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The best of the month includes:

> The talent that makes a good designer great
> How history, symbolism, and nuance steer logo design
> Should you start your own design business?

And much more...Enjoy! Chuck Green

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Why would a business pay three million dollars for 30 seconds of negative publicity?

Help me out--what am I missing? If you were to remember the name of the company that sponsored this ad (I rarely do), would you associate it with a positive or a negative? Would you remember the few seconds of happy redirection at the end or the the powerful negative experienced by its main character?

A 30 second ad played during this year's Super Bowl was reported to have cost three million dollars. Honestly, I just don't get it. What is the thinking behind this type of advertising?

An ad for a floral service...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Design-It-Yourself: Graphic Workshop...


The talent that makes a good designer great

Why does a client hire a designer? For our sense of style? For our ability to choose and use typography? Our knowledge of color? Sure, all those things. But first and foremost, they hire us for our ability to innovate. For our ability to see the problem so clearly, to analyze it so comprehensively, that we are able to discover something about it that they themselves may not have even seen.

Here is a wonderful demonstration of that talent. Johnny Chun Lee has an amazing gift for taking something that is already "understood" and recasting it in a whole different light.

A brief presentation of two ideas...

Johnny's "Poor man's steadycam"...

Lee is now working with the Applied Sciences group at Microsoft. His blog...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Templates for InDesign, QuarkXpress, or PageMaker...


Making a market for your designs

I firmly believe that commercial graphic design is not about self-expression. That said, lots of designers produce work and invent products that are very much self-expression--and the world is richer for it. Here is an excellent example of how one designer, Will Staehle, has turned his passion for type and design into a collection of eclectic products complete with a fascinating story line.

Staehle's Dollar Dreadful Family Library...

Staehle's store, The Bazaarium...

A bio of the designer...

In the Ideabook Design Store: The Desktop Publisher's Idea Book...


Ideas 101 > I'm posting an occasional tweet on twitter

In case you haven't tried it, twitter is a good place to get to know folks in a slightly different way. You post brief thoughts and ideas (to be exact, 140 characters or less) and people who are interested in checking in answer back, make derogatory remarks, and so on. While some folks use it to answer the question: "What are you doing?" I am using it to answer the question: What are you thinking?

Interested? Take a look.

Ideabook (me) on twitter...


How history, symbolism, and nuance steer logo design

John McWade is one heck of a design detective. He arrives at the scene, assesses the situation, studies the details, and unravels his theory about how the deed was done. Here is his latest-a clear, studied look at the new Pepsi logo.

Does Pepsi's new logo work?...

An earlier post where he asked for other opinions...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Before & After: Page Design...


The design world is changing-profoundly

I happened across this site recently and got to thinking about how profoundly non-designers have embraced the design world in the last decade. There has long been an appreciation for the design of clothing, automobiles, architecture, and such but we're seeing something different here aren't we?

More and more people seem to appreciate design, understand it, and want to try their hand at it. I makes me think the market for professional design is going to continue to expand, perhaps far beyond what we now see.

The general appreciation of and desire for good design is expanding...

Love the design of this site and its crisp, bright photography...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color...


Designing a web around an establishing shot

I like how this web experience begins with an establishing shot and then how the larger picture is subdivided into conventional categories. I was also drawn to the subtlety of the menu changes.

In the Ideabook Design Store: Before & After: Graphics For Business...


What you don't know about copyright infringement can hurt you-bad.

This morning the AIGA pointed me to another in a long line of high-profile copyright infringement cases, this time, regarding the infringement of a photograph used to illustrate the now famous Obama campaign poster.

If you don't know what "fair use" means and what your responsibilities are when it comes to copyright, you need to learn. As the saying goes, ignorance is no defense. It can cost you-big time-hundreds of thousands of dollars and your reputation.

The new twist is this: As I understand it, Shepard Fairey is actually defending his right to appropriate the image.

Here is a good resource page from Harvard's Law School..

And here is the current case I am referring to...

Here is Shepard Fairey's web site...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Becoming a Graphic Designer


Illustrator Ronald Kurniawan and his dog literacy campaign


I had not run into Ronald Kurniawan's great work until the other day, his illustrations are superb.

The West Hollywood Book Fair Poster...

Another great example for a Folgers ad...

Ronald Kurniawan's web...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Getting It Printed...


Should you start your own design business?

As we go through this rough spot on the financial road, I'm sure there are plenty of folks in the job market who are considering going out on their own.

That fact reminded me of a rather profound (to me) insight I learned years back from Michael E. Gerber the author of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It.

The crux of it is this: being highly skilled at what you do does not necessarily translate into being successful at running a business based on that skill.

That's all I'll say-the book was written in 1995 so you'll have to determine for yourself how relevant Gerber's solutions are today. I just point you to it because, as a business owner, I think it is an important point to consider if you are contemplating starting your own business or if you are trying to figure out how to make your existing business more successful. Hope it helps.

Reading Chapter 1 with get you right to his point...,M1

Here's the author's site...

In the Ideabook Design Store: FontHead Typefaces...


The 2009 who's who of web design and ui

Who do you think are the most influential web designers and user interface engineers of the day? Here is the beginning of my list. Who am I missing?

Mark Boulton @

Douglas Bowman @

Andy Budd @

Dan Cederholm @

Andy Clarke @

Jeff Croft @

Jon Hicks @

Molly Holzschlag @

Shaun Inman @

Steve Krug @

Cindy Li @

Eric Meyer @

Cameron Moll @

Jakob Nielsen @

Veerle Pieters @

Dan Rubin @

Jason Santa Maria @

Dave Shea @

Steve Smith @

Jonathan Snook @

Jared Spool @

Bryan Veloso @

Khoi Vinh @

Lynda Weinman @

Jeffrey Zeldman @

In the Ideabook Design Store: Design-It-Yourself: Graphic Workshop...


Edwin Fotheringham's illustrations are both old and new

You'll find Edwin Fotheringham's illustrations all over the web and on everything from books to billboards. Stylistically they are (to me), at the same time, both old and new. Love his web design (last link).

A retail application...

an editorial example...

His web portfolio...

In the Ideabook Design Store: Moleskine Notebooks...


Is the smile (logo) the new frown?

This is nothing short of bizarre. Within the last month or so three major companies have introduced logos reminiscent of's well known mark. What the heck is with that?

If you doubt it, here are some references:

A Kraft Foods news release reads, "Starting today, people around the world will begin to see the new identity that deliciously features a smile, the natural reaction to delicious foods and experiences, and a colorful flavor burst."

And, if you look at the what is reported to be the original pitch on the Pepsi logo, (here) you will see the reference to the faces (and smiles) beginning on page 22.

Many sources (in 2000) pointed to documents that explained how the logo "depicts the ultimate expression of customer satisfaction--a smile."

To be fair, I was unable to find any official or semi-official mention of a smile on the Jack in the box logo, I leave that for you to decide.

I don't mean to imply there is something unethical happening here, I just hope a discussion of this will keep others from repeating the same idea yet again.

Kraft Foods...

Jack in the box...



In the Ideabook Design Store: The Copywriter's Handbook...


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About the briefing

I try to remain as objective as possible about the information I share here. Unless otherwise stated, I receive no compensation from the organizations and people mentioned except for occasional product samples.

Comments? Suggestions? Write me at [email protected]

> Chuck