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Open Manifesto

Around the clock identity design.

An essay by T.W.

{19th of January 2009}


I wager that without leaving your home you are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of brands. That’s before opening the newspaper, checking the feeds, or flipping on the news. Designers, scholars, psychologists and sociologists have been writing about the overexposure of advertisements in our consumption-crazy culture for a decade or longer. One day, the hyper-exposure made me stop, pull out my Moleskine [notebook], and begin recording brand-interaction data.


At the time, I was working on a project under the direction of Professor Alfred Sanft in the Visual Communication Design program at Arizona State University in which he implored a class of undergraduate design students to design a clock for a profession of our choosing. Inspired by a post I had seen at Dear Jane Sample, I decided to make a clock for identity designers.


The blogger wrote about a day she spent recording identities she interacted with. She then asked others to do the exercise and post their results. Hundreds poured in and her blog swelled with responses. Admittedly, the timelines were brief; the original only contained 92 marks. I wondered what conclusions could be drawn from a comprehensive twenty-four hour timeline. What brands did I observe before I had even exited the shower in the morning? Did I interact with certain brands at specific times of the day? I was intrigued. What could I determine from a time-based brand interaction journal?


With the desire to create a more complete brand timeline and the knowledge that an identity designer must constantly be aware of the brands surrounding them, I decided to take a detailed snapshot of my daily brand-interaction. Beginning the moment my alarm buzzed and ending when my head hit the pillow nearly 18 hours later, I obsessively chronicled every brand, logo, identity or symbol I encountered. On Wednesday 14 October 2008, I recorded 1,035 identities.


(The rest of this article is available, in print, in Open Manifesto #5)


Tanner Woodford is a graphic designer living in Tempe, Arizona with his wife Amanda Woodford, a vegetarian illustrator. Outside of his work as an undergraduate design student, Tanner has curated an exhibition with international and domestic poster artists, participated in several juried exhibitions and contributed to numerous publications. During a recent internship with Intel, Tanner helped conceptualize and design a graphical user interface for next generation televisions and co-authored a patent detailing the use of multiple, independent user interfaces for a single audio/video device. Tanner is also the co-founder of a forthcoming design publication entitled Fill/Stroke, which features interviews, photo essays and design theory. He will receive a Bachelor of Science in visual communication design from Arizona State University in 2009.