Bud Light, Prince of Beers, Gets a New Retro Can Design
Bud Light, our nation’s favorite beer, has a new, rather adult, look.
The can is still blue, but the familiar, elliptical swoosh is gone, replaced by the same Anheuser-Busch crest that decorates Budweiser cans. The typeface is different, too: Instead of the italicized “Bud Light,” the beer’s name appears in a bold type reminiscent of what you see on Absolut Vodka bottles. The work was done in-house, and it’s the first packaging overhaul to Bud Light in eight years. Expect to see it in stores and fraternity houses this spring.
Technically, the new look is old. The combination of bold lettering and the crest harks back to the 1980s, when Bud Light cans bore a similar design, but with the red and white colors still seen on Bud Heavy cans. This return to vintage design has been happening across the industry: in recent years both Miller Lite and Coors Lite have dialed back on their bro-tastic 3-D, adrenaline-infused graphics, and reintroduced humbler designs. The resulting effect is less “crushing beers and watching Sunday football,” and more “playing pool at someone’s hunting lodge.”
Whether this is a response to the booming craft beer industry, or just in keeping with the larger trend towards simplified design, it seems to pay off: Last year, Bloomberg reported that sales of Miller Lite’s retro cans were up 18 percent. Bud Light, which has seen sales flag in recent years, must be looking for some of that retro love.
Google Ventures as we know it is no more. The corporate venture capital subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. is now “GV.” The rebranding is part of a major overhaul to the company’s visual identity, which includes a redesigned website and a striking new logo.
The latter, which was designed in house, is a minimalist monogram that combines geometric letterforms, dimensionality, and negative space to great effect. A sans-serif “G”—a heavyset version of the one in the redesigned Google logo—is partially obscured by the implied first-diagonal of an uppercase “V,” the vertex and second-diagonal of which are rendered in a bold, trapezoidal slash.
That slash is used as a clever design element across the new GV website, and features prominently in the video below. It does feel a little forced in this graphical breakdown of the company’s investments, which appeared in a year-in-review article published on Medium earlier this week—but by and large it seems like a pretty versatile conceit.
The rebranding is a smart move by Google Ventures (er, GV), and for Alphabet at large. The holding company has done an impressive job of using visual imagery to its advantage, leveraging smart design to distinguish between its stable of companies (the Google logo’s colorful palette telegraphing friendly approachability where GV’s edginess conveys innovation), while signaling their membership in the greater Alphabet ecosystem.
— Tokyo 2020 (@Tokyo2020) October 16, 2015
After this summer’s drama surrounding its potentially plagiarized logo, the Tokyo Organizing Committee is putting its branding decisions to the people.
Rather than hire another professional designer to create the replacement logo for Kenjiro Sano’s deposed work—which was thrown out after Belgian designer Olivier Debie raised concerns over its similarity to his own work—the organizers have launched a public competition. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, and either a native of Japan or a foreign national with the right to live in Japan. No design experience is required. Themes to consider are:
“The power of sport”, “Typifying Tokyo and/or Japan”, “World peace”, “Exerting the utmost efforts and striving to achieve a personal best,”, “Inclusivity”, “Innovation and Futuristic”, “Regeneration (ability to recover from the 2011 disaster).”
It’s possible the Tokyo Organizing Committee is sick and tired of dealing with designers (besides the controversy over Sano’s logo, the Japanese government scrapped Zaha Hadid’s $2 billion stadium and started over from scratch), and decided to just throw its hands up and be done.
Or, more optimistically, perhaps the new submission criteria are meant to democratize the creation of a symbol that will celebrate people of all kinds. It’s worked before: the original American Airlines logo was designed by a traffic manager who entered the company’s open call for submissions.
Medium, the freewheeling editorial site that’s definitely not a publishing tool, just got itself a new logo. Still a letter “M,” this one ditches the old slab serif look for a flat design of four multi-colored planes that hinge together to create said “M.” The logo is the work of type designer Rod Cavazos, from foundry PSY/OPS, and comes with a bigger design overhaul that includes new UI tools aimed at making Medium more social.
This being Medium, its founder and designers have self-published many a manifesto about the thinking behind the redesign. You can read all about new tools here, Medium’s new social aspirations here, and the process behind the new logo here. In the latter, Medium art director Erich Nagler and designer Karen Jaimes tidily summarize the inner monologue of a rebranding—much of which is universal to other modern media brands.
While simple, elegant, and strong, this Stag M proved rather inflexible as a logo. It served us well through our first few of years, but as Medium has grown and evolved, the logo has begun to feel flat, impenetrable, blunt, and not to be toyed with. It is also not particularly distinctive, either. In short, our M no longer captured or conveyed what Medium has become.
And of the new logo, they say:
This simple geometric interpretation of the M felt fun — like a delightful game or a deeply satisfying puzzle. We couldn’t stop ourselves from playing with all the different treatments, mutations, and color combinations it was practically begging for.
Last week, we told you the dramatic story of the rise and fall of “the worm,” NASA’s glorious logo from the 1970s. Its reappearance in the public eye was prompted by a Kickstarter campaign from Pentagram designers Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed, who are looking to reissue the NASA Graphics Standards Manual, a 90-page document filled with illustrations and writings that outlined how NASA should implement the worm and its accompanying graphic system.
The Kickstarter has been wildly successful—more than 6,500 people have paid $79 a pop for what promises to be a gorgeous hard-cover rendition of the original document. Now, in a funny turn of events, NASA has decided to release the entire manual (which has always been in the public domain) as a free PDF on its website.
We’re not saying it was a direct response to the Kickstarter, but we have our suspicions. And regardless, there’s no competition here—both will be totally different experiences. The way we see it, now you have two ways to read a fantastic piece of graphic design history.
Just noticed how well the Obama logo works for Trump with some simple color changes and rotation. pic.twitter.com/1r91SeXTDx
— Matthew Gordon (@ratherironic) September 2, 2015
Donald Trump’s official campaign logo—a banner reading “Make America Great Again!”—isn’t as typographically offensive as, say, Jeb’s logo. But it is pretty generic and, as far as logomarks go, not that adaptable. How on Earth will he ever get that banner on an app button for mobile?
Here’s an idea, from astute design observer Matthew Gordon in Boulder, Colo.: why not just co-opt Obama’s campaign logo and make it his own? The Obama logo, designed before the 2008 campaign by Sol Sender, depicts a new sun rising over rolling hills—a symbol of new beginnings and American optimism. If you just flip it upside down and paint it orange, though, you have a symbol of Trump himself—wispy golden mane and all. Sure, it’s a narcissistic logo for a presidential campaign. And yes, the idea is rife with copyright protection issues. But unconventional antics haven’t bothered Trump before.
— Olivier Debie (@OliDebie) July 28, 2015
Faced with allegations of plagiarism, the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the 2020 Olympics has withdrawn its chosen logo for the summer games.
The logo, created by Japanese graphic designer Kenjiro Sano, features a set of geometric shapes built to form a ‘T.’ Unfortunately for Sano and the committee, so does this logo, which Belgian designer Olivier Debie created for the Théâtre de Liège in Belgium. Just five weeks after Tokyo rolled out its logo, Debie published this animated loop on Twitter and Facebook, along with the not-so-subtle suggestion that Sano ripped off his work.
Things got dicey after that. Cases of copyright infringement are rarely cut and dry, and that’s especially true with graphic design, where its creators are tasked with trying to legal claim and protect abstracted, geometric shapes and lines. It’s hard to own a square.
Tokyo’s now-scrapped logo for the 2020 Olympics
Although Debie never registered a trademark for his design, he went ahead with threats of legal action against the committee. Sano said in a press conference that he had never seen Debie’s logo, and Toshiro Muto, director-general of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said he stood by the originality of Sano’s design. Then, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Organizing Committee caught wind of similarities between Sano’s original design and a poster created for an exhibit on the work of German typographer Jan Tschichold. This week, the committee decided by a vote to pull the plug, and save some face. They are now going back to the drawing board.
This is the second design-related fire the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Committee has had to put out. Earlier in July, well before the logo controversy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that work would halt on Zaha Hadid’s $2 billion stadium, and that the committee would be starting from scratch.
NASA’s graphics manual from the 1970s. Display
The manual outlined how to employ the agency’s new logo. Display
The logo is called The Worm. Display
In 1974, the new york studio of Danne & Blackburn took on a massive client. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (you might know it as NASA) was looking for a rebranding after 15 years of the “meatball,” their colloquial nickname for the circular blue logo which showcased “NASA” surrounded by a sprinkle of stars, a flying rocket ship and a bright red arrow.
Danne & Blackburn replaced the meatball with a modern logotype of “NASA” that was called—get this—the worm. Yes, the meatball was replaced with the worm. With heavy lettering and ‘A’s reminiscent of rocket nosecones, the new logotype was precise and futuristic. It was certainly a far cry from its slightly goofy precedent. It also, as Pentagram partner Michael Bierut pointed out to Display magazine, looked pretty damn good on the side of a spaceship.
The design team at Danne & Blackburn then spent the next decade creating and tweaking what would become the NASA graphics manual, a definitive guide to employing the new graphics system. As Display wrote:
The Manual continued to evolve over the next decade. In the end it would reach about 90 pages and cover every aspect of NASA: Ground vehicles, all aircraft, the Space Shuttle, signing, uniform patches, publications of every kind, office forms, signing, public service film titles, space vehicles, and satellite markings.
Every so often the manual re-enters the internet’s consciousness and reminds us of how freakin’ cool the logomark really was. NASA switched back to the meatball in 1992, almost 20 years after the modernist design was introduced. Maybe it’s time for another switcheroo?
Check out the manual here on Flickr.
Jeb Bush recently took to Twitter to offer Hillary Clinton some graphic design advice. The Republican presidential candidate, whose logo has drawn its own special breed of attention, offered what you might call a reworking of Clinton’s divisive ‘H’ logo.
It proved the final blow in a brief but spectacular picture-war on Twitter between the two candidates. It began early yesterday, with Hillary Clinton, talkin’ ’bout the issues.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 10, 2015
Then someone in Jeb’s camp decided to lend their own Photoshop-y spin to the idea.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 10, 2015
But wait! Hillary’s people have some edit suggestions.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 10, 2015
And last, Jeb hits where it hurts: right in the logo.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 11, 2015
We’d all love to assume Hillary and Jeb were doing this personally, seated angrily in front of their laptops with fire in their hearts and a killer Photoshop layer mask in their hands. But this was almost certainly the result of some awesomely overzealous social media teams.
And we have to admit, all politics aside, the new logo looks pretty good! We’re not sure who to applaud first: Pentagram for its versatile design or Bush’s Photoshop-savvy intern. Might we suggest, Jeb, that whoever made this gets a raise?
tbh the Hillary Jeb thing is really Battle of the Social Media Interns I don’t think Hil or Jeb know about it
— Smilodonichthys (@fossilfriendly) August 11, 2015
*In other news: Hillary and Jeb are now hiring qualified, mature PR interns to manage their social.*
— kate the great (@katierounds214) August 11, 2015
Hope Jeb and Hil’s twitter interns have good jobs lined up at buzzfeed.
— Sam Harden (@samuelharden) August 11, 2015
Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush got the interns Twitter beefing. It’s really 2015. Where can I get hired to troll
— Bae Dem (@EsskraLoaded) August 11, 2015
It was a great moment in campaign, nay, American history. But soon enough everything was back to normal, and politics carried on as it always has. With presidential candidates asking you to follow them on Snapchat.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 10, 2015
— Olivier Debie (@OliDebie) July 28, 2015
We didn’t care for Tokyo’s Olympics logo when it was unveiled earlier this week. Now, it appears that the design has a bigger problem than just uninspired design; it bears a striking similarity to another logo.
Designed by Kenjiro Sano, the 2020 Olympics logo features a rectangular pillar, with two triangles on its top and bottom. So does Studio Debie’s emblem for the Belgian Théâtre de Liège. There are differences: Debie’s version has white shapes set in a black circle, while Sano’s has gold, silver, and black forms as well as a rising red “sun.”
Studio Debie’s founder, Olivier Debie, strongly suggested in a tweet that Sano ripped off his 2011 design. Sano, in a statement issued by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said, “I have no particular comment to make.”
Accusations of plagiarism are common in the graphic design world. When Airbnb rebranded last year, introducing the little Bélo icon, it didn’t take long for armchair design critics to accuse the company of lifting the logo from not one but two other companies’ branding identities. And there’s a site, called Logo Thief, devoted to documenting such occurrences.
This is one of the perils of drawing simple lines and shapes. Certain combinations of geometric forms will inevitably look like others, making it more difficult to cast blame than some designers might like. But it also pays to do some research to make sure your design doesn’t closely resemble one that’s already out there.
Tokyo has a logo for its 2020 Olympic games, and what a confusing one it is.
The flat symbol, unveiled by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, comprises four geometric shapes—a red circle, a black rectangle, and gold and silver triangles, each with a concave hypotenuse—forming a “T,” and “L,” and an “r.” We can assume that “T” stands for Tokyo, and that the red circle is a reference to Japan’s rising sun, also pictured on the country’s flag. The significance and symbolism behind the rest of the imagery prove baffling.
The insignia is by Kenjiro Sano, whose design résumé includes local packaging and product designs, and it’s radically different from the frenetic, zany, and script-like logos we’ve seen for recent Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, London, and Beijing. Instead, Sano’s buttoned-up logo is a throwback to logos from the 1960s and 1970s, like the simple gold-and-red icon for the Tokyo games in 1964, and the rising sun and snowflake combo used for the Sapporo games in 1972.
Japanese designers are renowned for elegant, efficient, minimalism. Consider Muji’s restrained approach to homewares, Uniqlo’s consistently pared down fashions, and the simple ingenuity of Shigeru Ban’s architecture. Unlike Japan’s other design exports, Sano’s logo for Tokyo is less but not more.