Paul and I try to be funny much more than we actually succeed at it. Since this blog is moderately connected to our professional lives we take caution in some of the jokes we make. You have to be careful when trying to be funny. It is a fine line between keeping someone from asking “What’s the point?” and saying “I’m offended.” (Both are common responses to this blog.) (Okay, maybe some of you didn’t find that funny, though it is not offensive, except to Paul.)
Many comedians follow the incongruity theory. Here at IBD, we write what comes to mind and deal with consequences for several months by seeking apologies delivered in public venues, through various forms of media.
To use incongruity correctly, you must take the reader down a logical path of thinking and then shock them with the unexpected by suddenly taking them a different direction. This is usually done by including something that doesn’t normally go with the logical path, which in turn forms a punch line. The more convincing the lead in, building the anticipation, and how diametrically opposed the punch line is to the build-up, the better the chance you have of getting a laugh. That is without offending or leaving those asking what or why.
Here’s an example of something you wouldn’t expect: Alyssa Milano Tweeted a link to IBD’s new (“awesome”) NFL flowchart yesterday. Turns out she is well-known for her love of sports, writes a blog about baseball, is a vegetarian and a philanthropist (we appreciated her generous donation to our cause), and played Samantha on the ’80s television series Who’s the Boss. She even wrote a book titled Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic. (Now she has to admit to every celebrity’s most-feared confession: She has read Interpretation By Design.)
Why can’t the theory of incongruity be applied to design? I think this may be the case in the new logo of the Tate Museum in London. It’s not that the logo has a punch line, but the design isn’t what you wouldn’t necessarily expect for a museum or for a professionally designed logo.
According to the Wolff Olins design firm, the concept behind the design was charged with connecting four museum sites through a visual identity “into something new: not traditional institutions, but exciting destinations.”
The website goes on to say:
Wolff Olins created the Tate brand, under the idea “look again, think again”: both an invitation and a challenge to visitors. We designed a range of logos that move in and out of focus, suggesting the dynamic nature of Tate – always changing but always recognizable.
I find the logo interesting and unique. Though it doesn’t conform to the rules that apply to the production of most logos, it does maintain simplicity and versatility, and reflects the modern nature of the collection. I would say that this incongruious approach is effective. Not to mention that since the new identity was implemented, it has since become the most popular modern art gallery in the world.
This can’t all be credited to the logo. The only thing that I can think that could help improve their visitation now is a Tweet by Alyssa Milano.