Jan 28, 2010

Visual Resources

Kim suggested that I look for some visual resources to supplant my research and sketching process for my logo, such as film production companies, since I am designing for a movie-related business. These are some inspiring images I found on the web:

It's funny that I cam across this one first because one of my sketches involves using "can lights" in some way.

Some Extra Info

I found an article on Forbes.com on the subject of independent video rental stores and their success in an evolving, ever-more-digital era and devolving economy. It talks about how these businesses have carved out a niche for themselves and also used alternative techniques, such as also offering pizza within their stores or a rental "points" system, to differentiate themselves from large chain competitors. It shows that in the wake of store closings amongst larger chain movie rental stores, independent stores have actually thrived and picked up more business in response.

The website for Video Rodeo (an indie movie rental store in Gainesville, FL) serves as an inspiration, most especially in their advertising archive. It's mostly text-based, but eye-catching and humorous.

Also, a very short article from 2002 I found on Creative Loafing's website:
It's facing competition from young upstart stores, but MOVIES WORTH SEEING, with nearly 9,000 titles, remains Atlanta's finest source of cult classics, art flicks, schlock oddities and the kind of foreign titles that your neighborhood Blockbuster has never heard of. The store's organization makes it truly a place for those with celluloid in their blood, as it groups films by director, genre, country of origin and "upgrades," conveniently collecting restored or refurbished editions in one place.

Survey Says: (in progress)

To better understand the qualities and vision of my company I have tried to answer these questions based on the research I have gathered thus far.

1. What do you offer? Define the qualities of this.
An accessible & vast array of movies spanning many genres and time periods, a majority of which are not normally found at most mainstream video rental stores, & are offered at competitive prices.

2.What are the core values of what you offer? What are the core values of your company?
To offer excellent selection, great service, and a comfortable environment for customers with wide-ranging tastes and movie knowledge.

3.What is your mission?
To be Atlanta's premier stop for video rentals, including an abundance of obscure, hard-to-find titles along with popular, mainstream ones.

4. Any Specializations within your company?
Offering many genres and titles which cannot be as easily found at other rental or retail stores. Among these genres are foreign (French, German, Japanese, Russian, etc.), cult, experimental, documentary, gay/lesbian, even children's.

5. Target audience market?
From casual movie viewers to hardcore movie buffs. Local, neighborhood market with walk-thru traffic. Family-friendly, with a selection of children's titles. Anyone who is interested in alternatives to the mainstream movie culture.

6. Existing tagline or slogan? What message is it sending?
"Atlanta's Exceptional Video Store"
Obviously claiming excellence over other video stores in Atlanta.
Exceptional meaning "far beyond what is usual in magnitude or degree."
Syn. Extraordinary, Remarkable.

7. From the answers you've gathered so far, what is a personality/character that could represent you? (Celebrity, car, etc.)

What qualities about this character stand out? Is the personality innovative, creative, energetic, or sophisticated?

8. How does this personality interact with your target audience? Which qualities get the attention of your audience?

9. Review your answers, create a profile, describe the personality with words just as if you were writing a personal ad. be creative.

Jan 21, 2010

Movies Worth Seeing : Initial Research


I journeyed to Movies Worth Seeing last night to gather some more information on the company and begin formulating more solid ideas for the overall image of the business. I was able to speak to Dave, who is the usual night shift worker and has been an employee there for about 10 years, and who gave me a little more insight into what they're all about. He told me that they have been in business since November of 1985. Basically the main thing keeping them afloat and well in business is the community. Located almost secretly behind a row of business in the highlands, one could easily pass by it without ever knowing it is there, which I'm sure is a common occurrence. The business faces a neighborhood street, free from the flow of regular traffic. They have a loyal following, and rightfully so. It's easy to spend hours perusing the labyrinth of titles, which are arranged in various formats of organization, from director, to genre, to decade. They even have a section labeled simply "James Bond."


Dave told me that their main competition right now is Netflix, for the fact that they have a complete stock of everything at any given time, while Movies Worth Seeing can only have so many of each title in stock. He stated that Blockbuster really wasn't a big threat to them, mainly because Movies Worth Seeing has SUCH a large selection and variety of movies to choose from, while places like Blockbuster are much more mainstream and limited. Movies Worth Seeing's collection includes foreign, classics, cult, experimental, documentaries, children's, and even a gay/lesbian section. One advantage they have over Netflix is the ability to find what you want and take it home with you right there and then, whereas with Netflix (unless the title you want happens to be instant-watch) you have to wait a day or two for the movie to come through the mail. And even if the film is available on instant-watch, you're either stuck sitting in front of your computer or laptop with plenty of viewing limitations, unless you are set up to watch videos from your computer on your TV/home system. I asked if Videodrome was any competition for Movies Worth Seeing, and Dave told me that they're almost like a sister store, although the two have no business affiliation with each other whatsoever. They send customers over to each other whenever need be. He said Videodrome differs in that they have a larger selection of anime videos, but that was about it.

Dave did not give off any air of "I'm-better-than-you," which one may tend to find at any sort of specialty store, be it music, books, antiques, etc. He was very honest about his movie know-how and (if any) lack thereof. He said he would rather watch a movie he loved 50 times than force himself to watch something he didn't want to. In that respect, Movies Worth Seeing is an inviting, no-pressure kind of place where you can wander at your leisure. It's almost library-like, with its winding shelves, and the only real noise comes from the one TV by the counter playing whichever movie they happen to choose at the time, which is much nicer than some other movie rental stores where you're bombarded with TV screens all over, flashing advertisements and previews, etc.What's also nice is that there are books at the counter for those of us who are not as well-versed in the world of movies as some others.


Dave said one thing they really haven't done over the years is change. Their business model has basically been the same for the almost 25 years they've been in business. He said only 2-3 years ago did they start up their website, which does has a very handy search function, but is very plain and simple. Their prices haven't changed much since they've been open either. Just recently they raised the 3-day rental price from $3 to $3.50, and lowered the daily "late" fee to $1 a day, which basically counts as an extended rental. There is very little signage, and what signage there IS is very modest. So, while I do want to update their image a bit, I don't want it to be a drastic change. It seems they've found their niche and are very comfortable in it, and are doing quite well for themselves.

As far as buzzwords, these are some I think fit the company:

I couldn't leave without taking something home with me, so I signed up for an account and ended up renting a couple videos, which also gives me an excuse to go back and possibly chat with the owners or other employees (there are 2 other main employees besides Dave, so he told me). The owners are Anne and Jerry, originally from Jacksonville, FL. I don't know much else about their background or how they decided to open Movies Worth Seeing, but I hope to find that out soon!


Jan 19, 2010

Intermediate Graphic Design Spring 2010

Welcome, new semester!

So for Intermediate Graphic Design we've been given the incredible task of re-branding a local business over the course of the entire semester. The business I have set my sights on is Movies Worth Seeing, an independently-owned movie rental store. I've only been in the store once and haven't had a chance to go back and do any interviewing yet, but I did look on their Yelp page, and it seemed that most reviewers said the same kinds of things:
  • Very knowledgeable
  • Wide range to choose from
  • More rare/obscure titles than can be found at other rental stores
  • Perfect for any film fanatic
  • Cheaper than Blockbuster
  • Has been part of the neighborhood for many (over 20) years
 I intend to go check out their competitors as well. Mainly Videodrome, which is probably the most well-known of the indie movie rental stores in town.

Looking at the Movies Worth Seeing website alone, there's definitely a lot of room for improvement. I'm excited to really get rollin' on this semester-long assignment!

Jan 4, 2010

Keep A Breast Foundation

I came across an ad in the January 2010 issue of AP (Alternative Press) magazine for this non-profit breast cancer organization called "Keep A Breast Foundation." The thing that struck me at first was their logo, which is made of two heart shapes, but one is inverted to give the impression of breasts:

I ventured onto their website and discovered that they rely heavily on the arts to spread their message. This page shows various art auctions they have held to raise funds. The current one on display is of plaster casts made of actual busts, decorated by different well-known artists. Really cool and innovative!

Oh, and their merchandise is pretty cool too. :)

Jan 1, 2010

Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons

I recently joined GraphicDesignForum.com and I came across a link to this little tidbit by none other than Paul Rand on their homepage:

Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons

by Paul Rand

Originally published in 1991 by AIGA, the professional association for design.
Also available in "Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design" from Allworth Press.

"It reminds me of the Georgia chain gang," quipped the IBM executive, when he first eyed the striped logo. When the Westinghouse insignia (1960) was first seen, it was greeted similarly with such gibes as "this looks like a pawnbroker's sign." How many exemplary works have gone down the drain, because of such pedestrian fault-finding? Bad design is frequently the consequence of mindless dabbling, and the difficulty is not confined merely to the design of logos. This lack of understanding pervades all visual design.

There is no accounting for people's perceptions. Some see a logo, or anything else seeable, the way they see a Rorschach inkblot. Others look without seeing either the meaning or even the function of a logo. It is perhaps, this sort of problem that prompted ABC TV to toy with the idea of "updating" their logo (1962). They realized the folly only after a market survey revealed high audience recognition. This is to say nothing of the intrinsic value of a well-established symbol. When a logo is designed is irrelevant; quality, not vintage nor vanity, is the determining factor.

There are as many reasons for designing a new logo, or updating an old one, as there are opinions. The belief that a new or updated design will be some kind charm that will magically transform any business, is not uncommon. A redesigned logo may have the advantage of implying something new, something improved—but this is short-lived if a company doesn't live up to its claim. Sometimes a logo is redesigned because it really needs redesigning—because it's ugly, old fashioned, or inappropriate. But many times, it is merely to feed someone's ego, to satisfy a CEO who doesn't wish to be linked with the past, or often because it's the thing to do.

Opposed to the idea of arbitrarily changing a logo, there's the "let's leave it alone" school—sometimes wise, more often superstitious, occasionally nostalgic or, at times, even trepidatious. Not long ago, I offered to make some minor adjustments to the UPS (1961) logo. This offer was unceremoniously turned down, even though compensation played no role. If a design can be refined, without disturbing its image, it seems reasonable to do so. A logo, after all, is an instrument of pride and should be shown at its best.

If, in the business of communications, "image is king," the essence of this image, the logo, is a jewel in its crown.

Here's what a logo is and does:

A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon.
A logo doesn't sell (directly), it identifies.
A logo is rarely a description of a business.
A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important that what it looks like.

A logo appears in many guises: a signature is a kind of logo, so is a flag. The French flag, for example, or the flag of Saudi Arabia, are aesthetically pleasing symbols. One happens to be pure geometry, the other a combination of Arabic script, together with an elegant saber—two diametrically opposed visual concepts; yet both function effectively. Their appeal, however, is more than a matter of aesthetics. In battle, a flag can be a friend or foe. The ugliest flag is beautiful if it happens to be on your side. "Beauty," they say, "is in the eye of the beholder," in peace or in war, in flags or in logos. We all believe our flag the most beautiful; this tells us something about logos.

Should a logo be self-explanatory? It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job right off, before an audience has been properly conditioned. Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.

Logos may also be designed to deceive; and deception assumes many forms, from imitating some peculiarity to outright copying. Design is a two-faced monster. One of the most benign symbols, the swastika, lost its place in the pantheon of the civilized when it was linked to evil, but its intrinsic quality remains indisputable. This explains the tenacity of good design.

The role of the logo is to point, to designate—in as simple a manner as possible. A design that is complex, like a fussy illustration or an arcane abstraction, harbors a self-destruct mechanism. Simple ideas, as well as simple designs are, ironically, the products of circuitous mental purposes. Simplicity is difficult to achieve, yet worth the effort.

The effectiveness of a good logo depends on:

a. distinctiveness
b. visibility
c. useability
d. memorability
e. universality
f. durability
g. timelessness

Most of us believe that the subject matter of a logo depends on the kind of business or service involved. Who is the audience? How is it marketed? What is the media? These are some of the considerations. An animal might suit one category, at the same time that it would be an anathema in another. Numerals are possible candidates: 747, 7-Up, 7-11, and so are letters, which are not only possible but most common. However, the subject matter of a logo is of relatively little importance; nor, it seems, does appropriateness always play a significant role. This does not imply that appropriateness is undesirable. It merely indicates that a one-to-one relationship, between a symbol and what is symbolized, is very often impossible to achieve and, under certain conditions, may even be objectionable. Ultimately, the only thing mandatory, it seems, is that a logo be attractive, reproducible in one color and in exceedingly small sizes.

The Mercedes symbol, for example, has nothing to do with automobiles; yet it is a great symbol, not because its design is great, but because it stands for a great product. The same can be said about apples and computers. Few people realize that a bat is the symbol of authenticity for Bacardi Rum; yet Bacardi is still being imbibed. Lacoste sportswear, for example, has nothing to do with alligators (or crocodiles), and yet the little green reptile is a memorable and profitable symbol. What makes the Rolls Royce emblem so distinguished is not its design (which is commonplace), but the quality of the automobile for which it stands. Similarly, the signature of George Washington is distinguished not only for its calligraphy, but because George Washington was Washington. Who cares how badly the signature is scribbled on a check, if the check doesn't bounce? Likes or dislikes should play no part in the problem of identification; nor should they have anything to do with approval or disapproval. Utopia!

All this seems to imply that good design is superfluous. Design, good or bad, is a vehicle of memory. Good design adds value of some kind and, incidentally, could be sheer pleasure; it respects the viewer—his sensibilities—and rewards the entrepreneur. It is easier to remember a well designed image than one that is muddled. A well design logo, in the end, is a reflection of the business it symbolizes. It connotes a thoughtful and purposeful enterprise, and mirrors the quality of its products and services. It is good public relations—a harbinger of good will.

It says "We care."