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Friday, March 19, 2010

Blue Man Group

“Hey blue—you're missing a good game here!”

“You couldn’t make a call in a phone booth!”

“How’d you get a square head in that round mask?”

Since the dawn of baseball, umpires at every level have had to endure being the objects of such ridicule, and discourteous witticisms far worse. Their reward? Expletive-filled rants spewing forth from the mouths of irate managers, deep bone bruises courtesy of 100 mile per hour foul tips off of inadequately protected appendages, and living out of a suitcase, away from their families, for six months at a time—all while only receiving notice if they happen to mess up!

They indeed have a thankless job, and, until recently, these arbiters of balls and strikes suffered the further indignity of not having a logo that was representative of the professionalism they display or the respect they deserve. Knowing a thing or two about toiling away in anonymity, Studio Simon stepped in to right this injustice.

Initially, the client was of the opinion that a depiction of an umpire should not be a part of the new Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation identity, likely due to their dissatisfaction with how this particular element was rendered in, and was not well-incorporated into, their existing logo (seen at right).

But here at Studio Simon, we thrive on solving creative challenges, and felt that we could capture, with the type of simplified, stylized iconography necessary for such brand marks, the authoritative nature of this highly-skilled fraternity of men (and, in about half a dozen instances over the years, women) without having them come across as churlish or aggressive.

After the three different directions shown above were presented, we were asked if it would be possible to marry the one featuring an umpire with the typographic treatment from another. This “Frankenstein” approach does not always work, as meshing disparate elements that were not originally designed to coexist can sometimes be tantamount to mixing oil and water. But in this case, we were fortunately able to fulfill a request that was, as it turns out, an excellent call!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Surf and Turf

“Let’s go surfin’ now,
Everybody’s learnin’ how,
Come on and safari with me!”

For this New York-born, New Jersey-bred boy, those lyrics, and others just like them from the Beach Boys’ “Endless Summer” double-LP, painted an enticing picture of a far-away, sun-drenched Eden. Those words proved to be so irresistible that, not long after college graduation, I packed up my drawing table and whatever other belongings I could jam into my Audi 4000 and pointed the nose of my car in the direction of the setting sun in search of the mythical sand and surf of Southern California.

Though I never did buy me a Woody (or even a pair of Huarachi sandals, for that matter), I did spend my fair share of weekends soaking up the rays from Malibu down to Coronado Beach, and was totally stoked whenever I got the opportunity to incorporate my adopted lifestyle into my work.

I lived on the West Coast for 17+ years, so when the NFL called and asked to see San Diego-specific directions for the Super Bowl XXXVII logo, I was on it like wax on a shortboard, with no research trip necessary. Naturally, concepts explored and presented included several focusing on surf culture, plus others featuring other nautical themes and SoCal’s Spanish mission-style architecture.

The surf board solution shown above was a favorite of mine, as well as of the Executive Art Director of NFL Properties at the time, Brad Jansen. Although that logo was not chosen, we were fortunate enough to have another Studio Simon direction—one depicting San Diego’s historic Old Point Loma Lighthouse—selected to be the official mark of SB37.

With the SB36 logo already under the Studio Simon belt, it was a bodacious feeling to rip a second Super Bowl logo in a row. The Beach Boys weren’t kidding when they said, “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world!”

Monday, March 1, 2010

¿Tiene Leche?

If you lived in Tulare County, California, where there are more cows than people and approximately 50% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, you might know that the headline that accompanies this post is Spanish for “Got Milk?” Perhaps you might also think that “Vacas”—Spanish for “Cows”—would make an excellent name for your local baseball club.

That’s what the Visalia Oaks were thinking when they were looking to take their brand identity in an entirely new direction and wanted a team name that tied in to the local dairy industry, yet was also unique to professional sports. In fact, that idea gained enough traction within the ownership group that Studio Simon went so far as to actually flesh out a primary logo for this direction.

We felt that we hit the bullseye with this one, and indeed, for awhile there, it looked like the Visalia Vacas would join another Studio Simon client, the Golden Baseball League’s Long Beach Armada, as one of the few United States sports teams with a Spanish sobriquet. But alas, the team ultimately decided to put the Vacas name out to pasture and went with Visalia Rawhide instead.

We didn’t have a cow about the change, however, and our work was not for naught. The handsome Holstein in the Vacas logo was used as the inspiration for the team’s new mascot, Tipper, and, with a few modifications, some of the artwork made its way into the youth mark we developed as part of the Rawhide identity system.