What’s in a Corporate Name?

Last Thursday I wrote about the Wagner Group, an off-the-books semi-private army the Kremlin uses wage war where plausible deniability is desired. During that piece I mentioned Blackwater, one of the more infamous American private security contractor firms.

The day before I had seen a tweet, this tweet, where Samantha Stokes created a matrix to help people remember just what Blackwater did, as compared to Blackstone.

Bridgewater buying Bridgestone whose tires were shot out by Blackwater bought by Blackrock.

Credit for the piece goes to Samantha Stokes.

So Cutting Edge

Space Force.

Yep, that’s still a thing. I’ll spare you all the long history of Space Force, because we’ve all pointed and laughed at that enough. So much so there is a Netflix show about it. There was an old logo for Space Force, which basically was the logo for Starfleet Command. You know, the fictional Space Force of Star Trek.

Well, now there’s a new Space Force logo.

And, well, it’s still Star Trek-y. But at least they dropped the most obvious bits. But I want to point out that typography. I get it, geommetric sans serif representing science, technology, the future. Safe pick, easily defensible. But look at those slices in the stems and the crossbars.

I can understand those in the E and F perhaps. But the slices to the stems of the P, F, and R make those letters feel unsteady, as if you had managed to just axe a good chunk out of a tree trunk but somehow the rest of the tree was still upright.

And I would argue further that there’s way too much angling going on, or at least it’s all inconsistent. They have this nice delta shape with its angles. Those could be reflected in the typography. The C comes closest, but in a close examination, it’s also not a match.

And so if you pretend the C is correct, with some less severe slices to the E and F perhaps, you can begin to see how a more refined Space Force logo could emerge. I used the blue lines, pulling off the strong angle in the delta shape, to slice the ends of the Es and F. (I don’t have a match for the original typeface, so I subbed in Avenir Next.)

I think that the quick exercise above, if paired with the original typeface, could work a bit better.

Credit for the original goes to somebody, no idea whom.

The New Longest Flight

You might recall that back in March I wrote about the use of spherical maps to show great circles. This helps illustrate the actual routes that aircraft take in flight. (Yes, actual flight plans deviate based on routes, weather, traffic, &c.) At the time I wrote about how there was a soon-to-be Singapore–New York route. Ta da.

That's just a long time in one aircraft.
That’s just a long time in one aircraft.

Nothing fancy here in this graphic from the Economist. It probably is just a reuse of the original but with the additional routes removed. But, I still love these kinds of maps. From a design manager standpoint, in a way this is great efficiency in that an element from a graphic made once can now, with minimal effort, be used in a second piece. And not in a meaningless, throw-in way, but this graphic does very much help to illustrate the actual route and long across the globe it travels.

In a second note, not related to the graphic itself, I want to point out a subtle change made by the Economist. This is the first online graphic to use an updated chrome, which is the branding elements that surround the actual content of the piece.

Slight changes
Slight changes

The biggest change is a new or modified typeface for the graphic header. I have not seen anything about design changes at the Economist, but I will look into it. But the changes are, again, subtle. The best example in these two comparisons (new on the left, old on the right) is the shape of the letter e.

E, as in Economist
E, as in Economist

You can see how the terminal, or the part of the letter hooking and swinging out at the bottom, used to come to an end at an angle. Now it ends with a vertical chop. I haven’t looked too extensively at the typeface, but given the letter e, it appears to be a little bit wider of a face.

The other change, not quite as subtle, is the positioning of the iconic red rectangle around which so much of the Economist’s brand hangs. Bringing back the above graphic, you can see where I drew a black line to indicate the edge of the original graphic.

Slight changes

The box is now orientated horizontally (again, new is on the left), which actually brings it closer to the actual Economist logo. But, and probably more importantly, it allows the graphic’s edge to go to the, well, edge. And since their site uses generous whitespace around their graphics, they don’t necessarily need margins within the graphic.

They have also chosen to raise the level at which the header starts, i.e. there is less space between the red rule at the top of the graphic and the start of the words. This, however, appears to have been possible in the original design.

As more graphics roll out, I am going to be curious to see if there are other changes. Or even just to see how these subtle changes affect the rest of the graphics.

Credit for the piece goes to the Economist Data Team.

Massimo Vignelli Dies

Massimo Vignelli died yesterday at the age of 83. Fastco has a much better article than I think I could read, this image is from their piece but is of Vignelli’s transit map for New York. I wrote about an interactive piece several years back that allowed you to compare Vignelli’s map to the new system map for the MTA.

Vignelli's subway map
Vignelli’s subway map

Credit for the piece goes to Massimo Vignelli.