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Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

We’re taking a page from Dante, who gave himself permission to put anyone he wanted into Inferno or Paradiso. Likewise, we invite you to do the same with brands. Tell us which brands you think are the best and which are the worst. You’ll be able to see how others have voted once you’re done. We think its an interesting exercise in analyzing how brands affect us and how we think of them. So get all judgmental and make your picks.

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The School of Visual Arts MFA Design Criticism Department presents “Crossing the Line: The 2010 D-Crit Conference,” organized by D-Crit students. Moderated by D-Crit faculty member and “Studio 360” host Kurt Andersen, this inaugural event will feature thesis presentations by all 15 graduating students alongside keynote lectures by Doors of Perception founder John Thackara and author and educator Peter Hall. The fast-paced, daylong forum will be held at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Friday, April 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. See the schedule below for details and check the conference Web site for student bios, talk descriptions, directions and to see who else is coming. RSVP today and reserve your spot.

Friday, April 30, 2010
SVA Theater, 333 West 23rd Street, New York City

The event is free and open to the public.
RSVP to dcrit@sva.edu or 212.592.2228
More information can be found at www.dcrit.sva.edu/conference2010

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The bees are buzzing

We just created this nifty little device for monitoring conversations, tweets, media reports, etc. on certain topics. We call it “The Buzz.” Right now we are monitoring electric cars. And not just the big brands, but rather some of the innovative upstarts. Check it out here. Go ahead, click on a bee and see what happens.

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Cloaks and Daggers

Cloaks and Daggers

Blackwater, the notorious private army, contracted by the Bush administration to protect “high value” military personnel, and accused of numerous crimes against Iraqi civilians, has recently undertaken an extensive brand repositioning.

The corporate name itself, Blackwater, had become a public relations liability, a toxic asset if you will. The company spent more than a year in an internal search to develop the new name, “Xe” (pronounced “Zee”). Following this arduous renaming and rebranding process, company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell announced there was “no meaning at all in the new name.”

Perhaps Ms. Tyrrell is telling the truth, that no meaning whatsoever, is an appropriately pore-less exterior for a company doing secretive contract work around the world. Of course companies spend vast sums of time and energy building brands. We all know that these nuanced signifiers exude meaning to audiences around the world. I sincerely doubt that Xe is an exception. Since this is not a topic they wish to discuss, we are left to judge by what we see as formally trained designers, strategists, and observers of media.

At first glance, the word “Xe” seems vaguely technical. Perhaps it is a reference to the chemicalzorro-719584 xenon, or more specifically, the highly explosive xenon trioxide, XeO3. The gender neutral pronoun seems a stretch for this brand. But who knows? Maybe Xe is all about inclusiveness now. They won’t let us ask, and they won’t tell. Then there is the phonetic interpretation. The letter Z is the final letter in the English alphabet. Perhaps Xe is a metaphor for the last word? The last line of defense? Who you call as a last resort? The final option…? Or maybe Xe is a reference to another famed vigilante, Zorro, “the Gay Blade” who went slicing his “Z” tag about following a conquest. The new Xe logo does have an slicing motion embedded within it. Perhaps most appropriately, there is Bill Barker’s underground comic from the early 90s, Schwa, where distant alien overlords in concert with omnipresent corporations and religions organizations control all human activity. Xenon figures prominently and is used on items such as “Alien Invasion Survival Cards” so you can tell if you have been abducted.

Schwa_world_operations_manualThe old Blackwater mark was crass and ominous, with it’s sharp claws and encompassing bear-trap/target. It might have been seen as cartoonish, like a semi-pro football icon, had the news reports surrounding the company not been so gruesome. The new Xe brand mark suggests a professional level of discretion, subtlety, and cutting edge stealth. This is clearly a company growing in efficiency and evolving in sophistication. In an era of instant media attention, keeping a clean image is of the utmost importance.

Blackwater may now fade into the dark memory recesses of public

consciousness while the kinder, gentler vigilante group Xe can continue doing our goverment’s business. In this light, the rebranding of Blackwater can only be viewed as a success.

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Unemployed Americans

Unemployed Americans

Explore American’s time use through an interactive New York Times map charting gender, age, race, employment, and education. Comparing and contrasting can cause us to consider what we value in our daily lives.

Employed Americans

Employed Americans

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