Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School: Five Things

School is back in session which brings back fond memories for me.
School has changed a lot since I was a student. I thought it would be fun to list five things that I remember about elementary school--five things that probably no longer occur in school.

#1: Milk breaks. I remember forming a line in the hall beside a big machine that held milk. We were given paper cups and one by one, the young students pulled the cold silver handle until foamy milk was dispensed. I always hated the last few sips and can almost remember the smell.

#2 Gym uniforms. Remember when all the girls had to wear matching, one-piece gym uniforms? Ours were navy shorts with an attached navy and white striped top. The jumpers had zippers down the front. I don't remember where we changed our clothes, but I can see Mrs. Gray timing us as we held onto monkey bars or leading the class in jumping jacks.

#3 Paddled by the Principal. This never happened to me (I was usually a teacher's pet and was very shy--imagine that!) but I remember when boys would get into trouble and had to go to the Principal's office for a paddling. Imagine the lawsuits if that happened today.

#4 Wearing Dresses. The first six years I went to school, girls were not allowed to wear pants or shorts. I still remember wearing a light blue sweater, blue and purple plaid skirt and matching light blue windowpane hose. I was a little diva even in the sixth grade.

#5 Playing four-square. That was my favorite game during recess. It's played with a large rubber ball (the size of a basketball) and four squares drawn on the sidewalk with chalk. We had to pass the ball back and forth, keeping it going, until it went outside the lines. I can't remember how we kept score, though.

How about you? Do you remember these same five things--or can you think of others? Please share your long-ago memories.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Favorite Mascots & Logos

Today, I'm writing about marketing and branding. As writers--like it or not--we have to market ourselves and our work. I'll start with logos and mascots.

I love the little green geicho that has the Australian (or is it British?) accent. He's the mascot for Geicho Insurance and is very memorable and likeable. My favorite mascot was the Taco Bell dog. Sadly, I think he passed away a year or two ago. Didn't you love those commercials and his accent? Didn't everyone? I bet Taco Bell's profits went through the roof after they started using that cute dog.

The duck for Aflack is cute but I find the voice slightly annoying, however, they've done a good job of branding. That Billy guy (may he rest in peace) did tons of infomercials. I couldn't mute the remote fast enough when he was on because his voice grated on me but I'm sure he sold lots of cheese slicers, otherwise, they wouldn't keep using him. Of course, there's the Sham Wow guy, yet another unforgettable character.

Switching gears from living mascots, which corporate logos do you like? How about the red bullseye for Target? Target has done an amazing job of branding by using the color red, certain music or even dancers. Within a few seconds, my husband and I can always tell when it's going to be a commercial for Target.

I like designer Tommy Hilfiger's use of red, white and blue stripes (probably because I'm patriotic) and really liked the logo that used two bare feet on shirts back in the seventies. Anyone remember what company that was? Was it Bare Feet?! The Nike curved swoosh is a simple but classy logo. Can you think of other simple, effective logos?

What about some tired ones? I'm rather tired of the polo playing horse rider for Polo. I think it's in need of a revamp as is the alligator.

Think about book covers. Chick lit and women's fiction often have pink covers, whereas paranormals use a lot of black, white and red. What other themes have you noticed?

What are your favorite logos or mascots? Have you thought about branding your blog, web site or book if you're given the option by a publisher?