Port & Polish

MAR 12 – As a designer, I often find myself analyzing the ways in which companies visually communicate. Visual communication might seem like a broad term, but to me it encompasses the way in which your favorite brand presents itself to the world, to its stakeholders, and to its consumers and fans. I also feel that the way an entity presents itself to the world is a reflect of the way the company sees itself.

“You promote what you permit.” ~ Some guy, I’m sure.

Indycar is having its official Open Test this week in Birmingham, Alabama, at the Barber Motorsports Park. It’s two days of testing that started with a Media Day on Monday. Given that this is the first time in six months that the series will be somewhere, in front of people, in an official capacity, I just can’t help but feel like you’d want that ever-important first impression (of the year) to be a good one. With the assembled press there, with teams and drivers on hand, you’d want your presence to be felt as a series. That’s not even taking into account the six months of turmoil the Indycar series, its management, and us fans have endured with the firings, non-firings, rumors, leaks, hirings, interims that’ve been a staple of this seasons winter months.

With all that’s happened, you would think that Indycar would put on its Sunday-bests for the world to see that things aren’t as tumultuous as maybe we thought. That doesn’t seem to be the case at Barber. With an off-season of more questions than answers, Indycar (the company) threw up a big, fat zero. A donut. An ‘L’. Jenna Fryer wrote a piece on this very subject. Instead, drivers were left to their own devices when the subject of management, or the direction of the series, or how to make things better comes up. The bus, effectively, had no driver.

But, fine. No one from Indycar management addressed the assembled media. I’m sure there’s a good reason. But back to the topic of visual communication: I’ve had the belief that it’s not expensive to do things the right way. It’s not inherently expensive to design things well, or have a cohesive brand. It costs no more to have a cohesive, well-thought-out brand than it does to hire someone to do a bad job. In the world of design, a bad job can cost as much – if not more – than a job well done. And I’ve always lived by the idea that you can buy nice (once), or end up having to buy twice (nice the second time). Start-ups and small businesses manage to cultivate their brand and present it to the world in effective, evocative, and inexpensive ways. Indycar should be able to do the same.

What inspired me to mention this? It started with the Indycar mini-series, #theoffseason – the series in which four of Indycars biggest personalities pull off some decent comedy in the form of 12 separate videos. The problem with that is the fact that it looks like it was made by high school students. But I plan to talk about that in another post. Specifically, what sparked this post is that I saw a picture on Kevin Lee‘s twitter feed of Will Power speaking with the press at Barber media day.

BFMHAOqCcAA9uzc.jpg-largeI just can’t help but feel like the series could do so much better than this. I’m going to be a bit harsh here, but it’s actually kind of embarrassing that this is how Indycar presents itself. This is how the series communicates with the world visually: a wrinkled vinyl backdrop and an office table. To me it screams high school football advertisements.

Maybe it’s unfair to compare, but this is how Formula 1 presents itself:

l__q0c8603-4l__79p4722-4I’m not saying you have to build a small set to present yourself to the world properly, but perhaps something in between would suffice for Indycar – something a bit more concrete and alluring and sexy. Not necessarily expensive – just something that looks like you put forth an effort.

This is a long “Warm-Up” post but it’s a subject somewhat close to my heart. If Indycar is looking for someone to help put together an inexpensive, cohesive, aesthetically pleasing platform in which to showcase itself, I’m available.

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