Tag Archives: Advertising

Addicted to Pawn

Boy, I was careful with my spelling when I Googled these shows.

Pawn Stars

Honestly, this isn’t a bad design. It clearly communicates the essence of the show and clearly targets a particular demographic. It has enough mystery to attract new viewers and it clearly states when the show is being televised without distracting the viewer from the focal point.

So if this is a good design, why is it on my blog?

At first, I thought the network had simply recycled an idea. (Hollywood has been known to do that on occasion.)

But then I realized that these are on two completely different networks—Pawn Stars is on the History Channel and Hardcore Pawn is on truTV.

So my question is, how the heck is this not blatant intellectual property theft?

Hardcore Pawn

Come on guys…really? REALLY?!

Because I haven’t seen the shows, my critique can’t rightfully go beyond the designs. However, this guy on imdb.com seems to have summarized it quite well.


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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Branding, Critique, Graphic Design

Flick Quarterback?

I’m going to make this post short and sweet. Today is a fairly big day for football. Not for me…I suppose I’m just weird. But for most Americans, it’s a big deal today.

A good friend sent this to me a few months ago via Twitter. I thought this would be a good day to share.

“I found a design mistake. Something you shouldn’t do. Tell me if you spot it.”


I assume professional football players wear a cup but there still has to be some kind of penalty for flicking in that region.


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Filed under Advertising, Art, Branding, Graphic Design, Products

3 reasons why Kayla is wrong about design

You see the atrocities below this paragraph? A young lady named Kayla uses these as examples of why “design is not all that it is made out to be”. Her argument: these ugly, yet successful sites prove design is unimportant.

Chris Guitars

Chris Guitars is a discount guitar site. Here’s an older post from my blog that will explain why a an inexpensive company needs an inexpensive looking brand.

MMFOB blog

This “successful” blog doesn’t seem to exist anymore…

Plenty of Fish

Yeah, this isn’t exactly sexy, but it isn’t horrid. Besides, check out their updated brand:


This is a decent leap forward. I wouldn’t be surprised if sales have increased.


Wikipedia is the epitome of a content heavy site. The entire concept is based on the encyclopedia, right? For a site that is driven by seemingly infinite content and links, this is excellent design.


Okay, does Kayla own a Delorean with a flux capacitor? Where in the world did she find this image of Google? Is this from 2000? This example doesn’t count.

Kayla, like many other people, thinks design is purely aesthetic—a designer just makes stuff look good. Allow me to rebuttal and explain that design is so, so, so much more than making stuff look good.

3 reasons why Kayla is wrong about design:

1. Good Design is clear communication. If the target demographic has to spend time deciphering, the designer has failed.

The documentary Helvetica features a “designer” (note sarcasm) named David Carson. By the way, Mr. Carson…your site looks like a myspace page from 2004. You might want to do something about that.

In the 80’s he worked for an experimental magazine called Ray Gun Magazine. His claim to fame was that he took an article and published it in Zapf Dingbats (or the 1980’s equivalent to the typeface), which was impossible to read.

Let me demonstrate what Zapf Dingbats is:


Obviously, an article published in Zapf Dingbats is bad design.

In my overwhelmingly humble opinion (ahem), this guy was just lucky. He’s not a designer. He was just an edgy artist in an edgy decade—the 80’s.

2. Good design is persuasive. My business partner and I had a meeting with a marketer last week. We discussed how design and marketing go hand-in-hand. The three of us completely agreed that if a pretty design doesn’t improve sales…it’s a failure.

Good design improves sales for the client. It has a call to action for the client’s target demographic. It persuades the reader to do something.

Bottom line: it persuades people to do what you want them to do. (Sounds a bit manipulative, huh? Mwahahahahaha.)

3. Good design is good SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is absolutely crucial. I’ve read many, many articles, ebooks, blogs, etc. on SEO. In a nutshell, a site with good SEO will appear on the top of a Google search.

I have a friend who is really getting in photography, let’s call him George Georgeson. I explained to him that he would be at the top of the search if someone Googled George Georgeson photography NYC. But good SEO would put him at the top of the list if someone simply Googled photographer NYC.

Keep in mind that I’m giving an overly simplified definition of SEO.

You want to be at the top of the first page on Google. It’s a very, very lucrative place to be and it’s very, very exclusive. If you’ve made it to the second page, it’s bad design. That’s like being in the front of the line at the hip club that won’t let anyone else in.

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Branding, Business, Critique, Graphic Design, SEO, Web Design

Photo Manipulation and Politics

With 2012 being an election year, you tend to see a LOT of political ads. A. Lot.

It’s always intriguing to see how the media portrays certain politicians—particularly the president. Take Obama, for example.

Here’s the iconic design from his campaign that was designed by Shepard Fairey. I think everyone in the western world knows this one:

(P.S. if you haven’t seen Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy, it is absolutely worth watching. Shepard Fairey has some pretty cool segments in it.)

Shepard Fairey

It’s interesting that we’ve gone from this in 2008…

Barak Obama

…to this:

Barak Obama

Interesting, right?

From a design perspective, Obama was an icon for hope, change and progress. He was contemporary. He was modern.

But now…well, now all I see is a scary goblin-like being that lurks in the shadows. It’s as if he’s in between the stages of Smeagol and Gollum from the Lord of the Rings.

And what about Bush? For eight years, all I saw was this:

George W. Bush

George W. Bush


Until last summer when I saw the most heroic pose of Bush…ever. It was a subway ad for the National Geographic Channel. They were going to televise an unprecedented interview on Bush’s perspective of 9/11. (I’d still love to see that special, by the way.)

George W. Bush

By the way, photo manipulation isn’t reserved exclusively for politicians. Remember that crazy guy—OJ Simpson? Time magazine got into quite a bit of trouble for their photo manipulation. They added shadows and a vignette to make him appear more ominous.

OJ Simpson

So keep an eye out this year. There’s bound to be some photo manipulation.

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Filed under Art, Branding, Business, Critique, Graphic Design, Photo Manipulation

Parody: the cop out of creativity

I can enjoy a good parody—I love Mel Brooks. A parody can be great for comedy. In design, however, it’s usually an unsuccessful substitute for a concept.

Concept is crucial in design, it can not be substituted. Without a concept, the design is worthless.

Really, food network?? An Indiana Jones parody. Wow, very timely, guys. Whenever looking for a good cookbook, I think to myself, “Hmm. What parody of a 1980’s icon would entice me to cook?”

Below is what I call a good parody:

This is poor/pixelated quality but if you know anything about hipsters…it’s kind of appropriate. Don’t worry, I’m not about to go off on an anti-hipster rant. I think hipster HATERS are much more annoying than hipsters. If young adults with affluent parents want to gentrify low income areas of Brooklyn, who am I to judge?

I don’t understand all of the hate. They’re a people who love bicycles and irony. Just let them be.

Back to terrible parody, the commercial below makes me wish Virgin Mobile would go bankrupt. I’m not being dramatic. I seriously wish that upon them.

Gosh, that video vexes me. Let’s see what Indy thinks.

Well said, Professor. Well said.

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Branding, Critique, Graphic Design, Products

What the heck is in that box?

My last entry ended on a phallic note. I had asked that you not think less of me and now I’m writing this post. Oh dear.

What kind of logo is this? Why is a man holding a box? I guess it’s because you put stuff in a box before putting it in a storage unit? Whatever the reason, it’s a poor concept…so poor…it IS the 99%.

Moving on to the obvious question: What is going on here, exactly? I don’t think one has to be perverse in order to wonder what the heck is inside that box. All I can think of is the iconic SNL digital short with Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake. I won’t post the video or the title, I’m trying to keep this blog somewhat clean, but here’s an image from the video.

Can you guess what’s inside their boxes?

If we can go back to the logo, I’m also seeing two letter D’s as in double d’s. Look, I’m not trying to make this sexual, it’s just there!

Double D’s and a genitalia beckoning box, what does this have to do with a storage unit in Queens?

Do you see it? The arms make the D’s.

It’s kind of like one of those mom and pop gas stations in which one of the D’s in the logo is backwards for some inexplicable reason.

A designer shouldn’t have his mind in the gutter but he should be aware that many people do. If your designs can be easily turned into dirty humor, it’s probably not good for a brand image.

When it comes to a brand image, even if it’s something like storage units, clean professionalism is everything.

I had a professor in college who told a story of a student who designed a brand for a festival. I can’t remember where the festival was (my college had people from all over the world) but it was a grape festival. They called it the “Grape Fest” (creative name, huh?). This student wanted to give it an elegant look. I suspect he was inspired by something like a first edition classic book…you know how first letter of each chapter would be highly ornate? Anyway, the student’s presentation looked something like this:

Like I said, it’s important to be aware of how your designs can be perceived. This could have easily been highly, highly offensive!

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Filed under Advertising, Art, Branding, Critique, Graphic Design, Signage, Typography