Three Best Things 4/26/10 - 5/2/10

Thing: The Revenge of the Brands: How corporate America turned Naomi Klein’s anti-branding manifesto on its head from Reason. Intended as an anti-marketing call-to-arms, Naomi Klein’s No Logo has actually wound up as the blueprint for modern branding. When corporations are tripping over themselves to seem as uncorporate as possible, what’s left to subvert, anyway? Reason argues that, for Klein, “Writing about branding was only an excuse to talk about politics,” which explains her present lack of satisfaction at seeing corporate America playing by her rules. ELSEWHERE IN BRANDING: Ice Cube on co-opting the Los Angeles Raiders brand by force in the early ’90s.

Thing: Riders on the Storm by the New York Times. David Brooks, fresh off a 15-minute break spent dumping on Sandra Bullock for being the victim of infidelity, gets back to work by linking to some studies that declare internet users to be surprisingly open-minded clickers. “People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to than average Internet users,” and vice versa. Sure, most of that cross-traffic can be chalked up to troll exchanges, but it’s reassuring to think more and more people might be finding common ground every day simply by being adventurous surfers. ELSEWHERE IN VIEWPOINTS: Design for the First World, a new blog that flips the “Design will save the world” notion — the idea that well-meaning while perhaps patronizing designers can solve developing-world problems just by being great designers who care really hard. DFTFW is soliciting solutions from developing-nation designers for first-world problems like obesity or having nothing to whine to Twitter about.

THING: Super Mario Bros Crossover via Rock Paper Shotgun. You can play through Super Mario Bros, warps and all, as Mega Man, Link, Metroid person, Castlevania man, or Contra guy. This is all you need to know. ELSEWHERE IN RETRO: The Industrialization of Traffic: Why Bicycles Are Faster Than Cars by No Tech Magazine.


You’ve seen parkour videos before, and some of them were ok, but none of them were as good as this one is:

Apparently Stones Are for Drinking Now [Three Best Things 4/19/10 - 4/25/10]

Thing: Don’t throw that out! Editing like it’s paper destroys journalistic value by Jonathan Stray.

Thing: What’s in a Nickname? In Spirits World, an Implied Relationship by Ad Age. Coke. Jack (and Coke). VW Bug. Mickey D’s. Keys to the Beemer. The Big Apple, ATL, what happens in Vegas. A Louis bag and a pair of Chucks. Some brands have earned nicknames from their patrons the old-fashioned way, but the new marketing thing is to try and force nicknames on people, like this is first grade recess and Brand X is telling us we have to call it Musclebutt The Impossible because it climbed up the slide backwards woooooooo.

Corporations have successfully incorporated nicknames before, but only after the nicknames arose organically. Federal Express wouldn’t have changed its name to FedEx if everyone hadn’t already been calling it FedEx for years. Same story with the former Kentucky Fried Chicken. America Online. The obvious difference between these and Keystone Light trying to get you to call it Stones is FedEx and KFC and AOL didn’t force the change, as if they’re Brand Jœhanndreus X deciding to go by its middle name during its sophomore year because college girls seem to like weird names.

Who knows; maybe it’ll work. Seems more like they’re trying to fit in with Sam, the Captain, Heiny, Jager, Bud, Maker’s, PBR, Henny, and Natty. Also we’ve decided we want you guys to start calling us Eng.

Thing: As Australian comedy trio Axis of Awesome demonstrates, all you need to do to write a hit song is use the four-chord progression that’s used in every other hit song. Or just about. Medley us: [NSFW: Three cusses.]

Bonus Bonus Bonus

3BT: All-Video Edition [Three Best Things 3/22/10 - 3/28/10]

Logorama by François Alaux

The 2009 Best Animated Short Acadamy Award-winner, and probably the strangest 16 minutes of your week, unless you’ve already been gunned down by Ronald McDonald this week.

[NSFW: Language]

Photoshop CS5 Content-Aware Fill Sneak Peek

This should not exist yet. John Gruber says it’s “indistinguishable from magic.”

But is there already a parody? Of course there’s already a parody.


The next time some wet blanket takes issue with how much you care about your passions, remind them it could be a whole lot worse; you could be like the fantasy baseball mega-nerds (NO SERIOUSLY, these guys are OFF THE RESERVATION but GOD BLESS EM) in this documentary.

A List of Branding Style Guides: Corporate, Academic and Government Brand Manual/Logo Guideline Examples

We’re about to pitch the creation of a branding style guide to one of our clients. I was putting together an example list of style guides used by well-known companies, planning to include the list in our proposal. But it seemed smarter to expand it into a gigantic list and post it here, so we can reuse it — and you can benefit from it too.

First: What’s a branding style guide? It’s a document meant to ensure an organization’s members are all on the same page as far as official logos, logo usage, colors, fonts, stationery, images, and so on go. It’s good for any organization of any size to think about what messages its print and web materials convey, and then to make sure the whole team stays on message.

Second: Why look at a brand guide made for somebody else’s company? Besides our own reasons for making this list (SEE PARAGRAPH 1), you can learn a ton about branding, design, and identity by studying the materials that guide successful brands.


A Short List

Just want to see five or so decent style guides, mostly made by organizations you’ve heard of?

The Long List

ABANDON ALL HOPE OF NOT SEEING BRANDING GUIDES, YE WHO KEEP READING. I went for variety and tried to limit the rest of this list just to organizations that most people have heard of. But it’s still the longest curated list of branding style guides on the entire internet… that I know of at least.

Corporate Branding Style Guides (US-based)

Subscribe to the ENGINE Blog, run by ENGINE Industries.

Corporate Branding Style Guides (Non-US-based)

Academic Branding Style Guides

Note: To keep the list from getting absurd, I left out all sorts of perfectly good style guides. But for this category alone, I had to exclude many dozens and dozens. Institutions of higher learning: you people really brand your faces off.

Government Branding Style Guides

Group/Nonprofit/Open-source/ASSORTED Branding Style Guides

Sports Branding Style Guides

Content Management System Branding Style Guides


Subscribe to the ENGINE Blog, run by ENGINE Industries.

Three Best Things, 12/14/09 - 12/20/09

  • We saw Avatar in 3D, sitting in the front row. There’s a lot to like, mainly the sensory overload. Two things really bugged me: first, there’s no way a female scientist in the year 2150 uses man to refer to humanity. Second, it’s a movie about a white guy who (SPOILER, I GUESS) 1 enters a new culture group, 2 endures a montage, and 3 quickly becomes better at all the group’s activities than any of the group’s lifelong members. Just as in The Last Samurai, Dances With Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, 8 Mile (peace to Brittany Murphy), Batman Begins, and many many more. This convention goes beyond lazy writing, and in fact presents real sociological puzzles — there’s a strange assumption of supreme white competence, for one. When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like “Avatar”? goes in on the newest version, in which the white guy not only masters the tribe, but becomes its Messiah too. Which is, like, even worse. (NOT REALLY THAT MUCH OF A SPOILER, BUT IT’S OVER)
  • The boss says, ‘Get there on time;’ the leader gets there ahead of time. The Builder makes sure ‘getting there’ matters.” More: The Builders’ Manifesto.
  • A thorough, detailed case study by the company responsible for NBC’s current comprehensive branding campaign, focusing on the campaign’s dynamic use of bold colors. You should click this, but I’m really not gonna be able to talk you into it. That’s fine.

But Wait There’s More

If Earth had rings like Saturn, what would our sky look like?

Something Completely Drupal

Monty Python is now using Drupal.