Packaged (past tense): 1984 Pinti Inox Box

Folding box for an Inox vegetable press (from Graphis Packaging 4)

Nice folding carton with orthographically-projecting product illustrations. (See: Packaging & Orthographic Graphic Design)

Usually I can find out a bit more, but this Pinti Inox box has proven pretty resistant to research. Every other photo on page 190 of Graphis Packaging 4 includes artist, designer, art director and agency.  This photo only includes client, Pinti Inox.

Looks to me like a frying pan, but it says “passaverdura” on the side of the box. Search for “passaverdura” on Google, however, and you find very different looking apparatus with a crank.

Cannot find any information on who actually designed this box, but Pinti Inox does appear to have manufactured some frying pans…

In the middle of the 1960’s with the second generation of the Pinti family, the company attained the role of unquestionable leader of cutlery and pans. New production ranges of pans and tableware were introduced, taking advantage of the new industrial location in Sarezzo.

Curiously, in the same 1984 book — on the same page — there were black and white photos showing 4 other boxes with orthographically-projecting product illustrations…

[Read more…]

Möbius Circuit Logo

Mobius-Circuit-LogoCircuitcell™ is a manufacturer of rechargeable batteries for electronic pet fences. Related to the typographic circuit logos we were looking at on Tuesday is the Mobius circuit trademark that BEACH designed for them in 2012.

Here the circuit traces a well-known symbol, rather than a letterform. That symbol, of course, is Gary Anderson’s recycling symbol. His logo with 3 arrows in a Möbius-strip has held a certain, rueful significance for me since 1970. (See: Chasing Arrows)

Our symbol was intended to convey two ideas: the printed circuitry that is fundamental to Circuitcell’s patented technology, and the environmental benefits of rechargeable (rather than disposable) batteries.


Escher-Mobius-FlatwormTo be honest, there are some other circuit-resembling Möbius strips around. Not as well-crafted as our Circuitcell symbol —(if I do say so)— and usually designed to promote an electronics recycling event, rather than an electronics brand.

The closed loop geometry of the trefoil Möbis strip, however, also implies other, more paradoxical ideas. A dog chasing its own tail… or Escher’s 1961 wood block engraving, entitled Möbuis Strip I.  At first, I thought that these were three ouroboros style flatworms, but I just read that these were meant to be depictions of fish. (And maybe it’s just as well if we do not mention parasites in a post about pet products branding.)

As with Tuesday’s letterform circuits, it’s worth noting that Möbius strips and electronic circuits can also be connected in ways that are not just metaphorical…

[Read more…]

Letterforms as Circuits


4 vintage logos with letterforms resembling electronic circuits. (Each one, enclosed in a circle)

Not as circuitous as they might be, but the simpler the circuitry the more legible the typography.

W. Paul Rand’s 1959 Westinghouse logo (and McFarland Studio’s 1973 logo for photographer, Hank Gans) we’ve mentioned before. (See: The Westinghouse W: connecting the dots)

This logo featured the letter “W” made up of three dots and four lines that form a letter with the suggestion of the format of an electrical circuit board.

Stephen Eskilson, Graphic Design: A New History

H. I readily concede that the Hank Gans logo might resemble a button even more than an electronic circuit. (See also: the Gap’s “Logo” logo)

S. Carl Seltzer’s logo design for United Semiconductor, published in a 1967 issue of Communications Arts. (from: Sandi Vincent’s Flickr Photostream)

E. The logo for Elton (an electrical products company) was designed by Jan Hollender.

(a couple more letterforms as circuits, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Bubble Wrap the brand


Bubble-Wrap-the-brandOne word or two words? Is it BubbleWrap, the brand or Bubble Wrap, the brand? Actually, its both.

BubbleWrap® and Bubble Wrap® are both registered trademarks of The Sealed Air Corporation.

Either way, it’s one of those trademarked names that seem forever on the verge of becoming a brandnomer, since so many people already use it that way…

“The fact is that Bubble Wrap®, a registered trademark of Sealed Air, is actually a brand but often used incorrectly to describe all air cellular cushioning material. As a trademark, Bubble Wrap® only describes Sealed Air® air cellular cushioning material.”

As a verb, however, “bubble wrap” implies an unnecessary and counter-productive type of protection, as in “don’t bubble wrap your kids” or “don’t try to bubble-wrap your brand.”

Often ad agencies have been forced to become the principal brand custodians due to uncertainty in the marketing discipline. The power might have been nice, but it’s not an ad agency’s job to bubble-wrap the brand and refuse to take or even suggest risks. Brand growth in a cluttered environment needs to embrace the notion of risk taking, and a line of tension and accountability needs to exist between those managing the brand and those promoting it. Until marketing gets its act together, ad agencies will become increasingly constrained, say brand experts.

Top Companies Magazine, 2007

See also: Day-Glo: the brand

Packaged (past tense): 1970 faux beer glass packs

faux-beer-glass-packs-1970Suntory Beer labels from 1970 GraphisPackaging 2

Beer cans impersonating glasses of beer have been a pet topic on box vox for a few years now. Just when I think I’ve seen them all, I discover a whole new set of “faux beer glass packs.”

The Suntory Beer labels above were designed by Shigeshi Omori under the design direction of Shigetaka Saito.

A flat top steel can with a “tear-open lid” and a printed paper label, the graphics of which include a glowing beer-colored background with condensation and a foamy head. The removable lid was probably intended to complete the illusion that one was drinking their beer from a glass.

Not the earliest example of this idea—(from the evidence I’ve seen so far, it appears the ACME beer was the first)—but it just might be the first time this idea appear on a can of Japanese beer.

Since then, Suntory and other Japanese beer manufacturers have used this motif quite a bit.

(5, more recent faux-beer-glass packs, after the fold…)

[Read more…]

Incomprehensible Logos in Men’s Hearts


Justinus (ad Diognetum, c. vii.) says that the omnipotent, all-creating, and invisible God has fixed truth and the holy, incomprehensible Logos in men’s hearts; and this Logos is the architect and creator of the Universe.

The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, (George Long, 1880)

See what I did there? According to Wikipedia, Justinus Martyr “is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century,” but his Logos is a proper noun (always capitalized and not plural) and means something like “the word of God.”

I set out to find 4 incomprehensible logos, and accidentally found Logos.

Based on the Greek word, λέγω (“I say”), Logos was an important concept for ancient philosophers. Aristotle divided persuasive communication into three categories. Ethos, Pathos & Logos. Logos was the one based on logic and clarity.

Logic and clarity are also supposed to be key persuasive concepts in our own alternate universe of brand logos. So, why is it that some brand logos are so difficult to comprehend?

Today we consider 4 such “incomprehensible” logos…


Minale-Tattersfield-Sunday-Times1. The Scribble

If our alternate universe was created by incomprehensible logos, then Minale Tattersfield’s 1964 “Scribble” might be our big bang.

Minale made sure his fledgling design firm got noticed. The firm even introduced its own corporate logo —the “Scribble”, a loose, free-form, pencil-drawn counterblast to the formal graphic conventions of the time. (from Wikipedia’s entry on Marcello Minale’s work)

It’s often combined as a logotype with the name “Minale Tattersfield” underneath, but I prefer to show it as they have it on their website — just a scribble with an ® symbol.

(Three more incomprehensible logos, after the fold…) [Read more…]

Old School Rebus Branding

Rebus branding
Carhartt’s “[trolley] car + heart brand” button (via: Etsy); Wolf & Durringer’s “wolf + derringer” (via: Imperial Half Bushel)

While we would not recommend a rebus logo as the clearest form of brand identity, rebus branding has has been around for ages. It’s nothing if not “old school.”

Just as in yesterday’s survey of more recent rebus logos, each of the examples above, asks us to sound out the name of a company using irrelevant, sound-alike words.

photo via: 10engines

Hamilton Carhartt configured a rebus trademark, a trolley car and a heart, for ticket-style labels sewn on work clothes he began manufacturing in 1889.

Hillary Weiss, The American Bandanna

The fact that these companies were both named after their founders is very telling. Rebus monograms and “allusive arms”  can be thought of as an early form of personal branding.

There was a kind of Rebus much in vogue in the fourteenth and following centuries, which, although not regulated by the laws of blazon, possessed somewhat of the heraldic character. Many persons, even those of ancient family, who bore regular coats of arms, adopted various figures for the purpose of expressing their names pictorially; for instance, one John Eagleshead gave as his seal an eagle’s head

IslipThe Abbot of Ramsay bore, in the same way, a ram in the sea, with an appropriate legend. One Harebottle expressed his name by a hare upon a bottle; while Islip, abbot of Westminster, represented his by a man slipping out of a tree, and supposed to exclaim, “I slip!” …

SirJohnPeche-Peaches-eOne of the most singular rebuses I have seen occurs in a window in the chapel at Lullingstone, co. Kent, the seat of Sir P. H. Dyke, Bart. It is that of Sir John Peché. In this instance the arms of the personage are surrounded by a wreath, composed of two branches of a peach tree bearing fruit, every peach being marked with an Old English e; Peach-é. It is curious that this device proves the true pronunciation of the name, which was formerly supposed to be Peche.

The common rebus, although it did not come into general use until after the introduction of regular heraldry, may boast of a much higher antiquity, for such devices occur as the representatives of names of no less eminence than those of Cicero and Cæsar; not to mention those of celebrated sculptors and mint-masters, who, in the palmiest days of Rome, frequently marked the productions of their genius with a rebus. Taking into consideration the great antiquity of these “name-devices,” and their early introduction into the armorial shield, I cannot see any good reason for the strong prejudices which have existed against them in modern times.

Mark Antony Lower, The Curiosities of Heraldry

As for rebus branding of products, we have a couple more examples… [Read more…]

10 Rebus Logos: R they bad 4 the ® ?


In researching Paul Rand’s design for the corrugated IBM box with the minimalist grid, I was reminded of Rand’s celebrated eye-bee-M logo.

Rebus puzzles can be a fun, but using a riddle as your brand’s trademark might be a terrible idea for all kinds of reasons.

Here are 10 of them…


1. Rebus puzzles are a very oblique form of communication. To explain what I mean by that, I could either list their pros and cons. Or I could show you a picture of some golf-pros + some convicts.

Norm Blumenthal created the rebus puzzles used in the 1960s TV show, Concentration. He created the “con-cent-tray-shin” rebus above. Phonetically amusing, but never meant to serve as logo for the show, although they did, at times, employ an indecipherable “mystery logo.” (See: casually interlocking logotypes

Even “The Rebus Show” on ABC (short-lived as it was) had the good sense to use something more legible than a rebus puzzle for its main logo.

2. Rand’s eye-bee-M logo was “created in 1981 in support of IBM’s motto, THINK.”

Paul-Rand-eye-bee-M-poster-1981Certainly some thinking is required to correctly parse “eye-bee-M” since rebus puzzles don’t generally say what they mean, relying instead on sound-alike words.

As a company that started out selling business machines (and not eyeballs or bee hives) IBM did not immediately embrace the rebus concept and worried that it might tend to dilute their “brand identity.”

… Paul Rand tested the limits he, himself, had imposed through comprehensive identity documents and ruling with an iron fist as the official gatekeeper of IBM’s identity, when he attempted a rebus of the logo for an in-house event poster and faced opposition from management, who went as far as prohibiting the distribution of the poster.

Large Bite

In the small type at the bottom of this poster, we are given a less arbitrary rationale for the eye, the bee and the “M” in the form of an acrostic corporate poem:

an Eye
a Bee
an “M”
for perception, insight, vision
for industriousness, dedication, perseverance.
for motivation, merit, moral strength.

eye-bee-M-trademarkIt’s doubtful Paul Rand had these particular justifications in mind when he designed IBM’s rebus logo and he certainly never intended it to replace the official IBM logotype.

Nevertheless, it is among IBM’s registered trademarks. (See it at the end of a recent short commercial below.)

Also worth noting: this was not Rand’s only rebus logo. See also: CADC and AIGA.

(8 more rebus logos, after the fold…)

[Read more…]

Packaged (past tense): Carl Seltzer’s Diet Ice Carton

Carl Seltzer’s 1984 “Carton for dietetic ice-cream with tear strip indicating inches” (from Graphis Packaging 4)

Carl Seltzer’s name is misspelled as “Selzer” in the credit line appearing in Graphis Packaging 4, the book where I found this image. A California-based designer who appears to have worked at various design firms, including his own, “Carl Seltzer Design Office.”  In this case, Seltzer was working for Advertising Designers, Inc.  The “client” was Print Magazine which probably means that this packaging never appeared in a retail frozen foods section.

What I like most about Seltzer’s design is the way the upper portion of the product inside is realistically “exposed.” Frozen food seems particularly suitable for this type of depiction on the outside of a box. It’s so easy to imagine a frozen block of this “mocha flavored frozen dairy dessert” as a stand-alone product with no real need of a supporting container.  (See also: Hans Uster frozen food packaging and Packaging vs Contents)

Black seems an unusual choice for a 1980s ice-cream carton. Is it because black is so slimming?

The tape measure is also interesting. Used here as a tear strip, the tape measure functions both as an invitation to reveal the actual “Diet Ice” beneath the simulation, and as metaphor for losing weight.

More recently, there’s been significant pushback against the tyranny of tape-measure dieting. (See also: Cereal Boxes with WaistlinesWriting on Packages  and  Damnation & Diet Delight)

We’ll being showing more of Carl Seltzer’s work in a week or so.