Caribbean Connections

Ever heard of Digicel? Yeah, me neither – until a few weeks ago. When my eyeballs were saturated with their branding.

Upon landing in Haiti, I was surrounded, not only by a sea of people, but by an ocean of red Digicel signs. They are a company run by an Irish entrepreneur, who targeted Jamaica and other Caribbean islands (and has now expanded outward). You will look in vain to find much reference to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in Haiti. But you can hardly look anywhere without seeing Digicel branding. Day or night.

Digicel painted on walls. Digicel T-shirts. Digicel sun-umbrellas lining almost every street. I saw red all week.

While we, here in the first-world, have now turned to on-line/social as the new ubiquitous, Digicel knows its market. Ubiquitous is being on every wall, every sign, every visual. It may seem old-school, but it works. There are a couple of other cell providers in Haiti, but after a week there, only one stands out. Digicel.

One of my reference points for a mission house we went to several times was a couple of Digicel signs painted on a seawall. There was no escaping their presence.

And, even in the poorest of countries, cellphones are becoming common currency. When we ran a generator to power a circular saw, the workers plugged their phones in to recharge. Having money to buy new minutes was a big deal. Clearly, Digicel has latched onto a money-making service, even in the poorest of environments. A lesson for us all, when we think there is a lack of opportunity.

I’m sure there are many other brands operating in Haiti and the surrounding islands. But the major one I’ll always connect with Haiti is Digicel. I don’t know if I’ve seen such saturation before. Not bad for a company I’d never heard of!

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Pfizer unveils new logo!

I haven’t seen any formal announcement, but if you go to the Pfizer home page or look at this news release, you can see that (apparently) Pfizer has updated their company logo.

pfizer 2Pfizer1

The weighting on the letters is more even, the color is lighter – many of the old logo elements are the same, but there appear to be subtle changes.

Thus far, a Google search hasn’t revealed any mention of this…so, I guess you heard it here first (I’ve always wanted to break a news item)!

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Five in the Morning – Finale

swbeard1Yes, it’s true. Today, after nearly 100 Five in the Morning posts (including guest posts by other bloggers), I’m bringing the series to a close.

Why? Well, mainly it’s a matter of time – there are some other priorities that now require more of my attention. Creating Five in the Morning posts, as fun and fulfilling as it is, can be quite time-consuming. Plus, there is that existential sense that “it’s time” – major goals have been met of exposing people to a variety of great bloggers and resources, and other creative ideas are striving for attention.

Of course, the StickyFigure blog will continue on, as it did before Five in the Morning, so you can expect my usual brilliant insights and world-changing ideas right here – just not daily, perhaps.

A big part of the fun of Five in the Morning has been the interaction with you, the audience, and the participation of other bloggers who have guest-hosted. We’ve enjoyed guest entries from Cam Beck, Mike Sansone, CB Whittemore, Olivier Blanchard, Tom Clifford, Connie Reece, Chris Wilson, Lisa Hoffmann, Arun Rajagopal, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Becky Carroll, Matt J McDonald, Ken Burbary, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, and Doug Meacham.

And while we’ve pointed to plenty of posts from “name-brand” bloggers like Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, Jeremiah Owyang, Doug Karr, David Armano, Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Ann Handley, Valeria Maltoni, Shannon Paul, and other luminaries, I hope you’ve subscribed to some of the very smart, but lesser-known lights after seeing their posts featured.

If there is to be a “legacy” to this little series, my hope is that some of you with particular areas of expertise (PR, Design, Writing, Branding, Non-profits, etc.) would become consolidators as well, pulling together great posts (maybe on a weekly basis) for your audiences. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, and, done rightly, it can drive more traffic to your blog over time. I will happily link to others who pick up the torch and become info-scouts for the rest of us.

OK, so for your Friday, here’s a Fabulous Final Five. OK, Six. I never was great at math.

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Kiss the next hour good-bye. 2009 ReBrand Winners. Sweet bunch of links showing before/after. Seriously – your day of planned productivity is over. You are GND.

Using Twitter to land a job. Who doesn’t like a success story like this? With a nice passing mention of @prSarahEvans.

How do you keep customers happy? Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy, says to focus on the experience. And at the Brains on Fire blog, here is a fabulous example, with the spotlight on a local Whole Foods store.

[this space reserved for a designated non-mention of Skittles]

How much Money is $1 Trillion? The Anatomy of a Sticky Illustration. Nicely done. Hat tip: Cam Beck.

Give First. Amen. From Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixes of Separation blog.

PLUS: Tabasco advertising. No words needed. Hat Tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog.

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Thanks for tuning in for these 5 months of fun and experimentation. Oh….and I really don’t get up at 5 am most mornings. It’s really 5 (posts) delivered (early) in the morning. But while sipping my first cup of coffee between 5:30-6:00 am, I still get a chuckle out of all of you  thinking I actually get up early…!

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Five in the Morning 021609

fivesm

I hope you enjoyed the Five in the Morning guest posts last week! It’s my intent to pass around the Five spotlight (and link love) to two guest-hosts per week, so that we get the benefit of everyone’s interests and reading lists. Thanks to Arun Rajagopal, Lisa Hoffmann, Connie Reece, and Chris Wilson for helping out while I was busy “conferencing” last week!

Alan Wolk kicks us off this morning with a provocative post: Does Creativity Still Matter? Give it a read and add your comments, esp. if you’re an advertising wonk. Good stuff.

Mining the Thought Stream. Some thoughts on TechCrunch about Twitter’s unique capacity to reveal what people are thinking. Interesting.

Mashable‘s Social Media posts, all gathered together. Great idea. Warning: potential time sink!

How to Communicate Everything You Do. Can you condense your personal message into an effective introduction? Some valuable ideas from Dan Schawbel at the Personal Branding Blog.

The Brand New blog has been on a roll this month, with some great commentary on re-branding efforts, good, bad, and awful. Scroll down and enjoy!

PLUS – The Personal ROI of Social Media. A Sunday Muse.

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PLEASE NOTE: There is reason to believe that the Google/Feedburner changeover has created “issues” with RSS feeds for my blogs (and others). Here are the feeds for my three blogs; if you’re a reader, would you please re-subscribe just to make sure? Thanks!

:: Subscribe to the StickyFigure blog (that’s this one!)

:: Subscribe to the Steve’s Leaves blog (that’s my personal blog)

:: Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog (that’s a pharma-specific blog, for my consulting business)

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Five in the Morning 012009

5yellowSince it’s Inauguration Day in the U.S. we’ll start off with…

Obama, the new King of Branding (from Laura Ries). Barack Obama is not just our new President but a new type of leader, one like we have never seen before. Not only does he understand politics, but he also understands branding. Plus, she ties in the BlackBerry factor…

Don’t just dream. Do something. An inspiring story on William Arruda’s blog, about Mary McLeod Bethune. Sometimes we have a goal that for some reason or another doesn’t work and is not achieved.  Should we give up?  No!

Targeting the right…or wrong…social media influencers. Dead-on thoughts from Mack Collier at MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. Can you name a few recent examples of companies using social media to embrace, empower, and excite their customer evangelists?

Where would we be without lots of lists! Small Business Trends gives us two for today: The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List (you may find some new follows here), and a Top Blogs List. Thanks Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)!

The new Computer Science Corporation logo. I think the logo itself is pretty pedestrian, but the angled “projection” elements used in collateral materials is pretty decent visually. From that Brand New blog.

AND, just for fun – if you really have way too much time on your hands, every Super Bowl commercial ever shown. On Adland, via those Brand Flakes for Breakfast folks.

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Five in the Morning 011509

Will Twitter change blog designs in 2009? It’s already happening. Some interesting predictions from Rachel Cunliffe at Mashable (but she didn’t include her Twitter handle in the blog post!)

Charmin kicks butt in NYC advertising campaign. Such an obvious idea, yet so smart. From Jonathan Salem Baskin at DimBulb blog.

The Bull lives! Some brand identities are too powerful to let go. Bank of America preserving the Merrill Lynch name and logo. From William Lozito at the NameWire blog.

Speaking of logos, those Brand Flakes for Breakfast guys point us to a graphical depiction of all the United States (state) logos. Wow – what a variety. Some of these are pretty meh, and someone sold a lot of script font to a few western states. To me, the most visually memorable is Mississippi.

Facts Tell but Stories SellJeff Paro gives us a compact list of 20 typical “plots” around which stories can be built. Found on the Small Business Branding site.

And finally, the question on my StickyFigure blog yesterday – Are you Being Pecked to Death?

————- Swing by Friday morning to find out who our next guest-host will be!

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Five in the Morning 010609

Let’s talk creativity and branding today (mostly). One of the benefits of having an overly-full RSS Reader is that there is a constant tidal wave of great stuff to look at, and be inspired by. Such as…

Hijacking other people’s billboards with thought balloons. Reminds me of the birds that put their eggs in other birds nest. This is quite brilliant actually – pointed out to us by those Plaid folks.

A picture is worth 90% of the words. Or all of them. Great “iceberg” example from Brand Curve, and en even more stunning execution from the Ad Goodness blog.

This Montreal logo, brought to our attention by the fine folks at the Brand New blog, raises a constant nagging question in my mind. Really – does anybody but the in-the-bubble creative ad agency types ever really make all these connections about what the logo means?? I say that the vast majority of normal people can in no way discern the “intent” of most of these logos.What do you think? And, you also need to consider (says uber-designer David Airey) the cost of rebranding, with a tangible UK example. (oh – and you might also like this Brand New “Best and Worst of 2008” post about logos).

David Polinchock brings us a link to 50 strangely wonderful buildings, if creative architecture is where you itch. Pretty awesome stuff.

Who doesn’t like creative photography? See how this couple teamed up with a photographer to make some pretty cool engagement photos. From A Cup of Jo blog.

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Five in the Morning 121708

Let’s go visual today:

Logo fan? I am – great logo design is wonderful (and awful logo design is…well, awful!). Vote for some faves here at LogoFaves.

CrazyLeaf Design Blog presents the Most Beautiful Websites of 2008. Some real tasty stuff here. Grab a cuppa joe and explore! Dara’s Garden is very sweet. Here’s an interesting one from a content perspective also: BlogSolid.

A tongue-in-cheek tagline for a company/website that works – Don’t Hire us if you Want Average. Nice.

Also from aforementioned CrazyLeaf folks – Best Design Resources of November 2008. Especially nice for you web/blog designer types.

Classic LIFE images hosted by Google. You’ll recognize some of these iconic photos. Neat old stuff included.

PLUS – Haven’t had the privilege of meeting Todd Defren yet. But my opinion of him just went up 5 notches. And of his wife…6 notches! Very touching post.

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Discard this ACE

I saw a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal this week. The prominent logo provoked a feeling that was so contradictory to the company purpose and message that I was flabbergasted.

logo_aceOne glance at the logo make me immediately think of two things:

1. Disorder; and

2. Toys R Us

Unfortunately, the ad is for a global insurance company. And in these days of financial instability, I don’t think that a financial services/insurance company should give the impression that it is not serious. Yet that is what ACE Insurance does with this awful logo.

Surely these folks make enough money to project an image that connotes stability, seriousness, heft. This thing looks like it was whipped up in Powerpoint in 10 minutes by a Muppets designer. Please.

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Is your brand image United?

Now up on the Small Business Branding blog, a case study on how NOT to present a united brand image, courtesy of…United!

Another Logo from the Zzzzzzz…List

I noticed a big advertisement today in the Wall Street Journal for Covidien, the medical device company recently spun off from its former Tyco Healthcare identity.

I think it was good to separate Covidien from Tyco (which had a number of unrelated businesses under its umbrella), and the name Covidien, if not all that inspired and memorable, is at least acceptable. After all, it is a difficult challenge these days coming up with new names.

But the logo and tagline left me frowning with disappointment.

covidien.jpgI believe there is a virtue in simplicity, when it comes to logo design. But this treatment is tired. Yet another uninspired takeoff on the medical Red Cross look. Yawwwwwnnn. A company in the pharmaceutical training space that I know quite well, MedSN, did something similar a while back. At least they used a few colors. The Covidien treatment, with a few variations of blue, looks like it never got beyond a Powerpoint storyboard.

And the tagline, Positive Results for Life, is yet another retread from the pharma/healthcare/biotech bargain bin. Some of the most uninspired and insipid taglines have been adopted by these companies, all vaguely promising health/life/goodness in a way that is utterly non-differentiating. I’m reminded of a phrase from A Christmas Carol, where young Ebenezer Scrooge gives a response that is “terribly safe.” That’s what these taglines are. With an emphasis on both words.

I don’t yet know who came up with this logo. Maybe, after I finish this post, I’ll look it up. But let’s take a flight of fancy here, and imagine we’re in the boardroom, as the agency gives its explanation/rationalization for this look:

“The background field of blue represents the universal desire for long life and health, tapping into the singular global aspirations that a healthcare provider such as Covidien will be a premier provider of positive results toward that end. Since the earth is mostly water, and water represents life, we encased the logo in the uplifting presence of a sea of calming ocean blue. Of course, the medical cross symbol is recognized across the universe as a positive and aspirational symbol of well-being, and now it is softened and yet heightened by being re-stylized in enriching shades of health-inducing blue, leading the thoughts and feelings of the onlooking world to pleasant deliberations of the intersection of medical devices and ongoing health. The merging of life-giving blue, the subtly blatant medical undercurrent, and modern encapsulations of individual aspirations will create the inevitable conclusion that Covidien creates positive results for life.”

And now, rewind a day into the design studio as the logo and tagline are being feverishly finished off for the next day’s presentation:

“Did you whip that thing up in Powerpoint?”

“Yeah…took me about an hour and a half. I billed 45 days of creative time for the team, however.”

“Looks like a couple of colorized Band-Aids to me.”

“Ain’t life grand? I came up with that this morning while fixing a shaving nick.”

“And did you pump something out of that funky ObviousTaglines.com website?”

“Oh, yeah – it was great! I just told it ‘healthcare’, selected a couple standard keywords, and out came Positive Results for Life. It’s a beautiful thing. And, I now have 10 others we can use for our next client.”

All right, I made all that up. I’m sure a bit more effort went into this. But I wonder…how much did this branding cost? And why is it so…undistinguished?

London’s Olympic Throw-up

Yet another example of branding efforts going off the rails. Here is the expensively designed logo for the 2012 Olympics in London, followed by the ridiculous commentary justifying its existence:

london_new_pink.gif

“This is the vision at the very heart of our brand,” said London 2012 organising committee chairman Seb Coe. [Wwwwhat??] “It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world. It is an invitation to take part and be involved.” [Huh??]

The new design, which cost £400,000, has received a mixed response, but Lord Coe was adamant it put across the image and message that he wanted the London Games to deliver to the world. “It’s not a logo, it’s a brand that will take us forward for the next five years,” he told BBC Five Live. “It won’t be to be everybody’s taste immediately but it’s a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hard working brand which builds on pretty much everything we said in Singapore about reaching out and engaging young people, which is where our challenge is over the next five years.” [sorry to break the news to you, but this piece of ugliness is not the brand. It is a brand mark. Although I cannot imagine a healthy brand emerging from it].

Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “We want London 2012 not just to be about elite sporting success. When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life.” [funny, that was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this jigsaw jumble of folly!]

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said: “This is a truly innovative brand logo that graphically captures the essence of the London 2012 Olympic Games – namely to inspire young people around the world through sport and the Olympic values. Each edition of the Olympic Games brings its own flavour and touch to what is now well over a century of modern Olympic history; the brand launched today by London 2012 is, I believe, an early indication of the dynamism, modernity and inclusiveness with which London 2012 will leave its Olympic mark.”

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said: “This is an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about – an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country. It takes our values to the world beyond our shores, acting both as an invitation and an inspiration. This is not just a marketing logo, but a symbol that will become familiar, instantly recognisable and associated with our Games in so many ways during the next five years.” [yes, indeed, as soon as I spotted it, I saw values...inclusiveness...and the essence of the Games. Really. I did!]

Give me a break. The only thing I can say about this mark is that it is a symbol of the insanity that can prevail when agencies vomit out comic-book ideas and organizers try to justify the hundreds of thousands of dollars they just spent wiping up the mess off the floor by calling it perfume.

Full article here.

(update: it appears that Seth Godin agrees – I think we posted on this simultaneously!)

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Logo Trends – Take a Look

Very cool spot to see the latest trends in logo design (LogoLounge). You can also see the trends from past years. Pretty neat stuff!

Here’s another interesting site. If you know of other good “let’s look at logos” sites, please add them to the comments!

Finding a Needle in a Logostack

As happens occasionally when I read the Wall Street Journal, there was a full page “boast” ad today (for NASDAQ, in this case) showcasing a whole bunch of company logos – 72 new companies that have joined the exchange this quarter.

I always browse through these logostacks to see if there are any that really stand out. Often, I’m a bit disappointed, as I was today. There was, however, one that I thought warranted looking at further – it seemed to have a nice look and feel. So I found their website, and…the disappointment deepened!

Oculus Innovative Sciences has a pretty nice looking logo, with a pleasant typeface. And looking at the company name and logo, you’d be quite sure that this company is involved in eyecare products. But, you’d be quite wrong. For some bizarre reason, the company offer products for woundcare. Even though the naming and visual branding cry out “Eyecare!”  Sigh.

There is an Oculus USA company, which is different, and which does, in fact, focus on eyecare. But its logo is so ugly that I won’t even bother providing a link to it.

Then there was the most blatantly awful logo in the stack. Everything about this branding attempt says, “Hey! We’re old news! We’re yesterday! Hitch up your Conestoga wagon and come on by for a visit!” Sheeesh.

Top five biotech company logos

I can’t help looking at logos, compulsively evaluating their appeal and effectiveness. Some logos simply grab the eyeballs and emotions in a very powerful way, others make me want to…well, to be blunt, lose my lunch on the sidewalk.

Much of my work is in the pharmaceutical field, and there seems to be a dearth of good design and creativity when it comes to logos. While I think that some of the top 50 pharma companies have reasonably appealing logos (Pfizer, J&J, Novartis, Lilly, and Valeant come to mind), many of them are pretty much “blah”.

On the biotech (medicine) side, however, there are at least a few that are graphically appealing, simple, creative, and (how else do I put this??) postive-feeling. Here is the countdown of my current top five:

5. Zelos: attractive typeface, nice use of complementary colors – somehow this logo manages to feel both professional and informal at the same time.

4. Javelin: while I’m not sure why someone would name a medical company after an instrument that, when used, everyone runs away from, this logo is a nice graphic that corresponds well with the company name. The javelin imagery is pleasing and modern, and the color combination works well.

3. OSI: something about the use of the parenthesis around OSI just works – it’s a simple but unexpected way to emphasize the name. The grey and red color combo is appealing, and the use of non-capitalized type for the word “pharmaceuticals” makes the logo more approachable.

2. Solstice Neurosciences: it takes a lot for me to have postive feelings about anything orange (just a personal quirk), but this logo works nicely. The name encapsulated by the treatment of the “O”, and in this instance, the typeface still feels very approachable even when using all caps.

…and now, my favorite (for many years, ever since I first saw it)…

1. Gilead: a sweet combination of professionalism and academia, and a great use of white/red reversal. The typeface for “Gilead” is nice too, but it’s the graphic that makes this. Simple, striking, memorable – I’d wear this on a t-shirt in a heartbeat.

There are many, many logos, taglines, and websites that make me want to gag – far too many to list here – but when it comes to the You can’t possibly be serious?!? Award, I think this one takes the cake…!

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