peterson wealth management

Statisticians are now telling us we may live in retirement for 30 years. What they don’t tell us is how to make our savings last for three decades. Peterson Wealth Advisors has a plan: The Perennial Income Model. And we helped Peterson bring it to life. This summer, we accomplished a complete strategic and creative overhaul for the Orem, Utah based company in record time. We first took Peterson through the Perception Branding 5D Process, building a foundation of understanding—before creating anything. The business name was modified and the retirement model was given a name and logo. We designed a new identity including a new tagline. The identity was incorporated into the design of stationery, business cards, a new website and video. The website introduces the team, the investment approach and describes services.

nic gets with feds

Our long-term client, NIC, a public company who built their business providing online services to state governments, has started doing work with the federal government as well. We designed a site for the Pre-Employment Screening Program for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The site introduces color and imagery, (not the typical hallmarks of federal websites), to the program’s site which is intended to “make roads safer, one hire at a time.”

words of wisdom

The Salt Lake letterpress printer, The Mandate Press, puts on an annual exhibition of invited artists to create work around an interesting theme. The printer produces letterpress prints of each artist’s work using the same paper stock and ink colors, bringing visual consistency to the show. The exhibiting artists works were further restricted to typographic solutions only, based on the theme “Words of Wisdom”. Randall Smith, modern8 Creative Director, designed a print reflecting a personal statement of interests. The “Pints & Prints” opening night exhibition was July 18, but the work of all 20 artists are currently on display during business hours at The Mandate Press.

abc takes fun seriously

We’ve been working with Associated Brigham Contractors since the turn of the century. Besides the more typical projects (like designing their website, logo, brochure and ads) from time to time, both of us get to have a little fun. ABC, who normally builds nationwide facilities out of structural concrete, enjoys their off-times with equal intensity as well. Typically involving motorized vehicles, ABC participates in expeditions, competitions and “general mayhem” that are named and themed around cultural references. They recommend a graphic reference, and we design the mark—which includes everything from John Denver to Back to the Future.

can this be legitimate?

Our client, American Research Bureau, is in the most interesting, yet least known industry ever—finding missing and unknown heirs. Of course, most of us would like to be an heir, particularly if we didn’t know it was coming. We’ve done a complete re-branding of the 80 year-old firm. We designed their logo—including a helpful tagline, designed their website and recently completed brochures addressed to different audiences. Most of our efforts are designed to overcome the natural perception that most people have—that “this must be some kind of scam”—and yet it isn’t.

hamlet to rocky horror

From Shakespeare to underground cult classics—Salt Lake’s premier theatrical experience, Pioneer Theatre Company, has another season of great performances for which we are providing marketing. The upcoming 2014-2015 season is described in the brochure we designed, which features illustrations for each of the plays, including two by modern8 designer Mike Harris. Throughout the year, we design billboards, banners and newspaper ads for each of the productions.  Our relationship with PTC goes back to the mid-90s.

less is less (sometimes)

Don’t believe what you see. We are not rebranding ourselves. It was a test. I want you to consider what your first impression was. Did modern8 make a bold design move, dropping all color and sticking with a black and white color palette? Was our choice using Gotham Bold one that made you think we are finally up-to-date in the ever-evolving design world and that we’ve taken our design aesthetic to the next level?

Or are you tearing up, saying to yourself, “I just don’t know who modern8 is anymore.”

We certainly hope the latter. We’re designers. We understand the appeal of minimalist design. But as the minimal logo trend grows, so too does our appreciation of a quality identity; one that truly identifies a philosophy, an industry, a place, or a product. One that is built on strategic reasons that connect with the viewer.

On one of my favorite blogs Brand New, I’ve come across several businesses that have rolled out updated, minimal brand identities. At the risk of starting a war with Canada, I’ve chosen the recent branding of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia as my example.

Sure the old logo could have used a facelift, but it was more than a logo. It was an identity. Sure, the new wordmark works as a logo, but does it provide any sense of place identity? I’ll let some of the following comments made by various members of the design community help answer that for you:

The destination brand trend you identify is a depressing one. This is perfectly well executed and devoid of any specific personality whatsoever. It could be any town in Canada, but just as easily a plastics manufacturing company in any town in Canada.


Generic™. Dropping the lighthouse is a mistake.


This is not a bold identity. No risks have been taken. It is not courageous. It is decidedly middle-of-the-road, most likely blunted by a committee who wants to think of themselves as bold but acts the opposite, as not to upset anyone.

-David Michael Moore

new packaging insight

Our long-term client, Insight Eyeworks, had us design the packaging and display for their I-Image line of reading glasses exclusively sold at Sam’s Club. The packaging has three different product lines, with six power level variations within each, all incorporating the logo we designed for them three years ago. The packaging is designed to position the merchandise as a branded product line, distinguishing it from its generic predecessor.

encore: pioneer theatre company

Back in 1992, Randall Smith Associates, the business predecessor to modern8, created the advertising and promotional materials for Pioneer Theatre Company, the professional theatre in-residence at the University of Utah. The relationship continued for seven years. This spring, the theatre renewed the alliance and asked modern8 to produce a new season of brochures, banners and advertising to promote seven new productions.

We art directed illustrations by Russ Gray and Val Bochkov, then designed a banner that hangs outside the theatre building, and the season brochure, which is mailed out to current and potential season ticket holders. Newspaper advertising is up next. Designing for the theatre is a nice change from the corporate world we normally inhabit.

worth the paper

The mightiest trick of any print designer is to imbue the object of his creation with value beyond the paper it’s printed on. And there isn’t a more important document anywhere than paper money. Of course, at one time, the US dollar was backed by silver and gold, but now it’s literally just a piece of paper that proclaims “Believe in the brand called United States of America,” (and fortunately, most do. Thank you China.)

The United States’ has taken a beating lately and some have suggested that it might be due to the design of our currency. For years I have complained about the look of American currency in the design history class I teach at the University of Utah. Particularly compared to European currency, and particularly lately.

The historic design of the dollar bill has been very traditional, based upon certificates and steel engravings, partly to suggest value, and partly to discourage counterfeiters. The overall effect, as Michael Beirut said, “is a cake that has been decorated to within an inch of its life.” In recent years, the design of the American dollar has moved from a symmetrically balanced layout, with traditional serif typography, to an off-kilter design incorporating a giant purple Helvetica number on the reverse side. The integration is terribly out of sync.

I have always been fascinated with quasi-religious iconography and in this regard, the US dollar doesn’t disappoint. In the words of one commentator, the inclusion of the all-seeing eye and the pyramid make the dollar “look as if it was the product of some kind of semi-divine revelation.” The all-seeing eye graces everything from Mormon temples to Masonic aprons and certainly gives the dollar some potency in branding the ubiquitous power of the USA.

The design of paper money usually attempts to evoke the national identity of the country. Compared to the United States, Europeans often strive for modernity and are more successful in integrating traditional and modern forms in the same solution. The Swiss even turned their banknotes on their side, in a vertical format and they include non-political portraits like modernist architect Le Corbusier. There is really an infinite range of graphic possibilities and no limits—except the designer’s imagination—shown in these dramatic examples of the new banknotes project for the Swiss National Bank.

Europeans actually hire designers whereas in the US, it’s the work of a 147-year-old government agency called the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The agency employs 2,500 people, and has an annual budget of $525,000,000.  Now if only there was a United States Bureau of Design and Branding.