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WebINK is sponsoring a graffiti party/live action art event tonight at the W Hotel in Austin. If you are attending SXSW- check out the details here…


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Last week the newly minted Oprah Winfrey Network showed off their brand new logo to an eager public, and reactions were of course mixed. It became a topic of conversation around our office, and we quickly realized that we have many unique perspectives in our office (from marketing and art direction to type design) that were actually relevant to the conversation.

Since the first reaction to something new can vary from subsequent analysis, we’ve asked our reviewers to include an initial, visceral response, rational analysis and finally a pragmatic take on the new design.

For a point of reference, here’s the new OWN logo.

And now to the logo analysis.

Amanda Paull, Extensis VP of Marketing

Visceral response: Disliked it. feels juvenile (coloration) and unoriginal (typeface). It immediately reminded me or Fruit Stripe Gum! Just generally made me feel uncomfortable (almost anxious).

Rational analysis: The all-caps “OWN” sends a really contrary brand message. The intended message (I’m sure) is that this you your OWN network. You tell us what you want to see and we deliver it. However, another way to look at it is “I am Oprah Winfrey and I own everything.” You have to assume that if there is a potential negative interpretation, at least 50% of the viewers will pick up on that.
I was relieved to see that the logo has alternate colorations- all one color- instead of the multi-color fruit stripe variety. But then I see that one of those colors is GOLD. Say what? The ‘OWN’ in pure gold. OK, that is clearly not the brand message you want to send. More Donald Trump than Oprah Winfrey.

Pragmatic take: I’ve been on the creative end of these things- there was a creative brief that isolated the most important requirements. One of those must have been ‘has to stand out in the lower corner of the viewer’s screen and not be drowned out by whatever programming is running’. If this was the most important requirement, I’d say they hit the mark! Nothing could compete with Fruit Stripe Gum.

Thomas Phinney, Typographer and Extensis Sr. Product Manager for Fonts and Typography

Visceral response: Huh? That’s weird, and not terribly functional.

Rational analysis: Wow, that’s very distinctive, and at first I thought it did a great job of communicating Oprah’s brand image (I didn’t have the same negative associations that Amanda came up with). But the graphical effects make it just too busy to work under a broad range of conditions. Elaborate shadows and 3D effects tend don’t hold up so well at small sizes, nor if they need to render it in black-and-white (without shading)…. There’s a reason almost all the megacorporations have simple logos, because they have learned from experience and usage what the logo needs to stand up to. This logo is not going to do well under adverse conditions, including being faded in the corner of a non-HD television screen, when the shading and extrusion will just get “muddy.”

Pragmatic take: Well, at least it’s bright, and really different. I think they’ll have to come up with a simplified version of it, which will either replace or supplement this ornate and elaborate… thing.

Elisha Wettstein, Extensis Art Director

Initial Response: Interesting. I kind of like it. I’m curious what the intended usage is and is it practical for a logo. It reminded me of NBC’s rainbow logo with much more flare.

Rational analysis: Again, I needed to explore usage and purpose so I went to oprah.com and found several color versions and sizes being used. And what do all the different colors mean? Do they represent separate divisions of the network? On the site’s landing page, I don’t see a clearly defined pattern — that bothers me. There is a striping theme that’s used outside of the logo as well as part of the logo. That’s a nice element to see carried out as a branding component but as part of the logo, in smaller sizes the integrity of the logo is compromised, cheapening the quality. As a designer, that’s always something to be taken into consideration for logo design. I would have recommended that the smaller sizes loose that effect completely so that the logo appears crisp and strong.

Pragmatic take: I haven’t done my research to judge from the perspective of meaning, target audience, and overall representation so my judgment will be for design only. The large colorful version is very pretty. I admire all the design details…color, striping, depth, shading, lighting. The small versions would be successful with the removal of all the ‘fluff’ just mentioned – they are not practical and compromise quality. They went crazy with all the separate color versions that are hard to see a pattern for usage.


Is That A Rat?

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For anyone on the receiving end of a very odd package from Extensis- no, that’s not a rat in that box. It’s a mullet. You know- some hair for your (styrofoam*) head.

Our friends in the press received these 2 pieces separately and this week we see the mullets are arriving because we’re getting a lot of commentary on them. 98% of people have enjoyed them (for those 2% who were more confused than entertained- sorry about that! We meant it all in good fun.)

Odd? absolutely. Entirely off the mark? well, not exactly. We’re leveraging the ‘business in the front, party in the back’ approach- but applying it to software. We affectionately call it the CreativeMullet. Some feedback:

  • MacLife Magazine: We just received a few promo packages from Extensis. So I opened it. It’s a mullet wig. I’m not kidding.
  • PCMag.com: Lance Ulanoff posted: Extensis sent me a mullet to promote Suitcase Fusion 3 + WebINK–I ain’t gonna wear it. http://yfrog.com/4b8jitj.

He then relented…” If enough of my followers ask, I will don the Extensis mullet and post a picture–and hate every moment of it.” Tell him to do it!

And one group was so enamored with the wig that they posted several pictures on their blog. So to the entire team at Digital Photographer Magazine (UK)– YOU LOOK BRILLIANT!

If you’d enjoy making fun of the Extensis team (never a real stretch) check out our Mulletude (on Flickr).

Peace.

————————————————–

*FWIW- Unable to find ‘hat-able’ heads in anything other than this material, we have donated to a Carbon Offset program (through the Nature Conservancy) as a counter-balance. We don’t want to increase our footprint- quite the opposite.


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Thanks to all of you who joined us at the pre-funk party at Subo before An Event Apart in Minneapolis! It was great to see so many Extensis customers, fans and event attendees. We really enjoy these parties. They are a great chance to chat with people about web fonts, font management and the challenges of web design. Well, that, and it’s the perfect place to grab a good brew or two!


We were happy to have one of our Type Foundry partners at the party, typographer Mark Simonson. We used his typefaces Refrigerator Deluxe Heavy and Coquette Bold on our bamboo WebINK coasters.

Be sure to check out the full collection of Mark Simonson Studio fonts over on WebINK.


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No, it is not the beginning of a cheesy 60’s horror flick—or some sort of take-off on the Godfather (though brilliant as that might have been). But it is curious why we at Extensis stuffed Styrofoam heads (the sort that don hats in stores) into the mail and sent them to our many friends in the press…

Looks like they are starting to arrive! Some early reaction:

“Okay I’ll bite, why did #Extensis send a Styrofoam head to me Designer Today Magazine offices?”

Extensis just sent me a polystyrene head in the post. Am I in some sort of typography version of The Godfather?”

“ You guys should get some pics of what journos have been putting those poor heads through. We’re very artistic, you know ;)”

As you can imagine, this is only half the story. The rest to be revealed later this week.

Got an entertaining guess?

Pre-mailing pow-wow of heads


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Ahh the magic of a little bit of edge detection and a little scripting. This fun little online tool takes any image, detects the edges in the image, and then places whatever text you want along those edges. Pretty fun little tool to noodle around with, that’s for sure! Check out the Textorizer.

Textorizer Extensis Logo


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Cool video produced and projected onto an old English castle.

Will this be the future of the “laser light show” experience from the 80s? Sweet!


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We haven’t done one of these in quite some time, so it’s about time we got back to it.

I love to see how people use typography in signage. It’s an area where companies can quickly identify their brand, and communicate a lot about themselves in a few short letters.

I’ve always found Seattle to be a very forward leaning city that is frequently on the cutting edge of design, fashion, food and architecture. I took a few pictures of signage during a recent trip there. Enjoy!

01_VAIN_typography

04_VENTANA_typography

06_HOTELANDRA_typography

09_LOLA_typography

07_MOORETHEATRE_typography08_MOORETHEATRE_type2

02_OTTICA_typography

03_GIANDECARO_typography

05_LAFONTANA_typography

10_tile_typography


Happy Holidays from Extensis

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Our spokesmen, Max Kerning and his evil brother Les Kerning would like to wish you the happiest of holidays.


Max Kerning, now on Windows

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Wait, doesn’t Max look a bit like a favorite former head of a major software company?


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