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.
This week is the Democratic National Convention. Organisers scheduled it for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but that’s obviously not happening. This post is a short one, but like last week’s not entirely about data visualisation. I want to take a quick look at the identity or logo for the event.
It’s a simple lockup and features D20 in a Helvetica-like grotesk typeface (update: it looks like it’s Neue-Haas Grotesk) with a star imposed atop the D at a slight angle such that the tops of two points are vertically aligned with the stem of the letter. It allows for an arrow to be drawn out of the shape to point forward.
Then we get to the 20. It has the Lower 48 imposed in the 0 to be the letterform’s counter.
But what about Alaska and Hawaii?
To be fair, it’s not like we haven’t mentioned this before. And even in political campaigns we’ve seen this approach taken, remember just four years ago?
That all said, what I do like about the design of the Democratic Convention version compared to the Marco Rubio version is the treatment of the shape. In the convention version, we have a greatly simplified shape with fewer features. Compare that shape to an actual map and you’ll see it wildly incorrect. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula anyone?
Whereas in the Rubio version, you can see it is more geographically accurate, but that makes the shape fuzzy and indistinct at small scale, harder to read. Florida and New England are spindly and Texas barely points south.
We really should drop this visual language, but if we are going to insist upon using it, at least do it well. And that’s what we get out of the D20 Convention mark.
Credit for the pieces to their respective design teams.
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.
This is not exactly data visualisation or graphic design. But it made me laugh the other day. And since we all made it to Friday, we could all do for a good laugh. Classify this under my interest in branding and visual identities.
Two weeks ago President Trump gave a speech at a conference for young conservatives. Uncontroversially, the organisation hosting the event projected on the screen an image of the seal of the President of the United States.
Or did they?
According to the report from the New York Times, it turns out some careless audiovisual guy lifted the wrong image from the internet. Instead of the presidential seal, he took an anti-Trump merchandise image.
He was fired.
So remember, properly source your images. A Google search isn’t the solution.
Happy Friday, all.
Credit for the imitation piece goes to Charles Leazott. I have no idea who designed the original seal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.