Flat Design Strikes Again
Is flat design making a comeback? This week on Overtime, we’re talking all about the new Pringles logo and breaking down a few other interesting trends in branding.
Then, get some tips for how to design both beautiful and user-friendly emails so you can boost your newsletter engagement! Plus, what role does fear play in your work? Meg shares how her biggest fear has been holding her back and how you can assess where to get rid of fear in your own career. Let’s go!
This episode was sponsored by:
- ASUS — Bring your creations to life with the power of the ASUS Creator Series.
- InMotion Hosting — Show your work to the world and attract new clients with a custom WordPress website & free domain hosted by InMotion hosting.
Meg: Weeeeee! Hi, welcome back to Overtime! It feels so good to be here and I’m getting a little teary just thinking about how the year is almost over. I mean, in many ways, good tears. In many ways, it’s a traditional type of tears which are sad tears, because it means that my time hosting this season of Overtime is coming to an end so soon. Anyway, in case this is your first episode, I’m your host, but not for long, Meg “Two Turtledoves, Eleven-ty Five Tiny Deer, and a Golden Goose” Lewis, and welcome back to Overtime. This is Dribbble’s weekly podcast where I deliver you some design news and give you some tips to create your very best work, and this episode is no exception. This week on Overtime, once you pop, you just can’t stop looking at those eyebrows on the new Pringles redesign. Plus, why my newsletter is absolutely my least favorite thing to do, and some tips on how to boost your newsletter engagement and maybe make it a little bit more fun. Oh, plus, what role does fear play in your work? I’m reviewing how my biggest fear has been holding me back this year, and my whole life really, and what I’m doing to get through it actively now and how you can assess where to get rid of fear in your own career. Let’s go!
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Let’s get started right away with the sort of pièce de résistance, which is a redesign of Pringles. The Pringles logo character, apparently, is called Mr. P., I didn’t know that. But anyway, if you’re not familiar with Pringles, Pringles is a United States based crispy chip brand. The chips are sort of shaped as though they cradle your tongue, so you could take a single chip, Pringles chip, and place it on the tongue and it’ll just hold your tongue and give it a nice warm hug, and then you can crunch down on it. That’s how I would describe a Pringle. I am a huge fan of Pringles, all the flavors, love them all. I like the little can, I like the big tall can, except you have to stick your arm all the way through the big tall can, and then you get all the dust on your hand when you do that. And you’re probably asking yourself, “Meg, why don’t you just tip the can upside down?” which I’m just now realizing I could have been doing this whole time. But anyway, onto design, right? We have to talk about design. That’s what this podcast is about.
So, it was recently redesigned, the Pringles can design as well as the character. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pringles logo, it is [the] shape of [the] Pringles mascot with the word, the logo type, “Pringles” underneath, and then there’s the design of the can. And that’s basically the extent of the brand. I’m sure there’s a website, pringles.com maybe, where you can go and see more brand assets if you’re so curious. I don’t even know if that’s the URL. I’m just guessing. I’ve never been to that website.
So okay, let’s talk about Mr. P, the Pringles mascot. So historically, he’s generally been the same. He has been through many redesigns in the past, and if you google “Pringles mascot evolution” or “Pringles design evolution,” you’ll find all of the versions of the mascot, and you’ll notice that he’s essentially the same always. The structure of this mascot is generally quite the same. And it is sort of an egg shaped head, horizontal egg, if you could imagine, followed by some hair on top, a big giant mustache, beady little eyes, [there] might be a mouth thing involved, there might be a bow tie, depending on the version. And that’s it. Yeah. So, that’s the mascot and then it says Pringles underneath. And it really recently went through a redesign, and I had to talk about it because he got flattened. He used to be all kinds of dimensional, his moustache and hair had some highlights and stroke there, and there was, you know, dimension going on with the Pringles mascot. And now, his mustache and eyebrows are just black, it’s just solid color, which is actually, if somebody hired me and they were like, “Meg, just do your thing. What do you think of the Pringles mascot?” I’d probably do the same, I’d make it clean and simple and easy to read. And that’s exactly what happened here. And I’m sad about it. This is why you should not hire me to redesign a mascot as iconic as the Pringles mascot, right?
It’s kind of like when Adé was here a few weeks ago talking about the Bojangles logo redesign and how, you know, we get really precious about nostalgia, and old logos from our past that have always been around our whole lives and then they change and we get really sensitive about it. I definitely felt this way about the Pringles logo. But I also had an epiphany while I was looking at it and looking at the evolution of the logos of past to the one today, because the one today is a simple giant moustache with some little tiny eyebrows floating over the head, and it made me realize because I thought, “Wait a minute, they got rid of the hair. There was hair before on the head, and now there’s just eyebrows.” And then it occurred to me that the hair was eyebrows all along. I was having a perspective issue with the logo, and maybe everyone was. Maybe the world thought that the Pringles mascot had hair, but in fact, Pringles knew all along that they were just eyebrows, and that’s maybe why they did the whole redesign, because they finally wanted to show the world that that was not hair, it was eyebrows all along. You have to look it up. You must look it up to know what I’m talking about. It’s eyebrows, and I think it was eyebrows all along. So, I had a huge aha moment when I realized it was eyebrows all along, and my whole life has been a lie, and what else has been eyebrows all along throughout my life and I didn’t know? What else is obviously standing right in front of me being eyebrows and I thought it was hair? I don’t know, maybe a lot of things. I’m going to be looking at everything in my life with a new fresh set of eyebrows.
But also, this mask used to have a bow tie for a bit. And then when they redesigned it, they took away the bow tie. Why? What’s that about? Too pretentious, maybe? Were they alienating a large portion of their audience by featuring a bowtie? Were people really offended? Did they do some focus groups and find out that the bow tie was too much? I have a lot of questions.
But generally, I think it’s “flat design strikes again.” I’m not necessarily saying it’s all bad, or it’s all good. I think it’s just a fact: this is where we’re at in the year of 2020, where, you know, things used to be, I would say a lot more, as far as brands go, there [were] especially fun, like nostalgic based brands that have been around for a while, there used to be a level of individuality when it came to the brand creative direction. Like if we think about episodes and episodes ago when I talked about the TGI Fridays logo, the interior of TGI Fridays, Taco Bell, a lot of the chain restaurants today, Chili’s, they all had their own design aesthetic in the interior and in the entire restaurant experience, and that over the course of the last few years, have largely all merged into the same aesthetic that’s very popular right now. I’m sure that there are, you know, people that know what the name of that aesthetic is. And I don’t know what it is, but it’s a sort of modernized, casual dining experience that exists today. And every restaurant is getting redesigned in that style, and it’s just happening everywhere. And I think that that’s happening with brand design right now too.
We’ve talked a lot about blands and what those mean, and I’m not sure if that’s necessarily happening here because another logo redesign I want to talk about is the Petco logo redesign, which I definitely got a few DM’s from people telling me that I have to talk about the Petco logo redesign, because people were pretty fired up about it because Petco, you know, if you’re not familiar with Petco, it’s a pet store. It’s a large chain pet store, we have two, I would say, primary large chain pet stores in the US that are, you know, around most of the country, Petco and PetSmart, and everybody gets both of them confused constantly. I do. I shop at Petco, but I’m constantly accidentally going to PetSmart because I think that that’s where I shop. And it is not because they do not have the food that I buy, only Petco does, and I cannot keep them straight and I think the same is true for most people. So, with the Petco redesign, the same thing happened. There was a logo that was blue and red and had a dog and a cat on it as part of the logo mark, and it was, I would say, recognizable-ish. But they recently redesigned and just removed the dog and the cat, made Petco just the type, and it was all black. So, they did the Pringles redesign to the Petco logo, and they did the same redesign that they’re doing everything else, they made it flat, made it a solid color, and you know, voila.
So, I think the initial reaction was like, “Ah, here it comes again. Here we go, another one.” But someone that I follow on the internet, Anna Fine, who – she definitely did not redesign the Petco logo – but she was a part of the team that pitched the initial redesign, and then she left the team and then they finished it, blah, blah, blah, so she was able to give some insights into the process, said that very much the confusion between Petco and PetSmart was at the top of everyone’s mind throughout the redesign process, because even the Petco logo and the PetSmart logo were the same colors. They were both blue and red. And what the heck, how did that happen? So, you know, I think maybe we like to believe that they did that on purpose so that people would get confused. Why? Like, I don’t know. Anyway, so part of the redesign goal was to finally get rid of that color confusion of the blue and red thing and the confusion that everybody was having with Petco and PetSmart, and Petco decided to become more of a wellness, health and wellness brand for pets. And in doing so, I think we have to remember that the simple fact that the entire brand design is not just in the logo. If you design logos at all, I’m sure you’re trying to constantly preach this to your clients that – I work with clients a lot, I do at least, that are asking me to fit every ounce of their brand’s personality into the logo itself, and then [it] gets really hard to apply the logo onto a lot of things because there [are] like, eight colors involved, and there’s so much detail because they keep asking for more and more personality. So, I constantly have to tell them, “Hey, your personality of your brand is far beyond your logo,” which we all know, as designers, there’s so much more as part of the experience, the additional graphics everywhere, the copywriting, everything about the experience, whether it’s digital or physical, is part of the brand design. And that’s so important.
So, that’s what’s happening here, I believe, with the Petco logo, is they are practicing that method. Because if you go to their website, you can see some heavy brand design that’s going on that is very much different from PetSmart now, and I think, I hope, that the brand recognition will be a little bit easier going forward. And so, it’s really nice to get some insight on the backstory of why they made that decision. So, I’d love to give Pringles the benefit of the doubt. And maybe they have great reasons as to why they got rid of the bow tie and made the mustache all flat. I don’t know. I think they just did it to have a bolder, simpler, cleaner can design and that’s okay too. Like everything, this is a nuanced topic, there’s a little bit of good, a little bit of bad to it, and that’s okay, we can be okay with that. We can move on.
Meg: Do you happen to have a newsletter? Because I do, and I will vary dramatically say [that] the least favorite thing that I do in my career is make my newsletter, send my newsletter, write my newsletter, design my newsletter. I truly despise it. Something about sending out a newsletter feels so emotionally taxing to me because everything that I do and include in it seems very important and very permanent. And it also makes me feel gross because every time I send a newsletter, I have to announce something, and that’s the point. And so, I just feel really salesy and needy, which I know is the point of a newsletter, it’s all very complicated to me. But all of those reasons are why it just feels so emotionally heavy and I really just do not enjoy it. I feel very uncomfortable about designing newsletters because I feel like I can’t make them look as good as I want them to. It’s just painful for me.
So, Dribbble recently had a blog post that they wrote that was titled like, “Email Design 101: How to Boost Engagement and Draw Readers In,” and I was all over that because I don’t know what I’m doing, and I just want – everything I do in my career is so fun, and I really am having, truly, the opposite of fun every time I’m designing newsletters. So, I thought, “Okay, Dribbble has, like, millions of users, so they probably know how to design a newsletter properly, and how to get the engagement, and how to do it, quote unquote, right, whatever that means. So, I’m just going to walk you through some of these tips so that maybe you can learn alongside of me because I think this is really helpful.
So, the first tip is to use visual hierarchy to guide readers down the newsletter, which seems obvious. So, have a really boring part that trails off and then it ends nowhere. So, that means just have some visuals going on all the way down that’s leading the eye downwards. Design 101, I guess.
The next tip is to include visual content. So, the wonderful part about us being designers is that there are a lot of writers out there that write newsletters, copywriters, people that are great storytellers that are able to craft and write a beautiful, beautiful newsletter. And a lot of those newsletters are text only. I subscribe to a lot of those, and I love them. But that’s because they’re written by great writers. And I’m not here to say that you’re a bad writer, because I bet you’re amazing, but I will boost your ego and say that you’re a great designer, and you have that advantage, you have the ability to design, and these writers out there do not. So, imagine if a writer that knew nothing about design tried to design their own graphics for their email, it would probable look pretty bad, and then it would probably make the newsletter not as great. So, thank goodness they don’t, thank goodness maybe they hire us to design for them. But you have the ability to design beautiful graphics for your newsletter, and for your emails, so heck, yes, get to it, baby. Woo!
Another one is just making sure that there’s interactive content inside of the newsletter, which I think was a really big eye opener for me, because apparently, having interactive content like polls, or ratings, or reviews, or surveys, increases the click to open rate by 73%, which is huge. And in fact, if you include a video, a clickable video in your newsletter, that can increase click through rates by 300%, which is a lot. So, popping those little babies in there, I think the trouble is, you can’t just put a YouTube link to a Mr. Bean video on your newsletter, because that’s going to take people away from your website. So, you’re going to have to figure out how to make interactive content that points to your thing, which sounds like a lot of work. I guess I just don’t like doing a lot of work. I guess that’s probably it.
They also say that personalizing the emails is really important, which I think we’ve seen that. When I get an email that’s like, “Meg Lewis, your prescriptions are expiring,” then I take that more seriously and I pop that baby open, because they’re talking to me like I’m being lectured. I’m sure that’s not what Dribbble is encouraging that you do. But I think they’re saying that if you personalize a subject line by putting the reader’s name in there, or in the opening of the email in some way that’s like, “Hey, buddy Meg. Ooh, aren’t we having a great week? Buy my thing,” that sort of thing, then maybe that will increase engagement.
And I do encourage that you read this blog post, because there are a lot more numbers about how things increase that I’m not reading to you, because numbers are boring to me. I gave you a few. I gave you a little treat. I give you a 300% at one point, that’s all you get.
Okay, so I will say that my additional tip that I’m adding that’s not in this Dribbble blog post, is that I find it very uncomfortable to be salesy all the time. And if there is any way where I am sending out a newsletter where I’m 100% selling myself, and I’m just like, “…And I’m doing this, and did you miss this, here’s this promo code, buy me today,” that makes me horribly uncomfortable. So, what I like to do, and I offer this tip to you as well, if it sounds good, is to also add additional content in your newsletter or in your email that is helpful and unrelated to you at all. So, what I like to do in my newsletters and emails is do a roundup of some of my favorite things as of late. So, I linked to other products, things that I’m just enjoying, videos I’ve liked, things that have made me laugh and stuff like that. So, that way I like to make sure that it’s like, at max, 75% promoting myself, hopefully 50/50, where I’m promoting other people or just talking about other things that might be beneficial to my readers that have nothing to do with me. And then the rest of it is a sales opportunity. Because it’s a newsletter. That’s what we use them for a lot of the time. Okay, so get out there. Maybe join me and be a little less scared of your newsletter. Maybe start one if you don’t have one. Yeah, sounds great. Okay, I’m going to do it too. And maybe, I don’t know, I can’t even sell myself well enough to tell you to subscribe to mine to see what I do, because I send emails out twice a year because I hate doing it so much, but maybe now I will have fun and I’ll do it more often.
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I am nearly positive that I’ve mentioned this to you, but if you weren’t aware, my biggest fear is not death, it is negative feedback. And it’s a little embarrassing to say because I know that negative feedback isn’t inherently bad. And it’s kind of, it’s not the greatest biggest fear, in my opinion. I feel like there [are] cooler biggest fears to have, or whatever, this is me. And the reason why my biggest fear is negative feedback is because I definitely grew up thinking that everybody hated me, and it’s just part of my personality. So, I just assume, unless proven otherwise, that everyone hates me. So, everyone in my life actively has to tell me they don’t hate me, or else, I’ll slowly start to believe that they do hate me. And that includes you! You, my friend, who are listening to this right now, that includes you. I assume you hate me unless you tell me otherwise, and it’s just a part of my personality. I’m sure it’s some sort of protection mechanism. I don’t know. But because of that, I am so scared of negative feedback, because it’s proof that everybody hates me. And then I’m reminded, “Oh, yes, that is correct. Of course, you hate me, because everyone does. Of course, you said that thing about me because everybody hates me.” And truly, this fear of mine has prevented me from acting, in the past, in a lot of ways, it’s prevented me from growing my career, it’s prevented me from doing the work that I know I need to do, and I know I really desperately want to do, the work that needs to be done.
So, I have this huge grandiose picture for my life that I’ve had since I was a kid. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to have an absolutely massive scale impact on the world. And ever since I was a kid, I was just really not okay with having a small life where I only changed one or two lives. This sounds so weird, but I really truly wanted, when I was a kid, I wanted to change the world and make the world a better place. And as I’ve gone throughout my life, I’ve kind of had more clarity on how I can do that, and what uniquely I have to offer the world that will allow me to do that. And a lot of the work that I do is with you here and in the design industry and beyond, and I just want people to be more comfortable with themselves and what makes them unique and creating lives and careers that [are] a reflection of that anyway.
So, my fear of negative feedback has prevented me for years from being able to really do that, right? Because I have avoided all situations, until this year, where I receive reviews. So, I specifically never had a YouTube account, I never had any sort of shop or experience where people could write reviews, I never had a podcast until this year because the reviews were too scary for me, and I specifically structure everything – I never sold my book on Amazon because I was afraid of the reviews, blah, blah, blah, I would just avoid reviews or any opportunity for feedback [as much] as possible. And I know you’re probably saying, “But Meg, feedback is great because it helps you make things better,” and I agree. But I’m too fragile. I’m working through it; I’m working through it.
So, I specifically would structure my career and my life to avoid confronting that fear in any way. And this year, in 2020, at the beginning of the year, I was asked to host this podcast, I decided to host another podcast of my own, I decided to push past the fear and just get it over with because I learned one crucial bit of information is that the majority of negative feedback that all of us receive is usually not a reflection on us. It’s usually a reflection on the reviewer that has some sort of insecurity or some sort of, you know, open wound as Erayna Sargent, in last week’s episode said, they’re an exposed nerve that’s walking around. And absolutely. And I realized that, and I assessed the negative feedback, like the truly nasty, negative comments I’d gotten in the past, and of course, that’s true. It’s true for most of us, right? The majority of the negative comments that we receive about ourselves have nothing to do with us, right? Of course, that’s not the case all the time. We’ll go into that later.
But this year, through pushing past that fear, I have received, I would say 2,000% more negative feedback than I have in my entire life. And I’m asking for it. I am putting myself in front of the public, I am putting myself in spaces where people that don’t know me have access to me and to make snap judgments on me, and it is painful. You know, I’m receiving negative comments from YouTube videos, social media, every single day. Podcast reviews, people DM’ing me, people commenting on things. It’s wild. And some of them are actual valid points and they helped me to change the way I look at things, they’ve helped me to change my practice, and it’s been very helpful, and I’ve thanked them for that feedback. But most of them are completely arbitrary. They’re comments that mean nothing, that’s just a reflection on that person. They’re like, “You’re stupid, you’re not funny, your tattoos look bad, you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re annoying,” stuff like that. And that stuff, through exposure, I’m getting so much more comfortable with. So, pushing past that fear has been really great.
But there has definitely been a lot of fatigue that I’ve been facing, and this is the result of my burnout, and really what’s brought me to my burnout is the amount of negative feedback that I’m receiving every single day. I see at least one, if not, you know, five comments every day, from people telling me things like this, that I’m stupid, ugly, not funny, annoying, just stuff like that. The stuff that whenever you put yourself in a public facing forum where you show yourself, your true self, to a group of people that don’t know you, that have no stock in you and your happiness or fulfillment, this is what happens. This is what humans do, right? Yes.
So, it has gotten so bad for me that I am afraid to look at my phone a lot of the time. And I think the biggest thing that Erayna pointed out is that I’m questioning my mission, my purpose in this world. I’ve been actively asking myself, “Am I ever going to be cut out for this? Am I ever going to be able to handle these comments?” Because every time I receive one, it completely destroys my entire day. It makes me overwhelmingly anxious; it makes me feel absolutely awful. I replay it in my head over and over and over again. I’m shaking, I can’t eat, I can’t focus on anything else. It just completely derails my day for at least one day. And now that I’m receiving them almost every day, it’s getting worse and worse and worse, and they’re piling on top of one another. And this is what happens. And this is what’s led to my burnout, right?
So, it’s really important for me to tell you this in case you feel similarly, or in case there are areas of fear for you that are active and open and serving as open wounds in your life in your career right now, because it’s happening to me. So, I think the interesting thing for me that’s happening is that I’m asking myself all these massive questions of, will I ever be able to do the work that I need and desperately want to do? Because I can’t, I really struggle with this negative feedback bit. And if I continue to have any kind of public persona in any regard, I’m opening myself up to this criticism. And this is what happens, right? There’s nobody that’s immune to these comments. Nobody at all. I think a lot about Chrissy Teigen and how amazing Chrissy Teigen is, and how she says all kinds of stuff that I would be so scared to say, because of the feedback that I know I would get. I love her to death, and she gets so much negative feedback all the time, and I’ve heard her address how damaging it is to her. And just hearing that story has helped me to feel a little bit better.
But I think something that’s been really helpful for me is a question that my therapist actually asked me when I was crying to her about this and saying, “I want to change the world. I want to make the world a better place. But I don’t know if I can get past this silly little issue of people making these passive, negative, terrible comments at me. I don’t know if I could be cut out for the work that I so desperately want to do.” And she asked me, she said, “Meg, if these comments didn’t happen, if they just stopped coming, if they couldn’t come, and they didn’t ever come back, would you change anything about what you’re doing if these comments didn’t exist at all?” And I said, “No, I would do everything the exact same way I’m doing it and I would fight even harder.” And she said, “There’s your answer. You can’t let fear prevent you or hold you back from doing what you know you need to do. And no one on this planet is immune to fear. Even the people that cause the most fear, they’re causing [it] because they’re afraid themselves, right? You’re not alone. I’m not alone. And as we go into a new year, I want you, you, I want you to assess the fear in your life and ask yourself that exact same question. If the thing that causes you fear was removed from the equation, would you change anything about what you’re doing? Would you continue on this path? Would you forge ahead with even more tenacity and energy? Would you keep going? If the answer is yes, then you need to assess and see what you can do to fight past and through that fear. That’s what I’m doing now is trying to figure out how I can get over this, how I can fight and push through it. Because when that fear wins, when we start to question if we can change the world, if we can have the impact on the world that we know we need, that we’re destined to have, when that fear wins, I mean, that’s just that’s when darkness wins, right? And we already have so much of that in our lives. There’s too much already and we can’t let that fear override what we need to do to make this world a better place.
So, that’s your challenge going into the new year is to just, gosh, assess areas in your life where the fear is overwhelming, and ask yourself, “If that source of fear were removed, would you keep going?” And if the answer is yes, yeah, you’ve got to find a way to keep going.
Ahhh, well that’s it for this week’s episode of Overtime. Can you believe we only have two more episodes after this in my season hosting Overtime? I’d like to make it count so make sure to tweet or tag or DM me if you have any ideas for topics over the next couple of days and weeks that you want me to cover. My handle is @yourbuddymeg. Okay, bye, hear me next week!