Thursday, January 31, 2013

New American Spirit Drives Rebranding for American Airlines

New logo emphasizes speed and motion
Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
co.Design

Link to article:
American Airlines Rebrands Itself, And America Along With It

The swooping eagle and red-white-and-blue logo are indelible, yet when American Airlines decided it was time for a rebranding, they needed to find what had changed in the direction of the American spirit to reconnect with modern America. The new direction is smooth, silvery, and motion-oriented.  The old elements are repurposed to suit the firm's stated American attributes of "technology, entertainment and progress".

Excerpt: "American Airlines has just rebranded for the first time in over 40 years. The AA logo of yore is gone, replaced by the Flight Symbol, a red and blue eagle crossed with a wing. And every plane will be tagged with a high-velocity abstraction of the American flag on its tail.

There’s logic behind the decision: AA recently ordered 550 new planes. Many will have composite bodies that can’t be polished with the mirror shine of American’s existing fleet. The look had to be reassessed for brand continuity, so the company has spent the last 2+ years with Futurebrand reconsidering everything from the plane’s finish (it’ll be mica silver paint) to the logo to the website to the interior seats to the terminal kiosks. But it all started with a question: 'What are the things that are relevant from all over the world about America?' Rob Friedman, VP of marketing asks.

'Technology. Entertainment. Progress. These things people really feel are American attributes,' Futurebrand’s Chief Creative Officer Sven Seger later answers. 'We didn’t make this up. It’s from people all over the world.' In approaching the redesign, American polled both their own employees about what defines the American brand (the answers were predominantly the planes’ silver fuselage and the eagle logo) and the larger globe about the American country (which is where tech, entertainment, and progress come in). What they were looking for was, not just what is American Airlines, but what is America in the age of globalization?

'The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to, we call it "American spirit." What’s the side of America people really, really love,' Seger explains. 'People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.'

So AA kept the eagle, but it ditched the talons and transformed it into the Flight Symbol. It’s both a bird and a wing. But instead of being focused on the hunt, it’s focused on the flight, because sleeping through a coast-to-coast red eye doesn’t make you Top Gun. (Whether you like the new logo or not, as an American citizen, I’m glad it’s been changed.)"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Microsoft Hopes to Boost Struggling "Surface" with Pro Tablet

Hunter Communications Recommended Reading from:
Wall Street Journal

Link to Article:
Microsoft Surface Pro Targeted at CIOs

Microsoft had high hopes a few months ago that its innovative Surface tablet would take off and become a third major force along with the Ipad and Samsung Galaxy Tab.  Now the initial enthusiasm has turned to worry, and the next hope for the tech giant comes February 9th when the Surface Pro tablet aims at tech professionals.

Excerpt: "Microsoft is trying to position the Surface Pro to CIOs as an ideal replacement for some laptop PCs that can be administered efficiently by IT staff and can run other popular Microsoft office productivity and application development tools, such as Office and Visual Studio. It will also interoperate with other applications businesses use to manage sales contacts or their supply chains, such as Microsoft Dynamics, and can be partitioned using Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology. Companies will also be able to configure the Surface tablets, issue updates and update applications using many of the Microsoft management tools many customers already own.

The challenge is a difficult one for Microsoft, which is facing an inexorable decline in sales of PCs running its flagship Windows operating system and the rising popularity of tablet computers, notably Apple Inc. ’s iPad and Samsung Electronics Co. ’s Galaxy Tab tablets. It doesn’t help that Microsoft’s Surface tablets, which it has been selling to consumers since the fourth quarter of 2012, haven’t been a big hit, dampening hopes that Microsoft could ride the same tide that swept Apple and Samsung products into the workplace."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MTV Rebrands with Clean Look of Helvetica

MTV displays lyrics in Helvetica Italic
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Atlantic

Link to article: 
I Want My Helvetica: MTV's Millenial-Friendly Minimalist Design

After decades of graffiti, marker-inspired and grunge design phases, MTV, the one-time "music channel", has entered its IKEA period. Now its on-air graphics are all based on the clean, uncluttered lines of the ubiquitous Helvetica typeface, which adapts well to a variety of colors and still remains readable and full of immediacy and impact.

Excerpt: "MTV was born from the noisy collision of music and design, which is what made it so exciting for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. But as these age cohorts turned to HBO, Lifetime, and AMC, 'We reached an inflection point when our eclectic identity of the past was getting lost in the cluttered visual landscape of the world today,' Keyton says. 'It became pretty clear that we had to be more consistent and visually unified to stand out and be remembered. We also needed to communicate that we were a new MTV, by doing something bold and different.'

The redesign that Keyton is responsible for was more modern and minimalist, centered around the ubiquitous, white-bread Helvetica typeface. Keyton says he loves the neutrality of the typeface, as well as its functionality, readability, accessibility, and the matter-of-fact way it communicates ideas and provides essential navigation for MTV's audience. 'And especially,' he says, 'that it doesn't get in the way of content, which ultimately is what it's all about.'

Color is a big part of the font face's virtue. Helvetica's boldness and clarity lends itself quite well to nearly any hue. 'There's something alive about eggplant letterforms set against a pale pink,' Keyton says by way of example. 'For episodic work, we brought white space back to television with clean black type surrounded by a lot of negative space. You still don't see a lot of that on TV. We also wanted to combat all the 3-D gobbledygook flying around the television landscape. A lot of that stuff looks like someone's just throwing up on the screen.'

There are also practical concerns addressed by the redesign: 'What was once a DVD cover now has to function as an icon on a cell phone.' "

Monday, January 28, 2013

Photo of the Week: 2012 LA Auto Show

Photo of the Week
Visitors stroll through Cadillac's display at the 2012 LA Auto Show
Each year the parade of auto shows arrives to liven up the drab winter landscape across America.  Besides providing a testing ground for new ideas in retail and marketing, the auto show is a gallery for that unique form of art known as automotive styling.  The sinuous, seductive curves and angles of chrome and sheet metal combine into a pure sculptural beauty that draws in the crowds.  Here in a Hunter Communications flickr slideshow from the recent LA Auto Show you can appreciate the beauty of the car as sculpture, presented on turntable, plinth and pedestal, and lit as carefully as any museum display.

Friday, January 25, 2013

GM Introduces New Corvette Stingray at Detroit Show

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
NY Daily News

Link to Article:
Highlights of Detroit auto show include 2014 Corvette
The North American Auto Show annually brings the tour of auto shows back to its spiritual home of Detroit, Michigan. This year's edition was lit up by the most American of automakers, as GM saved the introduction of its all new 2014 Corvette Stingray for the local and international motor industry press here in Detroit. The rakish new design for the carmaker's flagship sportscar drew mostly kudos, though some longtime fans resented the switch to aggressive squared taillights (a design cue from the latest Camaro).

Excerpt: "Here are the show's highlights:

-- CORVETTE: The all-new Corvette, branded the Stingray to evoke the 1963 model, but with styling that evokes Italian supercars while still retaining a bit -- see the back end -- of the Chevrolet identity. At first glance it was not so different from the Ferrari F12 sitting a few steps away, its own design accommodating a few American muscle car lines. The test will be on the track: the Corvette sports 450 horsepower and carbon fiber based weight reductions, and the base model hits 100 kilometers an hour (60 miles per hour) in four seconds flat.

'This car is the reason I work at GM,' General Motors executive Mark Reuss said."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nissan Tests Corporate Scent Branding

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
New York Times

Link to article:
For Nissan, A Designer Fragrance To Float Among Its Cars

For the Paris and now the Detroit Auto Show, stand designers for Nissan paired with Australian scent branding experts Air Aroma to come up with a green tea fragrance described as "modern, fresh, luxurious, and oriental".  Subfloor vaporizers emit such a low level of the fragrance that visitors to the Nissan display may not even notice it but will respond to the emotional triggers of the scent.

Excerpt: "Joel McCall is creative director of George P. Johnson, the firm that designs and builds stands for the Detroit auto show and other auto shows. He walks through the show floor with a different mission from the average visitor.

He spent months strategizing the form of Nissan’s stand, down to every shape, sound — and smell. The stand offers its own brand signature fragrance.

Having filled sight and sound with videos and pounding rock ‘n’ roll, stand designers at the Detroit show are adding another sense: scent. Fragrance is a new channel for branding. Mr. McCall said, 'Smells bring memory, like music brings memories.'

So when Mr. McCall walks the show floor he sees — that is, smells — it differently than most of us. His nose notes mostly background noise: the smells of new carpet and plasticlike high pressure laminate, the rubber and metal of new cars and, perhaps coming from the kitchen behind Audi, a hint of weisswurst. The fragrance is part of a high concept stand design for Nissan. It takes the form of an amphitheater, Mr. McCall said, with rising levels of floor in a circular layout. Overhead, a hovering structure called the halo carries images and lights. The space is supposed to bring people together. Images and sounds play off the walls."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Uncertainty Impacted 2012 Holiday Sales

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
US News

Link to article:
Holiday Sales Rose 3 Percent, Retail Group Says

Early hopes for a great season of holiday sales were let down when consumer uncertainty over the state of the economy and the upcoming fiscal cliff led to a slow growth in sales. Figures show that the 2012 holiday retail season grew at the slowest rate since 2009.

Excerpt: "The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail industry group, said Tuesday that retail sales for November and December combined totaled $579.8 billion. December sales rose 2.1 percent while November sales rose 3.9 percent, according the federation's analysis of government data. The figures are being compared with the year-ago periods.

Holiday sales rose 5.6 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010. The 2012 holiday figures marked the slowest sales growth since 2009, when sales rose 0.3 percent.

For the first time, the federation is counting online sales and sales from the auto parts and accessories business. But even non-store sales, which includes online sales, were below expectations for the two-month period. They rose 11 percent, below the 12 percent that the industry projected."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheesecake Factory Holiday Stunt Asks, "What Does Joy Smell Like?

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
ADWEEK

Link to article:
What Does Joy Smell Like?

Cheesecake Factory brought scent branding to a new level this holiday season with their creative Philadelphia marketing stunt entitled "What Does Joy Smell Like?" Tourists, shoppers and passersby were handed color-coded helium balloons and encourage to pop them to release an instant scent of three flavors of the company's cheesecake.  With their appetites whetted, participants were happy to find that the broken balloon also released a coupon for a free slice of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake.

Excerpt: "The Cheesecake Factory appeals to the senses (and the imagination) with the tantalizing aroma of holiday joy. On December 1st on a chilly and overcast day in Philadelphia, The Cheesecake Factory set out to sample their cheesecake in a more whimsical, inventive way... without actually sampling a cheesecake. Teams dressed in all white carried giant bouquets of balloons all throughout Philadelphia. Each balloon handed out had a simple message... 'Pop it'. Once popped, the balloons according to color would reveal the scent of Peppermint Bark Cheesecake (for red), Chocolate Tuxedo Cream® Cheesecake (for brown) or Original Cheesecake (for cream).

Inside the balloon was a special message from The Cheesecake Factory reading 'Try a slice on us' which was redeemed for a complimentary slice of cheesecake. The holiday stunt was designed to capture a magical moment of joy through a sensory experience in a truly surprising way bridging the gap from olfactory senses to taste buds made possible by an act of kindness and a slice of joy."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pantone Chooses Emerald as 2013 Color of the Year


Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Graphic Design

Link to article:
Pantone Color of the Year: 17-5641 Emerald

The Color Institute at Pantone has decreed that the mood of today has swung from reinvigorating and hopeful to introspective and balanced.  Therefore the bright. lively Tangerine Tango of last year is on the way out, replaced by the jewel toned, bluish green of Emerald.

Excerpt: "If the 2012 Color of the Year, PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango was perceived as reinvigorating and hopeful then Pantone® 17-5641 Emerald can be seen as a transition to a more introspective, balanced energy. Far from the avocado green popular in the 1970’s, Pantone® 17-5641 Emerald is a deeper color, at once evocative of the luxury of precious gems and the lush, verdant greens of nature.

As Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute® explains 'Green is the most abundant hue in nature—the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum. As it has throughout history, multifaceted Emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate. Symbolically, Emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.'
 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Font of the Month: Quicksilver

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
MyFonts.Com

Link to article:
What the Font Forum, MyFonts

MyFonts.com is a clearinghouse for typography questions and information, and their "What the Font?" forum is a chance for readers to submit a sample for anyone to identify what the font might be. The Letraset Quicksilver font identified on this page has an interesting back story. In 1976, teenaged Dean Morris boldly submitted his hand-drawn neon tubular Quicksilver typeface to the Letraset company for consideration. Since its disco style was very hot at the time, the company added the font and filled in the gaps Morris had neglected to create (such as punctuation). The 37 years since then has seen the big display font used, imitated, and appropriated around the world, and the designer freely admits its tendency toward the "trashy". Below the excerpt, check out the Flickr slideshow of several examples of the font in action.

Excerpt (from the designer's response to the query): "I designed it as a 16 year-old kid in John Glenn High School in Bay City, Michigan, and sent Letraset a xerox of a tight sketch of 3" letters kerned with the heavy outlines slightly overlapping as I originally intended. I drew only the skinny S without an alternate and submitted no punctuation (what did I know?). Letraset must have wanted it real fast (fifties nostalgia and disco were WHITE HOT then, remember), because they did the finished art themselves at 5" high (they can’t have known my age, maybe they had no confidence in my technical talent), starting with the E as did I in the design stage. And what a gorgeous rendering job they did in the pre-Mac days of ruling pens, straightedges, and handdrawn curves (those aren’t compass curves)! Letraset stayed very close to my tight sketch, designed the punctuation, and suggested an alternate but wierd wide S, which I approved, figuring there was probably no other decent way to design it. I imagined the punctuation would match the stroke width of the letters but they drew them narrower and slightly oddly, but I figured what the hell. 

If you wondered, 'What was I thinking?' when you looked at the A, B, E, F, K, N, Q, R, and Y, I’ll tell you. I was simply trying to describe part of the letter being drawn in the wrong direction. I thought I was so clever. For instance the E cross-stroke goes from right to left rather than from left to right like, oh, any other Roman cap E in history. R and Q diagonals came from waaaaaaaay on the other side, N goes waaaaaaay around the wrong way before starting the diagonal. “Chrome” letters can branch but these “glass tube” letters don’t! Alas, digitization came along eventually and fontographer technology followed."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Age of Curvy Design is Over

Hard edges grace the new Samsung UHD tv shown at CES 2013
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
WIRED

Link to article:
Curvy, Sensuous Gadgets are Dead

Blobjects: they were the soft, rounded, fun technology of their time.  From the mid 90s to the 00s, rounded, soft-edged surfaces ruled the world of high tech.  The original Imac, the soft, smooth back of early Iphones, the rounded bezels on the first generations of HD televisions--these were the organic-feeling objects that yearned to be touched and held. Maybe it's a reaction to the times we live in, but the modern approach to design has swung to hard-edged, aggressive, squared-off and a bit prickly.

Excerpt: "The 'Blobject' had a good run. Advances in CAD software made this sinuous style possible and Apple made it popular starting with their first iMac. After the iconic Bondi Blue blob exploded in popularity, the trend transformed everything from staplers to soap bottles. CES 2013 seems to have ended the golden age of globules and ushered in a rectilinear revolution. In every product category from 3-D printers to biosensors, exuberant organic forms have been replaced with hard-edged alternatives.

While Apple doesn't exhibit at CES, they appear to be responsible for this trend. Since the original iMac, they've slowly transitioned their products from approachable plastic to cool metal and glass, with each generation becoming less curvy and colorful. Apple designers once talked about touring jelly bean factories to learn how to make plastic more playful. Today, it's more likely that they are visiting aerospace engineers or weapon manufacturers. The iPhone 5 killed off the last soft fillets on the device, replacing them with hard-edged, industrial chamfers and the world of industrial designers appears to have noticed.

'In the case of the iPhone 5, I've heard that the decision to create a monolith with chamfers was largely a need-based design decision, to reduce size while maximizing the internal capacity for battery, guts, etc.,' says Nick de la Mare, executive creative director at Frog Design, the legendary San Francisco product design firm that helped Apple develop the industrial designs for its first products. He doesn't see the iPhone 5's design as a statement of aesthetics as much as function. 'Rounded corners typically come at the expense of wasted size and material.'

'I think there's definitely a move toward planar surfaces, but I don't think the iPhone started it,' says de la Mare. 'I think a lot of it simply comes down to the creation of a new norm in response to and reaction to the old norm. If you look across other industries you have an apparent trend toward stealth, beginning basically in the mass market with the introduction of the hard geometries and corners of the stealth fighter etc. —; witness the recent Lamborghini design language for example. In a sense it's just a celebration of the machine. These are perfect forms, unyielding and edged, things that only a computer could generate. And as such, a juxtaposition to the organic, more naturalistic elements we were seeing before.'

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Homeland Security Tells Americans to Disable JAVA

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
US Urges Users to Disable Java

Security problems in computer software and operating systems are usually pretty cut-and-dried: a problem comes to light, the company announces a fix or patch, and it fades from public consciousness. So when the US Department of Homeland Security announces that a security breach in the latest version of Java is such a major leak that all computer users should immediately disable the software, and Apple remotely disables Java for all users of its recent OS, it's a reason to sit up and take notice. (Update: Tuesday January 15th Oracle released 86 security patches to safeguard Java, so follow the news to find whether this makes the software safe to use again.)

Excerpt: "In a rare warning, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is urging computer users to disable the Java software, citing what it says is a vulnerability in the Oracle's programming platform.

Apple said it is heeding the advice and has remotely disabled Java for most Mac users.

'Java 7 Update 10 and earlier contain an unspecified vulnerability that can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system,' the Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in a note posted Thursday. 'We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem.'

According to Reuters, the vulnerability makes it possible for hackers to install malware that enables them to commit identify-theft crimes or add infected computers to networks that can be used for cyber attacks."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Metro Art Program Brings 300 Artists to LA Commuters

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
Artists Take Metro Commuters on Another Kind of Journey

No one will mistake a subway station for a gallery but, taking its cues from cities like Brussels and Stockholm that have a tradition of public art in transit stations, LA Metro has commissioned 300 artists to create art for its 80 stations. Works do more than catch the eye, often exposing riders to unique views of the communities the trains whiz past or underneath.

Excerpt: "Though Los Angeles may never shed its image as a car-obsessed city, the past 20 years have seen significant progress and growth in its public transit system, making it a viable option for more Angelenos. Along with added convenience, the opening of each new segment brings opportunity for artists.

Established in 1989, the Metro Art program has commissioned more than 300 artists and poets to create artworks for 80 stations. 'The customers' experience is essential,' said Maya Emsden, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's deputy executive officer, creative services. 'Art is a wonderful, engaging way to transform their journeys into something pleasant.'

For instance, weary commuters arising from the depths of the Civic Center Red Line station are greeted by Samm Kunce's 'Under the Living Rock,' a 160-foot curved wall depicting a classical hanging garden of Venetian glass and striated granite. An uplifting passage from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses,' etched into black granite ribbon, may well soothe the harried soul.

The 10 new Expo Line stations that opened last spring feature 176 art panels by 10 artists. The entire process can take from one to six years depending on the project. A panel of art professionals reviews and selects the artists, varying from those just emerging to well established figures such as photographer Robbert Flick and sculptor Donald Lipski. Lipski recently completed 'Time Piece,' a 30-foot-high stainless steel clock-tower arch at the El Monte bus terminal.

The varied works reflect the history and heritage of the designated neighborhoods."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Photo of the Week: Chandler Bikeway Street Art Murals

Hunter Communications Photo of the Week:
Chandler Bikeway Street Art Murals
The San Fernando Valley's Chandler Boulevard, long a back-door industrial road, has been transformed since the opening of the Los Angeles Metro Orange Line.  Now just past the Orange Line busway runs the Chandler Bikeway, whose route from the Red Line Station to Burbank is decorated with clever and eye-catching street art murals.

(Below, click to view a full Flickr slideshow of Hunter Communications' photos taken along the length of the Bikeway and see the range of bright and thought-provoking public art on display.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012 Fitness Trends to Watch This Year

Suspended yoga at Crunch
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Reuters

Link to article:

Attention, New Year's resolutionaries! Maybe we should all take our cues from the fitness trends of last year, where the most popular workouts have been fun, short and social. Work out in group classes with your friends, choose easy dance workouts like Zumba, or aim for short 30-minute classes that can fit into anyone's busy schedule.

Excerpt: "From mud races to sweat parties to CrossFit competitions, workouts turned smarter, shorter and more social in 2012, experts say, as fitness was sweetened with a little help from smart phones and friends.

'Everything is about making fitness fun,' said Jenna Autuori-Dedic, senior fitness editor at Fitness Magazine.

Even those grueling indoor cycling classes were a chance to mingle.

'I truly think that spinning was one of the biggest things to come out of 2012,' said Autuori-Dedic. 'They (fitness studios) made it fun. You can go with your friends, match your workout to the music. When you work out with friends, you don't realize you're working out.'...

Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at the Crunch national chain of fitness centers, said dance classes and short, results-driven workouts dominated group fitness.

'Going into 2012 everybody was looking for the next Zumba,' said Cyrus of the Latin-based dance fitness craze. 'We find that people are looking for fun easy-to-follow dance moves.'

Crunch created 2FLY, a dance class based on music of the ‘80's and ‘90's that strives to feel more like a house party than a workout.

The other big trend from 2012, according to Cyrus, is the 30-minute workout.

'Everybody is realizing that you can get results in 30 minute
s,' she said, so this year was also about hard core, body-sculpting, CrossFit-type classes."

 Note: Hunter Communications handles marketing at Burbank Town Center, home to Crunch Fitness Burbank.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Starbucks Introduces Reusable Cup

New $1 Reusable Plastic Tumbler
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
USA TODAY

Link to Article:
Starbucks Reveals $1 Reusable Cup to Curb Trash

Starbucks continues its quest for "green" alternatives by introducing an inexpensive plastic reusable cup that matches the look of its grande paper cup.  The $1 cup will be rinsed with boiling water to kills germs before each refill, and users will receive a ten-cent discount every time it is used. The chain hopes to reduce the volume of trashed paper cups by encouraging customers to opt for an inexpensive and safe alternative.

Link to article: "Amid public pressure to curb trash from disposable cups, Starbucks is rolling out a novel possible solution Thursday: a $1 reusable tumbler.

The Seattle-based coffee giant will start selling the plastic cups, bearing its logo and resembling the paper version, at all its company-owned stores in the USA and Canada in a bid to get customers to kick their throwaway habit. It will give a dime discount for each refill so the cup pays for itself after 10 uses.

The $1 tumbler is the latest effort to address criticism that food and beverage retailers need to reduce the amount of disposable cups and containers that ends up in landfills or litters streets and waterways. Thousands of people have signed petitions on Change.org, a website promoting social change, urging companies to promote reusable options and abandon polystyrene foam packaging, which is rarely recycled."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Californians Can Order NEW Vintage License Plates

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Los Angeles Times

Link to article:
California Taking Orders for Replicas of Vintage Plates

In California, a license plate stays on the vehicle it is assigned to, no matter how many times the ownership changes. So older vintage cars may still have their desirable "yellow plates", "black plates" or "blue plates" corresponding to the styles issued by the DMV in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. But now a new program offers those vintage styles for drivers to put on any cars, provided that enough express interest to press the plates.

Excerpt: "California motorists who like the old-school look for their rides can now place orders with the state Department of Motor Vehicles for replicas of vintage license plates issued in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

The styles available for use as official license plates on cars include black lettering over a yellow background as issued in the 1950s, yellow lettering over a black background last issued in the 1960s and yellow lettering over a blue background previously available in the 1970s, according to the DMV.

The state is taking pre-orders for the $50 plates and will issue each of the three styles when it receives 7,500 applications for that style. If the number is not reached by Jan. 1, 2015, any fees paid for the California Legacy plates will be refunded to the applicant. So far, more than 100 orders have been received."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Book for the Typography Nerds We've Become

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
SLATE

Link to article:
Stephen Coles' The Anatomy of Type, Reviewed

The modern craze for typography may have started when early generations of Macs offered a choice of typeface, setting off decades of popular interest and strong preference about which fonts were better suited for various projects or uses. Now documentaries delineate the history of Helvetica, mock-serious petitions propose banning Comic Sans, and a riveting new reference work lays out the history, structure, and vocabulary of typography and the fonts we see around in the everyday world.

Excerpt: "If you merely wish to be annoying at cocktail parties, Simon Garfield's 2011 book Just My Type covers the Ikea incident, the Comic Sans saga, and lots of other fun waypoints in the history of typography. If, however, your aim—like mine—is to blow past jovial dorkery, level up, and ascend to a realm reserved for the truly insufferable pedant ... may I recommend a new coffee table hardback from Stephen Coles? The Anatomy of Type offers granularity that would glaze the eyes of a normal, well-adjusted human. I couldn’t get enough of it.

 Coles begins with a glossary, and with annotation. He identifies the discrete elements that form a character (or 'glyph'): the aperture, terminal, ascender, ear, and so forth. He then classifies typeface groups using a mix of appearance and ancestry—be they rooted in brush strokes, chisel engravings, fountain-pen scribbles, or something more machined and modern. He informs us that when sans-serif typefaces (with no little feet at the tops and bottoms of their letters) first appeared in the mid-1800s, they were labeled 'grotesque' because they looked quite bizarre to unaccustomed eyes.

From there, Coles launches into the meat of the book. Each two-page spread is an extremely detailed examination of a typeface. One hundred in all, from Adelle to Whitney. Large-scale images of letters are accompanied by little arrows and captions pointing out their distinctive features. A few paragraphs of commentary reveal Coles' thoughts about each font's relative strengths and weaknesses, and ideal uses. Oh, let's go ahead and flip straight to some favorites.

You’ll discover that Times New Roman was released in 1932 (credit for its design remains in dispute!), created for The Times of London newspaper. We learn that its defining features include long, sharp serifs; very wide upper-case letters; and a comparatively small dot above its i. Coles suggests it is a good choice for a 'conventional office-document look' but that Le Monde Journal—commissioned for the French newspaper Le Monde in 1997—is a 'fresher alternative.' "

Monday, January 7, 2013

Holiday Shopping Trends in Clearer Focus Now

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
TIME

Link to article:
10 Big Retail Trends from the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season


Now that 2012 is over, we can look back at the last two months of holiday shopping and finally draw some conclusions. Skittish consumers needed more incentives to get out into stores or even online, meaning that shipping had to be free and fast, and big discounts continued outside Black Friday and the day after Christmas.  Meanwhile as online shopping became ever more prevalent, the lines between online and brick and mortar stores began to blur.

Excerpt: "Brick-and-Mortar and Online (Try to) Become One
If there’s one dominant trend in retail lately, it’s the utter blurring of online and offline shopping. For quite a while, shoppers have viewed the two modes of transaction as basically interchangeable. Retailers with a presence on the web and in real stores seem to have finally embraced the idea that both segments must be partners sending the same message to shoppers. In the past, it was almost as if the people running a retailer’s website had no contact with the people running the actual stores. Prices varied frequently, and often, products sold online weren’t sold in stores, and vice versa, leading to confused, frustrated shoppers. Early on, a retailer’s presence in social media might have come as a result of a few ambitious young interns, if there was a presence at all. Today, on the other hand, retailers and analysts talk nonstop about the need to combine online and offline sales efforts, with phrases like 'multiscreen shopper,' 'omnichannel shopping,' and 'cross-platform marketing' popping up regularly.

Retailers understand that 'showrooming' is commonplace, and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to encourage a combined online-offline shopping experience. In fact, according to one survey, 91% of consumers wound up in a store because of something they saw online, and 77% admit to researching products while inside stores. Retailers have no choice but to embrace the 'omnichannel' shopper. While they’re actively trying to lure shoppers into physical stores with deals and promotions, they’re simultaneously ramping up efforts to draw consumers to their websites. The results have boosted online sales, but because of the challenges of creating a truly unified online-offline experience, there remain instances of consumer frustration due to confusion over what is sold where, canceled orders, price variations between the web and brick-and-mortar, and more. This remains a work in progress.

More Shipping Deals—Speedy, Free, You Name It
In the same way that 30% or 40% off has become the starting point for getting shoppers’ attention during the holidays, consumers now often demand free shipping in order to consider an online purchase. Accordingly, free shipping has become almost universal during the holidays, and throughout the year really."

Friday, January 4, 2013

University of California Introduces, Withdraws New Logo

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
SF Gate

Link to article:
UC Suspends Use of Logo - Distracting

It started with the best intentions. University of California wanted a simpler, more modern logo that would read well on mobile devices and would link the university with California's tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship. But after students compared the new logo to a sticker on a banana, or said the design resembled a Swedish flag being flushed down the toilet, UC alumni started to take notice.  When alumni made their opinions known, UC quietly decided to phase out their brand new logo...

Excerpt: "The logo, a block 'C' nestled in a U-shaped silhouette, sparked widespread mockery when news reports brought it to light last week. Some said it resembled a bidet, a kickboard or a logo for an Internet startup. 'Looks like it's still loading,' wrote a Berkeley woman on the online petition.

The university has withdrawn the logo from its website and will no longer use it on printed materials, although items already emblazoned with the logo will not be discarded, said UC spokesman Steve Montiel.

Students and alumni said they felt vindicated the logo has gone the way of New Coke.

'It's good that UC is listening to us,' said Connor Landgraf, student body president at UC Berkeley. 'Hopefully they'll start listening to students on other issues, as well, such as tuition increases.'

Jefferson Coombs, director of the UC Berkeley alumni association, said alumni were pretty much united in their dislike of the new logo.

'I'm pleased UC listened to the prevailing and really unified voice of alumni,' he said. 'Alumni are extremely proud of the university's legacy of excellence, and this logo did not reflect that.'


Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Gangnam Style" Megahit Turning Point for International Culture?

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
Financial Times

Link to article:
Gangnam Stylishly Debunks US Myth

For generations, the starting point in international pop culture was American style.  English language, and American accents, references and idioms were the common ground that guaranteed a foot in the door to international success. But after this year's MASSIVE breakout hit by Korean popster Psy, "Gangnam Style" may be blazing a new trail for international success that doesn't need to look to American standards.

Excerpt: "Why have Americans so dominated the globalised part of popular culture up till now? Despite complaints from France and elsewhere, it was not a matter of “cultural imperialism”. The US has little in the way of cultural infrastructure abroad, like Germany’s Goethe Institutes or the British Council. And that should not matter because, to repeat, the culture we are talking about is not American culture – it is an international culture in which Americans have played the leading role.

The US has benefited from intangible advantages. It uses the lingua franca, the cultural equivalent of printing a reserve currency. It is easier for authors to get translated from English than into English, and the same principle holds for movies. US corporations have the longest familiarity with the relatively new business models used in cultural markets. For instance, iTunes is an American invention. This magnifies US cultural advantages because the market into which artists from other countries must sell is often abysmal. A superb report by Youkyung Lee and Ryan Nakashima showed how little Psy has made from Gangnam Style in his native South Korea: about $50,000 from CD sales and $61,000 from 3.6m downloads.

Their home audience may be the pivotal advantage US artists have. As the writer Todd Gitlin put it years ago: 'By the time it leaves our shores, US popular culture has been ‘pretested’ in a heterogeneous public – a huge internal market with hybrid tastes and a tradition of juxtaposition and recombining disparate elements, melting them down into a Hollywood melange.'

But you could as easily say “dumbing down” as “melting down”. Culturally speaking, the diverse US audience giveth and it taketh away. An American artist who wants to appeal to a variety of US cultural communities does so not by mastering the cultures of others but by stripping away those elements of his own that might require explanation. US society is indeed diverse, but for that very reason American popular culture is homogenous. It deals in universals: it’s wonderful to fall in love, it’s sad to grow old. This kind of US culture is accessible to all, but it is hostile to more elaborate cultures. That is why people abroad resent it even as they buy it. "

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fontbook brings typography reference book to Iphone

Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
TechCrunch

Link to article:
Fontbook, That Weighty Tome of Typography Knowledge, Now Fits in Your Pocket on iPhone

Artists, designers, and typography geeks will be happy to know that the former $99 reference book Fontbook, after a stint as a $4.99 Ipad app, is now available for a mere $.99 for the iPhone. Besides cataloging 37,000 typefaces, the new app also will suggest similar replacements for a desired font and show it "in action".

Link to article: "FontBook, the somewhat epic reference source for typography fans everywhere, today announced a new version of its iOS app that brings the guide to the iPhone for the first time ever. Previously, FontBook was iPad-only, after its release in 2011. FontBook 3.0 also introduces list views, user-changeable font sample text and search filters, among other new features.

The app is obviously a handy tool for designers, as both a pocket reference and a way to carry a complete font resource in your pocket for client meetings, but it’s also a fun app for anyone with an interest in typography. You can find out answers to anything you’ve ever needed to know about type very quickly with the help of the new filters that let you drill down to specifics, and see fonts broken down by use case and genre, as well as view alternatives for your first choice if it’s not available.

I also love that you can throw fonts in a convenient “Favorites” list, which is great for keeping track of ones you find while using the app’s new discovery features but don’t actually have an immediate use for. Also, not surprisingly, the app is actually incredibly good looking, too."