briefly noted

Wordmark watch

March 16th, 2010  |  Tags: , ,  |  Leave a comment


I often pass a Savers department store on Madison’s west side. The Savers wordmark has always bothered me, but I haven’t thought carefully about why it has bothered me, because I’m usually driving and thus keeping my eyes on the road. I don’t really care for the aesthetic behind this kind of wordmark, but this weekend I realized what really bothers me is the execution. Specifically, it looks like this wordmark is based on a typeface designed to appear at much smaller sizes. Little details, like the tall “s” and “e” glyphs, could imperceptibly improve color in 9 pt body text but are unsubtle in a 500-pixel-wide logo (as above) and approach caricature in an 8-foot-high sign on the side of a store.


The two settings of “mixer” above are an example of the misused optical size phenomenon; both are set in Chaparral Pro at 168 pt, but the one on top is set in the version of Chaparral designed for captions and the one on bottom is set in the version of Chaparral designed for display use. At the same size, the caption version is almost a parody of the display version. These exaggerations wouldn’t be obvious in a footnote, but they are glaring at more than an inch and juxtaposed against the version designed for display sizes.

The problems with the Savers wordmark go beyond its execution, but it would be interesting to see how much it could be improved simply by starting from a more appropriate typeface.

Abuses corrected

January 13th, 2010  |  Tags: , , , ,  |  2 Comments

(This is merely one of those “briefly-noted” remaindered link posts I have from time to time, but given the common leitmotif I couldn’t resist the urge to allude to the Confessio Augustana in the title.)

Logo abuse

Armin Vit discusses the new Peugeot logo, which represents a dramatic step backwards in execution and looks rather like it was created by the “3D Text” feature in Microsoft Office 97. (True story: at one point in my graduate-school career, I worked on a student project with someone who insisted not only on using Word for scholarly writing, but also on making a “3D” title page for our paper. That was a particularly awful semester.) As an interested layman, I can only speculate that AIGA and other professional societies are requiring identity designers to meet an “awkward gradients and misplaced highlights” quota these days. Either that, or branding agencies are delegating work to enthusiastic toddlers with Office licenses.

Naming abuse

Thomas and I were shopping for a TV antenna a few days ago, and we came across this product, which is billed as a “Quantum Antenna.” This made a lot of sense: in my experience, over-the-air TV reception is definitely a problem domain in which observing an apparatus can change its state. I didn’t buy it, though, since it was expensive and our reception is bad enough as it is without introducing any additional uncertainty.

Tautology abuse

D and B recently brought us a battery of amazings gastronomic delights including some truly excellent blackberry ice cream. I ate some of the latter last night and noticed the following truly excellent copy on the carton:


Yes, with a sentence that recalls Jon Gruden’s booth work on Monday Night Football (“THAT GUY is a FOOTBALL PLAYMAKER, making FOOTBALL PLAYS for this FOOTBALL PROGRAM.”), this carton of ice cream assures me that it is “certified organic by organic certifiers.” My initial reaction was “of course! Who else could do so?” But perhaps I’ve construed the second “organic” too narrowly, and the sentence simply means to indicate that organic certification was performed by a carbon-based certifier. In any case, the ice cream is great.

By the way, if you’re keeping track of Myriad creep, be sure to make a note here.