JUST RECENTLY, WE SAW two front pages submitted by Marah Pahl at the Kanabec County Times.
I was not very kind about the “cartoon” in the left corner of the nameplate. My comment at the time: “…the cartoon in the upper left corner has got to go! I’ve seen this paper before…and mentioned that before. I think it makes your paper look like a high school yearbook. There are much better ways to place those elements there—I suggest you consider upgrading the nameplate ASAP.”
Marah wrote back to ask what I would suggest for the nameplate and I offered her the option of trying some new looks and sharing them here. Marah took me up on the offer, submitting three ideas. She points out that the space in the top right corner must be kept clear for the mail label. My thoughts follow.
FROM ED: Any of these is far better than the present nameplate…and yet none is a standout.
The top version feels dated and clunk. It has a heavy look. It might be helped by more letter spacing in “KANABEC COUNTY” to bring the words full across the top of “TIMES” but the heaviness of “TIMES” and the black reverse with type above it creates clutter. I give it a D at best.
The second option appears a bit too tiny and, again, it’s clunky. I think the reason for that is the slab serif “Times,” identical to that in the first option but even a bit more squat and “fat.” Again, I’d suggest increased letter spacing in “KANABEC COUNTY” to bring the words full across the top of “TIMES.” The heavy reverse bar really needs to go—it just weighs everything down and it’s too strong. It earns no more than a C.
The third option is lighter and more comfortable, though I’m not taken with the all-caps “TIMES.” And…really…does it have to be in red? Let’s take the type size down a tad to give the nameplate some air on both sides. Granted that you need the space in the top right corner, but what are you going to place in the top left? And can we reduce the space vertically, even just a bit? Maybe…just maybe…a C+
In brief, I think we can do better. We’re just not there yet.
So…what are your thoughts, folks? Marah apparently has the OK to try different looks. What would you advise? Let’s hear it!
UPDATE: BLOG REGULAR KRISTIN COKER sends along the following redesign suggestion, with her note (and a comment from yrs. truly) below.
I wanted to comment on the nameplate for Kanabec County Times, but decided instead to send an example. I think that the designer was going in the right direction but that her vision just needed a little tweaking. I’m sending an example of what I think may be better. (I hope to at least get a C+.)
I’ve set the name on two levels, keeping the red TIMES, and setting the Kanabec County above with the lettering tracked a little more. I’ve set up a weather promo at the left ear, leaving the right open for a label. (A weather promo doesn’t have to be used, it was just an example.) I’ve also set the date, folio information and price between two .5 rules; a .5 rule sits across the top and through the web address.
I hope this helps a little. If Ed doesn’t like it, well at least I tried.
FROM ED: Ed likes it. Ed gives it a B to a B+. But (there’s always a butt [pun intended]) I have a few points. None of them is a negative…just items to consider. Here they are:
1. I’m not sure you’re leaving enough space for the mail label at the right side. Seems to me it will have to be wider.
2. I’ve grown to really dislike weather ears. I think the space at the top of page 1 is too valuable for that.
3. Perhaps your “KANABEC COUNTY” is a bit too big. I’d prefer a bit smaller and space a bit more. BTW, what is that type face? I really like it!
4. I also really like the way you handled the web address. Elegant.
Now, how about the rest of you? Marah’s ready to make a major change but wants our advice. Please jump in!