Tag Archives: graphic design

Redesigning the College Snuggie

Let’s face it. There’s been a lot of talk about Snuggies in pop culture this year. “The blanket with sleeves” came out of nowhere and gripped the nation. From themed bar tours to the Washington Post’s annual Peeps diorama contest, you’re never far from Snuggie’s influence.

And if that weren’t enough, the brains that brought you the outstanding three-color collection have upped their game and expanded their product line to include… collegiate licensed Snuggies!

If you haven’t seen them in their full glory, take a gander:


Picture Source: Blanket Wars (Even better, this picture is from a blog post entitled “OU Will Choke Versus Texas.”)

How does one make an eyesore like the Snuggie even more hideous? Make it look like it was made from the contents of the clearance rack at the fabric store. That fabric ain’t just for pajamas anymore!

Though I’m not (yet) a member of the cult of the Snuggie, I understand why people would buy them. Who doesn’t like being warm? And being able to eat whilst wearing a blanket? Or the ability to change channels without exposing bare arms to the draft of a room?

I also understand why people would want collegiate Snuggies in particular. Every sports fan relishes the opportunity to show off a little team spirit. I mean, if I got a Snuggie, you’d be darn sure I’d get a college team one. (Looks like I’d have to get Texas though, because the makers of Snuggie don’t offer a UVA one. Good research on that one, I must admit. They know their audience, and UVA alums likely wouldn’t bother with a Snuggie: it would clash with their ties or pearls.)

Well, instead of continuing to mock Snuggie, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and offer a design suggestion: K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid.) Good design should be minimalist, simple and straightforward. Not cluttered.

How should Snuggie go about this? Pretend to make team sweatshirts, just with tons more fabric. Like this:

Or this:
Yes, UVA can have its own Snuggie after all!
Texas should prominently display the Longhorn logo on burnt orange. Carolina the interlocking NC on its signature Carolina blue hue. Virginia Tech would use the interconnected VT. Florida: the Gator. The Jayhawk for Kansas. You get the picture. Make it simple. Make the primary team color the star, not the blinding repetition of several logos.

How would you redesign the collegiate Snuggie? Would you make them like replica jerseys with the ability to personalize a name and number on the back? Add a belt in a contrasting color? Build in a foam finger at the end of one sleeve? Share your ideas in the comments section!

Final two pictures edited from this image.

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Filed under ACC, college basketball, college football, commercials, fashion, graphic design, marketing, mascots, sports, Texas, UVA

When was the last time a magazine changed your life?

Back in June I was sitting at Reagan Airport waiting for an 8:00 a.m. flight to Houston for work. As is my custom when I’m in an airport, I decided to pick up a magazine to amuse myself for my day’s flights. Out of the blue I decided to pick up the July issue of Wired. Little did I know this $4.99 decision would change my life, or at the very least, my next few months.

wired coverPicture Source: Wired

To this point, I had never read Wired, or at least the print version. I had occasionally read articles on the Web site when people tweeted about them or passed them along by email. But the magazine drew me in: two people clad in sleek workout clothes donned the cover. Around the picture there were quite a few headlines that drew me in, being the information-seeking/somewhat media-savvy person that I am (emphasis on somewhat):

  • “Battle for the Web: Facebook vs. Google” (“Oooh, I use those!)
  • “United States of Data: Obama’s New CIO” (“Kinda cool… government and new media and information collide in the great unknown.)
  • The Nike+Apple Experiment: 1 Million Runners and Counting (“I’ve been hearing about this a lot lately. Time to find out what the fuss is about.”)

This was definitely going to be worth the $5 and then some.

I plunged right in to The Nike+ Experiment. It ensnared me from the opening paragraph. Even though I ran cross country in high school close to a decade ago, I found myself relating to the woman introduced right away: a once-225 pound mother who with the help of Nike+ found a love for running (through her love of gadgets and data), lost 80 pounds and was now training for a half marathon. “I can do that [train for a half marathon],” I thought to myself. “Maybe I just need the gadget.”

Now I’m not exactly 225 pounds (or have I been close for that matter… I cautiously add “yet”), but I’m not exactly a runner these days either. I’d say at the time I read this article I worked out something like once or twice a week. Geez I hope none of my high school sports coaches ever read this…

The article was fresh in my mind for a week after I read it. I kept thinking in the back of my mind, I need to get myself Nike+. I even read it again. And again about a month later. Finally, about a month ago, I decided it was time for me to bite the bullet and get the Nike+ system for myself.

[A brief aside: if I had known at the time that all you needed to get Nike+ was $29 and an iPod Nano*, which I already had, there's no way I would have waited so long to make this purchase. I also later discovered you don't even have to wear Nike or Nike+ enabled running shoes to use Nike+. You can attach the sensor to any shoelaces using this handy little sensor holder. The holder is only $5 or $6! I needed new running shoes though and as it turned out the ones I bought, despite being Adidas, had a built-in Nike+ sensor-sized indentation in the left shoe's sole anyway, so I could just insert it the same way I would if I had Nike+ enabled running shoes. Special thanks to the staff at Pacers in Arlington for giving me the heads up!]

One thing I remembered from the article was “Nike has discovered that once a user uploads five runs to its Web site, they’ve gotten hooked on what their data tells them about themselves.” Sure enough, they were right. I’d say it took me less than five runs to get hooked, but it also took me two or three to understand how to dizzily operate the buttons on my Nano after running a few miles in the D.C. area summer humidity. Regardless, it didn’t take long to get into the data collection. As a lazy person who has failed numerous times at keeping fitness logs by hand, I must admit, this is the way to go. It does all the data collecting for you: tells you your pace per mile, measures distance, updates you on your progress while your running and should you set a personal record (PR) on your run, uses celebrities like Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong to congratulate you on your accomplishments. It even graphs your progress on the Nike+ site and lets you add comments, routes, weather and “how I felt” feedback with ease.

Another point in the article that resonated with me was the Hawthorne effect. According to Wired, “[t]he gist of the idea is that people change their behavior — often for the better — when they are being observed.” I for one, know I’m quite susceptible to the Hawthorne effect. One of the benefits of using the Nike+ Web site is the ability for a user to create his or her own goals. When I set the goal to run 25 miles in the next two weeks, I know it’s watching. And you know what? It makes me go out and pound the pavement, especially when I know a deadline is close to elapsing. Thanks to these goals I find myself on the treadmill at 10:30 p.m. so that I don’t fail to achieve a goal I set on the site. I haven’t failed yet, but I fear the (likely quite innocuous) consequences that will result when and if I fall short of a goal I set.

So in summary, the Wired article left me with two cravings — a desire for Nike+ and, as you may imagine, more Wired. Needless to say, I sent in my subscription postcard right away and am now getting a year’s worth for $10! Solid.

Bonus: on a somewhat unrelated note, the Somali Piracy article in the same issue was the coolest magazine layout design I may have ever seen (Check it out! And trust me, it’s worth the PDF download. The Web version of the article does it no justice). I can’t wait to see what gadget-y/social media-y/design-y excitement Wired’ll come up with next.

Stay tuned for more thoughts my own Nike+ experiment in the future. So far I’ve run 16 times for a total of around 44 miles in the month I’ve used Nike+. A drop in the bucket for most, but a start for me nonetheless. Later this month I’ll be competing in my first 5K in close to a decade. And with any stroke of luck, my first 10K race will soon be on the horizon. ‘Til then, happy trails!

* You don’t have to have a Nano, it’s just what I happened to already own (and as far as I know, all generations of the Nano work). The iPhone/iPod touch also works with Nike+, but if you have neither, you can also opt for the wristband instead.

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Toothier Lions and upside-down Bull heads

In the past two days there’s been much fuss in the logo design world about two professional sports teams: the NFL’s Detroit Lions and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

While the laughingstock of the NFL has had a minor logo renovation, yesterday the Chicago Tribune pointed out something about the Bulls logo that had skirted unnoticed by sports fans: upside down, the Chicago Bull is in fact a robot reading the Bible on a park bench.

Don’t believe me? Take a look.  I would even argue that the robot is a very sad distant cousin of Bender:

bulls-head

Photo credit: The Chicago Tribune

But that isn’t all I learned from the Tribune about well-known logos.  I mentioned a few weeks ago about the arrow within the FedEx logo, but did y’all know about the 31 within the Baskin Robbins logo?  I certainly didn’t.  The 31 of course refers to Baskin Robbins’ 31 flavors of ice cream.

So how did the Detroit Lions change their logo?  Now the team’s lion has sharper, scarier teeth and is accompanied by a flashier, more modern font:

lions-logo

Photo credit: Sports Pros(e) blog on Chicago Sun-Times

Roar!  Quite menacing, don’t ya think?  The “new Lions logo ought to solve everything,” a Chicago Sun-Times blog post facetiously said.  That’d be quite a feat for the design world, as the abysmal Lions tallied an 0-16 record last season.

As one of my favorite people on Twitter pointed out yesterday, “The Lions new logo probably won’t solve their problems on offense. But it might sell some more merchandise!”

Only time will tell if the rebranding effort will rescue the team from a repeat of last year’s misfortunes.

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Filed under logos, sports

More freelance, more fun

As a few of you already know, I recently jumped into the freelance writing realm.  So far I’ve only written a few sports pieces here and there, but I’ve decided to kick it up a notch…

I’m going to expand into design as well!

I just got my domain name, and now it’s time to put my web design skills to work and crank out another site.  I’ve made a logo too, but I keep changing my mind on it.  I haven’t decided the timetable yet for getting the site up and running, but hopefully I’ll have something soon.

What sort of stuff will I venture into?  Anything really.  You name it — restaurant menus, cards, invitations, publications.  Hopefully it will be constantly evolving.

Do I have a name for this entity yet?  I do.  Here’s a hint: it has to do with a fruit.

More details to come!

chiquita-ladyPicture Source: The Brain Police

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Logo subtleties

It’s amazing how you can see the same logo over and over again and somehow miss a detail.  For instance, a year or so ago, someone pointed out to me that there is an arrow within the FedEx logo.  I couldn’t believe I never noticed it before:

fedex-logo

Still don’t see it?  Look again.

fedex-logo-w-arrow

Today while reading TheDieline I noticed something else that I’ve overlooked for so many years.  Did you ever notice that the Heinz logo has a Keystone design in it?  Pennsylvania is the Keystone state and the Keystone symbol has been incorporated into all sorts of Pennsylvania related logos.  The new Heinz Ketchup packaging design retains the subtle Keystone border on the label while giving the product a slight but not overpowering update. (In case you didn’t know, Heinz is headquartered in Pittsburgh.)heinz-ketchup1Other uses of the Keystone symbol:

pa-60-sign2

pennsylvania-railroadpennsylvania-welcome-signpennsylvania-wilds

pennsylvania-lotterypennsylvania-policepenna-turnpike

This leads me to wonder, what other products out there make subtle nods to their geographic roots by using such simple and easily overlooked symbols?

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Chuck Brown goes wild

Today we wrapped up our portfolio class with the end-of-semester critique. Everyone finished in time and it was nice to see my classmates’ work (and my own) come to fruition. We got some helpful feedback from industry pros which enabled us to gauge our progress on “making our books.”

No matter how you slice it though, it’s been an exhausting journey. As my friend Stacey put so precisely early this week, “P2 [intermediate portfolio] is full of growing pains.” I agree. Unlike in P1 (beginning portfolio), we’re sorta at the point now where we know when our stuff sucks, but are still grappling at making things good or great. There’s a whole lot of being satisfactory or adequate, but not special. Needless to say it’s frustrating, but all part of the learning experience.

Anyway, like all things in life besides the really important things like family and friends, you just have to remind yourself “it’s just advertising.” We all get sucked into our own little worlds and forget about the world going on outside. We don’t return phone calls. We go underground for unknown periods of time, conversing only with others in the same situation. Our tempers are short and we’re ready to pounce on unsuspecting copy center employees, should they mess up our order or coloration on our final ads. We worry about the most infinitesimal details… “I don’t have time to get coffee, I have to redo the Gaussian blur.” To quote my undergrad econ professor, Ken Elzinga, “In the long run we’re all dead.” How much difference will that extra 10 minutes for a snack or caffeine break make in the long run? Will it be the difference between a lower and higher score at critique? Probably not.

But who am I kidding? I got sucked into the madness just as much as everyone. As usual, seeing everyone else stressed out frazzled me as well. Call it pathetic, but I was glad for it to end because for the first time in a week I sat down and watched three TV shows in a row. I stress the word watched, because I’ve been listening while graphic designing/art directing or cutting my foamcore for the final mounted ads for the past week, but hadn’t truly enjoyed the art of watching TV.

Going back to “it’s just advertising,” a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this unbelievably hilarious YouTube video parodying agency life. I laughed loudly at least six times during the video, and thought over and over again “this is what I’m going to school for.” I think if you can’t laugh at yourself you won’t be able to survive in the working world. It was the perfect thing to watch after a day, week, month, and really, semester of portfolio obsessing.

I love that it doesn’t miss a single detail. Egotistical creatives* driven by the incessant need to win awards (and toot their own horns about it). The mention that Crispin always comes up with the great ideas, looking for inspiration in the CA annual, which works perfectly, as that issue arrives in December. Guerilla marketing. KISS – Keep it simple stupid (I enjoyed the surprising substitution of “shithead” though for that final S in the acronym). “Concepting.” There’s a word you don’t hear enough of in the advertising world.

Well enough with the overanalysis. I’m going to KISS and get ready for and go to bed — a plan that has worked for thousands of nights of my life already, and yet never loses its freshness.

*I will post my opinions on this word in a future post. Stay tuned.

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Filed under advertising, agencies, graphic design, Peanuts

(Relative) Illustrator Competence

Another license in blogging is shameless self-promotion. I haven’t exploited this ritual yet, that I know of, but I’m going to toot my own horn a little: I’m not completely inept at Illustrator anymore! I am very, very slow and inexperienced still, but I can now at least “make stuff” and by “make stuff” I mean objects that are recognizable to others. Woohoo! Here is my first endeavor:
Too bad you can’t see the crisp, “vectorness” of this since I don’t know what file format to save it in so that it could also be uploaded to this website. (Any feedback on this will be gladly accepted.) Oh well, I made my first baby step in the graphic design world!

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