A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

10 Great Hotel Websites

At the Brick Factory, we respect good-looking websites of many kinds. It’s interesting to see how the purpose of the website changes the design of the site. Newspaper and magazine sites are very text-heavy. The college sites we mentioned on our blog a couple of months ago do a great job of displaying the identity of the school, showcasing the research their school has done, and incorporating other elements of school spirit that would be compelling for prospective students. Hotel sites seek to represent the sort of experience a person would have when staying there. These days, hotels rely more on their web presence than a travel agent’s recommendation to attract guests to their hotel. A website can make or break a booking for a hotel.

After reviewing the list of best hotels according to US News and World Report as well as Travel and Leisure, we identified ten of our favorites. These sites were simple enough to navigate but involved enough to grab one’s attention. They also did a great job of using photography to create an appealing advertisement of their accommodations.

 

Shutters on the Beach

 

Sukho Thai

 

Ojai

 

Four Seasons

 

Les Crayeres

 

St. Regis

 

Ladera

 

The Little Nell

 

Sea Island

 

The Plaza

 

Trump Hotel

Logo Design Versus What’s In Our Budget

Last week stocklogos.com posted a listing of popular logos and revealed the cost of each. As I’m sure was the plan, the post successfully elicited the expected sentiments of disbelief. Or mine

That 2012 Olympics thing ran someone 625 grand. That seems perhaps excessive. New Zealand Banking Group at 15 mil? Pinch me I guess.

I have to admit the numbers really mean very little to me. Companies spend what they can. No one was hoodwinked here. Part of what designing a logo entails is justifying the cost. Several of these designers are the best in the business at this lost art form. The document that accompanied Pepsi’s latest logo ($1,000,000) was a laborious, bewildering masterpiece. Ten percent of the justification made sense (it’s a smiling face, basically), the remainder can be described as brilliantly rendered hogwash. I would have bought off on it as well. It’s a very smart logo. Another wildly successful logo is Nike’s mark. The company was brand new, so the logo was designed for 35 bucks in 1975. As a side note, my parents bought my first suit in 1975. It also cost $35 (and weighed 35 pounds).

Even though the costs here are relative, mostly (BP, what the hell?), I thought we could go through the designs and score them for success versus price tag.


pepsi

 

PEPSI
Cost: $1,000,000
This is a big winner for me. I love the design, appreciate the insanity, yet curiously have Coke in my refrigerator. I’m sort of old though and fear change. And loud noises.


anz_0

 

NEW ZEALAND BANKING
Cost: $15,000,000
15 million for a bank? If New Zealand’s banks are as angelic as ours, then I assume there were sufficient funds for this weird, healthcare-looking symbol. I’m not a fan of this effort. Congrats to the designers though on getting what I assume was a giant, novelty-sized cardboard check accompanied by balloons and New Zealand’s version of Ed McMahon.


accenture_0

ACCENTURE
Cost: $100,000,000
I like this logo and would have paid dearly for it. Dearly for me would have been 2 grand though. Landor Associates did the work in 2000, I just now read, and they seem like a pretty substantial group. The price is pretty outrageous though and sometimes the logo looks like a programmer left some html markup in the text.


bbc

 

BBC
Cost: $1,800,000
I’m guilty pretty sure I’ve borrowed this idea on more than one occasion, so it would be unfair to bad mouth this logo. It’s one of the most recognizable logos in the world, but to be honest, it’s just a redesign of the old italics logo. Still, well worth the money.


bp_0

 

BP
Cost: $211,000,000
This is a very complex and probably brilliant idea, perfectly rendered. It was purchased by a company that does not have a budget. Still, it just makes you shake your head and want to ride a bike to work. Except me, because I live far from work and am older, as I mentioned in the earlier Pepsi briefing up there.


enron

ENRON
Cost: $33,000
Paul Rand was a graphic design genius and is partly responsible for a lot of what you watched while your parents went out and left you with the “remote control baby-sitter”. Most of his work is absolutely inspired and this Enron logo is in that category. For 33 grand, this was a steal.


glasgow

GLASGOW 2014 GAMES
Cost: $95,000
Yeah, me neither. I had to look up what these games are. Then I got bored too, but I did see the branding statement and it’s a doozey. Sample:
The next ring of the brand identity, in an orange-gold – ‘Triumph Yellow’ from the CGF palette – that echoes the ore of the medals, represents the number of sports. It’s just over three quarters of the full circle.

Do yourself a favor and read the full screed. It’s adorable.


google_0

 

GOOGLE
Cost: $0
I’m sure there’s an interesting as hell back story here…hold on…no. No there isn’t according to my second monitor. One of the founders threw it together. So, considering Google is profitable, as far as I know, this was a great buy.


coca-cola

COCA COLA
Cost: $0
Another freebie. Frank Mason Robinson, a bookkeeper designed it and named it in the olden days, before branding statements were a thing.


london-2012

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS
Cost: $625,000
Bad logo. I don’t take joy in disparaging design work, but this one is a straight-up punch in the face. Ordinarily I would admit that I’ve designed worse at this point in the sentence, but no. That’s not happening today. Nothing about this garish pink fiasco makes sense.


melbourne_0

CITY OF MELBOURNE
Cost: $625,000
Landor Associates again, but this one works so well. I love this logo and in this version, the palette in particular. How Melbourne got this price tag through their Town Hall Meeting or whatever they do down there is a wonder though.


next

NeXT
Cost: $100,000
There’s an interesting story behind the negotiations for this Paul Rand logo, but let’s instead focus on how it really sucks. You can’t hit every one out of the park, but deep down I believe Paul Rand might have been having some fun getting away with murder in this case. Evidence of his skills here.


nike

NIKE
Cost: $35
Another case of the new company getting their first logo for near nothing and never really needing a redesign. Maybe the most recognizable logo out there, it may will never need an update.

Nike Fun Fact: I owned the very first pair of Nikes and carried them around in the box, putting them on for sports, then re-boxing them. I had few friends.


twitter_0

TWITTER
Cost: $ 15
Artist Simon Oxley is an exceptionally gifted illustrator who drew and uploaded this bird to istockphoto. The Twitter nerds grabbed it up for 15 bucks and it became the logo (for a time). As someone who does this for a living, that’s the kind of heart-warming story that drives me to consider shoe sales.

The Obama Campaign Fights Email Fatigue with Infographics

If you subscribe to the Obama email list, you are used to seeing emails that look a lot like this.

michelle

Short.  To the point.  Mostly text with few if any images.  A single link to the action they want you to perform.  And that’s it. 

Over the years the Obama campaign has experimented with a  variety of email layouts.  Somewhere along the line they determined that simple yields the best returns, so the majority of their emails have the minimalistic look of the one above.

Yesterday, the Obama campaign sent out an email that was completely different.  The email, which is embedded at the end of this post, consisted of a 6,000+ pixel infographic about the fundraising gap between Obama and Romney.   I’m on a ton of political email lists and tune out most of them as noise.  I read this one all the way through.  It got my attention.  While I’m certainly not the typical Obama supporter, I suspect the email got the attention of others as well.

When managing an email list, it is important to remember that the list consists of living, breathing people.  And people get bored.  The Obama infographic email is a great way to mix things up, and reengage subscribers whose attention you are struggling to keep.

I’m a big believer in keeping emails as simple as possible, but throwing a curveball like this every now and then strikes me as a great way to combat email fatigue.

obama_email_long

Share Walls

As the news industry continues its move online, publishers have struggled to figure out how best to monetize their online traffic.

A year ago, the New York Times launched an innovative pay wall system that allows visitors to read 10 articles a month for free.  If you want more, you will have to pay between $15-$25 per month for a digital subscription.  The tactic has worked, as last week the Times announced that over half a million people now pay for digital editions of the paper. 

In this period of experimentation, it makes sense that publishers are starting to more aggressively integrate with social networks.  Over the last few months I’ve seen more and more publishers experiment with what I call “share walls”.  Share walls are prompts visitors get to like or share content on social networks as they are reading content. 

Sites such as the gossip network Wetpaint ask users to “like” their site on Facebook prior to reading content.  Below is a screenshot of the wall in action. 

wetpaint_share_wall

This is basically an updated version of the registration requirement that so many newspaper websites have used for year.  Instead of forcing users to fill out a form requiring name, zip code and email, they are asking users to  “like” them on Facebook.  I would expect for this to become a common practice moving forward.

Other publishers are encouraging the sharing of individual content.  Instead of asking users to “like” their site on Facebook, they ask users to like the individual piece of content they are reading on social networks.  So as you are reading an article, a little prompt will pop up asking you to like the article you are reading on Facebook.  ESPN has been experimenting with this technique the last few months.  ESPN seems to have stopped using the technique for the time being, as when I went back to get a screengrab I couldn’t get the prompt to pop up.  I’ll update this post next time I see this technique in use.

Both of these tactics strike me as smart moves by publishers.  Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are responsible for an increasing percentage of referral traffic.  Given this growth it only makes sense for publishers to get more aggressive about building their social networking presences and making sure their content gets shared.

“Doodling” Your Homepage

4th_460

In honor of the 4th of July, our creative team has put together a custom animation for our homepage.  Visit www.thebrickfactory.com to check it out. 

We were inspired to create custom versions of our Brick Factory homepage by the awesome work the Google team does with their Doodles.  For years, the Google team has created unbelievable illustrations to celebrate holidays, honor heroes and to commemorate random events.  Some of my recent favorite Google Doodles are Jim Hensons 75th birthday, Lucille’s Ball’s 100th birthday, and Google’s statement on SOPA/PIPA.  

In researching our list of the best designed college websites, we came across the Massachusetts Institute of Technology website.  Since 2003, MIT has changed the background photo on their homepage every single week day as a way of telling the story of the school.  Below is a recent screenshot about a scientific discovery from MIT researches that I’m frankly not smart enough to understand.

mit

I love what both Google and MIT are doing.

Millions of people go to the Google homepage every day, so having a cool doodle pop up now and then just enriches the experience.  It makes Google fun. 

For MIT, the Daily Image is a really effective story telling mechanism.  The beautiful images they use encourage visitors to click through to the content in a way a static headline never would.  It also provides users with a  compelling reason to come back.  Every day.

For us, our homepage drawing are a way to showing off the skills of our creative team and showing a bit of the personality of the firm.  More to come.