Arial again? Limitations That Affect the Brand

November 18, 2016  |  Blog  |  Share

2016-01-11-1452522636-1689058-arial_again_1125Consistency is the most important thing to a brand. But for large companies (with hundreds or even thousands of employees) brand consistency is a difficult task, especially when those employees are expressing the brand via PowerPoint presentations on PCs. It is important that everyone working with some aspect of the brand, and presenting the finished product to others, stay on the same page (so to speak) in their use of typography.

The Key Question
Most business folks who use computers have limited access to anything other than the default fonts available on typical Windows and Mac OS machines. These fonts are simple, basic, and usually not beautiful; while easy to read on screens, they lack nuance and character. In that way, they are like washable polyester: very practical, but not something you want to wear to every type of occasion.

Font by Default
Nonetheless, employees will likely end up wearing those “polyester” fonts for a good amount of time.

That is because people use PowerPoint ubiquitously. They might love it, they might hate it, but they rely on it to build everything from boardroom presentations to quarterly business reviews. PowerPoint is so tightly woven into the daily workflow—and so easy to use, for those trained on it—it would prove extremely difficult to abandon entirely. Everybody viewing the presentation, even if they are in a satellite office on the other side of the globe, will need the same typefaces installed in order to view the work in its full glory.

From a creative perspective, PowerPoint has some serious drawbacks as a brand and design tool. Even if you use a fresh typeface for a set of master slides, everybody contributing to the deck might not have that typeface installed; unless the typeface in question is one of those defaults, the likely result will be mismatched, sloppy text.

In a small company you have more control because it is a “closed system”. Everybody is connected (and thus have access to the same font assets), and you can still have finely nuanced presentations that look great. When you scale to a large company it can be a challenge.

The Plot Thickens
Microsoft Word documents confront a similar font issue. Shouldn’t the fonts in those documents match the corresponding PowerPoints? Whoever is writing the Word document must default to a common font in order to match PowerPoint decks.

Rather than settle for the lowest-common denominator of default fonts, some companies opt for two tiers of fonts and creative assets: One for PowerPoint and Microsoft Word use, the other for high-end creative work. If a company wants all of its employees on the same page, design-wise, it must ensure that everybody has access to the same special fonts; and the bigger the organization, the harder it becomes to ensure compatibility across all teams and offices.

Some brand guidelines specify two fonts: the default or commonly accessible font for everyone, and the special brand font for print or anything controlled by the designers. The latter must be a compatible font to the default font, albeit better designed. In situations with multiple designers or creative professionals, you must purchase an enterprise-wide license to most special fonts. This can prove costly, depending on the number of users. Loading special fonts onto every employee’s computer is a task, and depends too much on employees’ willingness to comply with the instructions.

When it comes to building websites, it is more economical and easy for a designer to purchase a special brand font for the web, because the designer controls the project.

The Trap
Given the current trend in creating less printed materials, most brands have begun using a default font for just about everything. That is a trap for a new brand, which may start out with lofty intentions only to find itself tainted from the outset by compromise over its typography.

What Is the Solution?
Bringing up the issue internally may stimulate some collective willingness to open up to upgraded font options on computers (Mac platforms tend to include a more robust font library, but they also have limits). I hope that the world of PowerPoint and Word users becomes more aware of this issue, which could help bring about the change (and choice) we deserve. With thousands of wonderful fonts out there, we should not have to settle.

Janet Odgis is the President and Creative Director of Odgis + Co, an award-winning certified woman-owned design firm based in New York City. For 30 years she has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious corporations reinventing ways to define and express their brand. We Make Business Beautiful.

What is Abstract Visual Language?

November 18, 2016  |  Blog  |  Share

2016-10-10-1476105960-2278797-visual_language-thumb

How do you communicate without saying a word? We think visually. The way to our hearts and minds is through our eyes. Seeing and feeling go hand in hand. What we see is so much more powerful than what we read. Because of this, Visual Language is a powerful form of communication that has the ability to influence behavior.

Our ability to think visually begins soon after birth, when babies start to recognize distinct patterns in the world around them. Such familiarity and connection makes this form of identification an especially powerful tool. For centuries, it has formed the backbone of communication and behavioral influence, especially during eras in which relatively few people could read.

Why is This Important?

Symbols, images and patterns make up Visual Language. We know that certain visual cues will make an audience react in visceral ways. Because these cues or representations spark instant understanding and connection, they plunge the viewer right into emotion.

What makes a Visual Language effective, especially in a world in which our brains instantly dismiss so much? Our eye tends to gloss over environments that are too organized. When we see elements that are dynamic and in motion, on the other hand, we take notice; we may even feel uncomfortable. That’s the dynamic tension from which memorable Visual Languages derive their energy.

Your Subconscious Reacts

We see, then feel and respond physically. We filter our feelings through our experiences. We act and react based in some part on reality, and partly on learned patterns of behavior. We pay attention when something less familiar comes into our consciousness, something that is not resolved.

The combination of familiar patterns and symbols within a dynamic composition grabs your attention. It suggests a question while asking us to resolve or finish the story. By setting the view slightly off balance you create a dynamic tension. With this tension you now have the viewer’s attention. Once you isolate the source of tension, you’re on the road to figuring out what makes this particular language an effective one. How can you use this? Let me count the ways.

The History

Abstract Visual Language was utilized during the Russian revolution to get the attention of the illiterate for the purpose of political propaganda. It relied upon images combined with very few words to communicate ideas.

In 1920s Russia, the philosophy of Constructivism emerged in art and architectural circles. As a Visual Language, Constructivism embraces asymmetrical balance, along with geometric reduction and simplified palettes. In its origins as ‘art in the service of the Revolution,’ it combines assorted mechanical objects into abstract structural forms.

Within a few years of its creation, Constructivism was adapted by Bauhaus into the latter’s new world paradigm. A design movement based in Germany, Bauhaus centered on geometric purity and an emphasis on form fitting function. The paradigm influenced the emergence of Modernism, as well as the Swiss Style visual language.

Another related movement that came out of this is The International Style, which had a profound influence on graphic design as a part of the Modernist movement, impacting many design-related fields such as architecture and art. Its values of cleanliness, readability and objectivity are readily visible in the design, architecture, and products of the modern world.

Influenced heavily by Russia and Germany, Swiss Style—which also emphasizes simplicity and objectivity—achieved its own fame in the 1950s, driven by designers in Switzerland. Key figures in the movement included Josef Müller-Brockmann at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts, along with Armin Hofmann at the Basel School of Design. The elements of Swiss Style, including the use of a grid as a framework for organizing design, would go on to have a sizable impact on the development of graphic design in the mid-20th century.

Swiss Style also emphasizes asymmetrical balance, a distinctive use of negative space that creates dynamic tension, which engages the viewer. A simple example is the difference between the Gutenberg Bible (symmetry), which is equally balanced on both sides, and a Mondrian painting (asymmetry), in which order is established from unlike forms composed in space. Attention is paid to the edges of the composition, and how forms enter and exit on all sides.

New Swiss design acknowledges the grid and plays with deconstructing it to create a dynamic tension. Using line, shape, color and typography, the posters and books demand to be seen and considered. Modern Swiss, for example, is a little quirky, but ultimately subtle in its rule-breaking; these designers play with typography and composition. A Visual Language these days isn’t afraid to push boundaries, while still recalling what made its previous iterations so powerful.

All of these styles are examples of the use of Visual Language that connects with the viewer in a way that words could not. They work on a deeper intuitive emotional level. We have only scratched the surface on what is possible in creating an experience.

Janet Odgis is the President and Creative Director of Odgis + Co, an award-winning certified woman-owned design firm based in New York City. For 30 years she has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious corporations reinventing ways to define and express their brand. We Make Business Beautiful.

SOURCE: Huffington Post

New MobileMe phishing scam attempts to relieve users of login data

January 11, 2012  |  Blog  |  Share
New MobileMe phishing scam attempts to relieve users of login data

While most treat the holidays as a time for goodwill toward all, scammers don’t really seem to have gotten the message. Their latest tactic: a phishing scheme aimed at MobileMe users.

First reported by The Mac Observer, the scam consists of a faked email, ostensibly from Apple’s MobileMe team. It warns that a virus has been found within the user’s iDisk; to keep the virus from spreading, users are instructed to reply to the email with their user name and password. (You can see the full text of the email on The Mac Observer’s website.) Other variations of the email—one supposedly from ISP Frontier Communications—are also floating around.

It’s important that if you receive this—or any other questionable-looking email—you don’t reply to it; if you already received and replied to such a message, you should change your password immediately. Even if your MobileMe account is not be directly linked to your iTunes Store account, you may use the same password combination—and as bad as it might be for a scammer to get into your mail and calendars, if they get ahold of your Apple ID, they’ll have access to your credit card information, purchase history, and more. (You can change your password for your MobileMe account or Apple ID by visiting iforgot.apple.com.)

As a general rule, even if an email looks legitimate, you should never reply with sensitive information or visit a linked website directly through a message; if there’s an actual issue, you’ll likely be able to find it by manually typing the vendor’s URL into your Web browser. (Mac 911 columnist Ted Landau has a few more good tips on keeping yourself safe from scams online.)

SOURCE: Macworld.com

From TED Talks: Beware Online Filters

January 8, 2012  |  Blog  |  Share
From TED Talks: Beware Online Filters

An speech by Eli Pariser called ‘Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles’.  Algorithmic filters are driving our search (information) on internet and give us information what we want to hear and which is comfortable to us. We are not getting the wider perspective of the information or in short the complete information.