On New York’s 8th Avenue, a new museum rich with interactive experiences promises that the visitor will “see yourself and the world around you more clearly through the lens of spying”. We look at how a team of creative talent brought this ambitious new experience to life.
Led by Walter,SomeOnewere appointed to work on the brand, developing the Question Everything tagline. Working with type designer Gareth Hague of Alias, SomeOne devised a visual identity scheme in which a bespoke typeface with three cuts plays with the notion of concealment, privacy and cryptography. “The typeface is unusual as it consists of three cuts that can be connected,” says Emily James, Project Lead Designer at SomeOne. “Two ‘redacted’ cuts show only part of the letterform, but often enough to distinguish what character it is. The third cut is a complete letterform that can either be used to hint at the remaining stroke, or used in its entirety for total clarity.”
Why do so many tech companies’ logos look the same? From Google and Airbnb to Spotify and Pinterest, these companies have gradually shifted their branding from idiosyncratic typefaces to remarkably similar sans-serif fonts. This month,a viral tweet from the type studio Oh No Type Co compared those four companies’ former and current logos, demonstrating how alike each company’s current branding looks.
SANS SERIF = SIMPLIFICATION
“My theory is they want to integrate their look and feel from a logo standpoint with their UI. They’re looking for a really cohesive identity, a cohesive experience and look and feel. As they look at their UI for their apps, for their website, or their interface, they’re trying to simplify it. As you simplify, you move away from some of the quirkier and more unique logotypes that these companies originally launched with.” –Howard Belk, co-CEO and chief creative officer at Siegel+Gale
“The amount of visuals the consumer is bombarded by every day is tremendous–in the street, on a laptop, or a smartphone. A visual chaos that makes it hard to navigate into. Impact and, most of all, clarity, have become keywords for all brands. All these bold and neutral logos are telling the consumer the same message: Our brand and our services are simple, straight-forward, and clear. And extremely readable.” –Thierry Brunfaut, creative director and founding partner at Base Design
THE MORE GENERIC, THE MORE RELIABLE
“I see this as a natural step for brands to take as they grow from scrappy startups into established brands. Your goals have shifted from making noise and standing out to being a trusted, dependable part of people’s everyday lives. That heartfelt personality and idiosyncrasy that defined you as you started out, and won over your early adopters, can be a limitation as you aim for broad appeal (and bigger revenue).
“There is an equal danger that we think brand equals color/type/logo, but this avoids the world that brands are now thriving in. More established tech brands deliver their personality through their service, their content, their voice, the way they sound and behave. They can afford to make their personality more present and alive than a startup with one app or one site can ever be–viewed like this, the friendly corporate typefaces of the world aren’t much of an issue.” –Andy Harvey, creative director at Moving Brands
THE LOGO ISN’T THE BRAND ANYMORE
“People at the head of these powerful digital brands, as any strong brand, know very well they are not defined by their logo anymore but by the product or service they provide. They are strong, thanks to what they allow you to do with them. Before, logo designers would look for a ‘concept’ when designing a logo. That is obviously not needed anymore: The brand is the concept. Their logos may look similar, but what they offer is totally different and effective, and that’s what finally counts for the consumer. They are 100% recognizable.
“These brands are now so good at what they do and so widely used they have become part of our everyday life and culture. That’s why they do not need logos anymore, as they become words (or even better, verbs) in our daily language. Sayings like “I will just google this” is the best example. Becoming words, these brands will be articulated in sentences and texts more and more. To reinforce that, most of those brands now spend on designing custom typefaces instead of logos: a custom typeface becoming their recognizable voice on every platform or device.” –Thierry Brunfaut, creative director and founding partner at Base Design
“I think another trend right now is that the logo is not doing all the work. It’s doing a lot less work in terms of defining the identity. So much of the identity now is defined by a lot of elements and experiences that surround the logo, that are supporting it. My metaphor is, think about the logo as the keystone in the bridge. It’s central but there’s a whole bunch of other things around it that keep that bridge intact and get you from one side of the river to another. It has to fit with a lot of other component parts.” –Howard Belk, co-CEO and chief creative officer at Siegel+Gale
SIMPLER LOGOS WORK BETTER ON SMARTPHONES
“Since the great rejection of skeuomorphism in 2007, the tech sector has been endlessly repeating the same ‘flat’ design style chiefly because we don’t need metaphors in UX like we did in the early days of popular tech, and because it just works faster and better on small-screen smartphones. Tech typography has been influenced by this to such an extent that it’s all becoming quite stale and straight-out-of-the-box predictable. But it’s no different to many other categories where visual codes become so entrenched, to see anything else would invite rejection.
“I think if you look across many categories (but not all) you can see the same thing happening. Perhaps not with exactly the same fonts, but certainly a category style. For example, if you look at luxury brands they can be very conformist, as can categories like Scottish whiskey or pain relief. They all have their familiar codes, tropes, and clichés.
“So we’re probably stuck with it for a while yet, until someone blows it all up again. And to that I say, bring it on.” –Nick Clark, executive creative director at Superunion New York
A successful company has a brand not only a logo. The public should be able to say what the product is without haven to see the logo. A brand is a logo, a fixed colour pallet, the same type used across all media and similar layout on all print material.
As a graphic designer I can help you to create brand guildlines that will take your business to the next level. I can create guildlines from a already formed logo or can create a brand from the start.
Jack Renwick Studiohas created a visual identity inspired by the Northern Irish landscape for a family-run chicken and vegetable farm in County Down.
Millbank Farm provides turnips, leeks and chickens to supermarkets including Lidl and Waitrose. Six generations have grown crops on the site since 1889.
The colour palette features a “leafy green”, “straw-like yellow” and “turnip purple” – inspired by the farm’s produce. Brand positioning emphasises Millbank’s farming expertise with the witty tagline ‘Experts in our fields’.
The identity has been applied to clothing, business cards, palette boxes, paper bags and product stickers as well as signage and livery. It is also featured on recipe cards andMillbank’s new website.
“SOS is a new South Korean cosmetics brand that wants to help women with a daily skin care protection and routine. We created new branding for a set of makeup products that have premium quality for the luxury Asian market. The main features of this set are the skin masks for the healthy and perfect care of a woman’s daily treatment.
With a clean look that is sophisticated and feminine, a color scheme of balanced and soft tones with gold bring a bit of luxury to the overall look without it being ostentatious. SOS is perfect for the women who love their skin and want to enhance their natural features.”
Pentagram has brought a new typographic look to the Poetry Foundation and its long-established magazine, Poetry, which explores the visual possibilities of this unique written form.In a project that unites the look of the Foundation, Poetry magazine and the organisation’s online presence, Pentagram New York designed a new grid-based identity which allows for the name to be displayed in myriad different ways and emphasises the place of graphic design and type in shaping our appreciation of this written form.‘We considered a number of different directions, but this was the only direction where the focus was on visual treatments of the word ‘Poetry’. We found ourselves thinking of everything from the radical Futurist poetry of Marinetti to the idiosyncratic punctuation of Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings. From that we took license to divide up the word into its 2 x 3 grid and to experiment with different kinds of letterforms and mark-making.’ Michael Bierut
I just love typography as the main element of brand design. LOVE has just designed packaging for LA fashionista and socialite, Peri Arenas.With a new fashion boutique opening on California’s Robertson Boulevard, Peri briefed LOVE to design packaging that would create standout and match her ballsy personality.
Taking cues from the playful fashion labels Peri loves – as well as her straight-talking style – LOVE developed the PERI.A brand identity and rolled it out on the packaging. Brought to life with punchy copy and attention grabbing type, PERI. A sets out to shake up the American fashion-scape which Peri felt had become “boring and safe”.
Chris Myers, senior creative director, who headed up the project explains how LOVE was approached: “It’s not often that you’re recommended to a client in a Beverley Hills hair salon – but that’s how we ended up on a call with Peri.
Swedish paper manufacturer Holmen Paper has a new identity designed by creative agency Volt. Unusual for a paper company this identity is clean and modern, making use of a bright colour palette and bold typographic layouts. They’ve also created an animated icon suite that will be used across brand communications.