Thursday, February 7, 2008

Come On In Everybody

Signs appear everywhere we go and each of them has its own unique characteristic that try to catch our eye. These attention hungry signs like the Chuck E Cheese’s, Gatti’s Pizza, McDonald’s and CoCo’s Café banners flood our cities competing for business. Coco’s Café in particular presents a colorful and “poppy” sign that is both catchy and inviting. The banner for CoCo’s Café can certainly grab ones attention, but it can also make you feel overwhelmed.

While I was walking down Guadalupe Street, CoCo’s Café’s vibrant, loopy, bold, and enticing logo had caught my eye. A font similar to the Allinea sans was used in this banner that was designed by Thierry Puyfoulhoux in 1995. There are no serifs in this font; and it is appropriate because serifs connote a sense of restriction and professionalism, which is completely the opposite of what CoCo’s Café, is trying to convey. The purple, round, and curvy letters along with the yellow swirling sun on the upper right corner all gave me the impression that this café is a warm, inviting, and fun place to dine. According to the employee, the store was named after the owner’s dog which indicates that the owner was aiming for a humorous and friendly title. Furthermore, in order to give the viewers the impression that they do indeed sell pearl drinks, there are six circles on the lower left corner that replicates the tapioca pearls, which are used in the drinks. The description “pearl drinks and Taiwanese food” is literally spelled out in orange underneath the word CoCo’s. When I entered the café I was greeted with bright purple and orange walls and childlike décor that hang along the walls. The menu is written in pink and white chalk that further emphasizes that this café is aimed towards a young and cheerful audience.

I personally enjoy the positive energy that CoCo’s Café unravels in their logo and in their interior decorations. However, I can imagine someone arguing that signs like this along with signs like Chuck E Chesse’s, Gatti’s Pizza, and McDonald’s banners fill our already highly populated and polluted cities with even more discomfort, by presenting new ways to litter our streets with lights and wacky logos. For instance, the Chuck E Cheese’s sign uses hues of red and yellow that spell out the words along with a picture of their mascot centered on the title. The C, E, and S are oddly stretched longer than the rest of the letters and present a sense of hierarchy even though it was probably not intentional. The Gatti’s Pizza sign is obnoxious with its wavy characters that are outlined in orange and teal. Lastly, how can anyone miss the super sized, vivid, and bright yellow McDonald’s arches that beg drivers to look at and drive through the drive-thru? Signs are meant to have a simple purpose, which is to present information with clarity and legibility. However, the restaurants that I have mentioned make us wonder how life would be without these complex signs that clutter and perhaps even distort the messages. Is it truly necessary to have banners with cartoon characters attached to them? Or signs that are bolded and stretched to the point where they look like string cheese, obscuring the words and the message itself? But then again, it could be argued that these signs or all commercial signs focus their attention more so on bringing in customers just to stay in business.

There are a few possible solutions to this problem. One is to have a standard font for all commercial businesses to use, such as Helvetica. Helvetica is the cleanest and simplest font that could be used by anyone without jeopardizing and complicating their message. However, this could be problematic because if everyone were to use the same font then we wouldn’t be able to distinguish signs from one another and nothing would stand out and catch our attention. To solve the repetitive use of Helvetica, there should be a set of fonts set aside for the sole purpose of advertising that are clean, precise, and direct. For instance, Universe and Arial are both san-serif fonts that provide simplicity and legibility. The other is to minimize the use of excessive materials such as form, color, and unnecessary icons. I created a poster to best convey the CoCo’s banner by minimizing the extra components. I deleted the swirling sun and the circles that the original banner has and created a poster that conveys the essence of a pearl tea cup. I outlined what appears to be a cup with a softer purple and mimicked the illusion of a straw by spelling out “pearl drinks and Taiwanese food”. Furthermore, I used the font Helvetica rounded to play off the idea of pearls being round. There are many different ways to modify signs that exist but it is difficult to do so without taking away its originality.

It is difficult to go anywhere in public without being bombarded with signs that try to lure people in. Some are pleasing to view but some are nothing but an eyesore. Personally, I have a positive reaction towards CoCo’s Café; however, one may disagree due to its flashy design. As you can see, there are numerous problems with having an extravagant sign but it is also difficult to stand out without embellishing them as well.

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