The Weight is Over

Everything changes. What do you think this whole crazy evolution theory mumbo jumbo is about anyway? If there are any certainties in life, a bigly one is that things will change.

So, it is reasonable to assume this sentiment can be applied to branding problems, too. Brands need to grow and change with the times to continue to be relevant, attract new customers and change as their current customers do. Totally makes sense.

The latest butterfly to burst from the chrysalis is WW, the brand formally known as Weight Watchers.

Like everything else on the planet, page after page of commentary for and against the rebranding can be found online as the critics weigh in. (I’ll quit with the puns at some point.) I do not intend to tread the same ground, rather my intent is to get designers to take a closer look at the things you while redesigning a logo and carefully look at the meanings we bake into our work.

There are many instances of clever use of negative space to add more meaning to an otherwise simple design. One of the most famous being the FedEx logo. If you scroll through the inter-web you are sure to come across stories from the design team regaling their genius in building the letterforms around the arrow created by the negative space between the “E” and the “x”.


Dig deeper and you will find that the “easter egg” so carefully crafted was actually a happy accident, that it was only discovered after the typeface had been chosen and the designers began toying around with it. Further, this arrow reportedly was a huge topic of debate that almost killed the entire design because the arrow points to the right. This detail is great when the logo is on the right-hand side of the delivery truck because it is pointed forward, but not so good according to FedEx execs when displayed on the left-hand side because the arrow is pointing backwards. Not a positive connotation for speedy deliveries.

Obviously, FedEx got over it and zillions of logos with the hidden arrow have since been splattered across the planet.

Unfortunately, WW fell into a similar trap.

I understand Weight Watchers’ desire to change their brand from “diet” to “wellness” (a terrible word, by the way.) It broadens the company’s offering and creates the opportunity to reach people who want to be fit but not have the whole diet thing hanging over their heads.

But look at the logo and its unintended easter egg. There are arrows created but the negative space in the diagonal strokes of the W’s. They point up and down.

Unlike the FedEx execs who approved their new logo despite initial reservations, these WW guys should be flogged for making this choice. Weight yo-yo-ing up and down is a primary cause of so many health issues from the obesity epidemic to heart disease, particularly here in the USA. The logo communicates this message on a very subtle level.

All is not well that ends well.

Noted for the week of October 8th


Arguably the greatest ad ever.


Why Business Design is the Most Important Skill of the Future
The times of pure Design Thinking are over: Certainly, the last years have seen the rise of Design Thinking and similar processes (most lately design sprints) that help entrepreneurs and managers to create more user-centered products and services. They are great tools to spawn desirability in customers. Nevertheless, they often fall short in creating a sustainable business model. Business Design is the remedy to this problem.

Advertising: The Rise of The Internet Class
… our industry is starting to have its own internet class. Now, I know, advertising has always been full of hustlers. But, the hustle, for creatives at least, has always been about trying to make things. The hustle, was the way, never the end goal.

Is “Hipster Design” Really a Thing?
According to Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast, yes

Five Ways to Improve Communication in Virtual Teams
As collaborative technologies proliferate, it is tempting to assume that more sophisticated tools will engender more effective virtual communication. However, our study of globally dispersed teams in a major multinational organization revealed that performance depends on how people use these technologies, not on the technologies themselves.

It’s Time to Embrace the Creativity Explosion Advertising Is Undergoing
The best times often appear most challenging


And more great TED Talks from our friends at InVision: The 7 TED Talks every designer should watch

Jeff Goodby’s 5 Vandalism Rules for Advertising Professionals
Go against the grain, and perhaps against your better judgment

The future creative department should be more Kraftwerk, less Nickelback
… creative workplace being forever beta, and I stand by that. It’s always changing.
And for more great stuff from Mr Haworth, check out The Modern Day Creative Director

See Mailchimp’s weird new branding
While other software giants are simplifying their branding, Mailchimp is keeping it quirky.

Found: An Ancient Roman Comic Strip With Speech Bubbles
Even the Romans loved comics!

The Agency Model

I’ve been working in-house for almost nine years now. There is a perception among management that being in-house means you’re not as creative as the people out in the agency world and therefore are not capable of doing the utterly amazing things agencies do.

There is not an ounce of truth in that last statement.

I’ve now run into this problem a second time. First at Schlumberger and now at Sysco. From management’s perspective, the key to unlocking this puzzle, is the much revered “agency model”. If only we worked more like an agency, then we would get work done faster, better and, being in-house, cheaper. The holy trifecta.

The thing I do not think people understand is that the agency model is not a process, rather it is about economics. It’s financial.

All agencies and most in-house organizations have their own variations on the process, but they are in essence all the same. There are a few different ways to skin a cat, but at the end of the day you’re stilling skinning a cat.

Agencies do indeed attract very talented and creative people. That is for sure. But these days, big corporations do, too. The main difference between the two is mindset between in-house and agency folks. Agencies will do damned near anything to make something happen. if they don’t, they’re out of business.

That’s quite the motivation to get things done.

Being in-house, you are a protected class. There are rules out the wahzoo protecting employees from the kind of lengths agencies are willing to go to. Perhaps the issue is that being in-houses, people are not incentivized enough. Not properly motivated (or improperly) to do amazing work. To push beyond.

There are other issues at play here, too.

But a lack of creativity is not one of them.