Yes, savvy reader, it’s true. Almost everybody’s favorite Seattle, Washington-based, international speciality-coffee chain has a design flaw in its familiar, if not ubiquitous, mermaid logo.
Can you spot it? Do you see it? What is it? Look closely at the logo. (And c’mon now — don’t Google the answer! We dare you not to! We double dare you!)
Got the answer?
Ok, spoiler alert, here it is: The logo is round and symmetrical. That’s not the flaw. It was supposed to be perfectly symmetrical, but it isn’t. The right side of the mermaid’s nose has more shadow. This was actually intentional. So, in our opinion, you can’t really call this a “flaw.” (But Adweek and others have called it a flaw.)
When the perfectly symmetrical version of the logo was reviewed, the designers felt that the mermaid looked to cold and lacked humanity. Adding that extra shadow on one side made all the difference in making the logo that bit warmer and friendlier.
Suddenly, we want to find the nearest Starbucks, use the restroom there, and then maybe buy a coffee. Or at least ask for a cup of water.
Our annual New Year’s ritual of doing some house cleaning and organizing, throwing things out and making room for all the stuff we got as Xmas gifts, yielded this small trove of matchbooks and matchboxes. We must have picked up these from various restaurants and shops because the designs struck us in some way at the moment we saw them. Each design is distinct and an exercise in branding. These matches are from the New York City outpost of the restaurant Mission Chinese; James Beach, a restaurant in Venice Beach; Esquelito, a jewelry store in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the Spanish word for “skeleton”; the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, New York; and Love Adorned, another jewelry shop with branches in NYC and LA.
The unthinkable has happened. Yes, savvy reader, bona fide post-modern rockstar artist and art-world darling Jeff Koons has collaborated with major, global luxury brand Louis Vuitton, installing his iconic stainless-steel inflatable-bunny “sculptural object” titled “Rabbit” in the brand’s boutique display windows alongside special-made stainless-steel balloon versions of the LV logo. Pictured here is his studio’s handiwork as it currently appears in the display window of a store in Newport Beach, California.
Ahh … And with that we say “Good-bye 2017! Hello, 2018! Happy New Year!”
Hands-down the the Hawaiian Airlines airplane branding is the sexiest ever in the goddamn history of the world. Period. It’s expressed on the tails of its aircraft as a graphical image of a young Hawaiian (we presume Hawaiian) woman shown in profile with a flower in her fair.
Seeing her image on the tail fin of a Boeing 747, you can practically smell the heady, fragrant mix of island flora and coconut oil, you can feel the embrace of warm sand under you feet as you sip a mai tai and let yourself slip into a drunken tropical stupor. Somewhere in the distance you hear the melty slide of a steel guitar and entrancing rhythms of gentle waves crashing.
Hey, Everybody! Regular readers of GlobalGraphica (GG) will have noticed that we haven’t posted to this site in a few weeks. And if you sent us an email recently, you probably haven’t heard from us (as it was, we were already way behind on replying to readers’ emails — we suck at responding to email, and apologize for that).
So where have we been?
In mid-June, we got brought onto a cool new commercial project at the last minute for the Japanese car brand Acura. Working with the brand’s ad agency, Mullen Lowe and a couple of production companies, we helped produce the world first-ever live augmented reality (AR) race, as well as some commercial spots for it. You can see the live-event video below or read more about it on CNET or AdWeek or in a bunch of other publications.
The project required a ton of work to pull off and kept us ridiculously busy for the better part of a month. Finally, now that the project is wrapped up, we can catch our breath, relax and get back to our passion that is GG.
The logo for Intelligentsia Coffee’s “Black Cat” Espresso is the head of a black cat. It’s a bold and literal graphic with class and style, rendered so that the cat’s head is seen from a 3/4-angle, giving it some visual dimensionality.
Intelligentsia has put the Black Cat logo on some of the various cups and saucers it uses at its various architecturally-inspired cafes. Transferring the branding across these is a straightforward 1:1 application of the literal logo. Sometimes, whether you’re drinking Black Cat espresso or not, you get your coffee served in one of these Black Cat-branded cups, and these look pretty cool.
But Intelligentsia has also created some variations of the logo and occasionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll get your coffee served in a black ceramic cup and saucer, where the Black Cat logo is rendered in a lightened gold hue. It’s elegant its knocked-out contrast to the black ceramic.
When you get your cappucino served with this black cup and saucer set, it’s kind of special. The black and gold add another layer of smart sophistication and a dash of mystique to the brand. That the cat is in gold instead of black is a deft touch that, for those familiar with the usual logo presentation, may be seen as an aesthetically clever and playful twist on a familiar and already likeable and strong visual cue.
All this further supports the larger Intelligentsia Coffee brand and reinforces the company’s reputation for great design and well-defined sense of style, whether expressed in the architectural design of its cafes or the form factor of its ceramic mugs or the high-graphical aesthetic of its coffee packaging and t-shirts.
The original location of the iconic and legendary bodybuilding mecca Gold’s Gym is a block away from the sands of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The painted logotype signage on its facade is faded, and that, coupled with the simple architecture of the building, suggests the gym’s vintage and no-nonsense austerity. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained as a bodybuilder in the 1970s and ’80s before launching his action-film career. A few blocks away stands a much larger and modern Gold’s Gym where the bodybuilding tradition continues.
Auteur film director Wes Anderson has produced an amusing short Christmas film (see below) as long-form commercial for the global Swedish clothing retailer H&M. It’s called “Come Together” and stars Adrien Brody as the conductor of a train carrying passengers through a winter holiday storm. The four-minute film is an exercise in branded content for H&M. Aside from a logo “bug,” branding itself and commercial messaging has been kept to a minimum at the end of the video. “Come Together” is quintessential Anderson in terms of style, editing, production design and cinematography, and it is as visually charming as anything we’ve seen from the director. Anderson has directed commercials for other brands in the past and you can see some of them online at AdWeek.
The curb in front of the Alfred Coffee in Silver Lake, Los Angeles has been cheekily employed as signage, and as such a clever branding device that bears the cafe’s slogan in stenciled white-on-black paint: “But First, Coffee.” Whether this guerrilla marketing tactic is legal is unknown. (We suspect it isn’t legal and they didn’t ask the city for permission.) In the extreme car culture of L.A., where people are especially attuned to the meanings of the city’s various color-coded curb markings, finding free, legal street parking can be frustrating. Alfred Coffee brings a welcomed touch of levity to the experience, as well as a reminder of our caffeinated priorities.
One more note … On the sidewalk is a purple stencil street art that riffs on graphic designer Milton Glaser’s iconic “I Heart NY” logo concept, but the graphical quality with this street stencil is muddled and it isn’t clear what the message is. But the “heart” part of the visual trope looks a lot like the face of legendary film actor Jack Nicholson as he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”
For decades mass-market juices and milk were sold in paper-box cartons, but in recent years all sorts of other juices and beverages have been packaged in new, cleverly designed containers as in the example below of beautifully packaged juices and water (the first time we’ve ever seen water in a box carton) at the Butcher’s Daughter restaurant and cafe in New York’s Lower East Side.
On our recent visit back to Tokyo, we picked up a bag of freshly-roasted espresso beans from Bear Pond Espresso at their cafe at On the Corner in Shibuya. We love the totally unbranded, shiny, silvery bag — it’s only markings are the roasting batch and date numbers.
Among these billboard postings on Broome Street in New York’s Lower East Side is an ad for local classical-music radio station WQXR’s “Month of Mozart” program. As in some of the station’s previous marketing campaigns, the ads make reference to contemporary popular culture and employ a clever pun. In this case, the phrase ” I Am a Deus” references American hip-hop star Kanye West’s recent “I am A God” song and Mozart’s name. “Deus” is the Latin word for God and forms part of Mozart’s middle name, “Amadeus,” which was also the title of a 1984 film about the famous composer.