MSK Partners


Design, communication and what's on our mind

Rams Takes On Design

In this interesting article, Gary Hustwit talks about his new documentary “Rams” – as legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams indicts the world he helped to create. The official trailer is in the article and definitely whets the appetite. There’s a link at the end for premiere events prior to release to digital platforms in December.

Filed under: Design

Following the Founder

For over eight years, we’ve served the University of Pennsylvania developing key print and digital communications programs for fundraising, admissions and alumni relations. Our recent work for Penn Engineering’s annual giving fund shows how the School has taken founder Benjamin Franklin’s words to heart by continuing to change, adapt and innovate. The campaign features large images and brief text describing recent advances including adding 165,000 square feet of engineering space, increasing tenure track faculty size by 30 percent, and significantly increasing course offerings to connect resources with talent. Results? Fundraising and application numbers are both record-breaking.

Filed under: Design, Higher Education

A Valuable Resource

Our print and digital work for Johns Hopkins spans many decades and various institutions, departments and programs. A recent assignment for the Health System allowed us to write and design an annual report for the Department of Human Resources. Targeted primarily at an internal audience, the piece aims to communicate the value created by the department across multiple entities and institutions.


Filed under: Design

Nano Scaling-up

As part of our ongoing work with the University of Pennsylvania, MSK Partners recently rebranded the Singh Center for Nanotechnology – located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus in Philadelphia, the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology is a multi-user facility where the research and educational programs at the University, partner institutions and industry come together to form a regional hub for nanotechnology. The firm developed a new logo, messaging strategies and a series of direct mail and collateral materials.


Filed under: Design, Higher Education

Words and Numbers

So far, 2014 has seen a great deal of activity at MSK with the research and writing of new case statements for a wide variety of clients. These include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Saint Joseph’s University, Latin American Community Center, International Youth Foundation, and the White House Fellows Foundation & Association. Many have already moved to the design phase for print and digital applications.

Pages from MSK FFB

Our first campaign launch of the summer will be later this month in Denver, CO where the Foundation Fighting Blindness kicks-off Envision 20/20. Case materials are complete with iPad presentations and other communications in development.

In addition, having written and designed case statements throughout the campaign, we’ve recently completed the end of campaign report for Dream It. Do It. Drexel. – the Campaign for Drexel University. Completed 13 months ahead of schedule, the Campaign raised $455 million – $55 million above goal.

Filed under: Communication, Design

An Inspiration for Web Shopping

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an interesting article (and video) on the growing impact printed catalogs have on the sales activity of online retailers. From clothes to furniture and car parts to office supplies, retailers are increasingly using printed catalogs to drive sales activity online. The result? Consumers and B2B shoppers are finding ideas and inspiration in the print catalogs then going online to order what they’ve seen or something else.




Filed under: Design

Hit the (iPad) Newsstand

MSK Partners is a now a licensed Apple Development Partner and we recently published a client magazine app available for download from Apple Newsstand. It is the first of a number of magazines we hope to launch this year – still designed for print, now repurposed for the iPad.

The iPad is a little more than 2-years old and it’s the ideal time for institutions and non-profits to make publications available on this platform. While ad-driven publications such as Wired and Popular Science leapt into the forefront with multi-media graphics and stunning visuals, the trend for magazines has been towards a simpler, user-friendly approach.

Institutional magazines with long cover articles are perfectly suited for the iPad. Much like a print publication that you can hold and take with you, readers spend time with an iPad publication because it is formatted for that same purpose. Smart phones and even websites are better used for quick sound bytes and short news items and therefore do not offer the same potential for extended reading time.

In 2011, iTunes and the App Store added a new feature – Newsstand, which aggregates publications from around the world for easy download by iPad users. For marketers, this opens up an enormous new audience – making content available year-round and worldwide for immediate download. Typically reaching readers way beyond the scope of a mailing list for the print version.

Please contact us if you would like more information on the benefits of an iPad magazine and a demo of how we are delivering this new audience for our clients.

Filed under: Design, Technology

Just our type

It has been written that if Simon Garfield were reduced to a letter and a type style, he would be the lowercase “i” in Goudy Old Style—elegant but playful. And very readable. Recently, I came across Garfield’s Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. On the front cover, the title was treated as a hodgepodge of fonts, from Adriator Regular to Polytone Reliant; the back cover assigned the book, in tiny type and in a bizarre bifurcation, to “Reference/Humour.”

Fonts surround us every day, on billboards and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product we buy. But where do fonts come from, and why do we need so many? Who is responsible for the staid practicality of Times New Roman, the cool anonymity of Arial, or the irritating levity of Comic Sans?

Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He investigates a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. In summary, it’s a must-have book for the design conscious.

Filed under: Communication, Design

Study: The iPad is the biggest problem with iPad magazines

A new study, reported by Time Techland, suggests that iPad magazines have one major drawback when compared to their print editions: The iPad itself. A study carried out by Bonnier, publisher of Popular Science, Parenting and other magazines, discovered that the iPad is so distracting for most people that they may not even be able to finish an article without going to do something else.

Bonnier program director Megan Miller explains: “We thought that of course there’s a lot of activity going on with an iPad, when there’s so many things you can be doing — email, Netflix, playing games, reading magazines — but they’re actually bouncing around a lot more than we thought. If you sit someone down with a magazine, within seconds they’re researching the products that they could buy. If they see a snowboard in a snowboarding magazine, they’ll bounce over to Amazon to check the prices on it.”

It’s not just the distraction issue that’s a problem, Miller adds; “iPad magazine readers tended to think things were advertisements even when they weren’t:

When there was a full-bleed whole page dedicated to a product, people said, ‘Yeah, that’s an ad.’ And we selected people who were from an educated demographic. They were not dummies.” The dummies study group was too busy trying to eat the iPad to even notice there was a magazine to read, apparently.

It all adds up to the possibility that the iPad isn’t quite the savior of the magazine industry that everyone hoped it would be – or, at least, not yet. Bonnier plans to take these findings and create a next-generation iPad magazine that will be stickier and more clearly defined for readers.

Filed under: Design, Technology

Silver and Gold

We typically don’t enter creative award contests but are fortunate in having clients who like our work enough to enter it in various international and regional shows. Recently two such entries garnered awards: Bloomsburg University Magazine won a Gold at the MarCom Awards held by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals; and a brochure developed for the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory (more commonly known as GRASP) won Silver at the CASE Accolades Awards organized the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Please let us know if you would like us to send you a copy of either piece.


Filed under: Design, Higher Education