Typolitical Design

My wife and I found a quote in this NY Times article quite interesting. The article was dissecting the presidential candidate’s campaign website designs, and a Creative Director they quoted said “Hillary‚Äôs text is all caps, like shouting.” That struck us funny because when I think of Hillary Clinton’s tone and speech patterns, it does seem like she talks in ALL CAPS.

So that got me thinking… how would you describe, typographically speaking, the other presidential candidates?

Barack Obama might be a Garamond – a sharp, yet friendly serif.
Hillary Clinton would be Futura Black all caps – bold, but dated.
I think Ron Paul would also be all caps, but a generic serif, like Times Roman.
Mike Huckabee might be a gentle, flowing script font like Shelley Script.

What do you think? Am I off base with any? Got any others?

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stuckIt’s been a long time since I clicked “write a post” on my blog software. The crazy thing (for me) is that I actually have nothing to blog about. I’m an absolute blank slate. I have no brilliant insight, new information or spectacular news to convey about my life. Good start so far!

These past few months I’ve felt rather dried up, in regards to my blogging. Lack of time and a strong sense of having nothing to contribute to the blogosphere would be my main reasons. I suppose that’s pretty normal, as lots of bloggers are white hot for several months and then disappear as quickly as they came… but this blog, in its many forms, has been online since April of 2004. That’s a pretty decent run, as far as the average blog life is concerned.

Given my background and expertise(?) it would seem normal – if not expected – to see me blog about the Super Bowl commercials this past Sunday. I did consider it. But you know what? There are THOUSANDS of people blogging their expert, and amateur, reviews of the Super Bowl commercials. Does my voice in that clanging and obnoxious crowd really need to be heard?

I think it just bores me to blog about, write about, think about “work stuff.”

But that makes me wonder if that boredom is a symptom of my inner lack of passion for what I do… or am I just afraid of getting burned out… or pigeon-holed… or am I afraid that I’m just limited in what I know well enough to talk about?

And what really bugs me about those questions is, they show that my own blogging “code,” that is, to blog for yourself and no one else, has been completely thrown out the window. All of those questions above are asked by someone who blogs for other people. Blogs for their audience and not their own enjoyment. I’ve lost, somewhere along the way, the FUN of blogging and I want it back.

This blog has been a source of fun for me in several reincarnations. It began as a Daddy Blog, blogging about the expected birth of my first daughter and then the months following the birth. It morphed into a PhotoBlog, where I just posted my photography and little else. It then became a Design Blog. A place for me to explore and dissect the many facets of the marketing, advertising and design world.

Now I’m stuck. I don’t really want to return to any of those things exclusively. The thought of exclusively blogging about any of those does not excite me. And, the thought of a massive hybrid blog – where I blog about anything and everything – which has no overwhelming theme scares me too, because I know that a hybrid blog does not attract a larger audience, it spreads the audience thin. And that concerns me because, like everything I do, I want it to be successful. I don’t want my blog to shrivel up and die.

So, I’m stuck and open to suggestions from my tiny, tiny percentage of the world’s blog readers.

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Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Just returned from a week-long business trip to Mexico. Stayed at the very nice Fairmont Mayakoba. A few photos below…

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What I’ve Been Up To…

Here’s what I HAVEN’T been up to… blogging.

Initially my blogging got held up by a plug-in I have installed, designed to stop hackers – called ‘Bad Behavior.’ It went haywire and denied me access to my own blog – thinking that I was, in fact, a hacker. With blogging not being a big priority at the time, I ignored the problem, while we went into a busy season at work and we geared up for the holidays at home. With a business trip to Boca Raton, Thanksgiving and Christmas behind me now, I’ve found the time to find the bug and fix it. Yay! Back to blogging as normal? maybe. My blogging regimen has never really been normal in the first place.

I’m very excited about 2008 and all of its possibilities.

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The Mighty Chevron

There are typically two human responses that I display when I, as an adult and as a professional, learn something new.

Either, I feel happy that I’ve gained this new knowledge and are therefore smarter than I was before… or I just feel stupid for having not already known what I just learned. Most recently, it was the latter.

I learned the word: CHEVRON

Growing up, I knew exactly what a “chevron” was. It was an oil company who had a gas station (Chevron Corporation) just off the Ledgewood Circle (which, sadly, no longer exists) on Route 46 in New Jersey.

But alas, a “chevron” is actually the name of a shape, akin to the more popular shape names like triangle, square and miss popular, circle.

It’s basically the letter V, pointed either up or down. Wikipedia has a nice page dedicated to the chevron. I would think most military personnel (past or present) are laughing at me right now, because those “stripes” that you get when your rank goes up are actually called chevrons. My dad should know this word too, as he had several chevrons on his sleeve as a Sargent in the US Army.

How have I never come across this word, in regards to shape names and graphic symbols before now?? Where was this hole in my visual education and what else may have fallen into it??

This also leads me into a tangent of thinking about what other companies, besides Chevron Corporation, are oddly named after the shape of their logo? A post for another time, I’m sure…

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Eminent Domain

Our government has decided to claim my friend’s property in Denver.

Just because.

Please visit the website they set up to document everything: eminentdomainsucks.com

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Top of My Game

A good friend e-mailed me today:

I love your blog… unless your talking about graphic design.

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Banana Marketing

banana.jpgI’ve heard the term “guerrilla marketing” before, but this takes it to an extreme! I grabbed a banana from the house this morning. When I got to work and went to eat it, the sticker caught my eye. (Sorry for the bad camera phone photo). The sticker design depicts the orangutan, King Louie, from Walt Disney’s 1967 classic animated feature The Jungle Book. And guess what, he’s eating a banana! How clever!

The banana is distributed by Del Monte, but apparently they’ve partnered up with Disney to market the release of the new 2-disc DVD of The Jungle Book. The label also directs the eater of the banana to the website fruits.com, where you can see all about the wonderful DVD release, enter a sweepstakes and watch video clips from the movie.

On one hand I love to be surprised by creative marketing, and this one surprised me. On the other hand, do I really want advertising on my fruit?

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Podcast Roundup

One of the reasons I tell people that I love my just-shy-of-an-hour commute – besides the windy, mountain roads and beautiful scenery – is that I get to listen to and absorb a lot of great information from podcasts. I subscribe to and download many podcasts onto my iPod, which through the magic of an FM Transmitter, I play through my car stereo.

Here are some of my favorites lately:

Ad Age Audio Reports
It’s basically a gossip mag about Ad Agencies and their clients, instead of celebrities. Always informative.

Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac (APM)
Garrison’s deep, buttery voice reading poetry is sometimes the best brain decompression I could ask for after a long day at work.

The Accidental Creative / The Creative Interview
I’m a new listener to these guys, but haven’t heard anything I haven’t liked. Good, practical advice for creative pros to use in their day-to-day interactions and creative sessions.

Car Talk (NPR)
Click and Clack never cease to teach me something new about my car, while making me laugh.

StoryCorps (NPR)
Real people telling real stories from their very real lives. Amazingly moving testimonies.

The Onion Radio News
Nobody quite understands my disgust for network news as much as The Onion. Witty, sarcastic and sometimes downright mean. Good stuff!

This American Life
Always compelling.

Top Stories from North Country Public Radio
Allows me to keep up to date with local stories from my favorite home away from home, the Adirondacks of upstate NY.

WNYC’s Radio Lab
The hosts dissect the way our world works from every angle possible. I’m pretty sure I walk away from each episode with more questions than answers, but my questions are better than they used to be!

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I Don’t Have A Brand

One of the biggest misconceptions among many churches and small businesses is that only large corporations have (or need) a brand. Unfortunately for those churches and small businesses this thinking is flawed and shows a real lack of understanding about what branding actually is.

If your doors are open for any period of time, you’ve already got a brand. If this surprises you, it probably means your brand is weak. Most likely very weak. If you’re in business, you have an identity and a reputation. Both things that affect (good or bad) your brand.

Realizing that you have a brand is a big step. Understanding how to position yourself so that your brand can strengthen within your market is the next, and bigger step. You do this by re-evaluating your identity; Fom your logo, to your catchy tag line, your website, your sign and anything else you put out there to the public that says who you are. You need to take a new look at these messages from a marketing standpoint. Discover who your audience really is (just researching the demographics is lazy) and speak to them in a voice they will respond to, via a medium they will hear/see.

You already have a brand. It just may be weak.

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