I’ve often found the magazine bon appétit one of the best of the best published, either old or new school, but where it stands out is not only from an art direction and layout perspective of a magazine, their advertisers as well have very keen eyes for great ad design. If one were a young designer looking for inspiration I’d recommend this magazine over even some others including ones about graphic design, it’s really that good… oh, and the recipes are fantastic as well.
When browsing through the October 2012 bon appétit edition I was stopped dead by what I consider to be, in my humble opinion, a nearly perfect ad. Perfect, because it does everything it needs to do, actually anything ANY really great ad needs to do, tell you all you need to know, and with less. As I’ve harped on, less is always – ALWAYS – more! Or the opposite if you’d prefer, don’t put 20 pounds of crap in a 10 pound crap sack. An ad should hit the reader, get in, get out… done! Use as little text as possible or heck, no text, compelling image and your logo, add your URL if it’s more complex than your This ad does it in spades and for a savvy reader, it makes perfect sense from every aspect it sets out to do. Oddly so minimal that I believe bon appetit requested or added “advertisement” to the top of it, which was completely unnecessary.
If you look at this ad for GQ and go “I don’t get it,” then honestly, you’re not important to them, you’re not GQ’s target demographic, their [pretty awesome if you ask me] attitude is captured in their current brand tagline, “Look Sharp, Live Smart: GQ.” Which this ad personifies.
If you need 100 words to sell you, you’re old, you’re old school, your thinking is outdated, you probably call a PC an “IBM” and aren’t in touch with how savvy today shoppers think or behave, finally, you’re not who GQ is after for an audience. I say all this 1. because it’s true and 2. because an ad doesn’t have to be everything to everyone, it only has to appeal to a target demographic, specifically the one you want, which GQ masters purposefully and eloquently here. GQ I mainly skim at airports, wants young, savvy, intelligent people hip to technology, trends, music, this ad hits on all cylinders in spades in a simple, clean, again near perfect layout. It has simple makes sense to those with any tech savvy graphics, simple minimalist copy, in short, I’m in love. And would like all my clients to embrace this because this hits the swatch of consumers with money, buying power, and influence. Really too, it makes me want to work for GQ’s agency who did this, because they get it.
I was about to type what this ad is saying then realized if you don’t get what the nine icons are, learn them, figure them out, or be left behind. Seriously. The most brilliant though I’ll point out from my POV:
The QR code to track people’s devices and get a read on user breakdown, though I was surprised they’re using tagr.com, there’s far better options. Sure QR codes are overused, but as it’s rolled into nine panels this one is more interesting as it’s part of the message, not forcing it or laying there to show off they’re savvy or pointlessly used.
Spotify, which I love, to the point I pay for, and I never said I’d use a subscription music service but I have. Spotify is fantastic and brilliant on my Macbook Pro, iPad, and iPhone in my car on the go without dragging along my enormous iTunes library. Why it’s brilliant is it goes along with their brand as a type-of tastemakers so if you go to the GQ Best Songs playlists you get a sense of their music editors tastes. Likewise Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other obvious icons here I shouldn’t even have to be explaining to you.
Also what’s missing show’s they understand reality, that Pintrest is for women, that’s their core user base, not men, and GQ is a men’s magazine. There’s no point for GQ to use Pintrest (they may have a channel but I’m not going to bother to look), men aren’t into scrapbooking, online or otherwise. Again, know your audience in an ad, target them, be succinct, be brief.
Honestly if there’s any criticism I could lay on this ad it’s that, at the bottom, they felt the need to say “Print. Mobile. Social. Online. Tablet.” The icons above or just common sense make that obvious. I don’t mind the “Connect with GQ” as much as it’s just the exclamation mark to the above graphics.
Again, bravo to bon appétit for being such an excellently designed and laid out magazine; huge props to GQ for understanding and using advertising spot on with a pitch perfect ad for your brand.
The interrelationship between consumers and brands are now multilevel, in fact one could suggest you put PR wheels in motion before the advertising. In reality it’s more like a Venn diagram of course with overlap, but you get the idea/point. So the best approach for any client and it’s agency for really almost any rollout would be taking one from the other and never forgetting the chain between which, really even as much as a decade ago, wasn’t much of a consideration. My how times have changed.
The always astute peeps over at Brand New point out OnStar got a slight, maybe to some imperceptible, update to their logo, but it, like cars and their drivers, are getting, well, thicker around the edges, and cars can’t get sans serif.
All part of a much larger campaign rollout, can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to be more [shudders to type in relation to topic] “hip” or something to keep their dwindling six million subscribers hooked to their pricey per-month service. You can now Facebook from your car, oooOOOooo!
I get it, truly I do, and maybe I’m jealous I didn’t get and do the pitch for the rebranding, I’m sure this was a cash cow for the agency of record for not a lot of effort. Still, what with smart phones and built in or installed navigation, OnStar will have to do a lot more than get social and de-serif their font to stay relevant to shoppers, most of whom after the trial period, just ignore the deactivated blue button.
“Internal creative teams need to seize their insider advantage by using deep knowledge of the brand to leverage their strategic value to the corporation.”
–Moira Cullen, Senior Director of Global Design
The Hershey Company
An intriguing breakdown of a brand in a hefty yet informative infographic. There’s a second graphic below to help understand the dynamic from the core out.
For those wanting to see this in more detail, download a more legible PDF (2.9 MB) big picture sheet to print out.
While usually one to be in line as an early ‘beta tester’ of new tech gadgets right after they’re released, mostly bearing an Apple logo, it took me until now to buy an iPhone 5. I’d briefly mulled a switch, my wife tolerates her HTC Droid, C|Net is trying to say the Galaxy 3S is (barely) better than the iPhone, but at the end of the day, I like my ecosystem, and would rather put my money with the leader and inventor of a segment, not the follower and all too often poor imitation. When I’m developing apps to be shot through the Objective C and Objective J prisms for both ecosystems I can still swipe my wife’s phone for testing, so I’m not against having another ecosystem in the house. While Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is a step up, like almost up to the Windows Vista of Android platform (not meant as a compliment) from Android’s previous Win 3.1 looks (which still exist today), it’s still just a mishmash hodgepodge trailing behind iOS. Not to mention the hardware of every other smart phone that doesn’t have an Apple logo on it is merely cheap plastics with no elegance or much thought put into them other than “can we rip off the iPhone while adding colored plastics, add a slight curve, and make a tackier?” I’m a designer through and through, I like my products actually designed. /endrant
The verdict is this, if my iPhone 4’s cameras didn’t die – highly inconvenient once you’ve become a father and want to shoot gigabytes of photos and movies – forcing me to upgrade to the iPhone 5, I’d still be fine with my iPhone 4. Seriously. The iPhone 5 does have a nice taller screen. It’s lighter too, but I’m more partial to how the glass back felt on the previous model and don’t consider weight for my smart phone. It certainly responds much snappier with it’s all new A6 processor, and hey the camera works!
Speaking of cameras, at some point it doesn’t matter what the model and make of smartphone is, when the camera body is only yay [makes two fingers close together] thin, cramming more megapixels simply does not matter. I know, I’m not only a director of and lecturer of design but have been a photographer the majority of my life. Given a deep glass barrel lens that’s hitting a giant sensor verses a tiny opening, tiny plastic or even glass lens and a small sensor, it’s not even a competition. Yes, the iPhone, and some other smart phones, cameras are decent day-to-day if not even necessary what with QR codes and, did I mention babies, but if one thinks they’ll ever be a pinnacle of photography with a smart phone, you don’t know photography. It’s good for maybe Instagram regardless of their policies, and excellent to almost a must-have level in your pocket whether the photos are babies are kitties, that’s where smart phones shine, not to mention they’re a multiple use device. Beyond the camera I use mine for scheduling, looking up information, alarms, and oh yes, sometimes I use my smart phone as an actual PHONE! Just not as often as all those other things before it.
So if your iPhone is long in the tooth, or you’ve an older model that the screen is cracking, a button isn’t working, something is finally going wrong from all that use and abuse of being in your pocket, getting wet, and being used to the max as most of my iPhone using friends seem to as opposed to those with other platforms always breaking; if it’s time to retire the old iPhone, you can’t do wrong with the iPhone 5. Just don’t expect it to have the same ‘oooo shiny’ factor as your first iPhone, though if you’re coming over for Android, it may surprise you how good the leader is. Oh, and do yourself the favor, download the new Google Map App, trust me or what you heard, the Apple Maps App is just not up to par (yet) for use.
One last note, the new headphones are rather good. They’re definitely not true audiophile quality (I have those), but they’re a huge marked improvement from the previous, pop-out-of-your-ears-if-your-breathe-wrong, previous models. They do a decent job of reproducing a better range, including a little more bass. More importantly the stay in your ear! Maybe not while running on a treadmill hard but if you’re walking around they seem to stay put. No, they don’t isolate you from sound, they won’t help you walking down a city street, or on the Subway (may I suggest the JVC HANC 250s) or even in a loud conversations (may I suggest Sennheiser HD 280?), but they do an adequate job, which the previous ones did not. Also they do a very commendable job of noise canceling, which honestly the iPhone and the previous earbuds have always been class leading for what they are in that regard. If you own a previous iPhone they’ll work fine with them, so if you’re previous generation iPhone is still working like a champ, I will suggest, if you’re sick of the previous earbuds and want something a class or two better, just upgrade the Apple earbuds. $30 is a bit of scratch but cheaper than some replacements, believe me, I’ve tried.
These days there’s just no need for overburdened UI on a website of any large business or corporation, and yet, there they are out there. Hand it to a guy like Dustin Curtis to call out one of the many, American Airlines, on what was one of the most abysmally bad, UN-user friendly sites blighting up the ‘Net.
He went one better though, rather than just complaining, he did on his own his version of what the site should look like, and it wasn’t just better, it was pretty close to perfect. It’s clean, fresh, minimal which helps potential customers, in this case airfare and flight shoppers focusing on what’s important to them and, in return, becoming customers.
In essence, all you really need to know, right there, in easy to read layout. One of the things I tell clients to students all the time is whitespace is your friend. I’ve another way of putting it sometimes, don’t put 20 pounds of shit in a 10 pound sack, and too many companies that can’t get out of their own way can’t see it. Middle managers or people who think they know design telling designers how to design mucky muck up what should be left to the experts.
This story has an interesting twist. Sorta. They listened to Dustin, they even agreed, well, partly, that there was too much going on, but only after making excuses how they need this or that because this or that manager to this or that department wanted this or that in there under the worst reasoning ANY company can use; “because I said so.” Any company that puts it’s middle manager egos first are short changing the actual people that matter to the company… the customers. The clients. The people that are keeping that company afloat. Make a site for them, good things will happen, make a company site for your own egos or internal backpatting, you better have a lot of capital, repeat customers who are a suckers, and stocks trading well, because you’re certainly positioning yourself for failure.
Now, the new American Airlines site isn’t perfect, and they’re still probably cramming way too many things on the front there to appease various shareholders or whatnot, but it’s a sizable improvement over the original pictured above. If nothing else, it looks like it belongs in 2010 and not 1998. Kudos to Dustin, and somewhat kudos to American Airlines for listening, responding, and doing something about it.
One of the more convenient things in my digital life, something I’d rather not go without, is my Apple iPad, pictured below, which may look to the untrained eye to be in pretty decent shape some two and a half years later of often pretty hard use.
To be clear the iPad 1 (early adopter of all things Mac here) which has been with me since the first month they were released. I’d love to upgrade but other financial things stand in my way at the moment, I drool (iDrool?) over the Mini but, reality is, I love the size of the larger ones, maybe it’s the older artist in me who went to college originally for painting, I gravitate towards a larger canvas.
On an uneventful morning after getting up and getting my son ready for daycare it hit me I should start a load of laundry. So I stumbled into the bedroom while the coffee was brewing, saw my iPad on the night stand, walked over the the laundry hamper, tossing the iPad on top of the clothes, and proceeded to the laundry room. You can perhaps see where this is going, that is, if you’re like me, a person who doesn’t function well until about his second cup of coffee, at which point brains start to kick in.
No, I did not hear an odd “kathunk” when I dumped the clothes into the washing machine, nor did I hear any “kathunk kathunking” when the wash was running, perhaps because it’s a new modern efficiency washing machine that lacks an agitator and spins things more gently, perhaps is why the iPad survived in the first place.
It survived, but not perfectly, note the now slight curve to the bevel, which is more pronounced on one side than the other. Also it’s flexed slightly from one corner to the other so, placed on a flat surface, it wobbles.
But the most noticeable new “feature” post-wash, is weird sections of I’m assuming in the LED panel where there’s lighter pixels or areas. Sometimes if I push on the screen they go away leading me to wonder if it’s soap residue left between layers inside, but it’s not likely water as I left the iPad in a full bag of rice for three days which removed most the moisture.
The only other odd anomaly post wash was it refused to sync, so I had to create a new profile for it, after which, oddly, it reloaded all the apps and acted like nothing had happened save for the new curved body and splotchy screen.
I’ve always felt the iPad is, hands down, the best tablet, it’s not really even close as in most market segments, Apple leads, then the industry makes poor imitations and copies. So now add to this I’d like to see someone run say a Kindle or Galaxy or Nexus through a wash. Seeing how they’re cheap plastic that also lacks Apple’s fanatical dedication to super tight tolerances I’m sure you’d find clothing and a bunch of electronic parts, certainly nothing that would boot up immediately, as my iPad did before I realize “oh shoot, no no NO” and powered it right back down.
iPad 1, Washing Machine 0. But I think I’d rather not try that again.
DePaul University recently came out with a social media post response chart that I think anyone in social media could use as a blueprint, regardless of their setting or organization. It’s completely and utterly brilliant because it’s simple and to the point.
Here’s a link to the high resolution, 17″ X 11″ PDF, I highly recommend printing and putting in front of anyone in your organization that handles social media.