Archive for ‘Sector: trade associations’

October 1, 2010

Association of Rotational Molders International

overview
Few logos can best the Association of Rotational Molders International‘s in symbolism, simplicity, memorability, and flexibility. Perhaps ARM doesn’t realize the potential branding equity that they could enjoy through using it more effectively. Their site design is an expression of missed opportunity that demonstrates obvious ways to improve. (It is easier to change a site design than a logo.)

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Association of Rotational Molders International

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
Purely descriptive, ARM‘s geometric logo uses the most universal symbols in an unusual way. It makes a sphere and a plus sign mean something new. It is a visually striking and memorable composition!

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.
ARM‘s graphics do look industrial, and in that way are appropriate. But brevity, organization, blue bands, and minimalism do not make up for material that is hard to read and visually nondescript.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
This is where ARM could make the most improvement. The site navigation is hard to read and visually all the same. The space at the top of the home page is trying to sell its first banner ad. Unless they have one to start, this space can be better used. (Perhaps the blankness can remind members of its availability each time they enter.) Though you have to know initially what rotational molding is, with its depth of content, ARM‘s site could be really engaging! Constructed only of type and a generally unchanging frame, this is low budget probably at its potential. With a bland page design, the logo actually stands out more!

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
ARM seems to have placed no emphasis on visual development beyond the logo and a brief decision-making process about the website. As imaginative as is their logo, that’s how unimaginative is their other graphics. When exploring various benefits and services, the eye is jarred by a secondary level graphic that brings in new colors and a different design approach, such as in their Library section and Annual Meeting presentation. Here, visual gimics are used on the logo that don’t contribute to its visual strength.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
ARM has many resources for building visually, especially within their “Design Applications” section. Members love to have their work showcased! Another resource untapped comes from their “Awards” program. It is unfortunate to see such unrecognized opportunities.

Many organizations have dynamic logos but stop there in graphic development. The most common reasons for accepting “Okay” include: lack of budget, executives have other priorities, no one can handle, or no one cares. In a visually-sensitive marketplace, even small improvements that make content easier to find, read, use, and enjoy, can make major differences in member perception.

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

The Sebastian Study 2010 national review will be available at the end of the year. If you want to be sure that your organization is included, please click here.

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August 11, 2010

Metals Service Center Institute

overview
Creating a visual language is not complicated. The Metal Service Center Institute demonstrates how to convey a traditional industry in a contemporary way. Using visual variety that stems from a strong structural foundation gives a lyrical and engaging way to interact with their constituents.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating Metals Service Center Institute

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
Metals Service Center Institute has a very classic, albeit retro, logo. Although the symbol sets up a visual style, the design of their collateral and publications doesn’t reflect such an older look and feel. Compelling in its geometry, expressive of an integrated industry, symbolic of metal treatment and uses, the logo does exemplify flexibility; even in tiny sizes and one color, it can still read. Though looking late-60’s-industrial, the logo perhaps best conveys longevity.

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.
Although the thematic direction of MSCI’s graphics tie into the logo design, it imparts a more contemporary approach. The treatment of background illustration, choice of photographic images, and color all provide a strong visual foundation. Unlike the majority of organizational approaches, MSCI uses design to dominate the photographic images versus the other way around.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
All of MSCI’s variables are presented in a unique home page. It has more selection than it seems because the composition is well organized, broken up, and anchored with visual clues.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Color unifies the variety of MSCI’s offerings. Black and white photography is favored, allowing a strategic use of red to guide the eye. Although the magazine is not a link under “Publications” online, with the cover of the most recent issue on the homepage, it is easy to find. 

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
MSCI’s best graphic feature is its magazine. With a strong online presence of the current issue, the pages are interactive versus trying to mirror print. A well presented table-of-contents portal page leads the reader further. Unfortunately the strong visual beginning dissipates deep into the pages. MSCI’s priorities to focus design emphasis on the most visual portions of communication, both the magazine and the site don’t carry through their distinction as well as they could. Like most orgs, the only visual tie-in is through the banner at the top.

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

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July 2, 2010

Water Quality Association

overview
Few organizations have such a well-defined niche as the Water Quality Association. It is enviable. Monitoring the most basic of resources, they graphically use the obvious water theme through a variety of photographs. Their logo is exceptional in its symbolism and recognizability. Deepening the level of their visual priorities can further enhance their message.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating Water Quality Association

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 topic of water can be expressed in many ways, usually using wave forms. WQA symbolizes the subject in a surprising way—three simple swashes form a W or a Q—one form represents two letters. Simple and flexible, this logo is both classic and contemporary.

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 water theme for WQA is too obvious to need discussion. However, their graphics could use it more expansively rather than as a touch now and then. The template shows a droplet splash, the features in the right column illustrate various projects. Some of their strongest visuals are the photographic backgrounds of rippling water on selected pages.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Divided into the two categories of commercial and residential, WQA’s site needs to cover the spectrum of water providers, users, and legislators. The site has comprehensive resources from Hot Topic articles for any viewer and features for target audiences. Unembellished graphically, unfortunatgely all content is treated the same. This site is a good example of prioritizing visual emphases and not carrying through beyond the first level.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
The use of prioritized graphics shows the opportunities for WQA’s approach. Established with color and basic imagery, this visual language could be taken further. Nowhere is this more exemplified than in their newsletter design. Without an inviting overview, samples, or previews, WQA treats this important benefit as less important. It makes sense that their key publication should be for members only, but there are many ways to visually entice a prospect. In a filter-down strategy, they could improve further than the initial impression.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
WQA’s logo and imagery is strong. Their overall presentation is crisp, professional, well-organized, and consistent. Although they could push their visual language further, they have a great beginning. The relevance of their organization can only grow in the future, so investing in their growth potential can keep pace. Their presentation can help visibility and education to use and preserve the most important human resource.

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

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June 30, 2010

Metal Construction Association

PLEASE NOTE: MCA has changed its logo since this review. Unfortunately, the new one lacks the distinction of the one they let go.

overview
Graphics must be viewed and evaluated for appropriateness by industry. The Metal Construction Association presents what is expected for an industrial group: visuals that are bold, geometric, classic, direct, and structural. They infuse the theme of metal construction into a strong strategy. With a fine line between looking classic and looking old—at their best, the presentation is classic. But at its worst, old.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating Metal Construction Association

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 geometry of MCA‘s logo supports interesting visual effects, like the background stacking on the website’s left column and newsletter. Classic and bold, the flat geometric shapes represent the materials that they promote. It is imagery that MCA could develop more.

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.
MCA’s logo begins a crisp professional presentation. Because their mission is to promote the use of metal fabrication in architecture, their materials must appeal to a spectrum of viewers from architects to contractors to developers to suppliers. So using a template that unifies all content is the easiest technique. But the approach allows little visual interest beyond the first absorption.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Like most organizations, MCA uses a static template on their website. The most interesting portions are the showcases of member projects. Much more can be done with second and third level pages to better use the online space. Under their Publications segment, they give a choice between viewing in fast low resolution or downloads to print in high resolution. Demonstrating their sensitivity to the range of viewers, they delineate audiences at the top, allowing content to be tailored.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Sometimes consistency can be overdone. MCA graphic strategy is at its best when showcasing member projects. It is at its worst in the static presentation of content—where the template dictates format so strongly that everything looks the same. However, their bold color, logo as illustration, and concise navigation, the overall effect is crisp yet inviting.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
The most recognizable and distinctive aspect of MCA’s graphics is their logo.  It is used to anchor agraphic decisions, though not beyond backgrounds. To build more distinction, they could incorporate the geometric forms of square, circle, and triangle to greater symbolism.

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

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June 25, 2010

Intl. Association of Lighting Designers

overview
Simple is generally best. The International Association of Lighting Designers exemplifies elegant simplicity in their graphics. They have placed emphasis where it belongs—in the overall look and feel of their presentation. As a foundation to build upon, IALD’s personality is distinctive because as a rare case of starkness that is active.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating International Association of Lighting Designers

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
Usually a logo that is a typeface and a line will not be very exciting. IALD’s logo is unusual in its expressive use of such simple elements. The imagery of light, symbolized by the yellow vertically fading line, is supported by the white light of the type. Crisp, the only limitation is the dependence on the black background, making it ink-consuming in print applications. If reversed, using black lettering, while maintaining the yellow beam, it is still unusual but not as dramatic.

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.
Black and yellow are thematic colors that express the concept of light. As IALD is an association of lighting designers, the colors are the most appropriate. The logo beams like a ray of light out of the large black background. The association has a wealth of photos to show off the gorgeous interiors, yet they could be larger or have the option to click for larger. Since their mission is to raise visibility of their members’ work, highlighting the lighting could be stronger.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Beginning with the splash page on the website, even though simple and elegant, IALD’s graphic personality is crisp and upbeat. Usually such a heavy use of black is not uplifting but serious and bold. Here, black is welcoming when paired with yellow, the photograph, and the literal use of negative space in the banner. In the templates, the strict grid of the left column is barely noticeable. The dominant color treatment, photo variation, and clear navigation make this site easy on the eyes and invokes a fluid visit.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
Though there is a good thematic foundation, IALD’s graphics stop there. Beyond the template and the photographs, all information is treated the same way. The typography is well delineated and there are occasional snapshot-sized images to break up the page, but these features and portfolios could be better accented. For example, their newsletter could have a graphic banner and structure to enhance visual samples of members’ work. Also their publications are difficult to find.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
It takes a lot of ability to maximize minimal elements. IALD gains distinction through effective and unusual simplicity. They illuminate the influence of lighting and exemplify its aesthetics. With such rich graphic potential, they could take more advantage of their photographic library, member experiences, and further push their mission of visibility.

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

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June 24, 2010

Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association

overview
Contrasts are often the most educational. Although this organization calls themselves ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association), they really should be called WCIA (The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association), as their information explains that they changed their name five years ago. Yet they show imaginative thinking, innovative approaches, and robust offerings in other areas. This is a great example of some interesting approaches despite a serious identity problem.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating ISSA: Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association

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 ISSA is not engaged in a logo change, they should be. The name change is obviously justified, but they didn’t carry through with the project. Name changes are complex and the only help for it is to plan. Their Association History explains that the change was made five years ago, ample time to establish a visual foundation. Making a name change is never done lightly, and the logo is part of the process.

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 appeal of an innovative home page dims upon subsequent pages. There is little thematic opportunity begun by the logo or the animation. Nowhere is this more noticeable than their e-newsletter: ISSA Times. The template overpowers the content, yet the navigation is well structured. ISSA has all the elements needed to set up a strong theme. Hopefully their plans include development.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
The site ISSA has a portal page that offers nine publications. Most are monthly. The archives are inviting in structure and include a few visuals for emphasis. But the visitor has to be a member to read them. The range of content on the site and the variety of publication offerings are extensive. It would be more inviting if they offered samples for prospect viewing. Many organizations allow downloads of current features to demonstrate the quality of their content.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
ISSA’s graphics are minimal and subservient to functionality. It bespeaks of either low budget or low priority. The name change is a missed opportunity for graphic development. Not offering any sample articles or publications online limits interest. They will allow a free account with registration, but many prospects aren’t ready to get their names on a list without checking quality first.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
ISSA is an organization with contrasts: an international focus with a confused identity, an inviting home page with limited access to the most interesting content. An engaging beginning, however, can’t sustain visual interest of the total visiting experience. Because communications and providing information are several of ISSA’s missions, visual content should be a part.

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

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