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UMKC, If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It

I recently received an email to vote on the new, improved athletics logo for UMKC, my alma mater. (That’s University of Missouri – Kansas City for anyone wondering.) I was confused at first. How often do logos need to be updated? The year after I graduated they came out with a new logo. I’d say somewhere around 2005. This brings us to somewhere around 3 years ago. And it’s already time for another logo?

It seems that the athletic department has decided that “to create a more comprehensive athletics program, they need to have a more consistent identity, which is something that hasn’t been visible in the past.”

I guess the logo they designed a few years ago wasn’t consistent enough. I’m pretty sure the invisibility of the past was lack of marketing, not the identity. I thought the logo they used from 1987 to 2004 was pretty consistent.

It wasn’t used very well and kind of reminded me of the KangaROOS shoe brand logo, but I thought it was consistent. Re-branding is a common method used to spike interest, so I guess I can handle it. A logo design should be timeless and if anything be able to last more than 3 years. Changing your logo constantly isn’t going to help “consistency”.

After saying all that, I’m still excited to see the options I’ve been given to choose between. I click the link that takes me to the voting page. Uhhhh… really? The two logos shown aren’t what I was hoping for to say the least. Quick critique time!

Option One (on left): I like that they show the whole kangaroo. Even though it says roos, it’s nice to know what it is with a quick glance and with just a head or upper body it’s hard to tell exactly what it is. I understand that the Roo is supposed to have an illustrated feel, but it seems incomplete. The bigger issue is the typography. “Roos” is hard to read. The “R” looks very close to an “A” and the “s” looks like a “5”. The text shouldn’t be angled. When this gets printed on a T-Shirt, it will look like a bad print job. I can hear it now. “Is this supposed to be angled?”

Option Two (on right): I really want to like this one. Overall I wish it were more symmetrical to give it a stronger and more stable look. Especially being a sports logo. The boxing gloves are a nice concept, but I’m not sure if it reads very well. The typography here is better starting with a more traditional and less trendy font choice than option one, but still needs some work. It looks like they tried to have the same arch baseline for “UMKC” and “ROOS”, but were just off from matching it and “ROOS” being italicized doesn’t help it fit either.

Maybe we should look to our new arrivals in the Summit League, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. They recently redesigned their logo as well. I think I’ll write in a vote for it.

8 New Marketing/Distribution Options in Music

Old Electronic Display - No Disc

The record companies are clueless and scared, the RIAA is abusively litigious and crass. However the musicians are listening to their fans like teenagers who just heard Dark Side of the Moon for the second time, and we’re all exploring a plethora of new options.

The traditional marketing system for music has eaten itself over the last decade. Some would even say it’s been back for seconds. All with a public looking on, trying to care about the the people behind the music we love. I say trying, because we universally fail to give a crap when nasty corporations alongside acts like Metallica and Prince, start rattling their sabers.

You see, when millionaires argue with billionaires it’s hard to care. And I don’t mean like sudoku is hard, I mean like bench pressing 600 lbs is hard. Almost no one can do it, or even wants to try. Add the fact that the struggling musicians aren’t getting hurt in the crossfire, and you end up with a public that’s kind of enjoying the implosion. It’s like watching a bully finally get his ass kicked across the playground.

This has lead to/been caused by (It’s a chicken and egg thing) a bottom-up explosion in cheap distribution and marketing ingenuity; and a fan base that’s constantly being handed new ways to discover, and consume, music. Even some of the established acts are blazing trails away from the grasp of cuff-linked suits and into the arms of screaming fans. Fans that (surprise, surprise) are actually willing to part with their hard-earned dollars for good music, when they know that it’s not funding another round of music-mogul golden parachutes and ridiculous riders for the musical aristocracy.

Here’s what some of the established or semi-established artists are are doing differently… Read More…

Your Customers Care About Design (Even If They Don’t)

Bad Traffic Light Design

When it comes to cost cutting, many times it’s design or marketing that goes first. This is like an applicant ditching the cover letter on their resume when the job market is down: it’s laughably bad timing. (You’re business is the applicant; your customer is interviewing your product all day every day. See how that works?)

So, why is such a silly mistake so common? It has to do with vocabulary. Even people who don’t care about design, care about it. They just think they don’t care, because they don’t know the language. They don’t take note of poorly thought out ergonomics when they encounter them, but they sure recognize it when they’ve purchased a product the maker clearly never used for it’s intended purpose. When they feel they’ve wasted money, they certainly do take note. And they tell their friends.

People who say design is unimportant are taking it for granted. We’re literally surrounded by products, information, and communication that’s been worked over and focused grouped to death. Example: there are 300 kinds of cereal at the grocery store. All of these companies have 0.1 seconds to pitch to you as you fly down the aisle, hoping your rug-rat doesn’t see the really-sugary-crap, but does see the kind-of-sugary-crap that you want. The cereal companies know this, and 90% of those boxes have been meticulously designed to stop you and/or your kid dead in your tracks.

We are inundated with superbly designed products. A lot of us don’t know it, but it’s more likely that we just don’t know what to call it. When we see an ad with bad kerning, even if you don’t know what’s wrong with it, you still think it looks cheap; an impression you immediately transfer to the product. This doesn’t make you someone who’s into typography, it makes you a seasoned consumer. Which is what most of us are by the age of 6, thanks to McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and co.

So what about it? Well, if you want to sell somebody something; an idea, an mp3 player, whatever; then you’d better get your design shoes on. Or pay someone else to do the legwork for you.

A 3-year Fortune-500 study conducted by research firm Peer Insight found companies focused on customer-experience design outperformed the S&P 500 by 10-to-1 from 2000-2005. One more time for those in the back: that was 10-1. Your customers care about design; a lot; ten-to-one a lot. Even if they don’t (know it).

[Photo Credit]