Friday, May 30, 2014

Smart Scent Marketing Pays Off for Panera Bread and Cinnabon

It's no secret that humans respond in a deeply subconscious way to scent memories.  Proust wrote a whole book about the chain of memories set off by the smell of freshly-baked madeleines.  Now companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in exactly how and how much they use scent in fostering identification with their brand, as well as stimulating sales.

Panera Bread is a chain with both shopping center and free-standing locations.  It has recently decided to up the ante on boosting pleasant scents in its locations.  Front of the store "show ovens" bake bread to boost the fresh, homey scent throughout the restaurant. Meanwhile, nighttime bakers are being shifted to daytime shifts so that the scent of baking bread will not be lost on an empty Panera's after closing time.

Meanwhile, Cinnabon depends almost entirely on enclosed shopping center locations, and makes sure that their leases and locations allow them to waft the scent of cinnamon rolls (or even just baking trays dusted with brown sugar and cinnamon in the oven) for purely olfactory effect.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Wall Street Journal (blog)

Link to article: 
Using Scent as a Marketing Tool

Excerpt: "As more shops add odor, the battle for noses is getting intense. Restaurants are adjusting recipes to make aromas more concentrated and pleasant. Stores are installing discreet misters to diffuse essence of tea, wood and other scents into the air.

Stores relying most on aroma to draw in customers or nudge them to buy more have found achieving the right scent is complex. One person's sweet aroma is another's stench. A store's smell has to be powerful enough to lure in customers yet not offend neighboring businesses and landlords.

Cinnabon, the bakery chain, places ovens near the front of its stores so the enticing smell of warm cinnamon rolls escapes when oven doors open, says Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon, a unit of Focus Brands Inc. The bakeries are intentionally located in malls or airports, not outside, so smells can linger. Over time, the company has recognized that aroma is a huge part of its formula, Ms. Cole says. Putting ovens in the back of stores at a test location 'significantly' lowered sales, she says.

Cinnamon rolls are baked at least every 30 minutes. Some store operators heat additional sheets of brown sugar and cinnamon to keep the aroma in the air, she says.

Stores with their own scents sometimes have 'aroma restrictions' in their mall lease agreements, Ms. Cole says. The contracts typically restrict food businesses within a certain radius, limiting where Cinnabon can lease space, she says.

While research doesn't clearly point to pleasant smells boosting sales, stores are embracing scent marketing as a way to create ambience, alongside lighting and design. Many stores will diffuse fragrance through heating and air-conditioning vents.

Scent is most effective when subtle, says Edward Burke, spokesman for Scentair Technologies Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., one of the largest sellers of scent diffusers. Sweet smells like brown sugar and apple work well in diffusing systems, he says, while cooked-food aromas, like charred steak, don't smell 'authentic.'

Scent marketing is growing fast among retail and high-end apartment buildings, Mr. Burke says. Many hotels now use scent, especially subtle, tea-derived aromas. At senior living homes, cinnamon and other homey scents are popular, he says."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Google Makes Micro-Change in their Logo

You KNOW that people are watching carefully when you move the letters in your logo by one or two pixels and readers still notice. That was the case today when Google's logo shifted the second "g" over by a pixel and the "l" over and down a pixel to clean up the kerning and straighten out the baseline.  Congratulations Google on having the most perceptive users around, and also for being incredibly precise in how your logo should appear to the public!

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
AdWeek

Link to article:

Excerpt: "You didn't notice it, but the design geeks on Reddit did.

Google moved the 'g' right one pixel and the 'l' down and right one pixel, one eagle-eyed Redditor noticed on Sunday. Apparently, this was done to fix a very slight problem with the kerning of the letters. As another Redditor pointed out: "The bottom of the 'l' and 'e' did not line up horizontally and that, my friend, must have driven some design employee crazy."

Gizmodo wrote about the change yesterday, and got this statement from Google: 'Great to see people notice and appreciate even single-pixel changes—we tweaked the logo a little while ago to make sure it looks its sharpest regardless of your screen resolution.' Compare the two versions of the logo below, also via Gizmodo:"
 


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What if you don't want a state of the art smartphone?

In the battle of smartphones, the iPhones, Galaxy S's, Blackberry z10s and Nokia 1020s can slug it out all they want to to be the biggest, quickest, and most responsive smartphone on the block.  But what about customers who only want a phone to make calls, send messages, and occasionally go online or check Facebook or Twitter?  

If the top-of-the-line phones are overkill and a waste of money for your own humble purposes, you could do worse than getting a new Motorola Moto-E.  It's a simple unlocked smartphone that scrimps on some features, but comes at an attractive, no-contract price that doesn't require you to lock in to one carrier for an extended period of time.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The Los Angeles Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "At $129, the Moto E is one of the cheapest smartphones customers can get. By comparison, a 16 GB iPhone 5s costs $649 without a contract. But despite its low price, the Moto E gets the job done where it counts.

During my week with the device, the Moto E performed admirably in nearly all the tasks I would consider essential to a smartphone. The gadget delivered clear voice calls, delivered my text messages just fine and provided me with a quick Internet connection when I surfed the Web or used apps such as Facebook.

The Moto E turned out to be speedier than I expected. With no way to connect to high-speed 4G LTE networks, the Moto E is relegated to running on the 3G networks of years past. I tested it using T-Mobile -- but it works with all U.S. carriers -- and it performed very well. Don’t get me wrong. The Moto E is not nearly as fast as an iPhone 5s or a Galaxy S5, but its speed never frustrated me.

Customers will also be happy to know that the Moto E runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. Motorola has also committed to updating the device at least one more time, so customers can count on their gadget having the latest software for at least the next two years.

Another highlight of the Moto E was its battery life. Motorola said it designed the Moto E to have all-day battery life. That’s been part of the company’s marketing pitch on numerous devices for several years, and the Moto E was no exception. Using the device as a secondary phone, I was able to get more than two days of full battery from the Moto E. Used as a primary device, the Moto E should deliver on its full-day promise.

The Moto E’s exterior design also stood out. The phone is by no means a sexy gadget. In fact, it’s a bit chunky and made out of pedestrian plastic material, but the design works because Motorola made the Moto E very comfortable to hold. With a rubbery, curved-back, the Moto E is easy to grip. The back cover also features a round indentation under the Motorola logo, designed for one’s finger when holding the gadget to make a phone call. Overall, the Moto E is a very ergonomic device.

Customers can also add some character to the phone by mixing up its color scheme. When buying the device, customers choose between a black and white front cover. They can then choose from various different colored back cover shells. After buying the device, customers can purchase more shells individually from Motorola.com or Amazon.com that start at $14.99."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Good Design: Follow the 10 Commandments of Typography

The thousands of free and commercial fonts available on the internet for designers and hobbyists can leave you feeling like a kid in a candy shop when you start adding text to your next project. With all these options, you can easily fall into the trap of using too many fonts or juxtaposing weirdly different (or even worse, too similar) fonts in your design.

 Nothing can replace the insights of a design course, but if you start with the basic practices outlined on Designmantic's infographic of the 10 Commandments of Typography, you can at least avoid the obvious pitfalls.  Rules are made to be broken, and breaking these guidelines is hardly punishable by death, but any creative person knows you need to know the rules before you decide to break them. (Click on the graphic below to read the "commandments" in full resolution.)

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Designmantic

Link to article:
The 10 Commandments of Typography

Excerpt: "It is true that the beauty of typography lies in its endless options, convenient variations and its colossal nature and that typography knows no boundaries and it’s like yet another galaxy out there waiting to be explored and known. However, even though typography is open ended and vast with a lot of creativity to it, there is only so much one can do and apply. Hence, it is always good to know the tips to make unique logo design, web interface or packaging, in order to save yourself from the trouble of experimenting too many fonts on your design.

The infographic below illustrates the '10 Commandments of Typography' that could be followed as quite the basics when it comes to selecting fonts. Even though typography is an art and art is supposed to be subjective with minimal parameters, these rules can still be applied in order to save time and too much experimentation! Consider the following 10 statements as the best practices of typography…"


Friday, May 23, 2014

Cahuenga Pass was a Mountain Road Before Freeway Construction

Geologically, the Cahuenga Pass is a remnant of an age when the Los Angeles River coursed down through a break in the Santa Monica Mountains into what is now Hollywood.  The mountains raised up over the years, and the river diverted to its current course a few miles further East.  But before the 1940 Cahuenga Pass Freeway (now the 101 Hollywood Freeway) the rustic mountain pass was a site for rugged cabins and Hollywood's first hotel, named for its 8-mile distance from downtown Los Angeles.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
KCET

Link to article:
Photos:  When the Cahuenga Pass Was Rustic

Excerpt: "Sure, there are exposed hillsides, hidden wildlife, and a few trees. But 'rustic' hardly captures the character of the Cahuenga Pass these days. Cars whisk through this notch in the Hollywood Hills at 70 miles per hour. Truck horns and tire squeals pierce the steady hum of the 101 freeway.

Yet there was a time when 'rustic' applied. Adventurous types once camped beneath the pass' oak-dotted hillsides. In the 1870s, a primitive hotel -- named the Eight Mile House because Los Angeles was eight miles down the road -- rose among a stand of eucalyptus trees inside the canyon. As late as 1914, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille rented a wooden cabin in the pass as his home. He rode daily into his studio on horseback -- with a revolver on his hip.

The pass has long been a convenient shortcut between the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles Basin. In a previous geologic epoch, the Los Angeles River spilled into Hollywood through the pass, before continued uplift of the Santa Monica Mountains rerouted the waterway around present-day Griffith Park. The first Southern Californians likely blazed a foot-trail millennia ago, and by the late 18th century the villagers of Cabueg-na or Kaweenga (the origin of the name 'Cahuenga') near Universal Studios regularly trekked through the pass."





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tech Nostalgia Drives Auction of Original Rainbow Apple Logo Signs

As time and technology move faster, our definition of what constitutes an antique collectible takes in much more recent history.  

The original fiberglass and foam signs from Apple headquarter that incorporated the iconic "rainbow-striped apple" are now up for auction, at a starting price of $10,000.  It will be interesting to see how much nostalgia there is for the heady days of the early 90s tech bubble, and if this auction will incite a bidding stampede like so many other Silicon Valley offerings...

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
TIME

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Get ready to reminisce! Two rainbow-striped Apple logos that once graced the company’s headquarters will go up for auction on June 4.

Bonhams auction house set the starting price for the iconic signs at $10,000. The signs were mounted to the exterior of Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California until 1997, when they were replaced by Apple’s monochromatic logo and gradually began to accumulate value among tech heads with a nostalgic streak.

The larger sign, made of fiberglass, measures about 4 feet from leaf to base. The smaller sign, made of foam, measures about 3 feet. Both come with nicks, cracks, faded paint and other signs of age that can’t really ding the starting price."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Psychological Clues in Color Branding

In color marketing and branding, there are the easy, overly-broad generalizations that are closer to a daily horoscope in the newspaper than they are to actual data, and then there are more scientific conclusions that actually can inform your use of color to promote and market your business.  

Human reactions to color have many complicating circumstances that cloud the use of broad generalizations.  Red can be bold and energizing, but you may have a different reaction based on your past experiences. Personal history and memories can be strong motivators that go against the usual assumptions.  But there are other ways to use color  and color scheming to optimize your calls to action that convert readers or website visitors into subscribers or customers.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Entrepreneur

Link to article:

Excerpt: "The Importance of Colors in Branding
First, let's address branding, which is one of the most important issues relating to color perception and the area where many articles on this subject run into problems.
There have been numerous attempts to classify consumer responses to different individual colors:
The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding
... but the truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings.
But there are broader messaging patterns to be found in color perceptions. For instance, colors play a fairly substantial role in purchases and branding.
In an appropriately titled study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
And in regards to the role that color plays in branding, results from studies such as The Interactive Effects of Colors show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand (in other words, does the color "fit" what is being sold).
The study Exciting Red and Competent Blue also confirms that purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the 'personality' of the brand in question (after all, who would want to buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle if they didn't get the feeling that Harleys were rugged and cool?).
Additional studies have revealed that our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity. It has even been suggested in Color Research & Application that it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple).
When it comes to picking the "right" color, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself. So, if Harley owners buy the product in order to feel rugged, you could assume that the pink + glitter edition wouldn't sell all that well.
Psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker has conducted studies on this very topic via research on Dimensions of Brand Personality, and her studies have found five core dimensions that play a role in a brand's personality:
The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding
(Brands can sometimes cross between two traits, but they are mostly dominated by one. High fashion clothing feels sophisticated, camping gear feels rugged.)
Additional research has shown that there is a real connection between the use of colors and customers' perceptions of a brand's personality.
Certain colors DO broadly align with specific traits (e.g., brown with ruggedness, purple with sophistication, and red with excitement). But nearly every academic study on colors and branding will tell you that it's far more important for your brand's colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Starbucks Leads Slow Transition to Cashless Retail Sales

You step up to the Starbucks cashier, present your card (or more often, your mobile app) and immediately get the purchase deducted from your prepaid balance.  As a side benefit, you get stars toward free drink rewards.  On the surface it seems to be about convenience, speed at the cashier counter, and loyalty rewards.  But underneath it is part of retailers chipping away at the huge transaction fees paid to Visa and Mastercard (if you charge your card with $20, you are basically eliminating 8 or 9 transaction fees to the credit card companies that paying for each sale individually would accrue).

This payment model, and the transition of American credit cards to the European chip-and-pin model, are part of a move and counter-move strategy between retailers, banks, and credit card companies that are slowly transforming the paradigm of retail sales in the US.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Standing in line at Starbucks, customers are presented with an array of options beyond just flavors and foam: They can pay with cash, credit, debit, a Starbucks card or with their mobile phone in two different ways.

That list is expected to grow in the coming years, not only at Starbucks but also at retailers around the country, and an enormous hacking of customer data at Target that was revealed five months ago has only intensified the pace of change in the way Americans pay for goods.

Usually, the conversation about where to go from here is presented narrowly, either in terms of the security of new cards or perhaps the convenience of paying by phone. But behind the scenes, there are other issues in play, including the jealous guarding of customer data. And there is an enormous amount of money to be made, especially for businesses catering to the cash-free consumer.

'There is money at stake all around the room, whether it’s the banks and payment processors or the retailers,' said Suzanne Martindale, a staff lawyer at Consumers Union who specializes in payments. 'It’s a battle between the two parties.'

Every time a customer pays with a credit or debit card, the retailer pays a fee to have the payment processed. According to the Nilson Report, a payment card trade publication, merchants in the United States spent $71.7 billion on these fees last year.

The most immediate change will occur with EMV, the technology that uses an embedded chip to protect against counterfeit cards and can also require a PIN to keep thieves from using stolen cards. Widely used in Europe and elsewhere, EMV is considered more secure than magnetic strip cards mostly used in the United States. At the end of April, Target said it would speed up its introduction of chip-and-PIN technology on all its branded credit and debit cards and would be fully equipped by early next year.

For their part, Visa and MasterCard are pushing EMV technology, and have instituted new rules that say retailers will bear more fraud liability by the end of next year if they do not have the capability to process such cards.

Some retailers are hoping that the move to EMV cards would reduce interchange and other processing fees, with more competitive and potentially cheaper networks that process PINs instead of signatures, or eventually from savings if fraud rates declined."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Netflix Introduces a New Logo on the Down Low

In the media materials for the second season of Netflix's heralded series "Orange Is The New Black", viewers noticed a new treatment of the company's logo.  The Netflix logo as shown in the media package is made up of unstroked, unshaded flat red letters on a white background.  The simple flat typography also allows the spacing to be closer and the name to seem more cohesive.  But some observers miss the classic Hollywood heraldry of the old shaded block letters.

And the other interesting facet of the new logo rollout is that no one will confirm if what we saw IS even a new company logo for Netflix.  After several corporations have recently been panned and excoriated for new logo treatments, perhaps Netflix is shy of committing to a new company logo.  If the reception is cool, they may have hedged their bets and will limit the use of the new logo for just Netflix original productions, and retain the old classic white on red logo for the overall subscription service.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
CNN

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Netflix has a new logo, but you're forgiven if you didn't notice.

The video-rental service has quietly debuted new branding on recent trailers for "Orange is the New Black" and its other original series. It replaces the white, shadowed letters and red backdrop of Netflix's iconic logo with a cleaner look comprised of flat red letters against a white background. No big deal, right? Companies update their corporate logos all the time.

But here's the strange part: Netflix acts as if the new logo doesn't exist. The company did not respond to e-mails and phone messages from CNN seeking comment on the new look. They've ignored requests from other media outlets, too.

Nor has Netflix mentioned the new logo on its social media pages, its website or even its iconic red DVD envelopes, which continue to show the traditional branding.

What gives? Corporations typically make a big fuss when they tinker with an established logo. Witness Yahoo, which turned the rollout of its new logo in September into a monthlong event.

'Maybe Netflix is afraid that loyal customers will be disgusted by the new design, like what happened with the Gap a few years back, so they'd like to pass the baton from one logo to another slowly and quietly,' wrote Mark Wilson for Fast Company. 'Or maybe Netflix just isn't all that organized and hasn't made a decision as to what it's doing yet.'"

Friday, May 16, 2014

Does Uniqlo Have a New Formula for US Expansion Success?

The latest "trend" in shopping center fashion retail is international "fast fashion" which has a fast lead in, quick changeover, low prices, and foreign pedigree.  Sweden's H&M, English TopShop, and Spain's Zara are dotting the landscape with new stores across the US.  

But Japanese retailer Uniqlo is blazing its own path, and trying to double its presence in the US while remaining above the fray of "fast fashion", preferring to stress a higher quality and wider customer base than teenage mall and downtown shoppers. The formula has paid off so far, with its international sales rising 78 percent in the first half of fiscal 2014.  Its biggest challenge in expanding in the US is finding large enough spaces at top quality shopping centers, since the chain so far has been identified with its spacious flagship locations in urban shopping areas.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
CNBC

Link to article:

Excerpt: "With retailers from Aeropostale to Sears looking to shutter a large number of stores—most recently with Sears' announcement on Wednesday morning that it may sell off its Canada business—Uniqlo is in a unique position, in that it has barely scratched the surface in the U.S. But those other retailers offer lessons both about expanding outside your home market and growing too fast within the U.S.

Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo USA, called it 'coincidental' that the company is entering the market as a major shift is underway in terms of retailers closing stores to better balance their bricks-and-mortar and online portfolios. But Birnbrey said it also gives Uniqlo a leg up.

'It allows them to see the mistakes that other people have made as they've expanded into the United States,' he said. The shift also comes as Fast Retailing's sales have stalled in its native country but are gaining traction internationally, including in the United States. Although the company doesn't break out its U.S. sales figures, it said its international sales rose nearly 78 percent in the first half of fiscal 2014 helped by above-target results in the United States. Meanwhile, its sales in Japan rose less than 5 percent over the same period and were hurt by weak margins.

Meyer attributed the timing of the company's U.S. expansion to increased brand awareness in the country and an evolved product, which has significantly shifted from a decade ago. He pointed to the brand's HEATTECH line, which uses a fabric designed to keep the wearer warm, saying its clothes not only serve for fashion, but for function.

But despite the retailer's low prices on these items—made possible because of its massive scale of more than 1,300 stores worldwide—he also clarified that Uniqlo is not a fast-fashion retailer. Although people frequently make this mistake when describing the company, Meyer said Uniqlo works with longer lead times, and 'there's a key product consistency to who we are,' he said.

'We have good fashion but we're not about the latest fashion,' he said, adding that the company differs from fast-fashion competitors in that it doesn't edit its entire assortment to adhere to the latest trends. He also cited a broader customer base, saying it's not just teens who shop at the stores."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Company Culture is the Key to Successful Branding

Branding is often seen as a company's name, logo, marketing strategy, and advertising. But even if you have a fantastic logo and name, a clever marketing campaign and targeted advertising, it all doesn't add up to a successful brand unless the public has a positive impression of their relationship with your company.

And the key to creating a positive public image is a company's employees, and the culture that informs how your employees relate to your customers. If you make sure that very interaction with your targeted market is carried out by helpful, intelligent and cheerful brand ambassadors, your brand will be successful.

Hunter Communications Original News Source: 
Bloomberg Businessweek

Link to article:
Branding Begins at Home

Excerpt: "Employees have always held a lot of sway on how brands are perceived but never more so—and with higher stakes—than today. It’s surprising that companies don’t do more to nurture corporate culture through genuine and sincere internal branding efforts.

The reason, I think, is that we too often consider branding in communications terms—advertising, public relations, promotions. In reality, there’s really no way to separate 'the business' from 'the brand.' A brand is the sum and substance of every experience customers have with a business. No clever billboard, touching TV commercial, or cute YouTube (GOOG) video can measure up to the impact of real-world experiences someone has with a brand. That’s why the most important target audience for any company is the people who have the brand on their business cards (or name tags, polo shirts, and ball caps).

Management guru Peter Drucker famously said, 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast.' Nothing will turn even the best brand strategy into bacon quicker than an unhealthy corporate culture. Companies such as the local pizza chain understand this, but the biggest brands often don’t get it. They’re too preoccupied with external communications, driven by the incessant pressure to deliver short-term results, and hindered by internal silos. Cultural branding is one arena where the advantage definitely goes to smaller players.

The most notable example of this advantage has to be Zappos (AMZN). Tony Hsieh launched Zappos, quickly expanded it, and turned the company into an attractive acquisition target by focusing relentlessly on culture. He rightly believed that brand and culture were two sides of the same coin. 'If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff—like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers—will happen naturally on its own,' Hsieh said. He put his money where his mouth was.

Instead of spending millions on marketing, Zappos put in place a deliberate hiring practice involving multiple rounds of interviews, an intensive four-week training program, and a stint for every employee (regardless of department or job title) fielding customer calls. In an effort to ensure that everyone who clocks in at the company would truly buy in to its culture, Hsieh offered a $2,000 bonus to anyone who wished to quit during the training period."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Photo of the Week: Conchita Wurst, Eurovision's new Queen

This week, the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest lit up the airwaves from Copenhagen, Denmark, and produced a surprising and inspiring new symbol of a tolerant and defiant Western Europe. After being hushed and kept quiet through the Sochi Olympics and then watching Russia annex part of sovereign nation Ukraine, Europe was ready to show the Russians and their cohorts that love, tolerance and acceptance are the values the Continent holds dear.

After a week of competition, televiewers and international juries turned away from pre-contest favorites and embraced Austria's Conchita Wurst (aka Tom Neuwirth), a bearded drag queen with a big James Bond theme of a song and a message of self-acceptance.  At the beginning of the week-long competition, Austria was in tenth place with the betting firms, and rose through the ranks until it finally became the odds-on winner by the time the Grand Finals started Saturday evening. Austria ended the night with 290 points, the third-highest winning score in the show's history.

Here is a photo album shot on location during the semifinals and final night of Eurovision.  Hunter Communications was in Copenhagen for this rather historic moment in the Contest.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

800-Page Book Catalogued Colors Centuries Before Pantone


In 1961, during the heyday of color printing, Pantone rose up to standardize colors. A standardized color would be identical on the page no matter what printing house anywhere in the world might actually do the physical printing. But now it seems that the esteemed company and color institute were not the first on the scene. In 1692, Dutch artist A. Boogert set out to described the mixing and altering of shades in watercolor paints, and in doing so created a manual of 800 pages that indexed all the colors available by tone and strength (he added more and more water to make his watercolors paler and more translucent).

The full manual was meant as a teaching and educational tool for artists, but since the color "chips" were painstakingly hand-prepared, only one copy was ever finished, which now resides in Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
This is Colossal

Link to article:
271 Years Before Pantone

Excerpt: "In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Europe Catches yearly Eurovision Fever

The New York Times has noticed the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest.  It's a tough thing to explain to Americans, so everyone starts by comparing it to American Idol.  That's a stretch, since Eurovision exists to choose the song of the year, not a new artist (necessarily). And just as important as the song and artist is the presentation on stage.  

Since variety shows have disappeared from our tv screens, the only time we get to see big production numbers with music are the three or four that spice up an awards show.  Imagine 26 giant productions with performers singing live, then the whole continent gets 15 minutes to vote and choose the winner.

Hunter Communications has been on site at Eurovision all week, and after the Grand Final, we will present a full photo album and photo of the week.  Going into the finals, it looks to be a race at the top between glamorous pop songstress Sanna from Sweden, bearded drag Conchita Wurst with her massive Bond theme from Austria, the American-sounding country duo Common Linnets from the Netherlands with their simple, flawless roots ballad, and possibly British ingenue Molly Smitten-Downes with her retro anthem "Children of the Universe".  As opposed to recent years, there isn't a single presumptive winner, so the results will certainly be more exciting than usual.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "COPENHAGEN — The crowd of roughly 10,000 fans cheered, and the lights glowed electric blue as a woman in a bright white gown introduced the next act in the giant auditorium here. 'Please give it up now for Albania!' she shouted.

It’s not a line you normally hear on prime-time television. Except this week, which features the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest — about the trashiest, splashiest event on the global pop calendar. On Saturday an estimated 120 million viewers from Iceland to Azerbaijan, more than watched this year’s Super Bowl, are expected to tune in to see which of the 26 finalists will take the top slot and the exposure it provides.

“It’s ‘American Idol’ on steroids,” said William Lee Adams, a journalist in London who founded Wiwi Bloggs, a leading independent site devoted entirely to Eurovision.

A place where soft power meets soft porn, Eurovision offers a view of Europe in microcosm, particularly now, when old fault lines from the Balkans to Russia and Ukraine are surfacing. The competition, which takes place on three nights, is highly political, albeit flavored with a hefty dose of camp.

Over the years, Eurovision has reflected Europe’s social and political changes, and this one is no exception. Along with the requisite scantily clad women and hunky men, an Austrian transgender singer, Conchita Wurst, advanced to this year’s finals, to the consternation of Eastern European social conservatives who have called Eurovision the epitome of the morally corrupt West.

There’s also intense speculation about whether tensions between Russia and Ukraine could split the post-Soviet voting bloc. At Tuesday’s semifinals, the audience booed when it was announced that Russia’s contestants, the wholesome-looking twin Tolmachevy sisters, made the finals.

Mariya Yaremchuk of Ukraine also placed, with her cheery pop song “Tick Tock,” which she sang while a man ran in a giant hamster wheel on stage. Crimea, now annexed by Russia, will still vote as part of Ukraine, which still runs the state broadcaster and the cellphone networks. Eurovision officials say they will monitor to make sure the phone lines aren’t obstructed."

Friday, May 9, 2014

Website of the Week: Adobe Typekit Offers Lessons in Typography

Adobe has become the biggest name in digital art and design, and continues to attract followers with their new Typekit lessons at Typekit Practice. Each lesson teaches tips and techniques related to typography, and can be found at the Typekit Practice website.  A recent lesson gave tips in how designers employ shading to make lettering pop out from the background, and the variations that make a shading more than a mere "drop shadow". Other resources are available at Typekit Practice that will help you learn, not just the basics, but tricks the experts use, to make the type on your page special.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Creative Review

Link to article:
Typography is a Practice

Excerpt: "Adobe's Typekit has just launched a new site dedicated to honing typographic skills, via a series of lessons and resources, under the name Typekit Practice...

'Typekit Practice is a collection of resources and a place to try things, hone your skills, and stay sharp,' runs the site's introduction. 'Everyone can practice typography.'

On offer are featured lessons, including one on using shades for "eye-catching emphasis", a list of useful online references (blogs, articles, talks etc), and a reading list of books on typography. Of course, there are also links to Typekit's own fonts and its accompanying blog.

The Practice site is designed and maintainted by Elliot Jay Stocks, Tim Brown, Bram Stein and the Typekit team."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Did Pantone Miss Out? Is Gray the REAL Color of Our Times?

Every season, the wise men and women at Pantone Color Institute come up with a list of the essential colors to wear, decorate, and live with.  And once a year they release , to much anticipation and acclamation, the official Pantone color of the year.  

In recent years, Pantone's emphasis has been on bright jewel tones like Tangerine Tango and Radiant Orchid.  But is there a case to be made that the color that truly catches the zeitgeist of our times and lives is a neutral that is widely viewed as the absence of color, a mid-range gray?

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Styleite

Link to article:

Excerpt: "As we approach the middle of the decade, The Guardian‘s deputy fashion editor Hannah Marriott writes that now is the perfect time to take note of what is significantly trending since 2010. And based off of extensive research from sales figures, runway shows, and Pinterest boards, it’s apparent that gray is taking over our lives. From our sleek and silver Apple laptops to our overflowing dresser drawers with gray joggers, hoodies, and, according to a recent feature in The Gentlewoman magazine, underwear, fifty shades of gray isn’t just the title of a best-selling erotic romance novel from 2011. It is a lifestyle.

For more validation, quotes by major tastemakers from around the world fawning over the popular hue are peppered throughout Marriott’s piece, which is probably the best part of the in-depth article. ('Anything set against gray looks more beautiful, more grand,' famous interior designer Abigail Ahern said. 'It cocoons you and turns the room into a space you really want to hunker down into. It feels intriguing and sophisticated and glamorous.')

Oh, heather gray, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways…

Manicures: With bestsellers like Chanel‘s Particuliére, 'a taupey-gray shade,' and Dior‘s 'true mid-gray' Gris Montaigne released in 2010, gray nail polish became as trendy as requesting 'Lincoln Park After Dark' at your favorite salon.

Suits: 'Gray is a much richer, more interesting and more textural color in suiting than black,' said Patrick Grant, creative director of Savile Row. Plus, don’t groomsmen look more handsome in gray suits anyway?

Luxurious fabrics: Want your wool coat or cashmere pullover to look more expensive? Get it in gray. 'Céline‘s autumn/winter 2013 collection is a brilliant example of this,' said Oriole Cullen, acting senior curator of contemporary fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 'It all looked so covetable.'

The 'Off-duty chic' look: Designers like Alexander Wang, Céline, and Isabel Marant, champion the color gray in their collections season after season. It’s also a wardrobe staple in for fashion editors and models, whose street style images are 'disseminated widely in the age of style blogs and Instagram.'

A go-to for color coordination: If you’re stuck on matching your outfit, put some gray on it. “It suits a range of skintones and complements a range of other colors, some of which – such as navy and pastels – can look odd with black,' noted Marriott. (Ed note: Navy with black forever!) Wonderland fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois considers gray as a neutral that perfectly pairs with bright shades and neons.

Activewear: The buzzword in today’s fashion market coincides with the rising practice of fitness and wellness. And 'the shade that makes other colors sing' is what most sweatshirts and joggers come in, which has accounted for half of Uniqlo‘s sales in the past year. “Marl grey is the original color for sportswear and has always been the No. 1 color for traditional sweats and joggers,” said Jane Shepherdson, CEO of Whistles. 'We find that we experiment with other colors, but always return to marl gray.'

Interior design: Paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball is probably the reason why you usually experience home decor envy. And in the past seven years, at least 20 Farrow & Ball shades could be classified as grays, which is a 10% increase in gray shades from the company’s total stock of 132. 'Certainly, today, gray connotes sophistication, allure and depth,' said Michelle Ogundehin, editor-in-chief of Elle Decoration UK."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cut the Cable Cord? Find Out About HDTV Antennas

More and more Americans have decided to end their $100 monthly cable bills and subsist on a daily menu of Hulu and Netflix.  Although there is plenty of entertainment available for free or at a low subscription cost online, you can vastly improve your options with the addition of a simple accessory that shouldn't cost more than $10 - $50. 

Somehow, when television broadcasting switched from analog to digital HDTV broadcasting, many got the mistaken impression that OTA (over the air) antennas were obsolete and wouldn't work anymore.  But in urban areas, most home and apartment dwellers can get by with a simple indoor antenna to receive all the local network channels and much more.  In distant suburbs and rural areas, you would need a rooftop antenna (which you likely still have from before).  Here's a simple guide to getting hooked up to excellent TV broadcasting with an antenna.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
lifehacker

Link to article:
How to Choose the Best OTA Antenna for Free TV

Excerpt: "The first thing you should do is find out what channels are available in your area. If you live in or near a metro area, you'll probably have several to choose from, including major network affiliates (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, etc.) and PBS. Even if you don't, you may luck out anyway. Search sites like TV Fool and AntennaWeb to find out what’s available. Both use your address to generate a list of channels near you, where in the city they broadcast from (which will be important later), and how strong those channels will come in.

TV Fool is the better search tool. It creates a polar graph and color-coded list of channels organized by callsign, signal strength, and distance. It even breaks out UHF and VHF channels. You can see an example in the image above. You'll be able to tell quickly which channels will come in clearly, which will be noisy, and which ones won't come in at all. AntennaWeb, on the other hand, does a better job of explaining the different types of OTA antennae and the language you'll see when you go shopping.

If the headlines are to be believed, consumers are abandoning traditional TV subscriptions in droves, embracing ever-easier-to-use streaming gadgets… Read…Once you have an idea of the channels available to you, look up the callsigns to see what network they represent. That'll give you an idea whether you'll be able to catch your favorite shows or live sporting events. We've talked about some of the biggest cable cutting myths before, so don't go into this assuming that you'll get a TV experience that's the same as cable. However, if your favorite programs are on channels like NBC, ABC, or PBS, you're in for a treat. Similarly, you won’t be able to catch every sporting event, but you can find a few on over-the-air channels like CBS and FOX.
 
Once you know what's available, it's time to choose an antenna. You have two big decisions to make. First, you have to decide which type of antenna you need. Take a look at the geographic plot that TV Fool (or AntennaWeb) provided for you. The map is situated with "up" as true north. The lines closing in on your location show you which direction each network broadcasts from.

You'll want an omnidirectional antenna if you have a lot of different networks coming in from all sides. This option means you'll get the most channels from every direction, but you may sacrifice signal quality. Omnidirectional antennae are easier to place, and you don't need to worry about beamwidth, or adjusting it every time you change the channel. The person in the map above would probably do well with an omnidirectioal model.

If all of the channels available to you (or at least the ones you want to see) all come from one direction—like the nearest major city—then a directional antenna could be the way to go. One bonus of directional antennae: they’re stronger and can reach farther, so channels you get will come in more clearly than with an omnidirectional antenna. The person in the image above would do best with a directional antenna. But which is best for you depends on your location relative to those channels."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Ten Best Baseball Team Logos Through Time

Baseball caps are one of the standards of the modern wardrobe, some of which actually have real team logos emblazoned across the crown.  So baseball team logos are something most of us have at least seen. 

But it takes a real sports fan to pick out not only which teams had the best logos, but also what years and eras their logos attained greatness.  And the sports fan in question has taken on this task to right the wrong perpetrated by DesignRoom Creative, who made some... interesting, shall we say? choices in their list of the top ten.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
SBNation

Link to article:
The 10 Best Logos in Baseball History

Excerpt: "10. Houston Astros, current

It's a little bevelly, sure, but the simplicity works. It's hard to make orange stand out without being distracting or overwhelming, but this does it. It's hard to make orange work at all, so kudos to the Astros for a logo redesign that works this well.

9. Milwaukee Brewers, 1978-1993


That moment that you figure out it's an "M" and a "B" … well, everything changes, that's what. You figure that the Brewers are the embodiment of good defense. They're built right into the aesthetics of the baseball mitt. Then they replaced this with a logo that looks like a girder orgy.

8. Cincinnati Reds, 1939 - 1953


The Reds' logo has been a variation of this since 1913, though there have been some missteps. For some reason, though, the one with the blue is my favorite. It's the contrast, I suppose, and it's a way to get red, white, and blue into a logo without beating you over the head with it. It's almost enough to make you unsee the acrosome in every Reds logo.

7. Chicago Cubs, 1957 - 1978


It's basically the same as today, but with a cleaner, thinner border. I can't put my finger on why the thinner border appeals to me, but it's clearly better.

6. Oakland A's, 1983 - 1992


The 'A' in the middle is a keeper, going back to the Philadelphia days, and while the words or colors around it might change, it somehow takes diaper-green and diaper-yellow and makes it work. A classic.

5. Washington Senators, 1948 - 1958


It's almost too complicated to qualify. It's a little hard to embroider on a pillow, but it's worth it. It reminded you the full weight and force of the Federal government was possibly behind every Senators pitch, and there's a nifty comic-book 'W' thrown in.

4. Montreal Expos, 1969-1991


Is it nostalgia? Is it the yearning for something we can't have? Why is this logo so damned good? It's swoopy and bubbly, and the team's name is in a lowercase typewriter font, or something. But it's pure. It's perfect. It's baseball. Dammit, baseball, why'd you ruin baseball?

3. Los Angeles Dodgers, 1958-2011


The only thing that bothers me with this classic logo is that it's a pop-up. That and the two random gaps in the motion lines. Really, is this so hard, graphic designer from the '50s?

There. Now it's a home run, and the motion lines are normal. On second thought, I hate the original logo and everything it stands for.
(Okay, it's still a good logo.)

2. Detroit Tigers, current


The best logos are usually the ones that remind you the team has been around since before the talkies, and the Tigers is the best of that bunch. There have been missteps along the way, like morose Tiger and this, but the classic logo is still one of the best ever.

1. New York Giants, 1947-1957


Damn straight. It should be noted that the team had some serious logo attention deficit disorder for most of its time in New York. They changed it almost every danged year. The San Francisco Giants kept the logo until 1977, when they stumbled out of Studio 54 at 6:00 a.m. and fell asleep in a puddle of orange. But the original baseball/Giants combo is solid."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Typography Guru Examines Fonts and Designs of US Penny

Bet you didn't know how many typographic and design changes have been made in the penny since the Lincoln cent debuted in 1909 to commemorate the centennial of Lincoln's birth.  At first the idea of a US President's face on a coin was considered revolutionary, since Americans had associated faces on coins with old European monarchies.  But the popularity of the new penny set a new standard that set the design direction for all coins that followed.

Tobias Frere-Jones, the typography guru behind many of the most celebrated and sought-after fonts available today, HAS been paying attention to the design of the penny, and pens his appreciation for the history and changes that have marked the simple, derided one-cent coin.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Slate

Link to article:
A Typographer’s Design History of the Unappreciated Penny

Excerpt: "Coins are normally a job for sculptors, and President Theodore Roosevelt chose Victor David Brenner to design a new penny to celebrate the centennial of Lincoln’s birth in 1909. The new coin broke from the tradition of allegorical figures and depicted a specific person for the first time. Such practice had been explicitly avoided since independence, because many felt it tasted too much like the monarchy they had left behind. It seemed that Lincoln’s 100th birthday was the right time to drop the prohibition, and now we find it hard to imagine American currency without presidents.

The design process was marred by tension between Brenner and U.S. Mint Engraver Charles Barber, who had designed earlier coins and likely felt he should have received this commission himself. While proofing the design, Barber and Mint Director Frank Leach shifted Lincoln’s portrait towards the center of the coin, where the detail could be best rendered in striking. Troubled by the blank space above Lincoln’s head, they decided to add “IN GOD WE TRUST” along the top edge. This motto had appeared on U.S. coins for years, so Brenner could not have been surprised at its inclusion, but I can’t imagine he was happy about the tampering.

The lettering records the dissonance between the artist and his client. The “1909” figures are calmly rendered, and suggest a tool driven through clay or plaster. With awkward shapes and erratic spacing, the motto looks more like a part number brusquely stamped in. The motto would not get fixed for 60 years, after 55 billion coins had been produced.

The reverse of Brenner’s design is a beautifully balanced mass of lettering framed by sheaves of wheat, epic and quaint in the same breath. It is the pocket-sized monument that coins are meant to be, speaking for the ages from the vantage of 1909. The craft afforded here also belies the fact that this is the country’s smallest denomination. Brenner’s wheat sheaf design would also be the last time that lettering featured so prominently in U.S. coinage. It remained for 50 years, until Frank Gasparro’s rendition of the Lincoln memorial replaced it in 1959, to mark the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

It’s not clear who updated the dies from one year to the next, though it seems obvious enough that different hands and tastes were involved. And yes, I was nuts to collect enough pennies so I could track this. Some years feature clenched shapes and tight spacing, others return to Brenner’s airy dignity. In 1934, the figure 3 is rendered with a descending end stroke. This 'oldstyle' form vanishes for the rest of the ’30s, and then reappears in 1943."

Friday, May 2, 2014

SMitty Awards for Scent Marketing Scheduled for June in New York

Scent marketing has definitely evolved from the days that it was little more than keeping the scent of a baking apple pie in a home for sale during its open house. Now retail chains routinely design signature ambient fragrances to enhance the shopping experience at their stores, and hotels and resorts have a scent identity thatcarries through public spaces (individual hotel rooms are not scented).  

Now the Scent World Events are accepting nominations for their annual Smitty Awards in Scent Marketing in several categories, including Scent Marketer of the Year, Scent Marketing Campaign of the Year, Innovation in Scent Marketing, Technology Innovation in Scent Marketing, and two new awards, for Sensory Guest Experience (in the hospitality industry) and the Groundbreakers Award (for pioneers in integrating scent into a custome experience). The awards will be presented in New York in June.

Hunter Communications Original News Source: 
Street Insider

Link to article: 

Excerpt: "ScentWorld Events, LLC has announced the addition to two additional categories of its SMItty awards, given to companies that have demonstrated excellence in scent and sensory marketing in the previous year. The winners will be announced at a gala awards lunch during its global scent and sensory marketing event, ScentWorld 2014, June 12-13, 2014 in New York City.

The new categories are The Best Sensory Guest Experience, awarded to the hospitality company that has implemented an excellent, sensory brand experience for its guests and the Groundbreakers Award, given to a brand that has been a pioneer in integrating the senses into its customer experience.

These new categories are in addition to the existing SMItty award categories:

Harald Vogt Scent Marketer of the Year – Named after the late founder of the ScentWorld event and industry leader, Harald Vogt, this award honors the scent marketing company that has done the most to promote the scent marketing industry in the previous year, either through highly visible scent marketing projects or through communication and advocacy.

Best Sensory Marketing Campaign - This award is designated for the advertising, marketing or branding agency that has created the most creative and effective marketing campaign strategically using two or more of the senses.

Most Innovative Use of Scent Marketing - This award will go to the brand owner who has implemented an outstanding use of scent, in a way that is new and unexpected. Scent Technology Innovation Award - This award will be presented to the company that has created and marketed the most innovative new scent technology equipment, product or process."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Keep This In Mind When Marketing Your Brand

Much of the process of branding and marketing your brand to the world boils down to common sense, but it never hurts to keep the common sense rules that point a brand to success or failure close at hand.  Five thoughts to keep in mind to assure your brand's safe passage through the treacherous waters of the modern market are: know your market, know yourself (and your brand), communicate effectively, use good design, and keep your product and message consistent.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
Huffington Post

Link to article:
5 Things You Must Know About Branding

Excerpt: "1. Know Your Audience
Marketing has evolved into a pull economy and brands must be more than a logo or a design. They have to build meaningful relationships with their customers. To do this you must know your audience, their needs and desires, and their struggles and challenges to progress. You must understand how and why they purchase, and the channels they use to interact with businesses like yours.
Within your wider audience is your niche -- those prospects who benefit the most from the services you offer. Tailor your brand and your marketing primarily to this niche rather than trying to appeal to everyone at once. As you expand into new markets you will add niches and craft targeted marketing for each. When you market with niches you can design value propositions with each target market in mind, addressing their distinct needs and triggers.

2. Know Yourself
Just how do you craft a brand that compels your audience? The answer to that lies in discovering and articulating your brand values -- that is, the passion and purpose behind your company. What inspired you to create the business? What value do you offer your customers?
Avoid superficial values or vague statements about profit and revenue. Your brand values should be earnest and enthusiastic declarations that reflect the winning qualities of a memorable brand. You might hold authenticity above all else, or strive to be the simplest solution to a common problem. Whatever business you're in you have something vital to offer your prospects. Focus on that as your reason for being and customers will take notice.
While some brands find their identity in fighting against something, avoid comparisons to the competition. Keep the conversation positive and focus on your brand values and your product's benefits, not what the competition doesn't do. 

3. Communicate Effectively
First impressions set the standard for every future interaction. Start with authority and clarity and follow through with responsibility and superb customer service. How effectively you communicate about your product can have more impact on your success than the product itself. Even when a customer has a negative experience, with open and honest communication you have the opportunity to turn that person into a brand evangelist.
Treat all stakeholders with honesty and respect and the word will spread that you're a company to be trusted. Brands who invest time and energy into effective communication foster long term relationships with customers and generate immeasurable goodwill. 

4. Design to Impress
Compelling brands are instantly recognizable. They have a style and design that is unique, that evokes emotion, and that is relevant to their niche market. Quality graphic design should be a part of every one of your marketing materials. Your website, logo, brochures, and emails should all be designed for maximum aesthetic appeal. Beauty and elegance exude professionalism and trigger feelings of comfort and reassurance which reinforces the value of your brand in the customer's mind.
Impressive design doesn't always mean graphics and animation. Typography, page layout, UX design, and design for readability are all important factors in an engaging and effective brand image. What's most important is to design to impress your niche.

5. Be Consistent
Chances are you know what a Pepsi tastes like. You can visualize an iPod, taste a Twinkie, recall the smell of your partner's favorite perfume or cologne.
One of the inherent values to a small business brand is that it's familiar. Without consistency businesses never have the opportunity to evolve into sustainable brands. Consistency builds trust, it breeds recognition, and in the long-term, consistency drives greater profits. Capitalize on your brand values, your impressive design, and your intimate understanding of your audience by delivering a consistently enjoyable brand experience. You will become known for more than just a product or service, but for invoking a particular feeling in your customers."