Posts tagged ‘Metals Service Center Institute’

August 21, 2010

Deficits at the Top

In times of prosperity, organizations want to show off graphically. In times of recession, organizations proudly do a lot with a little. Yet there is always a line of professionalism to uphold. Except for nonprofits. Amateur graphics run rampant, which can’t do much for a group’s credibility!

As digital tools allow groups to create amateur graphics more easily, the overall quality of design has diminishes. Ironically, design is more important than it has ever been due to the Internet. An even playing field allows small groups to compete with large groups, local orgs to compete with national, national with international. The scope has exploded!

In completing my evaluation of the Midwestern nonprofits, the 80/20 Rule is in full force. Of the 700 evaluated, 160 have graphics that score highly enough to discuss. Yet to find a consistently strong graphic strategy seems impossible. None score high in all five categories!

Beginning with the overall graphics of those who score the highest:


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, preview, review, is strong in every category but publications.

Metals Service Center Institute, preview, review, could have a better website.

Second City, review to come, has an unimaginative logo and scan publications.

Popcorn Board, review to come, has a confused identity but strong in all other categories.

International Association of Lighting Designers, preview, review, is compelling graphically but weak in publications.

Entrepreneurs Organization, preview, review, compiles a strong package that could go one step further to be truly distinct.

Churchill Centre, preview, review, offers a lot of online features but is weak in publications.

Perhaps the two organizations that come the closest to being a true blend of excellence are the Entrepreneurs Organization and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Both prove that big budgets and fancy approaches are not as good as following basic rules in good communication.

Each week, I will examine organizational graphics that are of the Not the Best but Could Be category. Visual communications include the most important membership benefits and the biggest ways to attract prospective members. If improved strategically, each group explored has tremendous, if not unlimited, potential.

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

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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