The tech business's favorite illustration style

Khoi Vinh noticed that tech marketing adheres a very specific, somewhat infantilized illustration style. I call it safety minimalism—Vinh sees in it the rise of a monoculture.

In my experience, the vast majority of them are quite similar in their aesthetic: the colors range from primary to bright pastels; the figures are cleanly drawn and almost always rendered with vectors; the details are highly abstracted and shading is geometric if it appears at all; the compositions are generally minimal and only occasionally feature very limited background elements. ... It probably wouldn’t be far off-base to assume that a lot of these illustrations were done not by professional illustrators but by product designers who also have some illustration talent themselves.

Just as likely is the genre's systemic occupation of cheap stock illustration sites, which aggregate semi-skilled hackwork into a convenient business-to-business service.

Either way, Vinh poses an important question about "the prevalence of a single, monocultural aesthetic" by every startup, tech firm and personal brand monster: surely some other voice, or even another "modulation" of the same style, would be more appropriate for at least some?

UPDATE: First comment from Moosemalloy points out some important art history: "I submit that this style is redolent of and still influenced by the flattist pastel-y images that Adobe Flash tended to produce and that hence proliferated in early-to-mid web history. Flash is discontinued but still, I suspect, casts its shadow (or lack of shadow!) over web imagery generally, and this is a manifestation of same." Read the rest

The climactic conclusion to DONG Energy's awesome name

A brand manager at Dong Energy finally convinced them that their company name might be getting in the way of their messaging. They will be Ørsted from here out. Read the rest

This AI trained on a million logos will now rate your logo

If an artificial intelligence reviewed your favorite logo, how would that logo fare? now you can find out with Logo Rank, a nifty tool by the guy behind Brandmark. Read the rest

Photo of all the Dr. Pepper knockoffs

Spotted doing the viral rounds and unattributed (though watermarked with a URL that redirects to Elbe Spurling's website) this wall of Dr. Pepper knockoffs is a magnificent lesson in branding magic and semiotics and all that fancy jazz. I transcribed the names:

Dr. Choice Dr. Bold Dr. Perfect Dr. Bob Dr. Wow Real Dr. Dr. Thunder Dr. Right Dr. K Dr. Shaw Dr. A+ Dr. Stripes Dr. Chill Dr. Skipper The Dr. Dr. Tremor Dr. Snap Dr. Perky Dr. Shasta Dr. Spice Dr. Fine Dr. Zevia Dr. Dynamite

Not included, tragically, is Kroger's recently-marketed "The Fizzicist", photographed here by Brent Nashville.

If I made one, it would be 'Not really a Dr."

Update: One ~bmasmith compiled a big list of Dr. Pepper clones. Read the rest

The Falsum: a free, open brand for the anti-⊥rump Resistance

Aaron created the Falsum, a fully worked branding guideline with templates and a style guide for a wordmark and logo for resisting Trumpism. Read the rest

How sound is used to make you remember brands

From the THX sound to Windows startup chimes, audio is a key weapon in the psychological branding arsenal. In this video from Wired, Andrew Stafford (Co-Founder & Director at Big Sync Music) and Steve Milton (Founding Partner at Listen) provide commentary on some of the most famous.

There was a time, Stafford says, when the Nokia ringtone was being played 20,000 times a second. [via MeFi]

Encore: the story behind Sosumi, the most annoying Mac sound. Read the rest

Moby Dick's Restaurant lease blocked due in part to its "offensive name"

A building council in Vancouver, BC commercial building are reportedly refusing to allow one of the building owners to lease to Moby Dick's Restaurant, a fish-and-chips franchise, in part because of its name. According to a lawsuit, the building council claims that “that the word ‘Dick’ in Moby Dick was an offensive term" and "also claimed a Moby Dick sign would hurt the value of neighboring properties, and that the restaurant would bring increased litter and violate city laws on odor." From Courthouse News Service:

“It was clear by the end of August 2016 that the Strata intended to refuse any signage proposals belonging to Moby Dick which resembled its traditional trademark and brand,” the complaint states. “Instead, the Strata demanded that Moby Dick adopt a signage that was ‘minimalist’ both in color and design. As such, the Strata wrongfully denied Moby Dick’s use of its logo, brand name, and goodwill recognition at the commercial property.”

Mengfa seeks declaratory judgment and damages for interference with business relations.

Read the rest

Embarrassed New Yorkers force Trump Place to change name

New Yorkers renting in the Trump Place buildings on the upper west side have forced the building's owner to take Trump's name off their homes. Read the rest

Trump hotels, faced with massive declines in bookings, rebrand as "Scion Hotels"

When estimating his net worth, Pepe the Cheeto is apt to include a multibillion dollar valuation for the "Trump" brand-name; but new Trump Hotels will be called "Scion" hotels, "a nod to the Trump family and to the tremendous success it has had with its businesses, including Trump Hotels, while allowing for a clear distinction between our luxury and lifestyle brands." Read the rest

2016 presidential candidates: black metal edition

Christophe Szpajdel rebranded the hopefuls with more elaborate and distinctive imagery than is permitted by the blandly inoffensive standards of election campaigning. Read the rest

Brandishing the Olympic Torch

Photo: Zoelee Read the rest

Kickstopper: paying Hollywood studios to cease dumb franchise production

The Dork Tower webcomic has a modest proposal: a crowdfunding site called "Kickstopper" that raises funds to persuade Hollywood studios to halt production on tired sequels, franchises, and adaptations.

Dork Tower Thursday (via The Mary Sue) Read the rest