My Look on Good vs. Bad Designs
1. Business Cards:
Creative and unique business cards seem to be a requirement nowadays. It isn’t enough to simply print your name with contact information on small cardstock anymore. While browsing the web, you can find various business cards that go beyond listing contact information. Some are designed to allow for interaction or are even usable. Below are two business cards. Card A, I find to be considered a “good” design and the other, card B, a “bad” design.
The DRESSEW business card is a design that I feel is clever, simple, aesthetically pleasing, and even usable. First, the typographic hierarchy allows me to immediately understand that “DRESSEW” is the name of the company and they are a sewing supply company. If I need to contact this company or see its location, that information is also displayed in a simple, quick way — no jumping through hoops to simply know what the company is and does. Creatively, the entire business card looks like something you would actually find and purchase in a sewing store. Furthermore, it doesn’t only look like a sewing product; DRESSEW is giving recipients of the card either buttons, or sewing string or safety pins. Not only are these items clever because they are products associated with the company, they are also things that I would keep! If I received this card, I would appreciate its creativity, and I would keep it in my purse or desk in case I ever needed a safety pin. It’s a win-win, you get something usable, and the company’s business card doesn’t get tossed in the trash immediately.
Anthony Cole’s business card is very clever and creative but I would probably throw it out (or recycle) quickly after receiving it. Similarly to DRESSEW’s card, Cole’s card tries to look like something more than what it is. Unfortunately, I probably will not ever need or use a fake Swiss army knife. Furthermore, although this business card would be a good way to repurpose cardboard and be environmentally friendly, the individuals receiving the card may not care, and throw it out — a lot of difficult x-acto knife skills wasted. One good point, I can immediately tell that this business card is Anthony Cole’s who is a graphic design, because of the clean and readable type. However, if this “knife” is not initially spread a part like in the picture, Cole is asking recipients to open it up to discover more about him. Yes, this could be fun and interactive, but it could also become frustrating if it doesn’t work seamlessly. Clever? Yes. Worth the time and energy? No.
Whenever I go to a restaurant I like to notice if the restaurant does anything unique with their menus. I like to think the menus are a mix of restaurant’s brand book and product catalog; not very appetizing, but still a fun way to critique menus. Below are two very different menus selling very different food items and branding. Menu A is the “good” and menu B is the “bad.”
I find this menu to be a good design for several reasons. First, the text and food listing is very minimal and clean. Obviously, black text on white paper provides good contrast. Furthermore, I appreciate the restaurant’s simplicity in their type choice. One really clever idea is the structure of the entire menu. The folder that holds the actual menu provides ease of making changes to the menu. Simply being able to replace the white paper with updates is a lot more affordable than having to replace an entire menu. Additionally, the simplicity overall demonstrates the brand well. One gets the sense that the restaurant is sophisticated and they don’t need to fluff up their menu to sell you their food. While looking at other pictures of the menu (see link above) a rustic and minimal style exists throughout the entire menu which I’m sure is present in the actual restaurant. Overall, this menu is very usable while giving customers a sense of the restaurant feel. They display the most important part of the company, the food, in a straightforward manner.
B.) Cooper’s Hawk Winery: https://www.coopershawkwinery.com/public/downloads/menus/Main_Menu.pdf
For my “bad” menu design, I chose Cooper’s Hawk Winery. I do not have an image of the actual menu, but a PDF can be found in the link above. The PDF is exactly how the menu pages are in the restaurant. The main difference, the pages are bound in a nice leather book. First off, I don’t think this menu is ugly or designed poorly. There was much thought given to the layout of the food items and the menu embodies the ambience of the restaurant. I chose this menu as a “bad” design because I do not think it is very practical or usable. There are 16 pages of the menu. That’s 16 pages that I, a hungry customer, have to flip through to find something I want to eat. On a positive note, the pages are divided nicely by appetizers, desserts, entrees, etc., but the organization of the book seems confusing. For example, salads are listed after the burgers and entrees pages. Since we tend to read books linearly, going from one page to the next and not skipping pages, I think it makes more sense to place salads closer to the start of the menu. There is a great advantage in menus that are one big sheet of paper, because your eyes can scan the whole page quickly and repeatedly, compare meals, and make an easy selection. Also, if a tasty appetizer is on the same page as my entree choice, I may be more likely to order it. But in the Cooper’s Hawk menu, appetizers are 10 pages back and I already forget what they offered. Final note, don’t make me read a book to order my food.
3. Mascot Logos:
I love sport logos because sport fans develop a strong connection and enthusiasm for their favorite sport team’s branding. Athletes too have a strong bond with their team mascot and team colors. At my college, if you saw the football team practicing, they were all wearing North Central College apparel. Considering how fans and athletes consider sports branding a part of their own identity, I examined the logos below. Logo A is what I considered to be a “bad” logo, while B is a “good” logo.
The logo above is the mascot of North Central College’s Chippy the Cardinal. Given this was my college athletic logo, I may be bias, but I deem this sport logo to be “bad” for various reasons. First off, one of the main dislikes of this logo is the direction the bird is facing. Generally, when working with a document or poster, you want the viewers eye to lead towards the center, or towards other portions of the document. Having worked with this logo, the left-facing design encourages me to place the logo on the right side of pieces. That way, viewers won’t be lead off the page, but instead, towards other bits of information. This limits the design entirely. Additionally, the asymmetrical design and awkward shape of the logo makes it hard to place other content around or near the logo. Even adding “Cardinals” or “North Central” is difficult to create graceful juxtaposition. The mascot should be designed along with type in order to create consistency across brand pieces. The coloring creates additional problems. The most inner portion of the logo is black and, as in the image above, that portion gets lost on black backgrounds. However, if you place the logo on a red background, the other portions would be lost. The coloring and/or outlining should be consistent to create unity. Overall, I believe this logo to be clunky and awkward.
I chose the logo above in contrast to the North Central logo for several reasons. First off, I thought it wise to compare two birds to see how the same type of animal can be designed in two very different ways. I love how the bird head in this example is front facing. This symmetry makes it easy to place this logo anywhere, on anything. The bird’s expression adds an intimidation factor, fitting for a competitive sports team. Furthermore, the direction the mallard is looking, directly at me, further perpetuates “intimidation.” The style of the mascot is also very contemporary and clean. The sublet highlight and shadow detailing creates good depth. The consistent grey outline allows the logo to be placed on several background colors and not lose essential parts of the logo. Also, the bold dark green outline makes the bird pop out effectively. A big plus to this logo is the text paired with the mascot. The graphic and the type balance each other well and viewers can immediately understand which team the mascot is associated with. Additionally, it is easy and non-destructive to remove the text if desired.