Archive for ‘Sector: cultural organizations’

September 13, 2010

Second City

overview
Second City’s graphics snuck into this study. Usually the top visuals begin with a strong logo. A script handwritten-style symbol is an easy solution—too easy for a high visibility group. Yet their site is exceptional and worth a study in style and navigation.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating Second City

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
If the name “Second City” is covered up, this logo could be for any organization that wants to appear friendly. The script has a thick/think brush quality to make it bold. The overall shape is easy to use and the script can appear in a variety of sizes and media. If the image were distinctive, these would be positive attributes.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
A theme for a theater is obvious, but Second City presents with panache. Carrying excitement from one metaphor to another is rarely better accomplished. On their website, there is a visual unity between their long history and their great variety of productions, training, and locations.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Second City’s website is engaging through its big picture presentation: the current attractions along the top and history along the bottom. Consistent throughout page visits, this frame allows the central portion of the screen to change—like a video controlled by the viewer. This site conveyis a love-affair with the subject and the audience. Their navigation is particularly masterful. I feel inspired every time I view it. But, of course, the point is to inspire me to attend, which I do regularly.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Second City’s visual language uses the casual handwriting for headlines which makes them inviting and easy to read. Strong black backgrounds and small areas of jewel colors offer a platform like a stage for their many subjects. Study this site for how it both carries the elements and varies them throughout the sections of the website.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
Overall graphics give Second City its personality. With much to be proud of, this organization also keeps its cutting edge and status in national theater. Successfully bridging double audiences (those who attend productions and those who are students for training), this is one of Chicago’s best examples of an arts group bridging to business relevance. The graphics reinforce this connection though an identifiable and enjoyable visual approach.

Second City slips into this study due to their strong website. There are other groups that have average or even poor logos but good sites that may be over looked, so suggestions for inclusion are invited.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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June 28, 2010

Chicago Zoological Society

overview
Attendance-appeal depends on bold graphics. The Chicago Zoological Society promotes zoo visits and support through a fun graphic personality. But they do much more: dedicated to conservation and education, their graphics blend mission and expression. At their best, the character and personality of the animals themselves are captured in high quality photography and video.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating Chicago Zoological Society

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
Although the Chicago Zoological Society’s logo isn’t very strong by itself, it sets up a visual style of silhouetted animals and plants. Better in the website banner when combined with other images, the logo is serviceable.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
The expectation of zoo graphics is to be friendly, fun, inviting, and enriching. It is easy to illustrate animals, but not to present them in a comprehensive way. The Chicago Zoological Society uses photography to highlight every aspect of conservation and preservation.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
The Chicago Zoological Society excels in their homepage presentation: above the fold is a fabulous use of video combined with directional attractions. Below the fold proffers choices that are organized and inviting. The writing isn’t too much to absorb; segments are accessible. It would be a shame if they did not take advantage of photographic opportunity. Fortunately they do, and their site inspires the viewer to learn more. However, there are no obvious publications beyond the Exhibit and Animal Guide—if they offer a newsletter or magazine, these are not easy to find.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Although the Chicago Zoological Society’s website banner stays the same on every page, the content is varied through photographic placement. Space could be better utilized to increase both variety and appeal. Pleasing colors in muted greens are visually arresting. The quality of the photographs is exceptional and presented in unique ways—although adding more portraits (like the second-level leopard) on the third-level pages would enhance their character.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
The colors, graphic consistency, presentation of topics all make the Chicago Zoological Society’s graphics worth examining. Online, the template allows visual variation in the handling of photos to unify a range of programs, exhibits, research projects, and the base-line of zoo visitors.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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June 21, 2010

Golden Apple Foundation

overview
The Golden Apple logo is one of the most exciting nonprofit logos in the Midwest because it says so much. To educate the educators, this organization needs communications as a unifying force for a wide constituent base. Inviting applicants, gathering teachers, and reaching supporters puts great focus demands on graphic strategy.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating The Golden Apple Foundation

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
The Golden Apple logo is one of the best mission expressions in the Midwest. It transports the common elements of apple, hands, and color to a highly recognizable level. Simple, classic, flexible, and beautifully executed, this logo sticks in the mind and easily becomes synonomous with an inspiring mandate.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
It seems that The Golden Apple organization knows that they have a strong identity because they use their logo as a graphic bullet to highlight content. Not the best use of an identity. They could build a theme upon the ideas of achievement, quest, and attaining the apple. It seems their graphic emphasis ends with their logo, as there is no strong theme to hang a hat upon.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
The point of view represented on The Golden Apple is supported more by good copywriting than good design. There is little, other than logo or photographs, to carry the emotional impact of educational importance. The topic begs for a creative and exploratory approach! As they hope to inspire educators, the presentation itself can go a lot further to inspire the reader.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Serving three constituents, The Golden Apple’s publications follow strict templates. Simple and geometric, information is easy to find and handled consistently. Their newsletter crosses the line between print and post. Although the design is generic, the content links are very useful. It may not be fun to look at, but it is easy to grasp the content.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
It is easier to change the graphics around a logo than it is the logo itself. The Golden Apple begins with an advantage because their logo is so targeted and crafted. Then they seem to drop the ball graphically by offering little visual enhancement. The photographs carry the graphic load. If GAF were to improve the visuals of their materials, their distinctiveness and vital programs could be seen as well as heard.

It is amazing to find an original and exciting image created with very common visual cliques: apple and hands. Yet these images clearly express education, the award, and is a classic portrayal for a 25 year history.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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June 17, 2010

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

overview
The best graphics lead the viewer on an adventure. Where better to do this than at a nature museum? The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s graphics visually echo the richness of their location. Their publications demonstrate a considered integration of media. How they tie a great variety of features and attractions together can teach lessons for audience interaction.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
As expected for their genre, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s logo expresses exploration, variety, expansiveness, and fun. It provides a sense of adventure in a cut-paper style that can appeal both to children and adults. Without reading the museum name, the viewer knows the focus. It is rare when a logo comprised of many images can unify simply. Flexible for many uses, this image is also highly recognizable.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
The animals and plants introduced in the logo permeate the museum’s visual language—even through style changes. Blending the cut paper abstract illustrations from the logo with realistic photographs, borders, and new media begins the ambient experience.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Most website animation is gratituous. But on The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum site, the crawling images support the content. The museum provides an inviting collection of short videos on their Public Programs page—a great and seamless use of YouTube. However, their publications seem skimpy. The webpage presents magazines that are not kept up to date.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum website template is static but supports a huge variety of visuals to represent programs, exhibits, and events. The little animal icons, colors, and typography keep the personality flowing. The static pages, such as Who We Are have more visual tie-in to the theme. Elastic enough to bring a large choice of media viewing, the major features on each page below the fold encourage browsing. The ultimate goal of publications results in visitors to the museum—so efforts clearly lead in that direction.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
The communication graphics for The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum make such a strong visual statement that they create an experience as a glimpse to an actual visit. Setting up consistent expectations, the museum is distinctive with a strong integration of range.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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June 14, 2010

Churchill Centre

overview
In a market where a niche focus is strong, The Churchill Centre has an advantage. Conveying mission and purpose clearly can be an organization’s greatest communication challenge. But with such a focused dedication on the study of Winston Churchill, transforming past wisdom to current relevance is an inspirational journey.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating The Churchill Centre
spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
Although obvious, The Churchill Centre logo gives the Churchill portrait a graphic distinction. Crisp, memorable, and communicating without words, this logo offers flexibility and reflects the greatness it represents.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
Strong and succinct design makes the reader feel that Churchill’s example and wisdom is as current today and when he lived. There is a blend of education and entertainment—even a timeline of his daily activities. The range of offerings invokes an adventure into “one of the longest and most interesting lives of any person who has ever lived.”

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
A great example of editing and organization, The Churchill Centre’s website has an accessible amount of choices—offering a range of interests—but is not overwhelming. The presentation, although conservative, supports its content, which is engaging and even fun. The site alone invokes a comprehensive educational journey. Redundancy, however, on many internal web pages between narrative and side links seem to not take advantage of the page space.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Supporting a terrific logo, The Churchill Centre’s overall graphic approach is simple, yet provides a sophisticated geometry. The logo, which can appeal small, inspires icons as part of its visual vocabulary.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
From exploring The Churchill Centre’s website, the visitor is led to comprehensive resources for information on Churchill—even including “books of dubious merit.” Using web media to perfection, the casual visitor receives a quick overview and the dedicated historian finds a complete resource. Both discover the relevance of Churchill as a visionary.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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