Rebranding the Buck

I know what you're thinking... what happened to George Washington?!?

Absolutely hate the look of some of the new U.S. currency? If you think that the appearance of our legal tender will change anytime soon, don’t hold your breath, but it’s an interesting concept to consider. For the past two years, the Dollar Rede$ign Project has been holding a design competition to bring a new look and face to U.S. legal tender. Richard Smith, a creative consultant who conceived and presently organizes the Dollar Rede$ign Project, argues that a redesign of U.S. currency would lift the hearts and minds of citizens while rebuilding confidence in the fledgling economy.

The variety of entries both this year and last present a number of interesting concepts, paying homage to a number of historical figures and events. While many of the decisions seem personally driven, many seem carefully thought out to appeal to a wide range of people. Entries range dramatically in design and style, from reserved to radical. A few historical figures popping up on some entries include Martin Luther King, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe. While it’s interesting to see some nods to modern American history and achievements, many examples omit any sense of the wider breadth of U.S. history.

Entries by design studio Dowling Duncan (above) appear to be the most carefully though out. Some aspects of their redesign include bills in different lengths and colors in a vertical format.

“You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically… people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.” (Dowling Duncan)

Taking each bills’ design one step further, images on each bill are directly related to their value in one way or another: Obama, the nation’s first black president is the face of the one-dollar bill; the Bill of Rights, composed of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are listed on the ten-dollar bill; recognition of the 50 states in the union on the fifty-dollar bill.

“We wanted a concept behind the imagery so that the image directly relates to the value of each note. We also wanted the notes to be educational, not only for those living in America but visitors as well.” (Dowling Duncan)

Visit the Dollar ReDe$ign Project for yourself for more information and other entries.

Become Your Own Client: a Primer for Website Redesign

When it comes to working with our clients and prospects advice, we’ve probably all been guilty of not following the mantra “practice what you preach”. We get so caught up in the daily functions of our business and the needs of our clients that our own image begins to show a few cracks of its own. In such cases, it’s time we start taking a dose of our own medicine.

Take The Langton Cherubino Group for instance.  A New York firm specializing in marketing strategies and communications programs, the Langton Cerubino Group recently redesigned their website to adhere to the standards they hold so high for their clients.

“It’s hard to turn the equation around and become your own client.” (David Langton, Principal, Langton Cherubino Group)

As a design communications firm which specializes in branding and identity, the firm asks their clients a number of initial questions before developing a working solution for them. During the redesign, they turned these questions inward, essentially making themselves their client.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What impressions do you want to make?
  • What information do you want to convey?
  • What does this project have to do in order for you to consider it a success?

By making this effort to address their own needs and target new prospects and visitors, it seems the firm has developed a great formula for a successful website design: one that is easily accessible, has a structure designed for the visitor rather than the firm, includes engaging links and content, is optimization for search engines and gives the firm the ability to add new content quickly.

After answering these questions, it was time for co-founders David Langton and Norman Cerubino to begin developing a website redesign that made the best impression of their work. To gauge the success of the project, new requirements of the website were outlined, including:

  • An easily accessible design.
  • A structure based on what their visitors are interested in seeing rather than just what the firm wants to show.
  • Various links and content that engage visitors to learn more about individual projects.
  • A search function to increase traffic to the site.
  • The ability to add new projects and content quickly.

While working towards achieving the goal they outlined, the Langton Cherubino Group treated the assignment as if it was one they took on for a paying client, conducting weekly meetings exploring the underlying details of the site redesign, conducting market studies of competitor sites, designing drafts of potential solutions and holding critiques to assess their viability. The result of all of this work culminated in a systematic solution with a form follows function approach.

Another requirement of the redesign was making the new website searchable and accessible by well-known search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The old website, which was built in flash and not easily recognized by key search engines, hurt their online visibility to a degree. The new website, based in HTML and includes both key words and descriptive text, has increased its recognizability with key search engines and has made the site easier to find for their visitors.

“We now have a more robust web solution.”