Strange Things Are Afoot

Circle K announced a rebrand a few weeks ago and it’s pretty walk-by-ably forgettable. It epitomizes the cheap, convenient, average everyday milk toast motherfucker kind of branding chains like this dream about having, because why have a little bit of quirk and nuance when you can be the most bland thing on the planet? I don’t really know what else to say about it other than it looks exactly like the kind of logo the group below would force their designers to make for them.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is the absurd way they tried to justify it. The video below takes the classic “look this logo is made from a bunch of circles and golden spirals” diagram to an entirely new level of pure bullshit. They try to show how the new Circle-K brand just naturally fell out of the alignment of their other four properties, but it’s obvious to anyone with eyes it’s just complete nonsense. Give it a look and tell me you don’t want to die after seeing this.

Working to Win Awards is a Losing Strategy

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a steady increase in my industry friends talking about ‘award winning work’. Whether it’s an increased emphasis on winning awards, specialty projects contrived to catch the eye of judges or new management brought in specifically to boost creative output to award winning heights, the problems inherent to this kind of thinking are many and unnecessary.

When you work to win awards you do a disservice to your clients. The work starts to skew toward meeting the needs of the agency over the needs of your client partners. Budgets can quickly dry up, scopes can become unwieldy and client patience begins to wain.

It’s an unattainable yardstick. When “that isn’t an award winning idea” becomes the beginning and end of a critique you neuter your creatives. Creativity, and by extension creative work, is an abstract endeavor at best and that’s why we have creative briefs. Without the creative brief there isn’t a way for the un-indoctrinated to judge the validity of an idea. When a presentation misses the mark briefs provides a reference point to go back to. “It’s not award winning” doesn’t provide that.

It suggests there is only one way to judge the success or failure of a project. Just because a piece of work didn’t win an award doesn’t mean that it didn’t move the needle for the client, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good and it doesn’t mean (most importantly in my opinion) that the client didn’t love it.

For these reasons, at BIKLOPS we try not to focus on awards. Instead of using awards as your starting point, maybe try following these basic rules instead:

1. solve the problem
2. solve it beautifully
3. solve the problem of where to put all your awards

Seriously though, that’s really it. If you’re solving the problem and doing it in a way that you can be proud of, you’ve already won.

TVs Could Look Rad if We Wanted

Spoiler Alert! You won’t sell me a new TV by making it clearer, bigger, sharper, flatter or TVer. From the comfort of my couch, my TV is plenty big (50 inches) and plenty sharp (It’s old I don’t remember). I think of my TV as an appliance that accomplishes a singular task, to turn itself into a window by which I can view any variety of entertainment. I know there are other things I could do with my TV but this is really all I use it for. What I’m getting at here is I don’t really care what my TV looks like, at least I thought I didn’t.

The Samsung Serif has got me rethinking this. Why shouldn’t our televisions be as much a personal statement as the other furniture and appliances in our lives? There are many things we buy primarily based on aesthetics and when the technology has reached the point where the differences are almost invisible aesthetics remain the lasting differentiator.

There’s also some smart marketing thinking here too. Samsung needs to sell more TVs. I’m sure I’m not alone in my apathy for my TV’s performance, but when you can convince me I need to buy a new TV every few years lest my living room look hopelessly dated, well dammit capitalism you’ve got me. I’ll be excited to see if other manufacturers follow suit and start paying attention to the too long overlooked form of their glossy black plastic rectangles. And if they don’t, Serif is a beautiful reminder that the status quo is there to be undermined.

Burn the Mission Statement

“We must all efficiently
Operationalize our strategies
Invest in world-class technology
And leverage our core competencies
In order to holistically administrate
Exceptional synergy”—Weird Al Mission Statement

Remember your last job? I bet you do. Remember your coworkers? Your duties there? Do you remember what your ex-employer at large did or made? Yes? Well of course you do. Now, do you remember that company’s Mission Statement? I doubt it.

The reason is obvious—mission statements suck. They rarely say anything worth saying and almost never do what a mission should do: to give you a reason to show up in the morning.

Give them a Mission

Burn your mission statement; starting today you’re simply on a mission. You must feel compelled to complete your mission, not bored to death by the sound of it. You must feel like you and only you can make sure it happens—you must have a feeling of ownership. A great mission isn’t a string of buzzwords some higher-up vomited out one afternoon: it’s your company’s purpose. A mission gives an organization meaning. A bad mission statement on the other hand can make a company meaningless.

“Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another.”—Seth Godin

Mission Impossible

A good mission is aspirational, transformative. Frodo and Sam must carry the ring an impossible distance through impossible obstacles. It takes faith, and strength and determination to get there.

For Your Eyes Only

Most mission statements are so generic they could be easily swapped between companies and no one would even notice. Do you “provide exceptional customer service”? Well so does your competition. A good mission is not only aspirational but it’s singular. One of Nike’s axioms is ‘evolve immediately.’ It’s not just catchy—it defines Nike.

Wave A Banner

At BIKLOPS our mission is both simple and forever challenging: MAKE IT RAD.

Simple, not easy.

Advertising is Easy

I came across this brilliant piece of advertising the other day and since then I’ve been unable to stop thinking about it. It’s perfect. It does everything it needs to do.

What are they selling? Cookies.

Will they be good? Take a look at that gigantic cookie and decide for yourself.

But how do I really know? It says right there, “best cookies in town.”

Hmmm, are you just saying that? Look at that kids face! He knows that cookie is perfection incarnate. Buy the damn cookie.

Taste appeal, succinct messaging, award winning visuals and a testimonial. If you have a better piece of advertising I’d love to see it.

Google’s new logo sends a strong message: mobile matters most.

Why would one of the world’s most iconic brands change their look—particularly when there’s nothing to gain competitively? I believe the answer is surprisingly simple and arguably mundane.

Your website is the perfect place to get across what your brand is about. So why do so many brand’s forget to tell us who they are on the web?

BIKLOPS Design School: Part 2

Over the years it’s become clear that there’s a startling difference in the quality of students coming out of the different graphic design programs around town.

Engagement is meaningless

A few moments ago I scrolled through some generic buzzfeed article. “10 whatevers you just have to whatever!” or something like that. I clicked the link as a sort of automatic response, just lazily clicking for no reason, and I scrolled through the entire article without reading a word, just scanning for images and not thinking.

I imagine simultaneously at Buzzfeed headquarters intrepid intern Bobby Workshard peered over the surface of his comically oversized iPhone 6 and exclaimed to his boss “We did it again! 100% engagement sir! A click and a full scroll-through….so uh, can we talk about that promotion?” I envision at this point they high five, or probably fist-bump.

The Problem With Numbers

When brands are just starting out they’re often advised to create content. Any content. The idea from a marketing bean-counter’s perspective is that any like is a good like, any email signup a good email signup. And from a pure numbers perspective they’re right. If you have 0 followers and you gain 1 follower you’ve just increased your reach by infinity%. Damn does that look good at the quarterly meeting. The problem is these followers are ultimately useless. They don’t like you or what you’re doing, they like pithy top 10 lists. So unless your company, like Buzzfeed, manufactures top 10 lists you quickly find yourself with a broad, but shallow reach. You’re not talking to people that really love what you do, you’re not talking to your heroes or becoming anyone’s hero. You’re simply feeding the tired internet lab rats their shot of sugar and it feels great for both parties, but only for a moment.

Impact not Engagement

If you could chose between a 1,000 more “likes” or truly impacting a handful of people which would you chose? Let’s say the things others are not. Let’s create the previously unseen. We’re both sitting in front of the quickest, most accessible publishing tool ever created—let’s make something memorable with it. If we start creating truly original work, and trash the clickbait, you won’t believe what happens next!

[clickToTweet tweet=”If we start creating truly original work, and trash the clickbait, you won’t believe what happens next!” quote=”If we start creating truly original work, and trash the clickbait, you won’t believe what happens next!”]