Archive for Uncategorized

Say it ain't so Jack!

Uncategorizedon April 11th, 2009Comments Off

Jack in the Box is a west coast fast food chain. I’m based in Orange County, California and I happen to have one that is a block from my office. So yes, I go there somewhat regularly (usually after surfing) and their food has gotten significantly better over the past 10 years.

Like some other big brands, Jack in the box has just completed an overhaul of it’s visual identity.

Here’s the old logo:

Old logo

Old logo

Now here’s the new logo and adaptations:

New logo on a cup

New logo on a cup (photo: flickr user: danielgreene)

New logo on building (photo: flickr user dlassotta)

New logo on building (photo: flickr user dlassotta)

My gut feeling about this new logo is that it feels so….generic.

That’s not really a compliment.

Let’s take a look. The script text is pleasant. I keep studying the “k” in Jack to see if there is a face in there somewhere. The tail of the k definitely looks like a smile but then I run into a dead end looking for a brilliantly hidden eye – but find nothing. Maybe I’m just missing it? What ‘s strange about this is that there is no continuity from this smile (if that’s what it is) and the great brand ambassador “Jack” from the commercials. His is a smiley face smile that is very geometric. So there’s a disconnect.

Jack from TV!

Jack from TV!

The part that bothers me the most is the forced integration of the “in the box” underneath, or in some cases beside, the logo mark. It looks like an afterthought and that they struggled with a place to put it. On the building sign above they were forced to create another box (the grey box) to contain the logo and the “in the box.” So it ends up being a box within a box.

In the end, the brand has always been “Jack in the Box” and has not been abbreviated naturally by customer usage. Like how McDonalds is now Mickey D’s to some people. Jack, the commercial spokesperson, is meant to be the personification of an actual jack-in-the-box toy. Brought to life as it’s confident corporate ambassador. As wonderful and effective as this TV personality is, it will one day run out of juice and the public will grow tired of it. Like the McDonalds clown, whom we kept getting force-fed even though he’s creepy and outdated. This logo is now focusing on the personality “Jack” and away from the full name “Jack in the Box.” This feels like a logo solution that will have a short shelf life.

As usual, my 2 cents! :-)


A Farmer & his Tractor

Uncategorizedon April 2nd, 20094 Comments

Stephen Skibinski was my grandpa. A stoic man of Polish heritage. He had an enormous farm outside of Grand Island, Nebraska where he grew corn, barley and wheat. He had many horses and legend has it that he had the largest Pinto farm in the nation. So big that Ford was going to film the original Pinto commercial on his farm until a snowstorm changed the plans. He also had cattle, pigs, chickens, a large farmhouse and a towering barn. A kids dream.

When I was young, we would spend summers there. I was often put to work around the farm and in the fields. I most clearly remember helping lay new irrigation pipes, baling hay and plowing fields. I recall a time that my Grandpa tried to teach me how to drive a tractor. A vivid memory because this was a big responsibility. The tractor was an Allis Chalmers model. I believe it was this model; the WD.

Allis Chalmers WD

Allis Chalmers WD

My grandpa had two tractors. The Allis Chalmers model was the smaller and quicker tractor used for light jobs. He also had a John Deere. This was the big and powerful tractor for the serious farm work.

I remember our conversation, my grandpa and me, that sunny Nebraska day while he was showing me around the deep red Allis Chalmers. He was reviewing how to shift and work the clutch. I was probably 7 or 8 years old and had NO idea what he was talking about. I pretended to understand.

He didn’t normally display much passion for his tractors. But I do recall something that he said during that same conversation. His voice trailed off, he got a sparkle in his eye and he revealed his desire for a new John Deere Combine. He didn’t go into detail, he never did, but he said that he really would like one of those.

To know my grandpa he was certainly not status-minded. The John Deere products were considered to be powerful and dependable. They were certainly more expensive. And yet this green and yellow work of American ingenuity was not just a simple farm machine, it was a symbol that he had arrived. That he had achieved a level of success and could be proud. 

This is one of my earliest memories of the power of a brand. That John Deere had captured this farmers imagination.


John Deere 720

 John Deere has gone on to become one of the great global brands. The signature green and yellow color scheme has become so attached to the brand that you could see just these two colors together and think of John Deere. To their credit, they have used this consistently since the 1920′s. Consistency is the bedrock foundation of a brand.


John Deere ad from the 1920's (courtesy of

 What is also remarkable is that this consistency also applies to their logo. Here is a random sampling of the John Deere logo starting in, get this, 1876!


John Deere logo from 1876


John Deere logo 1968

John Deere logo 1968


John Deere logo today

Notice that the earlier deers were in their “landing” stride and the new adaptation is “leaping” showing progress and forward energy. A wonderful touch that is still consistent with the brands history. All adorned with the tagline “Nothing runs like a Deere.” They don’t get much better than that.

John Deere & Company has grown far beyond its agricultural roots to include residential, commercial, golf, construction, forestry and beyond. They even have significant and collectible toy following. Always a good sign when kids want to buy toys of your products. All in green and yellow! 

I’m not sure what happened to the Allis Chalmers company. It certainly has a fond place in my heart. But it’s clear today, as it was back then, nothing runs like a Deere.

(special thanks to for the images and historical information)

Pepsi vs. Coke

Uncategorizedon March 6th, 20096 Comments

Just recently, Pepsi came out with a new logo. This is no small event when you are talking about a brand as big and global as Pepsi. Here is the old logo:


Yes, in need of a lot of help. Completely over developed. There isn’t an angle that wasn’t highlighted or drop shadowed. So, definitely in need of some clean-up…

Now, here’s the new one:



THIS they should have never done. Is it supposed to be a smile? Or a large belly hanging out from underneath a red shirt? I’m not seeing the meaning behind the white negative space at all. The can design on it’s own is nice. Simple and clean. But the mark? The arc of the curves that define the negative space look too abrupt, forced and amateurish. 

Now, let’s contrast it with the excellent work on the redesigned Coke packaging:



They nailed it! This is EXACTLY what you do with an iconic brand. You get out of the way! You clean it up and simplify so that the brands unique visual cues stand out. Especially a global and historical brand that has so many wonderful unique brand flourishes (such as the script word mark, the “ribbon”, the red and white color palette and the hourglass bottle) The only thing wrong with the old can was that it had become OVER designed. The agency that did this – Turner Duckworth (one of my all-time favorites) – had the confidence to tell Coke that what it needed was not more or different, but less. The folks at Turner Duckworth must be having a huge laugh over this one. 

They took it a step farther with the other materials. Using simple silhouettes of the iconic bottle they created powerful visual reminders of the history of Coca Cola. It’s our history too. With a touch of whimsy. Here’s one:


Prior to the arrival of these two re-designs, I’ve used Coke and Pepsi in my presentations as examples of simplicity in creating an iconic and distinctive brand. My argument has been that a 2 color brand palette is stronger than a 3 color palette. Why? Well, for one the simplicity makes it more powerful. Coke is red and white. Pepsi is red, blue and white. Pepsi has too many colors! It’s too much like the american flag. Yet, the irony is that Coke is more “American” despite using red which has historically been associated with communism.

I would even ask myself “Dude, what would you do to improve the Pepsi visual brand?” My answer: I think it would be interesting to get rid of the red and just use blue and white. Blue is more strongly associated with Pepsi. Probably because it’s the differentiating color from Coke. Imagine what it would look like to go back and revisit some of the old design cues from Pepsi’s past and bring them back with a modern flair. But with blue and white. Worth looking at? I don’t know. Maybe blue is too sedate and lacks the power of red? I think there might be something there. Or maybe it’s a matter of how the colors are balanced? It would undoubtedly be a tough sell at Pepsi. 

Whatever they do they need more swagger. Cokes new direction shown above makes them look confident. They like who they are and are comfortable in their own skin. Pepsi looks insecure with this new look. They have always been a bit schizophrenic with the brand look. Changing things up every decade or so. This new logo just reinforces that perception.

My 2 cents. ;-)