Monday, May 21, 2018

An Art Director Must Watch... Helmut Krone on the "New Page"

Helmut Krone intuitively understood how graphic design could define an institution's personality.

"The page, " he once said, "ought to be a package for the product. It should look like the product, smell like the product...Every company, every product, needs its own package." Without ever designing a logo — often without even using a logo — he created corporate images that endure to this day.

How many companies can be said to "own" a typeface the way that Volkswagen does Futura Bold?

Krone was the backbone and defining visual voice of Doyle Dane Bernbach, then the palace of art directors greatness, all championed by the "creative revolution" genius Bill Bernbach. With the exception of a few years in the early seventies, he would spend his entire career at DDB.

He was admired by many of greats of advertising. George Lois once called him "a complex kraut" and "a fidgety perfectionist who worked with deadly Teutonic patience".

Some of his simplest, clearest, most effortless-looking work was the product of brutal sweat.

Krone’s goal was to create an advertising look that was substantially different than what was being done by his peers. In an interview with the New York Times in 1969, Krone said, “great advertising really has to be talked about by people and become part of the national scene”. The advertisement he created in 1960 for the Volkswagen Beetle did just this. The campaign that Krone created with this simple advertisement “ushered in the era of modern advertising by promoting a ‘position’ or ‘unique selling proposition’ designed to associate each brand with a specific idea in the reader or viewer’s mind”.

A beautifully designed, relentlessly researched, well written and extremely hard to find book written by Clive Challis, Helmut Krone. The book. Graphic Design and Art Direction (concept, form and meaning) after advertising's Creative Revolution (via Amazon) captures his greatness in the book's 268 lavishly illustrated pages.

Krone was addicted to "zigging when everyone else was zagging".

Additional Reading:

Was Helmut Krone a Genius? He Didn't Think So.

The Ad that Changed Advertising.

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