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Brett Traylor of Thinkso in New York comments on the United-Continental airlines identity strategy.

united There obviously wasn't a designer in the room when the geniuses at United and Continental, negotiating the terms to create the world's largest airline, settled on the meat-head approach of pairing the United name with the Continental look and feel. Brand identities are built strategically — or at least that's the gospel we preach — carefully combining elements such as a name, a symbol, a typeface, a color palette, imagery, a tone-of-voice, to create a distinct personality. Pieces from one company's identity can't just be swapped with that from another's, can they? But there it is, the eighth bullet point at the top of their press release "Name of Airline Will be United with Continental's Logo and Livery." That solves that, I suppose. I spent a good chunk of my career working on the very identity that now seems destined for history books, so excuse my bitterness, but this is more of a corporate identity prenuptial agreement than it is the creation of a super brand.

The question of whether or not the merger is a good idea will be answered over the next few years — with the survival or demise of the airline. But as for the quality of the new identity, well, that won't take but a minute. The Continental look and feel is tired. It's aircraft paint scheme is pure vanilla. It's "Work Hard" campaign has more than run its course. Its globe symbol is cliché, uncreative and unmemorable. And that typeface. Please, Lord, anything but that typeface! Don't get me wrong. It's not that the United identity is untouchable... But truly, if you had to choose one of the two identities, wouldn't it be United's? And if not, wouldn't the smart thing be to sit down, take a deep breath, and consult someone with, say, a BFA instead of a JD to come up with something more appropriate?

You can find Brett Traylor's entire commentary at...


vsa From Fallon To VSA
VSA Partners adds Executive Creative Directors Hans Hansen and Eric Sorensen; both join VSA's new Partner/COO John Colasanti in Minneapolis. They were each recently Group Creative Directors at Fallon Worldwide where, for the past four years, they created award-winning work for virtually every account in the agency including Citibank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Holiday Inn, Nuveen, NYSE, Chrysler and Traveler's Insurance. Each had previously spent a number of years with Colasanti at Carmichael Lynch. "This is a company that values the power of creativity," says Sorensen. Dana Arnett heads VSA.

Design Investment Reviving
The AIGA Design Leaders Confidence Index for the first quarter of 2010 reflects the strongest confidence yet in an economic recovery. The index rose to 103.73 — up from a low of 51 in October 2008 — and is the highest since AIGA began measuring confidence in the design economy in early 2005. Most respondents rated conditions moderately better, and the data and anecdotal evidence suggest investment in design is reviving.

Illustrating The World Cup
The South African illustration house, Am I Collective, scored a creative coup when it was commissioned to create 32 murals for ESPN's 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign via Wieden+Kennedy. The 32 murals celebrate each of the 32 teams that will be competing in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. ESPN owns the broadcasting rights to the event in a number of territories including the USA. See them all in one place at...


We have extended our American Graphic Design Awards flagship competition for a couple of weeks. The final postmarked deadline is June 30. To download an entry form or for more information, please visit...


quaker Quaker Lite
Wallace Church was asked to develop a new more contemporary branding — that also gave a nod to the powerful heritage of the brand — for Quaker Lite Snacks. The solution: a logo that incorporates the Quaker Oats man inside a more rounded and modern serif "Q". The new logo is being debuted on all the Lite Snacks including Mini Delights, Quakes, Tortillaz, and Rice Cakes.

Big Hearted
Big (Beatley Gravitt, Inc.) recently concluded several months of collaboration with the American Heart Association, providing pro bono marketing and design services in support of two Richmond fundraising events, the Go Red For Women luncheon and the Richmond Heart Ball. For both, Big worked closely with American Heart Association staff to create a variety of marketing materials, including invitations, event programs, auction guides, and more. Together they raised roughly one millions dollars.

cvpa Orange Turn To Studio Blue
Studio Blue's recent collaboration with the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University started with a workshop to help define a new mission, vision, and set of values to guide the college. The resulting verbal tools became the foundation for a visual identity system and culminated in a website launched this spring. Cheryl Towler Weese says that Studio Blue positioned VPA as "a generator that energizes whatever community in which it is engaged" and that the website conveys the qualities of the brand at every level.


The employment outlook for creative professionals is looking up for the coming quarter, according to The Creative Group Hiring Index for Marketing and Advertising Professionals. A net 6 percent of marketing and advertising executives surveyed anticipate increasing personnel in the next three months — that's up five points from the previous quarter's projection. Following are the top five specialty areas in demand among executives who intend to hire:

1. Web Design/Production — 16%
2. Account Services — 12%
3. Creative/Art Direction — 12%
4. Print Design/Production — 11%
5. Social Media — 11%

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and interactive professionals on a project basis. For more information, please visit Connect with The Creative Group at or


eu Europe Has Changed
The Foundation Design den Haag asked for suggested new flags to reflect Europe's growing diversity of cultures, languages, traditions and beliefs. "Europe has changed," the organization notes. They expected a few hundred entries and receive 1,400 instead from 30 European and 33 additional countries. Here is one of the more colorful submissions designed by Victor Hertz.

21 In Dog Years
Dallas-based Black Lab Creative is celebrating its third birthday. Three years ago, four talents with big brand and big agency experience — Chad Costas, Brett Dougall, Eddie Hale and John McFarland — were visiting at a bar and asked each other how they could build a better creative agency. Their answer: build it their way. "It dawned on us that there was a better way to do things, and we were just the guys to do it, darn it," said Black Lab Creative Partner Eddie Hale. "We're not a frilly show dogs but rather just like good ole, All-American labs. We work hard and play hard, and we treat our clients like they are family."

mayo Kraft Promotes Ma(yo)keover
Kraft's celebrity campaign for its flavored mayonnaise lineup stars HGTV Design Star judges Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip. TV spots, dubbed "Tastemakers," evoke a makeover reality-show format. This is the first big ad push for the new line. To push the reality show theme, Kraft has expanded its print beyond traditional lifestyle and food titles to include InStyle and House Beautiful. Agencies include mcgarrybowen, Chicago, for creative; Upshot for promotional marketing; AKQA, New York, for digital; and Hunter for public relations.


Our special summer Dimensional Digital Print Cover contest is now open and sponsored by Kodak. Creatives are invited to submit the design for a printed insert that will double as the September cover of GDUSA magazine. Winners will be selected on overall visual appearance, tactile effectiveness and integration of the easy-to-design-for Kodak NexPress Dimensional Printing System. For information and an entry form, contact...


Stock Up On Ragu
Ragú wanted to celebrate its sponsorship as the official pasta sauce of NASCAR as well as its licensing rights in using Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s image and signature. Targeting Ragú users as well as NASCAR fans, Ragú turned to TFI Envision's promotional expertise to gear up an instore merchandising program to run in Kroger stores. The integrated pallet display consisted of product trays, and an action packed riser card with Dale Jr.'s image, signature and stock car crashing through a racing flag for a very stunning and appealing visual.

Gateway To Fame
Full Sail University cut the ribbon on its Gateway Project, a 22,000 sq. ft. facility that features a 500-seat venue, and game production and recording studio spaces. The day included an induction ceremony for the institution's 2010 Hall of Famers. New honorees are Leslie Brathwaite, Grammy-award winning Mix Engineer; Steve Cainas, Production Coordinator for films and primetime series including LOST; Troy DeVolld, Emmy-nominated Supervising Producer; Marc Fishman, Sound Re-Recording Mixer and Emmy-winner for HBO's John Adams; Kristifir Klein, Set Modeling Lead at Pixar; and Martin "Tike" Santos, Live Sound Engineer/Technician for the likes of Peter Frampton, Faith Hill, and Paul McCartney.

billboard Dictating Fashion
This provocative billboard for a clothing company in Italy shows Adolf Hitler in a pink uniform with a heart armband. The message to young people: "Change style. Don't follow your leader." On one level attention grabbing; on another a bit sickening; and on yet a third hypocritical since the message comes from a fashion house trying to dictate fashion.