Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Diet Coke Brand Refresh

I quite like the new Diet Coke brand refresh. It is quite simple, but bold. I think the brand is strong enough in its own right to move in this direction. The silver colour is as important a part as the red and black text now. I personally prefer the "real thing" with the full sugar. I actually prefer sugar to sweetners, but that's just my preference. Diet Coke has a huge number of loyal customers and this will not dampen that. Coke have done a good job. I think that their brand development has not changed the flavour, only the packaging, so this can only improve their sales. 

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Samsung Website is very slick, but it works brilliantly.

I had a look at the Samsung UK website and found it dripping with technology. It is very slick and it did leave me wanting things that I've never wanted before, like a camcorder. All products have been excellently rendered to a very high standard. The site navigation is fairly easy to follow, but the site is a little thin on text content. It takes a few clicks to get to some detailed information. I suppose that Samsung are a great brand who offer a wide range from TVs, mobiles, tablets and computers, so this is as much a showcase website than anything else. For a website that says "Wow look at all the great stuff we make" it works very well, but personally there is too much emphasis on style than detailed substance for me.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Photoshop Render of plastic bottle

So a while back, I created a plastic bottle in Photoshop. At the time I wasn't sure how to render a bottle in Photoshop, but I gave it a go. Although I never kept the the original photo, I created this bottle by taking a photo of a plastic bottle and then simplified the reflections.
First I created a plain background with a grid of dots on it so that the transparency of the bottle would be shown.

Then I traced the complete outer shape and filled it with a sold grey. Then, using the eraser, in airbrush mode, I took away some of the middle area to show some transparency in this base layer.

I then duplicated that layer and brightened it. Then I took the brightened layer and airbrushed away all, but the outer edges, just to give the bottle some shape.

The reflections took up the majority of the time in this project. It is just a case of tracing almost all of the reflections, by drawing a path around each one, filling and blurring until it looks realistic. The point of this is not to make it look exactly like a photo, but a simplified version, so that if you have to add a label design to your image, it looks better than a digital photo.

To get the red of the bottle top, I just copied and pasted the layer and then hit the "colorize" button within hue and saturation. Then I brightened it to get a vivid red.

Added some reflections to the bottle top.

Finally I created a bottle reflection below the bottle, to stop it look like it was floating. To do this I just merged my layers and duplicated the bottle, flipped it round and eraser airbrushed away the edge. Done.

New Starbucks Logo - not my cup of tea!

Another logo that changed recently without me really noticing was the New Starbucks Logo. I noticed only last week, but they changed it in back January. This is the fourth time that they have changed it since the company began. Personally I think that it is quite a safe step. There isn't really a new concept here. There is no new corporate identity. They have not re-branded as far as I am concerned. This is not any strategy to change their brand image, but merely to simplify it. Perhaps they think that this will keep the same company image, but present it in a new light without losing any of the old legacy. All I can say is that its not my cup of tea! (He He)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Zoo Website Review - Disney's Animal Kingdom

I had a good look through Disney's Animal Kingdom website and was fairly underwhelmed. It looks like a template built site and personally it doesn't really inspire. I believe that it is a fantastic attraction to visit. I don't think that their website lives up to that reputation. The site is pretty rigid in its presentation. As far as theme park branding is concerned I have seen more exiting sites from lesser attractions. And I guess thats probably the crux of it. They might not need to put much effort in to get more visitors to their attractions when they probably already have a steady stream of visitors. The site is simple and easy to navigate, but as far as branding for a zoo type theme park goes, I just think it is lacking some "Wow" factor. Oh well.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Scottish Knitwear Brands are Alive and Kicking

It is good to see that the knitwear industry in Scotland is doing very well. I am quite impressed with the number and variety of knitwear brands in this region. From the old established brands to the new companies there still some healthy competition.

Pringle of Scotland seem to have changed their focus recently. They did very well to rebrand themselves a few years ago to position themselves as a high brow cutting edge knitwear label, but now I think they are changed their brand strategy a wee bit and, although still cutting edge, they seem to be more "punk" than "posh". Well they are a high fashion brand, so I guess they must know where its all happening.
 Lyle and Scott seem to be on the rise. I really like their current website. It is cool, edgy but not exclusive. I like the way the site functions and the way that it is styled. Their brand image is a wee bit "preppy" for my own tastes, but that is still very of the moment and I think they have a good overall brand concept. Lyle and Scott are hip, youthful and most of all fresh.

Personally, I think that William Lockie deserve a better website than they currently have. In my opinion, their website doesn't serve them as a sales tool very well. I understand their focus on heritage, but I just don't think it is as important as their products.
Lochcarron have a good brand position and good products, but I just don't think that their website presents them in a great light. I understand that they have recently changed ownership. I'm hoping that their new owners have a great design and marketing team.

I think that The Scarf Company are a great Scottish Knitwear company. Based in Hawick, they produce a wide range of both cashmere and lambswool knitted scarves, hats and gloves. Their new website is clear and easy to navigate through. I like the products and I like the brand.

Peter Scott have a good brand image. They have recently refreshed their website and I think it is a lot better, I understand that they have a well established customer base within the golf knitwear market.

In general, I like the Hawick Cashmere website. The styling of the model shots are interesting, although the models are a bit wooden. The overall style and layout of their website is quite modern and I think they have good products. I think this company, as a brand, is good, but it could be great.
I personally think that the Johnstons of Elgin website doesn't do the company as well as it should. I believe that they have an established company that does very well, but I think their website lacks a more defined "image". I personally think that they could be bolder in their approach.

This is just a wee selection of some Scottish knitwear companies. I understand that there are many more good knitwear companies based in this region. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Zoo Website review - San Diego Zoo

Last time I checked the San Diego Zoo Website it didn't really reflect the status that the zoo itself has. San Diego Zoo is one of the worlds biggest and best staffed zoos in the world. It has an amazing education resource and depth of zoological related study. I think the current version of the site is a lot better. It now lives up to the zoo's reputation. I personally think that a website for a zoo should create a buzz about itself, to make the website visitor want to go to the actual location. They have a very strong brand and have managed to develop that brand recently to appeal more as a theme park as well as an education resource. This site has a lot of good content regardless of what the web gurus say about flash animations, they do serve a purpose to create fun web pages. This website has usefulness, basically to inform and to promote the zoo. It does this very well.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Kraft Logo

The new Kraft logo has been around since last year, but the old logo is still on a lot of their packaging. I understand that they are a global food conglomerate looking to cut costs, but surely they sell consumables, so they must be regularly reprinting their labels? I like the newly developed logo and branding. I guess they are trying to soften their image, with some success. The design is softer. The blue curve is similar to the new Argos Curved logo. Their intention was that the curve represented a smile. Since the Kraft Foods takeover of Cadbury, I get the feeling that Kraft want to improve their brand image.
New Kraft Logo

Old Kraft Logo

"FREE iPads" they said....

Friday, 19 August 2011

"Everything Everywhere" has "Not much anywhere" (On its website anyhow)

Now that the mobile phone networks Orange and T-Mobile have merged, "to improve customer synergies", guess what? My network coverage is now rubbish. I never had any problems when I was with only orange. Now that Orange and T-Mobile use the same network, there are times when I can't get a signal.

Anyway, their separate websites are pretty impressive. Although their joined venture "Everything Everywhere" looks a bit scant on content to me. I think they rushed that one out...

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Personal Development update

So, in my spare time for the past few months I've been teaching myself CSS 3, learning more about Search Engine Otimisation, adding to my Flash Action Scripting skills as well as learning about Flash Catalyst and teaching myself about building a shopping cart site. Still had time to climb the odd mountain or two aswell. Now that I'm self employed, I've found that I can focus my energy to do those other things that I told myself that I didn't have time to learn before. I'm "Earning and learning" and quite enjoying it too!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Bing is impressive

I'm becoming more and more impressed with the search engine "Bing" from Microsoft. It is truly becoming a contender to challenge the omnipresent Google. (I've never had to use omnipresent in a sentence before). Bing is increasily looking slicker and everyone loves it when the underdog bites the heal of the big guy. And I guess the opposite is true with Google moving in on Microsofts market for publishing software with their Chrome products. "The battle continues!"

A Cheap Laugh, but funny anyway...

Outstanding in my Field!  He He...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Red Bull

I'm not a huge fan of the drink Red Bull, but I do admire the brand. It is a very strong brand and the website is equally strong. Red Bull sponsor, motor racing, X - Fighters, surfing and more besides, but they have maintained that "buzz" about them as an exiting brand.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Katy Master - Massage Therapy

Another logo design that I designed while at my previous employer was for the massage therapist, Katy Master. I quite like the shapes of this logo, although I didn't have to design much because Katy already specified the shape that she wanted. So on this occasion I more or less drew up her design, but I did have some input in the colour blend. Nice logo, if I may say so myself.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Scarf Company Logo

Another nice script font logo that I designed, was for The Scarf Company, back in 2002. I think it is a nice logo that also works very well as their scarf labels. The Scarf Company produce scarves, hats, gloves and wristlets from Lambswool and Cashmere.

Angela Delafield Bowen Therapist

Angela Delafield, Bowen Therapist. I designed this logo for Angela when I worked for my previous employer. Angela wanted a modern looking logo that would represent part or all of the circular motion bowen technique. I think the logo works very well and stands out.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Blue Jays

I like the Toronto Blue Jays Website. Many web developers say that all website design should be clear and easy to navigate, which often leads to stale and pretty dull websites that all have a similar layout. I think that there is still the argument for designing a website that creates a 'buzz'. When someone who is a Blue Jays fan, goes on to the site and sees all the different sections of the site, the news style layout, the loads of information on the front page, I don't think that it causes confusion. I think there is the argument for what I call "visual histeria" where, if done very well, you load a lot of information about a subject on to a site (usually news, or fan based sites) to create a sens of "Wow!". Another website that does this very well, is Australia Zoo. More on Australia Zoo next time...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fila website needs some inspiration

I think the Fila website is in need of a makeover. Most marketing and design companies would design a sports brand with a hint of enthusiasm. I think the overall site experience leaves me a bit uninspired. Fila used to have a kind of "buzz" about it. The brand seems to have lost its Mojo. Someone needs to breath some life into the Fila brand. Customers need to be inspired.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Scarf Company

 The Scarf Company, based in the town of Hawick in Scotland, produce Cashmere and Lambswool Scarves, Hats, Gloves and Wristlets. All products are made from 100% natural fibres. Personally, I think they are a great brand and they have quite an impressive range of products

Monday, 1 August 2011

Fox Bikes

I was quite impressed with the Fox bikes website. Fox supply motorcross and bicycle cross bike parts and accessories. Their website is cool. The layout is pretty dynamic, but not too much. Amazing brand, amazing products, amazing website, what more is there to say.