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Hip Cat? Hepcat.

If you’re new school you say hip cat. Old school, hepcat. Either way, this Iowa City Jazz Festival Program ad for M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers is about cool as they come—a well thought out headline, and smoky, ethereal design. Advertising becomes magical when it seems this simple.

Chris Lien was the copywriter on this piece, with design handled by Bill Basler. Typographic elements are Clarendon—a current and long-term studio favorite.

IC Jazz Half Page-Horiz.pdf

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G. Fine Living in the Lake Geneva Style

Our involvement with quarterly magazine, The Brass Bell, caught the attention of a Boca Raton, Florida-based client interested in establishing an upscale lifestyle magazine for the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin area. This was a great opportunity—the chance to establish a vertical, niche publication for a legendary tourist destination.

For those not familiar with Lake Geneva, this small community on a lake is nestled just north of Chicago, and just west of Milwaukee in southeastern Wisconsin. The area has more interesting history than any small Wisconsin town should have—the playground of the Schwinn’s, the Maytag’s, the Wrigley’s, and yes, Guns ‘N Roses lead singer Axl Rose. Hugh Heffner even established one of his legendary Playboy Clubs in Lake Geneva.

The first issue of G is the result of many hours of interviews, sweat, and mental gymnastics. It’s not the easiest task assembling a magazine from vapor, but given G’s overwhelming debut, I think we hit the mark.

G Magazine Masthead Script

Van Ness Engineering
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Van Ness Engineering

I have known David Van Ness of Van Ness Engineering for many years now. He is very well-known in the antique boat niche, and has a reputation for being among the best engine restorers in the business. David has worked on a few projects for me, and I have worked on a few things for him. Recently we were asked to take a new look at his advertising and marketing communications with the goal of creating a presence given today’s dynamics within this small niche.

Here is a look at the first creative in this ad new series. The concept focuses on several types of enthusiasts:

  • Those interested in totally rebuilt internals with museum-grade external restoration for Concours-level competition.
  • Those interested in a partial rebuild with good (but not necessarily Concours-level) exterior cosmetics.
  • And those interested in building an ultra-reliable vintage motor, with little regard to exterior detailing.

This is a very straightforward concept executed in a very clean style. There are several other ads in the series that we will show soon.

Van Ness Engineering Ad

Rock Z on HD3
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ZZZ

A lot has changed in radio over the last few years. Z has been a pioneer since the station’s conception. HD Radio is one such example. I won’t attempt to explain HD radio here. I would look like a poser and the true audio geeks would rain down on my misuse of all the esoterica. From an end user perspective, HD radio is pretty cool. A frequency, such as 102.9 (through the miracles of modern science) can be split into a number of multicast channels.

Early on, as Z experimented with how to split the frequency into several multicasts, Basler Design Group was, at the same time, experimenting with how to “split” the Z identity into three sub brands. This seems easy on the surface, but it is actually quite challenging. The mother brand Z102.9 had legs, with great awareness. And this awareness was directly tied back to a station format (Contemporary Hit Radio), which in turn attracted a specific listener. Now, under the new HD multicast structure, Z102.9, the Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) format is now 102.9 HD1. 102.9 HD2 could be an entirely different format, such as Classic Rock, and attract an entirely different listener. And, likewise, 102.9 HD3 could be a third format with a third listening demographic.

Whew. This is a real challenge. The examples below were experiments in this brand extension exercise. To date, these have not been used, but they are pretty interesting given this branding puzzle.

 

Bus Board-Wireless

 
Bus Board-Wireless

 

 
Bus Board-Wireless

Hit Z on HD1

Club Z on HD2

Club Z on HD2

Rock Z on HD3

Z102.9 Media Kit
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ZZ

Our relationship with Rob Norton at Z102.9 goes back some 18 years. “But Z102.9 has only been on the air for 12 years,” you say? Well, this is true. Rob’s relationship with Basler Design Group goes back to about 1992, when he, and partner Eliot Keller, owned another iconic Rock radio station, KRNA, based in Iowa City, Iowa. We collaborated on many projects for KRNA, as well as Q103, the predecessor to Z102.9.

This is an overview brochure that Z102.9 advertising sales staff would use to promote the station to potential advertisers. This piece was designed to have the simplicity of a flip-chart—simple compelling statements, presented with memorable imagery.

Z102.9 Media Kit Spread
Go ahead. Click on it. There’s so much more to see.

For all of you graphic design history buffs out there, this piece was executed with Quark Xpress 3.3, Photoshop 3.0 aka Big Electric Cat. It seems like a lifetime ago, but, conceptually, this piece has stood the test of time very well.

Z102.9 KZIA
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Z

In just a few short years, a logo of ours has reached iconic status. Basler Design Group has had a long time relationship with Rob Norton, owner of Contemporary Hit Radio station, Z 102.9.

Let it be known—Rob is a character. He has a personality all his own, but if you can solve the puzzle, you’ll find a brilliant marketing mind. Our business relationship goes back 18 years, so I think we’re getting along well. And based on the work we have done together, the partnership seems to be working.

Known formally as Z102.9, (KZIA if you pay attention to FM radio call letters), this powerhouse of a radio station is known today as—simply—Z.

The design objective with the Z identity was to create a mark that was incredibly versatile and clean. Somewhere along the way, the principles behind a color blindness test made its way into the logo color palette. Yellow, yellow with a tinge of orange, and yellow with a tinge of green. These three colors are combined in such a manner that makes one’s eyes vibrate with glee.

We have 18 years of KZIA work to show. We’ll start with a simple statement—Z.

Z102.9 Logo

Upjohn Implus
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Yes, we’ve handled implants

A long, long time ago, the word implant conjured up a much different mental picture (especially to a commercial feedlot owner) than it does today. Basler Design Group was hired by BIggs Gilmore, and Upjohn Animal Health to create product launch and sales support materials for Implus. Implus materials sported a look that walked a fine line between traditional and contemporary.

Implus-Lariat-Box

Hand tooled leather patterns were a key component in the new look. Patterns were made by doing tracing paper and pastel rubbings of actual tooled leather saddles. The rubbings were then scanned on a flatbed, and driven home through liberal dose of Photoshop processes. The typography is Garamond. Headlines were typeset and laser printed at 25% size. Printouts were crumpled, kicked, scraped, sanded, and taunted. The haggard printouts were then scanned back in and used as final artwork for the distressed type. The photo of the “bunk rider” is one of thousands of images we shot during a 4-day-long photo shoot at a large commercial feedlot in Yuma, Arizona.

The Implus product introduction materials went on to sweep the National Agri-Marketers Association, Best of NAMA, National Awards. Virtually every piece in the series won its respective category, with the entire campaign winning National Best of Show.

Nelson Boatworks
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Nelson Boatworks

In the prior post, I mentioned a client of ours, Nelson Boatworks. Dan Nelson is a boat builder and restorer in northern Minnesota who has a reputation for creating concours-winnning, museum-grade boat restorations.

This ad has a very quiet look about it. But the message is strong, and strategically on target.

Nelson-Boatworks-Righthand-4c-1p

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Labor of love

I love boating. It is a lifelong passion having spent many summers on northern Lake Michigan. I am slowly turning this passion for boating and the marine industry into business and have had the pleasure of working with Chris-Craft, a Sarasota, boat builder—one of the oldest and most prestigious names in pleasure boating. This collaboration has lead to more marine client relationships, such as the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, Nelson Boatworks, and Hagerty Insurance.

The Brass Bell, is an upscale, niche quarterly, targeted at antique and classic boating enthusiasts. In just a couple of years we have taken this publication from a commodity-grade 32-page magazine to a 96-page work of art.

The Brass Bell is printed on recycled stock, using soy-based inks and minimal aqueous coating. The issues are perfect bound, and are mailed to all 50 U.S. states, and over 30 countries worldwide.

The Brass Bell has a decidedly vintage look, courtesy of custom-drawn typefonts, dingbats, borders and patterns. Masthead typography features handcrafted letterforms based on actual deco typography samples.

BB-Winter-2009-Cover

The Brass Bell is a perfect example of electronic design workflow. There is no wasted paper or toner printing process used on the design of the issues. Workflow is PDF based—low res PDFs for commenting and approvals, high res PDFs for final output. The magazine is typically preflighted, ripped, soft-proofed, approved, and on press within 24 hours of forwarding artwork to the printer.

Designing a high-end niche quarterly can get a bit “grindy” at times. At the same time, it is very gratifying to see design play a key role in actually advancing the niche.

You’ll see a lot more of The Brass Bell in days ahead.