiatives to meet the current trends. In fact, many of today’s well respected and established brands are starting to put a heavy focus on how they will stay competitive with emerging technology shaping the way brands interact with consumers.
So what can you do to stay competitive and revamp your digital branding? These key elements will help you find success in the midst of the revolution.
Design For Digital-
In this day and age it is important that any key design elements that go into your branding are designed for digital first. Sure your new logo will need to look good on business cards and company stationary, but it is absolutely critical that it works well across multiple digital platforms including your website, mobile applications, and social media sites.
Many new companies that don’t have a strong social media presence or an on-site social media expert fall short when it comes to compelling social media design and campaigns. If you want engagement, which is the key element of social media, then it will be important to have thought-out social media campaigns that are complimented with appealing visual assets that attract potential clients and customers.
Make it Responsive-
With the advent of the handheld tablets and smart phones, consumers have a whole new way to interact with your brand online, and it’s important that your design reflect that. Responsive design ensures that your customers can interact with your brand in a fun and easy manner across multiple devices. Whether your customer is on their desktop or Apple watch, responsive design will make sure that their experience isn’t interrupted or negatively affected.
You can have the coolest, most innovative website in the world, but if your customers hate interacting with it you might as well just not have a website at all. Look at Google, one of the world’s biggest companies whose main page hasn’t changed a whole lot since its inception. The reason for this is because Google understands that if it complicates things with multiple prompts and tabs, users will go elsewhere because they want a simple search device that garners results. Your website should reflect this, and while your website should have appealing visual elements and well-thought-out design, the real key to web development is making sure that those that visit your website enjoy their experience.
Well-designed packaging can take a simple product and make it immaculate, awesome, and inspiring. We love design, when something is beautiful and also functional, it creates a super engaged user experience that is timeless and can often become iconic.
With our column, Check Out My Package, we highlight intelligent and inspired branding and packaging from some of our favorite designers and brands. So find inspiration, seek individuality, and most of all, don’t be boring.
Based in Stockholm and Paris, we take a look at Tomorrow Machine, the Swedish design studio who devotes their talents to package, product, and food concepts. With a vision “to build a better world through research, new technologies & intelligent material” Tomorrow Machine believes in “looking at science from a creative point of view to shape the innovations of tomorrow”.
On this weeks installment of “Check Out My Package” we’re highlighting two of our favorite projects from the Swedish design studio, “This too shall pass” and the “Sustainable expanding bowl”.
Creative designers, Hanna Billqvist and Anna Glansén, asked themselves if it was reasonable for food packing to take years to decompose naturally, when the food itself takes only weeks (most of the time). “This too shall pass” is a series of food packaging which has the same short lifespan of the foods that they contain. Designed to follow the ways of nature, the package and its contents work in symbiosis, meaning the two parts work in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Made from the gel of agar-agar seaweed and water, the smoothie package decomposes at the same rate as its contents. Created specifically for liquids that have a short lifespan and need to be refrigerated, which makes it perfect for fresh juices and smoothies. Simply pick the top, insert the straw, and get to sipping!
With packing made from biodegradable beeswax, the rice package has us wondering why we haven’t utilized this method of food storage before. Open the package by peeling it like a fruit, but don’t get confused, the package is made specifically for dry goods like grains and rice.
What do you get when you caramelize sugar and coat it with wax? Apparently the perfect little vessel for storing oil-based food. Not sure how to open it? Crack the package like an egg and empty out the contents. Once the material is cracked, the wax no longer protects the sugar and the package melts. How cool is that?
The “Sustainable Expanding Bowl” project collaboration with Innventia is a self-expanding instant food package combining different aspects of sustainability.
Not only does it save space by being compressed, the bowl is also made of a 100% biobased and biodegradable material, invented by Innventia.
Pour hot water into the package and watch the mechano-active material react to the heat and transform from a compressed package to a serving bowl.
Handcrafted is our series that highlights some of the most inspiring craftsmen and women in the nation. As a creative team we draw inspiration from everywhere including our peers, and sometimes they deserve some shine.
It’s no easy feat to develop a brand that doesn’t utilize mass manufacturing, as it is faster and more cost efficient, but often sacrifices quality. These are brands that have stayed true to their ethos of developing limited edition, high quality products that are made from hand and come from the heart. Welcome to Handcrafted.
Leather is tough like a cowboy, and also like a cowboy, only seems to look cooler as you put it through the paces of daily life. Good quality leather goods can last for decades, and with more and more small and unique boutique leather goods brands popping up it’s safe to say we are getting more quality goods by the minute.
Edison MFG CO. is a small handcrafted leather goods and accessories brand based in sunny San Diego, CA (not far from our very own office). Founder and leathersmith, Dave Mckinney, started Edison after over a decade working as a creative with a number of skateboard and surf brands.
Needing a creative outlet Dave launched his brand after losing fulfillment working in the board sports industry. Still inspired by his skateboard roots, his independent ethos shine through in his quality craftsmanship and clean aesthetic.
Edison MFG CO., which started as a leather wallet and keychain brand is quickly evolving to include a number of accessories including canvas totes and pillows. As Edison continues to grow and garner accolades, it will be awesome to see what this small brand is capable of, as their current product line is already amazing.
Mckinney is dedicated to using as many USA sourced materials and tools as possible, which is one of the things that makes Edison so special. Not only are you supporting a brand that has a philosophy of sustainability, you don’t have to sacrifice good design to buy something that would follow under the “green” label at any large company.
Companies like Edison MFG CO. are worth supporting, not only because they will make you instantly look cooler, but because when you buy from people like Mckinney, you are supporting your local economy, which are reinvested locally as well. It becomes a radical ecosystem of like-minded creative’s supporting one another, and for us that is what it is all about.
Ever since the release of the indie cult classic Swingers, Vince Vaughn has been a driving force behind some of the worlds most celebrated comedies including the classic Old School and highly celebrated, Wedding Crashers.
With a string of comedic success under his belt the often straight-faced funny man from the Mid-West is still churning out highly anticipated comedies some 19 years after the first release of the highly revered Swingers, which set his career in motion.
Recently, Vaughn and the co-stars of his upcoming film Unfinished Business took a tongue in cheek poke at the often humorously bad stock photo market by posing for a number of free stock photos as a promotional stunt for their upcoming film.
Vaughn and co-stars are set in a homogenous and dull office building, while looking dutifully serious about their task at hand. Something the stock photo market has become synonymous for is uninspiring and generic photos that vaguely have a Brave New World creepiness about them.
Vaughn has had some lackluster performance in the past and the film has not opened up to exactly rave reviews, but the promotional efforts thus far have been amazing.
Vaughn can be seen in one of the photos sporting a blank stare, which is so often the centerpiece of stock office photography. Visually declaring I may be an office drone, but I also have dreams.
Whether or not the film is huge success, we thank Vince and his co-stars for making those of us in the digital world laugh with delight at something, whether we like it or not, are all forced to use.
Well-designed packaging can take a simple product and make it immaculate, awesome, and inspiring. We love design, when something is beautiful and also functional, it creates a super engaged user experience that is timeless and can often become iconic.
With our new column, Check Out My Package, we will highlight intelligent and inspired branding and packaging from some of our favorite designers and brands. So find inspiration, seek individuality, and most of all don’t be boring.
In this week’s Check Out My Package, we take a very visually appealing look at Australian based company ,The Chia Co, and their ultra chic Chia Pod. The Chia Co, whom produces the Chia Pod, was created with health and sustainability in mind. They have successfully created not only a visually appealing product, but also something that promotes health and sustainability.
“Chia Pods are vegan and non-GMO. Chia Pod lid, cup and spoon are 100% recyclable and have been made from 30% recycled material.” States the companies website.
Instant foods aren’t generally known for their health benefits, as they are often packed full of additives and preservatives. However, The Chia Pod is an instant food that is void of these harmful ingredients and is instead packed full of healthy and clean nutrients. Which means eating healthy has never been so easy, and amazingly good looking.
The clean design aesthetic and sustainability of the package is no coincidence though, two of the founding members of The Chia Co were working for large packaging companies before leaving to focus on creating an alternative to unhealthy instant foods. Finding a package that was appealing to a wide variety of consumers and that would stand out among its competitors was a something that The Chia Co was hyper focused on.
And they hit the nail on the head, as the clean design of the both the logo and the package itself is setting The Chia Co apart from the rest of the pack. The Chia Co has found a successful market place and is growing quickly; they have expanded to the US and are being endorsed by the likes of uber athletes such as 11 time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater.
It’s heart warming to see a brand with a clear message of wellness and sustainability find success in the highly saturated food industry. It shows a shift in global consciousness, and that companies with a clear message of health and environment can find immense success with today’s educated consumer.
Self-quantification is the new big bad buzzword making its way around the design, tech, and media world. And for good reason; not only does self-quantification allow our inner Rain Man to shine, but it can also help us maximize our productivity in the work place.
With self-quantification tools like the wearable fitness tech including the uber popular, Fitbit, and self-quantification at work; one has to wonder if we are on our way to designing the perfect workday.
So how can self-quantification help us design the perfect workday? There are a number of ways to maximize our productivity through out the day, but here are four of the key factors to designing the perfect workday through self-quantification.
- Work When You’re Most Productive-
One of the key benefits to self-quantification in the work place is that it allows you to understand when you are most productive. There are clearly morning and night people. If your brain doesn’t fully understand simple addition until after noon, than it’s critical to plan light tasks earlier in the day. On the other end of the spectrum, if you wake up with bells on, then schedule your most difficult task in the morning, so you can knock out strenuous work early.
- Planned Breaks-
Americans in general are overworked, so it is important to take breaks, even if it means pulling ourselves away from our daily tasks. Self-quantification software will be able to intuitively know when it is time for you to take a break, so you can take a walk or do some quick yoga and then refocus on your work. Some larger companies might be slow to adopt this method into their workplace, but more and more companies are starting to embrace activity during the workday, as research has shown it is a huge boost to productivity.
Photo: Taro Taylor
- When to Refuel-
Nutrition is another key element in designing the perfect workday, as drowning our work sorrows in empty calories actually depletes our creative energy. With self-quantification tools we can track what we eat, and see how it affects our productivity. If we find that eating lean and clean in the morning boost our productivity, than we can design our diet around our workday to maximize our creative energy.
Photo: Jamie McCaffery
- Lights Out-
The science is in, and getting a full night of sleep is one of the best things we can do to maximize our productivity. Self-quantification tracks our sleep patterns and helps us maximize our rest time. With self-quantification tools we can set reminders to help us unplug and unwind, so we can be fully recharged for the next workday.
Whether or not we can design the perfect workday is still up for debate. However, self-quantification tools are helping us to better understand our work habits, which can absolutely help us boost our productivity. Try using new technology to quantify your workday, and see if it helps you maximize your creative output.
Handcrafted is our new series that will highlight some of the most inspiring craftsmen and women in the nation. As a creative team we draw inspiration from everywhere including our peers, and sometimes they deserve some shine.
It’s no easy feat to develop a brand that doesn’t utilize mass manufacturing as it faster and more cost efficient, but often sacrifices quality. These are brands that have stayed true to their ethos of developing limited edition high quality products that are made from hand and come from the heart. Welcome to Handcrafted.
Photo’s Courtesy of Almond Surfboards.
There is something truly fascinating and beautiful about functional art, a piece of art that serves a purpose is liberating because we usually stare at art from a safe distance, never interacting with it, which is a shame.
Surfboards, however, are truly functional pieces of art, and Almond makes some of the most beautiful pieces on the planet. As true master craftsman this group of young Californians has taken what was a small garage brand and developed it into a full line of surfboards, and full line of men’s and women’s clothing. All made right here in sunny California.
Inspired by classic Americana and simple clean aesthetics, Almond Surfboards has truly developed a brand that stands on it’s own in today’s surf industry, by focusing on tasteful color palates and high quality surf goods they have distinguished themselves against the behemoth corporations.
With a loyal following of purveyors of fine surf culture, Almond Surfboards looks poised to continue growing, as more consumers are starting to engage with the stories and philosophies behind the brands they support, brands like Almond will continue to find success in a cluttered marketplace.