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.
The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.
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 cafe at Menotti’s Coffee is a third-wave espresso joint and a friendly little hub for the legion of caffeinated locals and a certain stylish subset of Silicon Beach worker bees in the heart of Venice in Los Angeles. The baristas are serious about their coffee game but with zero pretension, in spite of the smattering of hipster accoutrements. Sure, there’s a skateboard and fixed-gear bicycle propped against a wall inside the cafe, and there’s beautiful, curated art photography on the wall, but its presence seems more a natural byproduct of taste than strategic. Across from the cafeteria is the famous, epic-scaled Venice “Touch of Evil” mural. On a slow day, we’ll cruise over to Menotti’s on our bikes for a long break and a flat white cappuccino.
UK artist J Goldcrown has made these “Lovewall” / “Bleeding Hearts” murals of simple, spray-painted hearts part of the urban scenery of Los Angeles and New York throughout the past year. This one is painted at the entrance to Alfred Coffee, a popular cafe in the fashionable “establishment hipster” neighborhood of Silver Lake in Los Angeles.
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.”
As the pix below show, Tuesday was a “snow day” here in New York City due to the massive winter storm, dubbed Juno, that started hitting the city Monday afternoon.
But while the blizzard started out big, blustery and with very heavy snowfall Monday, the second wave of the storm that arrived later that night and on Tuesday morning was fairly mild and didn’t live up to the epic snowpocalypse (or snowmaggeddon, if you prefer) that was forecast for the city.
We were surprised how little snow had piled up in a bowl we had left outside on our balcony overnight. Still, NYC effectively shut down Tuesday and most of us spent most of the day at home with an official day off from the office, if not from the work itself (we still managed to hold two conference calls with our clients in Europe in morning).
With conditions milder than expected, we took some time out to wander around and go for a long walk in our downtown Manhattan neighborhood, enjoying the relative tranquility that comes with much of the city’s business being shut down on such an occasion. We made some stops along the way for Chinese steamed dumplings and a coffee, too.