April 2, 2013
The Most Advanced Yet Acceptable Difference
You can tell when a client is nervous—they start sucking air. The response is so well known among creative professionals that it has become an obvious indicator that your design proposal is too different and pushes the client’s comfort level.
February 20, 2013
"GOOD DESIGN IS GOOD BUSINESS." THE 40-YEAR PROPHECY COMES TO PASS.
Last week I was speaking at Utah State University on the subject Design as a Business Tool. I couldn’t help but quote the now famous line from IBM CEO, Thomas Watson, “Good design is good business.” Watson’s speech on the subject is required reading in my University of Utah Graphic Design History class. The only problem with the quote is that by now—it is history. He said it in 1973. To most people at that time, design had little to do with business. It was more about decorating with an avocado throw rug and orange Formica.
January 10, 2013
1979 — 2012
Long time readers of the modern8 eNews may notice two things: One—since we published our first issue in January 2002, the last four months have been the longest break ever without publication. And two—I typically write about branding and design, but this issue of our newsletter is rather personal—this is about Tara.
August 31, 2012
CORPORATE IDENTITY IS CONVEYED IN ARCHITECTURE, GRAPHICS AND MORE
I try to get potential clients to our office at some point during the proposal/negotiation phase, even if the first meeting is at their office. I believe our physical space tells a story. The conference room wall that is intentionally out of square by 12 degrees, the wood support posts that are semi-stripped to reveal a century of different paint colors, the Herman Miller Resolve furniture system, the gigantic Stendig calendar—each send a signal. In essence, our office helps tell our brand story. It’s part of our corporate identity, part of our marketing concept, just as much as our logo is.
July 12, 2012
Design & marketing for changing society
We recently met with architects who have designed a lot of residential architecture and I mentioned that I had engaged an architect for the design of my family’s home about 25 years ago. We still live there, despite the 20 miles commute to my downtown office.
June 6, 2012
How Ford Motor Went Into Hock
Today a client asked how we price our services. I answered, “It’s based on the value of the project we provide and recognizes the investment of time it takes us.” Two years ago, we helped this client with their logo, as well as other projects. As I answered our question, an NPR newscast I recently heard came to my mind.
May 2, 2012
AN OBSESSIVE COMMENT ON TYPOGRAPHIC HISTORY
Each day as I drive home, I pass a corporate business office complex named the Old Mill and most every day I think about the same thing as I pass. Now, I’m the first to admit that designers can obsess about innocuous things that the general public could care less about, however I’ve got to get this off my chest—but first a little history in typography.
March 30, 2012
FUNCTION AND FORM ARE NOT ENOUGH
I’ve been a designer my entire career, but only in the last 10 years have I mixed strategic consulting together with creative services. It started in 2001 when I read the book, Emotional Branding by Marc Gobe. Subtitled “The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People”, the book was groundbreaking for the industry, and to me personally. I was particularly intrigued to learn that the author was a designer. I had somehow thought that designers didn’t write books on theoretical subjects like branding, instead, that they stuck to creating things.
February 29, 2012
The meaning lies somewhere between status and utilitarian
Historically, some of the most coveted modern chairs have been designed by architects, not furniture designers. The reason may have something to do with the simple accessibility of creating a chair. “You’re much freer designing furniture than a building,” said a contemporary architect. “You don’t have to worry about public safety issues, or keeping the rain out. It doesn’t demand a huge team, and lots of meetings.”
January 31, 2012
By Derek Boman
Recently I was on the phone with a man trying to explain my credit score. After one particular point of nonsense, I complained about the obvious complexity and backwardness of the system. He said, “I know, but that’s just the way it is.” The ridiculous conversation reminded me of a TED talk I once watched. Alan Siegel, of design firm Siegel+Gale, described a challenge issued by President Obama after signing the Credit Card Bill of Rights into law. The President challenged the credit card industry to create a consumer-credit agreement that everyone could understand and that took up only a single page. Siegel found the concept compelling, locked himself in a room, and designed the one-page document. He claims it has been tested and is legally sound.
January 13, 2012
Up the emotional response by creating a brand space in 3D
A couple years ago our traditional biggest client, YESCO, asked us if we had any suggestions for them about new lines of business that they might logically pursue. YESCO stands for Young Electric Sign Company and as their name suggests, their primary business is custom electric outdoor signs. After some thought, I went back and said, “Branded Environments”. All right, maybe my answer wasn’t quite as succinct or elegant, but that’s what I meant.
December 6, 2011
The customer experience in the purchase of a new ride
I bought a new car a few weeks ago. Making purchasing decisions about vehicle brands is an interesting mix of personal and marketing forces. You consider, consciously or subconsciously, much more than just what car will get you from point A to B.
October 17, 2011
Modern8 launches new website
Today marks the public launch of our new Website. It’s a complete overhaul and a dramatically different design strategy. With the recognition that we are living in a mobile, always-connected world, we created the site in a grid-based layout that changes automatically to fit different monitor sizes, whether on a smartphone, tablet or desktop.
September 13, 2011
If you change perceptions are you being authentic?
Authenticity in design is an interesting concept. All design, by its very nature, is an exercise in persuasion. As someone once said, asking a designer not to persuade is like asking a fisherman not to fish, it’s what we’re trained to do. According to David Berman, author of Do Good Design, “Designers tend to underestimate how much power they have. They’re culpable.”
July 28, 2011
Your authentic identity reflects your culture, values and beliefs
Stop reading this right now, switch over to a word processing app and describe your firm in no more than 50 words. Save it. We’re coming back to it.
What are the core values that drive your firm? Perhaps you address your core values in your mission statement, but if you’re like most companies, you don’t remember your mission statement because it’s not distinctive and it has little relevance to your core values. (more…)
July 5, 2011
A Presentation to the Utah Technical Council
In introducing our firm, I often use the phrase, “We bring together strategic and creative services to achieve a shared goal.” I was asked to speak last week at the marketing forum of the Utah Technical Council on the subject of Delivering the Art of Brand Design from the Science of Brand Strategy, which seemed tailor-fit to our distinguishing position. I’m sharing with you some of the main points of my presentation.
May 26, 2011
Could the design of the almighty dollar affect the economy?
The mightiest trick of any print designer is to imbue the object of his creation with value beyond the paper it’s printed on. And there isn’t a more important document anywhere than paper money. Of course, at one time, the US dollar was backed by silver and gold, but now it’s literally just a piece of paper that proclaims “Believe in the brand called United States of America,” (and fortunately, most do. Thank you China.)
April 27, 2011
How a great story can turn your employees into brand ambassadors
Brands are expressed in many ways, including in the actions and behavior of your own people. In fact, employees are crucial to the brand experience, particularly in the B2B space. Inasmuch as a brand is the totality of all your perceptions about a business, obviously, employee actions and attitudes have an impact—everything from answering phone calls promptly to product knowledge. But it goes beyond customer facing employees. Employees don’t just represent the company, they are the company. The depth of understanding each person has about brand values and purpose is reflected in productivity. The workers of strongly branded organizations literally “live the brand”, giving them focus, motivation and a guiding direction.
March 21, 2011
How our subconscious minds influence our behavior
My office has always been located in the downtown area of Salt Lake, despite my home being some 20 miles south in the suburbs. Sure, the drive is pretty familiar after 30 years, but one morning a few months ago I arrived at my office parking spot somewhat surprised. My mind had been preoccupied and I was amazed that I had driven the 20 miles without a single conscious decision about where I was going or what I was doing. In fact, I remembered absolutely nothing about my drive downtown. It was as if I had been teleported from home to my office without any effort on my part.
According to Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post science writer and author of The Hidden Brain, my story of the drive downtown is a perfect example of how our subconscious minds can manipulate us without our awareness. (more…)