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Duck � l’brand

You know who I don’t like? That guy. That actor who squints a lot and speaks, well, screams, in that annoying squeaky, whiny voice. His roles are this loser type who gets bossed around, even when he’s the boss. You know who I’m talking about, right? I don’t like him. You know what else I don’t like? That duck. That one, that walks into bars, offices, steam rooms and gets ignored. The one that screams the name of that company that who knows what they do. I don’t like that either.

It turns out, that guy is the voice of that duck.

And that duck — the Aflac duck — has become quite famous and, in good branding terms, quite equitable. In quantitative analysis that translates into: increased brand recognition from 12% to nearly 90% following its introduction in 2000. Not bad, however, consumers still weren’t certain about what Aflac did.

AFLAC stands for: American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And what makes them different from all other insurance companies? Dan Amos, Aflac Chairman and CEO says, “For years, we have dedicated ourselves to serving the immediate need of our customers by providing cash benefits to help with expenses not covered by primary health care insurance.” Somehow their logo did not represent that… at its most rudimentary it at least said family:

aflac_old_logo.gif

Last Thursday, December 2nd at Aflac’s headquarters in Columbus, Georgia, they did away with that old, stodgy logo and, in good spectacle fashion, revealed the new logo. Christopher Boyce, staff writer for Columbus’ Ledger Enquirer, reports:

After speeches by several company officers, Amos and the others gathered on stage as thick fog crept from behind a black curtain. After the crowd cheered in frenzied anticipation of a 3-2-1 countdown, Amos pulled a rip-cord that triggered fireworks. Then the curtain dropped revealing the 10-foot-high Aflac sign, as R&B star Usher’s hit-song “Yeah” blared.

It is rare when an advertising campaign drives a company’s corporate identity, even rarer when a mascot becomes the identity.

aflac_logo.jpg

Aflac’s new logo, designed by Futurebrand, completely exploits the unnamed duck’s popularity and, just like in the ads, the duck seems to be sticking its head where it doesn’t belong. However, that is not entirely bad, I think. Laura Kane, a representative for Aflac, said “We want to be a company that’s more approachable. To strengthen and reinforce the brand promise that Aflac is there for consumers.” In that frameset, the duck certainly seems appropriate.

Typographically, the logo is friendlier, stronger and has much more personality than the prior AIGA-looking wordmark. There is a very interesting use of counter-form with the duck being built from the space around it. It is nicely detailed, but to my chagrin, looks shyly weak in its black and white iteration. Of interest, is a comment by Al Johnson, Aflac’s second vice president of branding and advertising, “We took a look at over 140 Aflac ducks and 200 logos. We wanted it to drive the demand idea. But copying the Aflac duck doesn’t make a new logo.”

Ultimately, this rebranding is about the duck and who can blame them? Slated for its Hollywood debut in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events with a cameo role, its own line of products and a pinch of controversy with the United Poultry Concerns it’s only natural to ride the wave, even if not everybody agrees. Tony Spaeth, on Identityworks, oddly questions the move, “Did anyone think about a name change? It might have enabled�advertising with greater focus on product benefits than on its own cleverness.” A new name would have completely erased four years of growing recognition built by the duck and the duck itself would be rendered useless. And if branding has taught us anything it is to not ignore what the consumer recognizes. And, sometimes, I don’t like that either.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 2161 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Dec.06.2004 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
sheepstealer’s comment is:

Call the icon police. FutureBrand's drop-shadow, 3D, gradient tools must be confiscated. In the name of good design, this can't continue.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:26 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Every Since Debbie Millman's

Editorial on Identity and Brand Character's of

yesteryear. I've been hoping to see the return

to animated characters as Brand.

Wasn't sure about Snoopy for MetLife. That's been a success. There are many other(s).

The Lizzard for Geico.

The new Identity featuring the Duck for Aflack.

Will serve them well.

Better than the old Identity on many aesthetic

levels. To numerous to mention.

No Doubt the television commercials are hilarious.

Now the Identity adequately support and represent

those GREAT commercials.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:35 AM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

This is a very strong example of the cart leading the horse, but the horse may end up drinking the water, so who cares?

Wait, I think my metaphor fell apart.

My point is that Aflac, a company that was no one to anyone, is riding their huge wave of recognizability to notariety. Frankly, even though I question the whole process in the long term, they're building a short term bedrock of identity and branding that, if handled properly, will provide the foundation for long term development and entrenching in people's minds. Ultimately, the logo does exactly what they want and gets them there in a way that'll draw attention.

I think the only real argument against this is that the phenomenon of rebranding becoming news and therefore advertising is cheapening rebranding and the use of identities. The weaknesses of this logo are sure to be brushed off, because it can be refined or just rebranded in a few years (because no one will notice, they'll say). Strategy is giving way to tactics, and I'm not sure if that's indicative of poor design/advertising practice, or the high-turnover commoditizing* of identities.

However, I applaud their cohesive thinking and effective use of design in the short term, at the very least. Many companies, like Sears, engage in toothless rebranding, and others, like MBNA, engage in seemingly nonsensical branding that's disconnected from the reality of what they do and where they've been.

At first glance, I think it's a good direction (3D issues/B&W translation aside).

*Commodity: A generic, largely unprocessed, good that can be processed and resold.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:42 AM
David Cushman’s comment is:

Have you heard Gilbert on Howard Stern? When he sits in on the news, it's the funniest hour of radio I've ever heard. A little off topic, but...

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:42 AM
steve’s comment is:

if I am not mistaken, Gilbert broke his contract and sued them for the rights to the voice over of AFLAC on a duck.This is why all commmercials within the past year or two the duck doesnt actually finish saying the word "AFLAC", it always gets cut off or fades out right near the end. he made a ton of loot on that gig.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:42 AM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

Hi all. This will be great for Aflac and the team here really has done and continues to do an outstanding job.

I will try to have Michelle Matthews, the lead designer, provide some insight and answer questions.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:50 AM
marian’s comment is:

What amuses me about this is that I imagine where this came from: some ad guys are sitting around with this new contract and they're saying "AFLAC? What the hell are we supposed to do with that? It sounds like a noise a duck would make." A joke becomes an idea, an idea becomes a campaign, a campaign becomes an identity>a logo>a brand.

Kinda like Scientology.

Anyway,

we have dedicated ourselves to serving the immediate need of our customers by providing cash benefits to help with expenses not covered by primary health care insurance

If getting that message across is still a goal, they're going to have to teach that duck to speak a little more articulately, annoying actor or none. Achieving so-called brand recognition is one thing, depending on what it's recognized for. Far from changing their name, they should be changing their line of business: to poultry farming or bathtub toys. They'd make a killing.

All this to say, there's nothing wrong with incorporating a mascot duck into a logo. However, it seems they still have some other stuff to think about.

On Dec.06.2004 at 11:58 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

cute

On Dec.06.2004 at 12:18 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

It's certainly a lot friendlier than the previous family of four Aflac logo. Since the times are a changing, was there guidelines for animating the mark? Is the duck allowed to speak when it's part of the logo, or does it move and talk only when it's a full body - and why doesn't the duck have a name (or does it)?

On Dec.06.2004 at 12:46 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> If getting that message across is still a goal, they're going to have to teach that duck to speak a little more articulately, annoying actor or none.

I think that is part of the plan/goal.

> Have you heard Gilbert on Howard Stern?

Yeah, he can actually be funny when he is not overacting.

On Dec.06.2004 at 01:14 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

This has been begging for a re-design for some time. I don't disagree with the strategy of taking an advertising icon and adopting it as your identity. Ninety-percent recognition is awfully hard to argue against. As Marian and others have mentioned, the challenge is to move beyond simple name recognition to mission and product understanding. if anything, this looks like a mature, strong organization, and that will engender more consumers to take a longer look. I like that they didn't continue the all-capital letters.

If I have a gripe, as I always must, it's about the shading. I'm not a fan of the gradient logos. I'd love to see a hard-edged version of it. The drawing is simple enough that it could probably work. Also, readability at small sizes is a bit difficult because the duck obscures the 'l' too much.

On Dec.06.2004 at 01:48 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I like that they didn't continue the all-capital letters.

Yes, I think that was a good move as well. Now, Aflac doesn't stand for something, it is something.

From the same Ledger Enquirer article:

"The name was switched to a capitalized first letter A with the flac in lower case letters. [Snip]. Johnson said the change was to make the company more personable, giving the company a 'first name'."

On Dec.06.2004 at 01:54 PM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Say, anybody wanna buy a cute duck icon for their logo? I'm drawing ducks this week....

On Dec.06.2004 at 02:43 PM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

I'm reminded that FutureBrand also re-designed the UPS logo, gradients, Rand-hacking and all.

Hostile takeover of corporate identity by gradients anyone?

On Dec.06.2004 at 02:51 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

I'm curious whether the 'Aflac' was specifically designed to stand on its own, in anticipation of the duck 'ducking out' at some future point.

It's simultaneously the strongest (recognizable) and weakest (signifying nothing, gradients) part of the logo at this point. The handling of the Duck, as a general icon/concept, from here on will determine which it ultimately becomes. To me, it just seems designed to eventually move out of the way.

On Dec.06.2004 at 03:17 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

The "it" I'm referring to is the duck, not the name. If that wasn't clear.

On Dec.06.2004 at 03:18 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> To me, it just seems designed to eventually move out of the way.

Based on my tremendous powers of speculation — and stemming from the "we saw 200 logos" comment — I would venture to say that the nice typographic logo was originally presented by itself, with the duck integrated afterwards based on feedback… just sayin', not factin'.

On Dec.06.2004 at 03:22 PM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

I was actually going to say I think the typography is actually pretty poor. I mean, all the letters dont seem to work very well together. I wonder what the notch in the bar of the A is about, not to mention the fact that the A's width is very close to the lc width, making the A look slightly thinner. and the lc l is very blocky, even with the rounded corners, compared to the rest of the letters. I would have expected to see a tail or something on it to soften it more (not that I would see it, since its hidden behind the duck).

On Dec.06.2004 at 03:44 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

'There is a word in Newspeak,' said Syme, 'I don't know whether you know it: duckspeak, to quack like a duck. It is one of those interesting words that have two contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it is abuse, applied to someone you agree with, it is praise.'

— George Orwell 1984

On Dec.06.2004 at 03:58 PM
Kippy’s comment is:

"Ducks - They are generally only mentioned in conjunction with the hens, and, just like the hens, are portrayed as being less intelligent than the other animals. The book also states that the Ducks, along with the Sheep and the hens, were on the lower end of the intelligence scale - completely incapable of grasping the full ideas of 'animalism'."

- Newspeakdictionary.com on the role of birds in Animal Farm

On Dec.06.2004 at 04:38 PM
Tan’s comment is:

You know, so many large corporations create brands that are so serious these days. As a result, their logos are either bland and uncommittal, or cold and intimidating. It's no wonder that there's growing contempt and disconnect between corporations and their consumers.

So it's nice to see a company take a different tack. Aflac's new logo is fun, cartoony, even silly. And in this case, I love silly — 3D gradient and all. For Pete's sake, it's just a duck, so why not make it fun and animated?

The only thing I question is the typeface. It looks a little bit like Microsoft Cronos. Blech! The kerning is visually off as well — the f-l gap could have been more tightened. And could the TM be any freaking bigger? What the hell?

On Dec.06.2004 at 05:15 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

The don't show the ads here in the UK, but I rather like this logo. In contrast to Tan, I think the TM is very nicely placed.

Two thoughts. The first also contrasts with Tan, but not on purpose. He posted while I was writing.

1

This is no. about 237 in the list of financial/insurance/boring companies exchanging a hard & serious logo for a warm & fuzzy one. In several years' time the last one (Joe Bob's bank & cafe) will make the change. Exactly six months later the first one will decide it's time to re-logo with something hard & serious, "something that inspires confidence in our strength & stability."

2

There are actually a lot of gradients (or the appearance of gradients) in the real physical world and in cartoons. Is it really such a bad thing, now that technology allows us to do it, to create logos that are more realistic or illustrative?

Or what if vector gradients are not the cause of gradients? What if today's tools simply allow what is already in designers' heads to be made manifest? Maybe it's sort of a Star Wars Episodes 1-3 situation - designers were just waiting till they could do it right. (Not that I think Jar Jar Binks should have ever been let out of Lucas's head.)

On Dec.06.2004 at 05:44 PM
Valon’s comment is:

Yea I don't get it why many of us have a problem with gradients, shadows, and more humane shapes. I think all of it works great. Even TM becomes part of the logo and not just something that needs be there for some reason.

UPS logo took a lot of criticism when it first came out, but look at it now it still stands strong.

And I don't think we should worry about how the logo will look in black and white. We don't really see anything in black and white anymore. My fax machine stays idle for the most part.

On Dec.06.2004 at 10:05 PM
Michael B.’s comment is:

When the Friar's Club has a roast, Gilbert Gottfried usually goes last, and quite reliably kills. He is a comedian's comedian.

On Dec.06.2004 at 11:46 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>He is a comedian's comedian.

...or a roasting duck. sorry

On Dec.07.2004 at 04:26 AM
jo’s comment is:

I'm in that 10% that didn't recognize the Aflac duck... until I got Aflac insurance just about a month ago. Ding! The light bulb went on.

I'll echo the concerns/observations about corporations trading serious-looking logos for warm fuzzy ones. There's something insidious about a company that creates a customer-friendly face and underneath it all is a maze of bureaucracy. It's like the witch with her candy-house, luring in the little children...

But I'm not saying that Aflac is like that... rather that those warm-fuzzy logos sound two signals in my head simultaneously: 1. "Hmm, they seem concerned about me..." and 2. "Hmmm, they look too friendly, too good to be true."

Anyone else feel that way?

On Dec.07.2004 at 09:09 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Yea I don't get it why many of us have a problem with gradients, shadows, and more humane shapes.

Next thing you know, companies will be taking pictures of their CEO (mascot, building, product or other "real" thing associated with the company) against white backdrops, printing it on letterhead and calling it a logo. If that's the way we are headed with all these ultrarealistic logos, fine, so be it but part of the challenge (and purpose) of a logo is to be simple, to be a distilled visual representation of a company to be reproduced in as many mediums as possible under any condition. A cheap newspaper, running on, say, an 85 line screen will make the Aflac logo look pretty… well, in good client-speak, it will not pop. Just two days ago Bryony asked me, point blank, why I got so upset about logos with shadows and gradients. And you know what? I just do.

> My fax machine stays idle for the most part.

That argument is totally unrealistic. Faxes are still very much in use.

On Dec.07.2004 at 09:21 AM
Valon’s comment is:

...but part of the challenge (and purpose) of a logo is to be simple, to be a distilled visual representation of a company to be reproduced in as many mediums as possible under any condition.

I absolutely agree with that, however it's nice to see variations and experimentations once in a while. Aflac logo is NOT on top of my list of favorite logos, but the process on how it came to be is quite interesting.

As for gradients and shadows: most of new logos are being developed like that. Starting with UPS, new AOL logo, and now Aflac.

I have to say though Photoshop Bevels in a logo are definetively a NO.

...Faxes are still very much in use.

Maybe I exagurated in a broader sense, however it's true that my fax machine stays idle. All documents — I receieve and forward via PDF:

Proposals - PDF

Service Agreements - PDF

Approvals - PDF

Invoices - PDF

From there, they go straight to a Color Printer.

But, Armin, I absolutely believe that nothing surpases IBM logo, because of the issues you mentioned above: ...but part of the challenge (and purpose) of a logo is to be simple, to be a distilled visual representation of a company to be reproduced in as many mediums as possible under any condition.

On Dec.07.2004 at 10:45 AM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

My problem with gradients and this ultrarealistic logo design is that its essentially slick packaging for a product that isnt as good as a simple, effective logo.

Case in point: I received a card in the mail from my ups carrier saying that they couldnt deliver to my address (dont get me started, a new logo doesnt change the fact your service sucks). They obviously werent going to pay for a high line screen on that kind of material, so it was a flat one-color version of their new logo. Have you ever looked at that thing without the gradients? Its boring, and has lost all the intricacy and hinting the Rand version had (which I admit was outdated and had to be revised). It might asd well be a logo for a tax service. My point being that Future Brand obvioulsy sold it with this nice gradient, a woodgrain map and 3d sculpting. But that doesnt replace the fact that the mark is not any better without them.

I somehow doubt Aflac will be paying for high line screens for every envelope they mail out to every client. Honestly, I bet thats where most of their consumer clients see their logo. So the public wont even be seeing the way the logo was intended to be seen. To me, thats not thinking ahead about the design. All the gradients in the world wont sell me on a poor logo.

Maybe there will come a day when the cost of prinitng logos with gradients will be non-existent, but that time certainly isnt here yet. And a logo in its most stripped-down application is what is most important to me.

On Dec.07.2004 at 11:00 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Here's an example of why I think it doesn't matter that lots of logos don't look good when badly printed in 1 colour:

BT (British Telecom) has a newish logo of muticoloured circles orbiting a sphere. It looks terrible badly printed just in blue on my phone bill. But when I see my phone bill or the miniscule logo on the website that's not usually what I "see". What I usually "see" is the giant colour-saturated version of the logo on their vans or the nicely printed version on their glossy brochures. Unless I'm really looking, the little crap version just makes me think of the big real version. Like me, most people aren't observing their phone bills, they are just identifying who they are from.

Another example: My mobile phone has a lo-res 256 colour screen. When I turn it on I think, boy what lousy logo Virgin Mobile has. Not because of the lo-res sorta colour screen but because it's a lousy logo. Again, I'm not "seeing" the pixelly version on my phone I "see" the one in their slick silver & red booklets.

Only designers care how the UPS logo looks on the the little card. I don't think we should stop caring. But if everybody refuses to make logos with gradients until we come to the "day when the cost of printng logos with gradients will be non-existent" we'll never get there.

Making a logo with gradients is not slick packaging. It is just like a solid line - a way of making a mark that can be use well or badly.

Design needs to move ahead (in this discussion, techologically) and if the cost of that movement is a few logos that don't look great on my phone bill or in the newspaper, I don't really care.

On Dec.07.2004 at 12:19 PM
Darlene Trowell’s comment is:

Personally, I liked the old logo better because it represented the company better. The old logo included a family in the logo, which conveyed a message. The new logo might be friendlier, but for some reason doesn't match the insurance industry. When I like of insurance, I do not think of animals.

On Dec.07.2004 at 01:21 PM
Darlene Trowell’s comment is:

Personally, I liked the old logo better because it represented the company better. The old logo included a family in the logo, which conveyed a message. The new logo might be friendlier, but for some reason doesn't match the insurance industry. When I think of insurance, I do not think of animals.

On Dec.07.2004 at 01:25 PM
szkat’s comment is:

i don't think it's just designers that have problems with gradients and drop shadows. these two, along with other overly simple quick fixes, are the first things a person is taught in photoshop or imageready. it's a poorman's solution to boosting an image when you don't know anything cooler.

like anything else, those effects and others have a time and place. but as Armin pointed out, anything can get a drop shadow. it becomes identifiable as a cheap trick. now even when i see the Google logo, i think oh, hey, drop shadow. you must have put hours in on that one.

On Dec.07.2004 at 01:28 PM
szkat’s comment is:

my point i guess is that i'm assuming UPS is beyond the capabilities of quick fixes and cheap tricks. it disappoints me that a gradient is all they could manifest. they know what a logo will do, how it will be printed. why wasn't that taken into account?

ps. sorry to post twice in a row

On Dec.07.2004 at 01:32 PM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

Jeff,

I think you mistook me for saying that I dont think gradients work period. I was merely saying that in most cases, they seem to me as slick packaging. A good logo is a good logo. and a logo that works well in one color can benefit from a nicely applied gradient. but i dont think it should work as a trickle-down, where the most advanced version is made and you then fix the one color version. they should be developed at the same time. I dont think either the UPS logo or the Aflac logo werre done in this way.

And I think its quite assuming of you to think that only designers care. If that were the case, wouldnt clients, who are the public in other circumstances, don't care either? I have plenty of non-designers friend who remark on things that catch their eye.

On Dec.07.2004 at 02:03 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Armin writes:

Next thing you know, companies will be taking pictures of their CEO (mascot, building, product or other "real" thing associated with the company) against white backdrops, printing it on letterhead and calling it a logo.

Like those hacks at Pentagram?

Identity for Brooks Baker & Fulford, from "Living by Design".

On Dec.07.2004 at 02:12 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Why is this logo necessarily a quick fix?

-

Maybe Weinberger, Matthews, et al at Futurebrand have come to the conclusion that if a colouful gradient-filled logo is used enough of the time in a high quality medium the low quality uses are carried without a significant dip in effectiveness.

I just don't think that "It doesn't work in one colour" is as universally valid an argument as it used to be. The other arguments that are being posted seem to boil down to "I don't like gradients." said Jeff provocatively

On Dec.07.2004 at 03:54 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

That letterhead is the first thing that popped into my head when I read that comment, as well. It's so striking, but I don't think that's their logo.

Hell, look at the new Bahamas tourism logo, it's got about 12 colors. But, if the designers make it clear to the client what the deal is concerning production and identity guidelines, then it can be great, even if it flouts some rules.

I think the Aflac logo will suffer or succeed from Aflac's use of it in the context of their organization, rather than its inherent goodness or badness as a logo. Look at their website to see how they're faring so far.

Logos don't have to be 'simple'. They have to make something immediately recognizable as 'theirs' and push the brand concept (or at least not get in the way of it). Ultimately, a decent logo is just a cattle brand, a symbol of ownership/responsibility. If it's a good one, it can influence perception in a positive/intended way. If it's a really good one, it is imbued with a meaning that surpasses the company and it becomes an icon for something more meaningful than, say, shoes, cola, or burgers. The company, as owner, is then imbued with these qualities, from which it profits. But this requires a strong company. If the company sucks, or their product is bad, then the logo isn't really going to change anything in the long run.

On Dec.07.2004 at 04:41 PM
Michael Lewis’s comment is:

I, for one, like the new logo. It imparts a sense of friendliness, versus the stark reality of the insurance industry. Two possible problems come to mind: How do you reproduce the gradients in media that doesn't accommodate such detail (like embroidery on staff polo shirts or on a football field at the [inevitable] Aflac Bowl, for example)? Also, the lightheartedness of the logo can become incendiary when it sits atop a letter denying some grandmother's claim. Maybe the duck disappears on mail delivering bad news?

On Dec.07.2004 at 04:55 PM
Kippy’s comment is:

M Kingsley said: "Like those hacks at Pentagram?"

Or KFC?

On Dec.07.2004 at 05:12 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Maybe the duck disappears on mail delivering bad news?

Maybe that's when they'll use all that leftover letterhead from the old identity. ::smirk::

On Dec.07.2004 at 09:01 PM
Jacob Kay’s comment is:

When comparing the two logos, the new one is quite clearly (for this day and age) a better choice.

I can't say that I agree with the gradient, and I can't say that the drop shadow particularly tickles

my fancy, but this is for the mainstream ladies and gentlemen. I really cannot think of anymore

ways the designer(s) could have made this logo any more mainstream-friendly and still keep some

look of professionalism. The more I stare at it though I find myself wondering whether I hate the

gradient or the drop shadow more. I think because of the small scale of the gradient, at least on the

web, that I actually hate the drop shadow much more. It almost looks as if someone took that

terrible old Eye Candy:Carve Filter an applied it solely to the L. I must say though I do enjoy the

font despite how I find it reminescent of font choices by popular drug companies.

On Dec.08.2004 at 05:21 AM
David Weinberger’s comment is:

I guess I'll chime in since we're talking about logo design in general.

"Call the icon police. FutureBrand's drop-shadow, 3D, gradient tools must be confiscated."

Shadows, gradations, transparency and modeling don't always mean bad design. Saul Bass used them, Pentagram uses them, Armin uses them, and you probably do too (I'm pointing at everyone.) It's ok. Paul Rand will forgive you.

Everyone go look at the last few logos you've designed and then open up a book of logos from the 70's. There's a difference and that's ok. Design changes over time. So does music. So does fashion. Is it ok to use synthetic fabrics or electric guitars? This is an old argument and unless you drive a horse and buggy to work, one that we don't need to have so often.

There was a time when all identities needed to be "camera ready", meaning they needed to be reproducible in flat black and often times shown in different sizes in the back of a standards manual. Now, with electronic distribution of brand assets, artwork can have dimension and transparency and gradations. Should there be a flat-black version of all identities? Of course, but it no longer needs to drive the full-color version. No way. As technology evolves, there is nothing wrong with design evolving with it. It is tough for many people to grasp. What was once one of the most important criteria is now one of the least important.

"part of the challenge (and purpose) of a logo is to be simple, to be a distilled visual representation of a company to be reproduced in as many mediums as possible under any condition."

Logos can do many things. Some logos show you what the company does. Some make you wonder what the company does. Others create a feeling. The list goes on. Many times, they are simply for identification. There is a big difference between identification and communication. The design of a mark should benefit the major communication touchpoints first. Meaning, for UPS, the mark should look best on the package cars, packages, television and website. If it doesn't look optimal on faxes and forms, that's fine since it is being used there for identification. No one will ever confuse UPS with another company when seeing the one-color logo. If a company's primary business is fax solicitation, their logo sure as hell better look good on a fax.

"A cheap newspaper, running on, say, an 85 line screen will make the Aflac logo look pretty… well, in good client-speak, it will not pop."

A cheap newspaper… will look like a cheap newspaper. Unless cheap newspaper ads are your largest touchopint, don't let it drive the design.

"My problem with gradients and this ultrarealistic logo design is that its essentially slick packaging for a product that isnt as good as a simple, effective logo."

Let's make this clear. The new Aflac logo is very simple and It will be great for them.

Oh, and Armin, please send Jeff Gill a gold star.

On Dec.08.2004 at 09:58 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Like those hacks at Pentagram?

Not exactly like those hacks at Pentagram, but close, yes.

Regarding the gradients. In this specific case for Aflac I was not bothered by it, I actually though (and said!) that it was nicely detailed, my problem with this logo was its conversion to black and white, where the only 100% black was the eye of the duck. The type is like 40% of black, way too light, and the gradient is a tad too subtle. Is this bad? Maybe not. Just my opinion.

And I have said all I have to say — and more than I should — about UPS in the grandaddy of rebranding discussions — my opinion remains mostly the same. And it has only been enhanced by their superiorly shitty service and attitude in a recent (or)dealing with them.

On Dec.08.2004 at 01:33 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

What does the duck represent?

Perhaps a smaller, ahem, bill?

To the fans of gradients; May we add a few to your car, wardrobe, or a touch of 80's glam make up perhaps? Maybe bring back fluorescents too?

Gradients are often just a poor substitute for substance. It's like a little touch of Vegas - add some bling to make it sing. Content or concept takes the back seat. After UPS, I would have called the design police and had their gradient license revoked. It seems to be the new replacement for the 90's orbital swoosh.

At first glance, I saw the duck in the new mark - exactly as it appears in the commercials - poking his head randomly where it doesn't belong. In this case it is in the middle of type that seems to be Hobo's dressed up cousin. Met Life was probably mentioned in the sell. So who gets to design the duck blimp?

Is it better than the original? Sure. Is it a fit with the current advertising message? Yup. But couldn't it be more? At least a highly visible company is taking responsible steps by employing design as a strategy for their business.

On Dec.08.2004 at 02:51 PM
KP’s comment is:

I'm reading the criticism and missing the the logic. I am interested in opinion, and a little research may add vitality to commentary that bluster cannot.

For instance, search for a "duck, close up" at Getty Images and note the size of a duck bill.

Also: Not Hobo, or Microsoft Cronos, just Cronos. Maybe even redrawn for this mark. Don't we designers give credit for that? From the Adobe Web site:

Created by Adobe type designer Robert Slimbach, Cronos is a new sans serif typeface family that embodies the warmth and readability of oldstyle roman typefaces. Because it derives much of its appearance from the calligraphically inspired type of the Italian Renaissance, Cronos has an almost handwritten appearance, setting it apart from most other sans serif designs and making it an effective choice for text composition. The italic design was inspired by early chancery style italics...

Good enough for OppenheimerFunds (link yourself, please).

And just what have we got against flourescents, or any color for that matter? Gradients are bad on automobiles? Please open a magazine and look at a car ad. How do those photos of cars get so sexy? Could it be dramatic light to dark gradations from the photographers lighting? Just two years ago, I saw color gradations in sweaters. It looked cool, now it doesn't. But calling gradients out as a tool to avoid in themselves is missing the point. It may seem decorative and unnecessary to the function of the logo, but so is the scrollwork around the buttons for posting to this site. (Apologies, Armin, I like the scrollwork).

Maybe the next discussion, Weinberger, Armin, et al, is the one where we post great identities that break the "rules" we so fervently believe in: solid B&W reproduction, consistency in use, simplicity, excellent typography, legibility, appropriate color (red or blue anyone?). I know we all can think of some. One is enough.

On Dec.08.2004 at 06:04 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Gradients are often just a poor substitute for substance.

I did say often, but not always. Just about 99% of the time. Hobo is not the type here - as I cited it as a possible dressed up cousin. There was another thread awhile back discussing “Casual Fonts” and individual preferences. I'm still waiting for fonts with benefits.

Good enough for OppenheimerFunds...

If Oppenheimer (or their designer) deemed Hobo appropriate, I still could not change my mind. However Cronos does work well for them, albeit a bit hard to tell at 72dpi.

I think good Rule Breakers string would be an interesting read. The issue against any trend is the tendency to jump on the bandwagon so readily - by default even - that the solution instantly becomes cliché. The trendy sweater is dated already because it was just that - trendy. The desire to imitate what is hot, new, or current ignores the rationale that creates enduring work. Where's the concept?

On Dec.08.2004 at 09:21 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Gradients are bad on automobiles? Please open a magazine and look at a car ad. How do those photos of cars get so sexy?

This further makes the point. Should I consider 20" spinners for my next logo? Pimp my ride.

On Dec.08.2004 at 09:30 PM
Steven’s comment is:

Overall, I think the Aflac logo is fine--not awesome--but basically it works well. It leverages the successful ad campaign, reinforces the brand, and puts a friendly face on a frequently impersonal industry. (But yeah, I too always have an immediate suspicion of any large company that tries to be too damn cute.) And while I am generally skeptical with gradients in logos (and not that keen on the new UPS logo for a number of reasons), this instance is sort of appropriate. I also think that that the duck is well executed.

However, I do have some issues with some of the details. Like Armin, I think that the B&W version of the logo is too wimpy. I'm curious to know if a version with black text and gradient duck was explored. To that notion, even when you take the color version of the logo (as shown on the SU site) and convert it to greyscale, it's a stronger version than what Armin is showing as the official greyscale version, e.g. 45%K to 40%K. I agree with Tan that the letter kerning seems a bit off. The space between the "l" and the "a" seems a bit tight in comparison to the space between the "f" and the "l". I wonder if a version with a "fl" ligature was explored. I also agree with Tan that the trademark has too much emphasis. It's treated like another character in the name rather than just a legal requirement. And on a picky personal preference, I'm not that happy on the choice of font. Also, one could perceive the logo as being Afiac.

But stepping away from the Aflac logo specifically and addressing the gradient issue in general, with all due respect to David Weinberger & Co., while I think it's fine to have an extra bling-bling version of a logo for some of the "major communication touchpoints," as professionals who are knowledgable about all the various forms of media, we should be developing implementation strategies that work well in all its various iterations. For me, a logo that has integrity in all its forms imbues that integrity to the company itself. Whether on crappy-ass 65 dpi newsprint, embroidered on a shirt, silk-screened on a mug, or whatever, the logo should retain it's central integrity and energy. And I'm not saying that all logos need to be derived from the old-school line art logo sheets.

On Dec.09.2004 at 03:03 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Let me jump into the FRAY.

David, you're absolutely 100% correct. Astute observation, good analogy.

K.P. Heartfelt appreciation for your comments and analogy.

Jeff Gill, much respect.

WE TAKE OFF THE GLOVES !!!!!!!

While I like to read sound and knowledgeable

discourse in reference to Identity and Design.

This conversation about Gradients has grown tiresome and undermine the purpose of this Identity and Brand Discussion. It happens everytime a Gradient is incorporated in an Identity; within Speak Up Editorials.

It appears to me, less critical analysis is given. Other than personal dislikes of a BONIFIDE technique which many people don't understand or comprehend.

The same people that dislike Gradients are enamored with Clip Art. Or appreciate its merit. At the same time, incorporate Clip Art into their Designs.

Personally, as a trained Illustrator and Designer.

That was not allowed to use a projector, nor trace images. Hand lettered and painted all display typefaces with india ink and an ox tail or red sable brush.

Within my wenty three year career I have never used Clip Art. And wouldn't hire anyone that use Clip Art.

I find nothing more discussing, annoying, loathsome, and decadent than a Designer that uses and appreciate the merit of Clip Art. From where I sit, Clip Art is a Cardinal Sin.

Certainly, none of the Designer(s) I appreciate and admire would ever incorporate Clip Art into their Design(s).

That's my personal PET PEEVE.

Aware, Charles S. Anderson has made the use of Clip Art Fashionable. And has made millions off selling Clip Art. However, that doesn't make it right. I love Charles S. Anderson. Always thought he had one of the most identifiable styles of the twentieth century. There's one aspect of his work I don't like nor appreciate. It's the Clip Art Aspect of his work. Whether Anderson is the author of the clip art or not it cheapens our profession.

Having said that, we as Designer(s) all have our personal likes and dislikes. That doesn't make an Identity or Design any less valid because we don't appreciate a technique or device.

I ask that we as Designer(s) offer more concrete, consise, and informed discourse in reference to a Designer(s) or Consultancies work.

FYI, Gradients as you call them are nothing more than Airbrush Technique simulated by computer.

Pre 1983 before the Macintosh and PC. Designer(s) and Illustrators incorporated Airbrush Technique to add another dimension to their Designs.

Gradients have been around forever. Within Fortune 500 Corporate Identity Programs. Saul Bass was the first to incorporate the technique.

In smaller venues, competitive sports, drag racing, lesser known corporations, gradients were always used to add dynamism. Because you didn't see or have knowledge of its existance. Does not mean the technique is meritless.

Generally speaking, most Consultancies or Designer(s) that didn't understand how to use the Airbrush. Didn't incorporate the technique because of the difficulty of setting the proper air pressure, cutting frisket, and mixing the proper viscosity of paint. All paintstakingly difficult to accomplish.

The Mac and PC has simplified the airbrush technique with the touch of a button.

I'll guarantee, anyone writing on this weblog. That has never used an airbrush, try cutting frisket, thinning and mixing paints to the proper viscosity, setting the proper airflow and keeping an airbrush from spattering. You'll have better appreciation for gradients. That's the technique used to traditionally achieve gradients.

Gradients are a technique.

Clip Art is a crutch for those that can't draw.

What's the lesser of two evils ???

The answer is a No Brainer.

On Dec.09.2004 at 05:19 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

NEW AND IMROVED

On Dec.09.2004 at 07:56 AM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

That is by far the funniest thing I've seen all day!

On Dec.09.2004 at 09:24 AM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

Okay PI, youve sold me. There is worse.

On Dec.09.2004 at 10:55 AM
Don Julio’s comment is:

The same people that dislike Gradients are enamored with Clip Art. Or appreciate its merit. At the same time, incorporate Clip Art into their Designs.

I'm surprised at such a blatant generalization from someone as insightful as Maven.

I can use an airbrush with the best of them - at least if I could find it and dust it off. I can cut Ruby and Frisket and wield a mighty Rapidograph with crisp .35 rules. And I am not a fan of clip art - so does that make me an anomoly? With a gun to my head, I would have to choose good clip art over a bad gradient everytime. There is a time and place for everything.

I would submit that airbrushing is the technique. Gradients are an effect - and too often a substitute for those who can't think and solve the problem without a crutch - not unlike clip art, actually. Gradients are like Zip-a-tone to the clip art fan perhaps?

To borrow from Feluxe... Is the rationale here that a polished turd is better than a flat one?

On Dec.09.2004 at 11:42 AM
Steven’s comment is:

Both clip art and gradients are completely acceptable visual techniques, when used in moderation in a conceptually appropriate manner. But these can be abused when technique sustitutes for content, style over concept.

While I find contemporary clip-art to be problematic, I think historical clip-art is actually fun to work with. By juxtaposing original meaning with a modern context, you can bring forth very compelling paradoxes or ironies. Frankly, Armin does a pretty good job with this strategy.

Everything has it's place. Context is key.

On Dec.09.2004 at 03:33 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

I would submit that airbrushing is the technique. Gradients are an effect - and too often a substitute for those who can't think and solve the problem without a crutch - not unlike clip art, actually. Gradients are like Zip-a-tone to the clip art fan perhaps?

Purpordedly Don, the Aflac Duck is an Illustration where pencil was put to the paper. Then the Duck Vectorized in Illustrator or Photoshop. Which is a Technique Plus effect within itself. Again, not a difficult task. When using Illustrator. Perhaps easier using 3 D Modeling software. Which doesn't appear to be used.

I would have to choose good clip art over a bad gradient everytime.

Personal choice Don, your cross to bear. Differences in opinion, personal likes and dislikes are what make us unique. Certainly, make us individual. There are some circles within HIGH ART and Design MILEU.

That would laugh at your comments. Where's the Authorship in Clip Art ??? How do you knowingly as a Designer justify and defend using something someone else created. For those unable to visualize and create for themselves ???

You stated you have all the accoutrements, arsenal and skill. Why not knock out the illustration yourself ? Man of your talent can execute an Illustration in minutes.

To borrow from Feluxe... Is the rationale here that a polished turd is better than a flat one?

Felix, Walks the Walk, Talks the Talk, and can Damn well Back it up.

More importantly, Felix would never, ever use Clip Art, He's a Genuine Illustrator and Bonifide Designer. Most important, Felix has the capability to manufature his own clip art. Meaning creates it and sell it. The same as Charles S. Anderson.

FYI, Don I had nobody particular in mind when I made my statement in reference to clip art. Actually was venting frustration of my personal PET PEEVE.

Personally, my Good Friend Armin Vit has Illustrated and Marketed his own Clip Art for those less fortunate than he.

Again, my point we all have personal likes and dislikes. My dislike of the use of Clip Art is no more valid than someone that doesn't like gradients. There's a place in Design for both.

To have or have not.

Personal Note: Bierut, if ever used Clip Art, don't tell me. You'll never get to work on Air Force One with me.

Let me Find Out !!!!!!!!!!

OSTRACIZED FOR LIFE !!!!!!!!! (BIG, BIG LAUGHS)

On Dec.09.2004 at 03:49 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Since David mentioned yesterday that I — like you, you and you — use gradients I have been meaning to put together a small cornucopia of my use of gradients, but time is of the essence and I haven't been able to do it. So yes, I do use gradients. Never in a logo. Once I used a "blur" and that was it. I use gradients mostly on web stuff, when I can really control it and make sure that what I see is what I get. Gradients are hard to trust in print, but when done well it is simply beautiful. As Steven has said, in many — not most — instances a gradient applied to a logo is an indication that the logo itself is not strong enough to have any substance to stand in its most simple form. Regardless of touchpoints, the UPS logo is a perfect example of this.

> Frankly, Armin does a pretty good job with this strategy.

Thanks Steven… I'm just plagiarizing reinterpreting other people's talented illustrations. You know what is scary though? That in 40-50 years designers will be using those annoying PowerPoint "people" just like we do all that CSA Archive stuff. That same naivete and nostalgia we see in them will be applied to this. So, here's a business plan: start collecting these things so that you can charge some nice Rights-Managed prices for them in the future… and you don't even have to go through the trouble of scanning them.

On Dec.09.2004 at 03:49 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Personally, my Good Friend Armin Vit has Illustrated and Marketed his own Clip Art for those less fortunate than he.

Have I ? !?

{Scratches head trying to remember…}

On Dec.09.2004 at 03:52 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

As Steven has said, in many — not most — instances a gradient applied to a logo is an indication that the logo itself is not strong enough to have any substance to stand in its most simple form.

In most instances very knowledgeable Designer(s)

that use gradients supply both, gradient and hard edge. And the client is given a choice based on preference and cost factors.

Fact of Matter, many weak Identities are enhanced by the use of Gradients. Which flat color rendered them incomprehensible.

I think the current New York Knick Identity is a prime example. Aweful choice of typography. In the age of Throw Back, now fashionable. The current New York Knick Identity is an Eye Sore.

An anomaly among Team Sports Identities.

Its in Flat Color and its Horrid. Perhaps a gradient would dress it up and cause me from throwing up everytime I look at. Many other Identities out there with similar problems.

In the case of United Way. The gradient was used for Exterior Signage and Interior Signage only and Tee Shirts. The flat color hard edge was incorporated within the Identity System e.g. letterhead, envelope, business card, etc.

Again, I argue its a matter of personal preference and choice of Designer.

Just think, what Identity would look like. If Paul Rand knew how to Airbrush.

Big Grin on my Face !!!!!!!!

Personally, my Good Friend Armin Vit has Illustrated and Marketed his own Clip Art for those less fortunate than he.

Have I ? !?

{Scratches head trying to remember…}

If memory serve me correctly. And correct me if I'm wrong. I remember at least two years ago. I remember you selling Clip Art on you weblog.

Which I took for granted, you were merchandizing.

On Dec.09.2004 at 05:47 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Again, I argue its a matter of personal preference and choice of Designer.

Fair ’nuff se�or...

Just think, what Identity would look like. If Paul Rand knew how to Airbrush.

Big Grin on my Face !!!!!!!!

A worried “Gasp” in response. Sounds sacrilegious to me. But much appreciation for the additional reflections {insert multicolor airbrushed ripple effect here}.

On Dec.09.2004 at 06:23 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Actually, the New York Knick Identity is not the Identity on their website.

Its whatever, the Knicks was using last year or year before last on their uniforms.

The funny looking NY.

Apologies, for not having a visual reference to the Identity.

The traditional Knick Identity on their site, I admire.

{insert multicolor airbrushed ripple effect here}.

Reserved only for True Aficionados.

You're more than likely more experienced incorporating someone else work. Who'd know !!!!

And the client doesn't care.

On Dec.09.2004 at 06:40 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

How do you knowingly as a Designer justify and defend using something someone else created. For those unable to visualize and create for themselves ???

I need to have this clarified, because I use other people's type, other people's illustrations, and other people's photography all the time. Is this statement made under the illusion that we all generate everything we use ourselves? This clip art conversation is obviously hitting a nerve, but the generalizations are just baseless. (I'm also referring to "people that dislike Gradients are enamored with Clip Art".) Clip art, which for me means Word and PowerPoint clip art, is crap, but sometimes crap is just the right thing. And the real sin of clip art is not the art itself, it's the mindset and the torturous visual misuse that comes along with it (thanks again, Microsoft).

Oh, and if you want to see a truly useless and poorly applied gradient/3D effect, look at the Gap's new tv ad campaign. It closes with a cheap-Photoshop embossed version of their perfectly good, very strong, flat logo. (sorry, can't find an image)

On Dec.09.2004 at 11:40 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Armin > You know what is scary though? That in 40-50 years designers will be using those annoying PowerPoint "people" just like we do all that CSA Archive stuff.

Chris Rugen > I need to have this clarified, because I use other people's type, other people's illustrations, and other people's photography all the time. Is this statement made under the illusion that we all generate everything we use ourselves? This clip art conversation is obviously hitting a nerve, but the generalizations are just baseless... ...Clip art, which for me means Word and PowerPoint clip art, is crap, but sometimes crap is just the right thing. And the real sin of clip art is not the art itself, it's the mindset and the torturous visual misuse that comes along with it (thanks again, Microsoft).

Chris, this is a difficult point to clarify because each one of us has a different ethical tolerance. First, let's start with a loose definition of what clip art is. Perhaps we could agree that clip art is pre-existing imagery that designers and art directors use in their layouts. This means anything from EPS files which come on a ten-dollar disc to a high-resolution TIFF image from a stock photo agency with a usage-based fee worth thousands.

I only agree with half of one of your sentences, the sins of clip art don't lie in the art itself but in the attitudes that surround its usage and economy. Over the past year or so on Speak Up, I've occasionally read blithe comments about designers going to Getty, Corbis or Veer for stock photos which struck me for their matter-of-fact "this is the first and only place I go to" quality. Concurrently, the photographers I know have been working less and going longer periods of time between haircuts.

I attribute this to a lack of education about the hallowed skill known as Art Direction.

Art Direction cannot be taught in design school. It is more an oral tradition than a methodology; passed down to an apprentice and refined through experience and networking. But since there are few art directors and many designers, the ethical ramifications of using stock photos are rarely discussed amongst ourselves. And since budgets are tighter and clients know cheaper imagery is available, stock agencies are doing well.

Because stock agencies are so empowered, they are beginning to force more restrictive contracts on photographers looking for a little extra income by selling stock. If a photographer used to be with Stock Agency A — which was bought by Stock Agency G; they could now find themselves beholden to a different, more onerous, contract by nature of the merger.

If they find themselves part of an agency with offices across the world, they may find themselves the victims of an international shell game. For example, an American photographer gets a bigger royalty percentage if their image is sold by the American office than if by the British office. To keep more of the money, the agency may deliver the image and invoice from the British office to the American client.

You got the job done, the client saved some money and the stock agency made a good percentage; but what of our fellow visual artists?

First they came for the Typesetters, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Typesetter.

Then they came for the Illustrators, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t an Illustrator.

Then they came for the Photographers, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Designer.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

My knickers certainly aren't twisted with this logo. In fact, I'm happy to see Futurebrand throw some money to an illustrator. (You did hire an illustrator, David. Didn't you?)

If you need any degree of convincing on the difficult ethics behind clip art or stock agencies, please spend a few minutes on http://www.asmphouston.org/webletter/008/prezltr.htm" target="_blank"> this site, or http://www.foodesigns.com/tweezer-times/sample/page6.html" target="_blank"> this page, or http://www.asmp.org/pdfs/bulletins/1999/dec99.pdf" target="_blank"> page 10 of this ASMP bulletin, or read http://www.illustrationconference.org/trnscrpt/trnsm02.htm" target="_blank"> this discussion about illustration.

On Dec.10.2004 at 03:44 AM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Ah, I see. This perspective adds depth to my own. I also understand a bit more where DesignMaven's coming from.

I think the next phase of a stock art discussion would be a discussion of oppressive and meager marketing budgets. In my own case, I would love to use custom stuff, but I have had clients that scoff at paying for illustration or photography at all. Also, the full-time internal marketing group I work for uses only stock images. It's all we have budget for and all we have time for. Then again, we also lack a real creative director, so maybe this is partially why.

On Dec.10.2004 at 09:47 AM
Pesky Illustrator’s comment is:

Using stock art instead of a real illustrator's imagination is like making a hamburger out of unchewable plastic...no, wait, that's what McDonald's does.....

oh well...

On Dec.10.2004 at 11:06 AM
Don Julio’s comment is:

You're more than likely more experienced incorporating someone else work. Who'd know !!!!

More than likely, not.

For one, I'd know. There are several occurences of competitors showing up at the same trade show with the same image in their brochures and booths because they sought to save a dime and went the stock image route, finding the "perfect solution", only to discover someone else "found" it also. Imagine the embarrassment and potential loss from such a guffaw. I'm sure it far outweighs the pittance saved. Plus the inability for the client (or artist) to trademark or own a distinctive image exists. So the client could eventually find out the hard way and this does nothing for the designers' professional reputation as well.

Bling = Flash over substance.

Gradients = Bling. Crafted or Artisans or not.

Both can sometimes be part of a concept, but are often misused. This reminds me of a few sayings about cars: If it don't go, chrome it. Or better yet: All show. No go.

Clip Art = Substitution for skill, thought and time.

Stock images = Clip Art + unemployment for the creative industry and reduced value of our services.

It's hard to complain that you can't get a raise if you choose not to fight the very issues that drive your earning potential down.

On Dec.10.2004 at 12:26 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

I sent Armin a Visual to POST to address all issues and concerns.

Hope you find it entertaining !!!!!!!!

I mentioned nothing about Stock Photography. A horse of a different color.

Stock Illustration has ended the career of many Illustrators. If the shoe fits...

Maven

On Dec.10.2004 at 03:14 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

I just came across this via Newsmap:

ANTIQUITIES EXPERT PROVES GRADIENTS ARE JUST EFFECTS

Prof. S. Nob's discovery of the Eboda tablet five years ago rewrote the ancient Aramaic alphabet. Today, using that alphabet he has published a new translation of the first chapter of Genesis, a translation that is sure to send shockwaves through the design world...

Here is the most stunning bit of the translation:

Then God said, "I have no ideas for the heavens above other than to call them sky," And Jesus answered, "Father, surely you will not leave a great white space for that is so old school. Truly I say to you that CreationShop has provided a gradient effect with which we could fill the sky with wonders." Then the Spirit of the Lord moved upon the keyboard to create a gradient far beyond all that man could imagine for it was a dynamic gradient manipulated by a complex weather algorithm. And God said it was very bling.

On Dec.10.2004 at 04:02 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

I can add nothing that would surpass Him.

It is Friday - let us behold the wonderous gradient-filled sky.

On Dec.10.2004 at 04:26 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

The poster below is an Ad Parody, Sabre Rattling amongst Friends within our Design Community. Whom often share like minded and on occassion adverse opinions.

Speak Up and its authors are not responsible for the content of this Ad Parody. The Parody is in the Fun

and Spirit of an online discussion of Gradients.

All Identities belong to their respective owner(s).

DesignMaven

On Dec.10.2004 at 06:03 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

I kinda dig that UPS mark.

On Dec.10.2004 at 08:20 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

I think I prefer the gradient version of the old UPS logo over the new one.

What would Mr. Rand say?

On Dec.10.2004 at 09:25 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Again, I bring up the issue of budget. Stock photos and clip art arise from the same/similar situations: money.* And a lack of it.

It's all well and good to talk about higher quality and higher standards and a higher commitment to fellow creatives, but the word of the client is law. I'm not spending my money, I'm spending theirs. I only say these things because I want to change them, but see no way to do so (other than getting another job).

*Also time, which is also money.

On Dec.10.2004 at 11:52 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

> Again, I bring up the issue of budget. Stock photos and clip art arise from the same/similar situations: money.* And a lack of it.

Chris, our job — and our duty to ourselves as visual artists/professionals — is to advocate for our fellow photographers, illustrators, typographers, calligraphers, mud artists, etc. Our responsibility to our profession and to those we work with is to share information, get to know each other, be open with each other, and to look out for each other.

It may not work now, but with gentle encouragement, constant reminding, and showing examples of how competitors are able to use commissioned work to enhance their message; you may eventually change the mind of those you work for.

There is no quick answer. But I can give you this wonderful quote that crossed my path recently (no idea who said it, though): You can't cut your way to greatness.

Yes, it's like banging your head against the wall. No, it's never over. Yes, it's exhausting. But because you've asked, I know you're up for the task.

I, and Design Maven have your back.

On Dec.11.2004 at 12:40 AM
Kippy’s comment is:

On Dec.12.2004 at 12:53 AM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

I, and Design Maven have your back.

Excellent. I may need you to rappel down the wall and crash into a meeting for me today. Should I just email you the address?

:)

::charges into conference room, pencil drawn::

On Dec.13.2004 at 10:12 AM
Don Julio’s comment is:

I, and Design Maven have your back.

Sign me up too.

“Fight the good fight every moment” Triumph - circa 1980

Laywers, doctors, plumbers, auto mechanics - any service provider can subscribe to quack, and hack stereotypes by industry. It is the professionals who speak up that redefine perceptions, even if it is just one client at a time. If you care about your profession - especially as a long term career choice - you have to always be ready to jump in the trenches. There are constructive ways to say “no” to the client. I've found it rewarding on many levels everytime it is necessary and they often have a greater level of respect afterwards.

To tie this back to the thread - it would be interesting to have been a fly on the wall through to 200 plus logos and conversations that led to the birth of the nameless three dimensional duck that started this discussion.

On Dec.13.2004 at 12:15 PM
Mark’s comment is:

I know some of you are not going to agree with me on this but I prefer the old logo better, It seems unique,eyecatching,it represents family,and immediately says "insurance".

Sure its serious but isn't that what insurance is really about?

It just works.

Now when I first saw the new Aflac logo my reaction was "sigh,dissappointing"

It just seems theres not much there just some blue common font and a 3d-ish duck and the gradients seem to be lost in the monochromatic colors of the logo.

Its predictable.

Now if you saw both of these logos out of the corner of your eye which one would catch your attention?

lowercaps with capitalized first letter colorful with duck?

uppercaps with light/dark blue family and black letters?

you decide. (opinion varying)

Now if the wanted to incorporate the duck they could of done this: LOL

Well I guess the "realistic family motif" thing is going away,sigh

at least Aflac's new logo isn't as bad as Arrow Pharmacy's new logo.

(You'll be shocked when you see this)

Old (before)

New (After)

On Sep.27.2005 at 06:03 PM
Mark Notermann’s comment is:

It could be a new band—“the 3 Tops

On Sep.27.2005 at 07:13 PM
Mark’s comment is:

It could be a new band—“the 3 Tops”

LOL,LMAO yeah thats actually a great idea!

plus it'll give more actual meaning for the logo.

Seriously what was Arrow thinking when they approved this design?

On Sep.28.2005 at 09:15 PM