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A bit of change. The monthly Design Links Briefing has been getting a tad longer lately so (if it's okay with you) I'm going to try dividing it into two parts--two e-mails, two weeks apart. If you have suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear from you via [email protected]

Highlights of Briefing 61:

> Visit a graphic design Disneyland
> Is there such a thing as design DNA?
> Logo design trends for 2009

And much more...Enjoy!

Chuck Green

P.S. Do you use InDesign, Quark, or PageMaker? See the bestseller ideabooks here:

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What graphic designers need to know about restaurant menu design--some preliminary research

I can't even remember how I got started looking for information about menu design. I do not currently have a client in the hospitality industry, although I have designed a few menus in my years as a graphic designer. What got me hooked on the subject was the fact that, as with many design specializations, menu design has become quite complex and multifaceted. To the extent, for example, that the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University offers a Ph.D. program in Consumer Behavior/Menu Psychology.

Design and layout of menus now falls under the umbrella of "menu engineering" along with the disciplines of (as defined on Wikipedia): psychology (perception, attention, emotion/affect), managerial accounting (contribution margin and unit cost analysis), marketing and strategy (pricing, promotion).

As an introduction to the subject, I'll share some of my preliminary finds. I cannot testify to the veracity of each source, I have not even read them all word for word, but I thought you might be interested or at least curious.

Here > Just for fun, let's start off with now NOT to design a menu...

Here > The Psychology of Menu Design from Restaurant Resource Group...

Here > The Ten-Minute Manager's Guide to Menu Design from R&I...

Here > A short article about menu engineer Gregg Rapp from Time Magazine...,9171,1200775,00.html

Here > A full concept design for South St. Burger Co. by Jump Branding & Design Inc....

Here > A case study from Restaurant Startup & Growth...

Here > Some history from the Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection, 1851-1930 at the New York Public Library...

Here > Comment on this post


In the Ideabook Design Store: The Web Designer's Idea Book




Free stuff for graphic designers: Three weights of Jos Buivenga's Museo     

Magic formulas that promise "more" readers or customers are hype. Valuable products, services, and ideas are true.    

Graphic designers: terms such as wax, stat, Rapidograph, t-square ring a bell? Must read

More great typographic illustration by Tom White
Free stuff for graphic designers: 4 chapters of Seth Godin's ground-breaking Permission Marketing


The (vendor) power of information marketing

Vendor Power! is a pamphlet designed to explain basic New York City street vendor rules and procedures in five different languages and to provide and overview of vendor issues. It is a collaboration between the Street Vendor Project, designer Candy Chang, and The Center for Urban Pedagogy. Pretty interesting.

Here > A story in the NYT about the Vendor piece...

Here > The actual Vendor Power brochure, side-two (2MB PDF)...

Here > Several publications (including Vendor Power) from The Center for Urban Pedagogy...

Here > Comment on this post


In the Ideabook Design Store: Tintbook CMYK Process Color Selector, on Coated or Uncoated Stock...


What every client, marketer, and designer needs to know about using controversy as a tool of marketing

Stirring up controversy, making a bold statement, and challenging conventional views are all valid ways of making a point. But using controversy as a tool of marketing is dangerous territory. If you use it, you should use it for a clearly defined reason that offers some substantial advantage.

Which leads me to an example of how not to use it. I came across it as I was looking through the newspaper a couple of days ago--it was a full-page version of this ad to announce the makeover of a city web site. (Go ahead and take a look before you read on.)

I couldn't help but ask myself, "What the heck do nude people have to do with the makeover of a city web site?" and, "What advantage does this controversial approach offer that outweighs the potential for narrowing or eliminating prospects for the clients product?"

I see at least three fundamental marketing mistakes:

Mistake 1: Assume that your audience knows what you know.

The first problem is that the ad speaks primarily to the existing audience. There isn't enough here to explain what is so who cares about the "new" version? An ad that speaks to the insider excludes the outsider.

Mistake 2: Don't say what you mean.

This ad is a misdirection. Everything it shows and much of what it says gives you no information about what the product is. "We've Gotcha Covered" how? Why a nude person? Why this location? Do you care enough about this anonymous product to make the effort to find the answers? Even more puzzling is that, as of this writing, if you go to site the ad points you won't see any nude people (thank goodness) and, if you search the phrase "We Gotcha Covered," there is not even mention of it.

Mistake 3: Be controversial for the sake of being controversial.

At a minimum, the sexual innuendo here sends a clear signal that the site is inappropriate for children--HUGE mistake. And in sending that message, it likely alienates the parents who already are burdened with monitoring every aspect of online life. It obviously slams the door (with relish) on any audience that doesn't share the same sensibilities as the ad's designer. Controversy has an insidious way of representing one narrow view, one sense of humor, and one way of understanding.

To me, good marketing takes a thoughtful, innovative approach to identifying and speaking to the greatest possible audience. Narrowing that audience is perfectly acceptable if you do it for a good reason. But if you narrow the audience simply because of your approach, your approach is wrong. Period.

All that said, I don't mean to pick on the folks who created this ad, I've made my share of marketing mistakes. It is simply the most recent case I've seen that perpetuates the "marketing is magic" theory--that, if you know the secret formula, you can get people to take meaningful action contrary to their own interests by being clever, controversial, or funny--it is a myth.

Your thoughts?

Here > The ad...[email protected]/3468055861/

Here > It's a campaign...[email protected]/3468868894/

Here > Comment on this post


Meet Christoph Niemann--the quintessential idea animator

When I was a kid, my father had a subscription to the New Yorker. I would always study the covers and remember thinking how amateurish the illustrations were. My young eyes did not appreciate the insight and restraint it takes to create great illustrations (I even wrote to them offering my services but never heard back).

Christoph Niemann understands whatever it is that equips you to see the world as a series of little stories. He is the quintessential idea animator.

Here > Abstract City, Niemann's blog for the New York Times web...

Here > Niemann's portfolio...

Here > Niemann's The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters ...

Here > Comment on this post


In the Ideabook Design Store: Color Harmony Guide


The invisible graphic design skill and how you hone it

The skill is curiosity. I call it a skill because it is a discipline that can be learned but that, to be mastered, requires dedication.

To produce work that really helps clients achieve goals, you've got to look at their products, services, and ideas from all angles and understand the salient issues as well as, if not better, than they do. That is one of the great challenges of our occupation and (if you're curious) one of its great joys.

If you are working a project with a copywriter, it will likely fall to the writer to do most of the research and to compile some type of outline of the important ideas and themes associated with it. The point is, whether there is a writer or not, you need that information--to create a logo, an advertisement, collateral material, a web site, even a trade show display or a banner ad. It is all but impossible to create sound communications design without it.

Following are examples of two useful ways of organizing that core information--a creative brief and a copy platform. Yes, there are as many definitions of these documents as there are models and these are by no means definitive. In many cases, you may not even compile the information for anyone but yourself. I simply offer these examples as a reminder of their importance.

Do you know of another model or have your own? I'd love to see it. (Use "Comments" below--I answer every entry.)

Here > A model for a copy platform...

Here > From an advertising perspective: How to create a brief that sets creativity free (1.38MB PDF)...

Here > An example of a creative brief (64KB PDF)...

Here > Comment on this post


How to design a logo and how to present it

Here is an excellent example of doing the work AND taking the time to present it in a way that shows it at its best. These studio LOOVVOOL is Tallinn, Estonia.

Have another example of great logo presentation? Share it with us using "Comments" below--I answer every entry.

Here > The Souperie--great design...

Here > The Kaerajaan Restaurant...

Here > Custom Furniture...

Here > Comment on this post


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


What is the purpose of a logo?

Let me make a simple point using a site in a language I do not speak--French. That way, it will be a tiny bit more difficult to find words that help to explain the significance of the imagery. As roughly translated via Google Translate, the first link shows a list of organizations and their logos associated with a creative media contest. I chose it because, you would expect that this type of organization would be particularly interested in branding.

My question is, what do these logos tell you about the organizations they represent?

Do they reveal anything about the organization's product, service, philosophy, derivation, purpose, or industry?

Or, from another angle, are these logos distinctive, versatile, memorable, durable, timeless, or symbolic?

My intention is not to ridicule--you have only to look at any random grouping of logos to see the prevalence of this type of white noise. I just wonder, if a client doesn't have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to imprint its brand on its audience, shouldn't the logo at least tell some part of its story?

I have had my fair share of communication failures--my point is simply, when we don't fight for meaning, we haven't done our job.

Do you have a good definition of the purpose of a logo? Share it with us using "Comments" below--I answer every entry.

Here > See the stack of logos down the left side of the screen...

Here > Paul Rand's thoughts on logo design...

Here > Comment on this post


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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