Category Archives: branding

  1. Logo Disaster Movie: A fabulous short animation that wrecks Hollywood

    I was impressed with narrative, sound design and the mise en scene that sets this movie apart. And I am a graphic designer who likes logos.

    From the vimeo description posted by Human: This is a short film that was directed by the French animation collective H5, François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy + Ludovic Houplain. It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2009. It opened the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and won a 2010 academy award under the category of animated short.

    Logorama from Marc Altshuler – Human Music on Vimeo.

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  2. Apple Timeline: Yet another curious view of a loved brand across years

    Guilty. I am a believer and I have been for a long time. Since 1987, to be precise, when the forbidden Apple was encased in a chilled glass cabin in our design school with exclusive access to a few chosen ones. On getting a wallet and some content in it I have owned a few of these babies. This infographic shows all Apple products on a timeline.

    The Apple Timeline

    Browse more infographics.

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  3. Let the Games Begin! The glare and the clash of Olympic impressions

    The Olympics are supposed be a carnival, I know – ‘Triumph of Human Spirit’ and what have you. And truly, the spirit and the excitement have been high and contagious this time round. The carnival carousel has been turning smooth and well-oiled thus far.

    So I make a side trip to their official website – First off, you have that London 2012 logo, which reminds you of a falling rocks warning (and mildly reminiscent of Thing, the stone-clad superhero from the Fantastic Four). The web design tries to carry this visual metaphor of the angular forms into it. Visually, It’s colorful and carnival-ish, bright and gay (gay as in celebratory) but the forms look so sharp you could cut your eye-fingers just looking at them. So you wonder about this overt celebration of masculinity – what happened to grace, rhythm and elegance, those reportedly feminine qualities!? The whole experience seems driven by testosterone without any estrogen to bring about a balance.

    The carnival

    Anyway, the carnival goes on – and it’s more akin to a village Markt – the page literally Teeming with stuff. If there is a sense of organization, it seems to lose out in the breathless cacophony of a hundred things screaming for attention. For a bit of respite, scroll down the page – where things get a bit calmer and white space finds a hesitant voice.

    The site, by its own admission, tries to cater to all – the ‘normal’, the visually impaired, the dyslexics and the non-English speakers. ‘For all Humanity’, cries out the Olympic spirit. But you can’t escape the feeling that these noble and worthwhile sentiments have found only a partial translation in terms of sites structure, page organization and elemental focus.

    Style sheet for dyslexics

    Right at the top, an icon call’s itself the ‘dyslexic style sheet’ and when you switch to it, all those loud-mouthed colors quieten down into a muted beige palette. This brings the text and links into sharper contrast – fair enough – but dyslexic friendly? I am not so sure. I get the feeling that dyslexics are perhaps better served by increasing the font size, increasing the character tracking and making everything else more subdued. But that too would be a compromise – they would probability find a less crowded, more organized page with higher figure-ground contrast more fit to their needs.

    The tool

    And lastly, those much celebrated international sports symbols come to the rescue of non-English speaking audiences – like the way finders they are supposed to be. Although, what exactly these non-English speakers lose out in experience by not knowing the language, only they can tell in their native tongues. Not to crib too much, but here too the colors are high-strung. I am sure those who designed the site carefully chose to place bright pinks and active blues next to each other and gleefully watched their cockfight. They are obviously intended to jar and clash in their high chromatic screams. May be the designers thought it’s an apt metaphor for the competitive spirit of the Olympics. But I don’t have to like it, and I don’t.

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  4. Interactive print is here: Is this the convergence we have been waiting for?

    Apparatus has been proud to use legacy design practices in the digital realm. We have been involved in great projects that span across print and digital too. We found a new tool that can make this ‘walk across’ better. I personally am looking forward to use this, in context, for a project.

    With a tool like this brands can interlink their print marcomm to their online presence easily, online stores can create offline catalogs with specific promotions, corporates can lead their engagements to contextually correct media assets, publishers can segue readers into richer content and more. I believe this is just a beginning – an aesthetically pleasing QR code. But there are going to be more soon.

    And we will be there waiting for it.

    You can know more about Layar here.

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  5. Twitter is bird, bird is twitter: The new improved version of Twitter’s identity

    Our new bird grows out of love for ornithology, design within creative constraints, and simple geometry. This bird is crafted purely from three sets of overlapping circles—similar to how your networks, interests and ideas connect and intersect with peers and friends. -Doug Bowman, Creative Director, Twitter

    I personally love these simple clean up jobs in graphic design that demands rigor and simplistic construction. The perceived change may be minimal. Yet the rationale and impact is immense. Read more about this brand refresh here.

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  6. Twitter remains unconquered: A peek into our twitter statistics

    The 140 character micro blog has been an elusive thing to conquer. Our followers stats have been roving in the 480 to a little over 500 area. Do I need more? I do not have an answer. We have not consciously done a campaign yet. Probably it is time.

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  7. The ‘Hello’ paper: Where did Business Cards come from?

    I loved this one on evolution of business cards by MOO. From a meishei for royal visits, visiting cards that announces arrival, trade cards with advertisements, photo cards and to the modern business cards – the humble personal stationery has a story.

    by MOO.

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  8. A treat retreat: Understanding Social

    I reluctantly registered for a two day conference in support of Akshaya Patra and Anant called Social India. There were significant talks by experts in social media marketing from India and North America. For me, as an entrepreneur and a user experience designer, there were lessons to learn. What did I know?

    Social media is a strong influential channel that can be leveraged by brands and businesses to work in tandem with traditional media. Enterprises should include them in the larger communication or marketing strategy to strengthen it. In India businesses have woken up to this fact recently and are working with digital agencies to create a strategy.

    Most of these social media agencies have evolved from traditional web marketing or customer relationship management. So there is very little or no creative leadership to put together contextually correct, multi channel, strong campaigns that impact. I personally do not believe that silos of facebook contests make for a social media campaign and most of the solutions were that. The quality of destination content could be better with decoupages that involve photographs, videos and critical user contributions. Most brand case studies were counting heads as metrics.

    The North American agencies were more evolved. I was impressed with the case study for Knorr Sidekicks presented by Eric Weaver of Ant’s Eye View. Salty is a salt shaker character who tugged at the heart strings of women who put dinner on the family table and he had them ‘following’ him. Take a look at this television commercial introducing Salty.

    There were similar insights and case studies of Shashank Nigam from Simpliflying, an agency that focusses on social consumer connect for airline businesses, on Spicejet introducing Bombardier viral video. I should also mention Jim Long, a photojournalist at NBC and his insights into a new publishing paradigm. His talk was over Skype from New York. Fabulous!

    The spirit and energy of independent publishers, bloggers and other participants engaged me. Particularly Prasant and his Lighthouse Insights. I cannot forget Kiruba, a TEDx representative in India. He is from Pondicherry and works out of Chennai. Kiruba is an energetic compère with a penchant for interacting with people. Good to connect.

    Unlike a design conference, there was humility, participation, camaraderie and free exchange of ideas. I am ditching those black tee chic design junkets and sticking to honest ones like this. The closure with Sean Moffitt of Wikibrand fame was apt. This was a valuable weekend of new connections, lessons and possibilities.

    Apparatus is now armed to create informed extensions of user experience design that weaves itself well with the social media world. We will create cohesive products and communication that engages to acquire new users or retain them.

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  9. Discovery lost: What ails (most) Indian ecommerce startups?

    Apparatus team have been working on a few online store projects. Most of these are at a prelaunch stage and that makes it easy for user experience design teams to partake in product definition and extend further into product design.

    However there are a few who have been in business and need a substantial design overhaul. These ecommerce properties ail from a few maladies that needs attention.

    Discovery that matches user intent leads to conversion
    Users who approach online stores come with a definite intent to find a suitable product. The user experience should be designed for users with specific needs and users who want to explore and discover. The design should set a strong context for them to arrive at a product or move about and find.

    Fixes versus refurbishment
    These stores are ongoing businesses backed by investor firms. They cannot suspend operations for an overhaul. We understand this. But the management typically sees the solution as a series of small fixes that will lead to betterment. It will not. The synthesis of web analytics and user research should lead to larger incremental phases of change that can better the brand experience in a short period of time. Bite the bullet!

    Knowing the domain does not make you a UX expert
    It is a great additive that can be learned. Good design is about creating cohesive, compelling and usable experiences through framework, structure and content. It involves information design, graphic design and meticulous production. You need help. Hire us!

    Curated content emotes and converts
    Do the thing that offline stores do as ‘we suggest’. Do collections that are thematic and write about them. Do collections that go well together and publish them as trends or what people like. Help users choose if they are exploring through supportive house-styled images of products and well written textual content. Add on contextual user generated content and create digestible nuggets of content to consume. And lead all these to appropriate stock keep units.

    To know more about these write to me. If you want to get this done call Apparatus. Have a good day!

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  10. Apple and I: A long love affair

    In early eighties small town India, like my hometown, had not seen computers. The closest that you came to one was when you booked a railway ticket and it was across the glass in the booth. It was most often operated by bored mid-size government workers in synthetic bush shirts, buttoned down till the vest and a handkerchief dipped in talc around their neck. Or by women nibbling fried snacks from their cold press molded stainless steel ‘eversilver’ tiffin boxes next to perennially plastic covered keyboards.



    I have to describe these machines to you. They were behemoth grey boxes with a pixel screen, slightly larger than a Tamil pocket crime novel encased in an oversized dull monitor. The CPU looked like a part of a menacing Russian tank and the monitor was made of discarded plastic buckets. The keyboard had their tab keys jammed often and the lady operator was screaming for help in a fit, kicking her snacks of her table while the cursor did a wild tra-la-la jig across form fields on that minuscule window. And I was waiting with my filled form. Always.

    I never understood how they can make us more productive.

    A little later when my father bought an AppleIIc for a publisher friend of his from Singapore (the farthest idea of a foreign land for a Tamil boy) I was amazed that computers can look good. My dad had meticulously unpacked and assembled it with great care. The machine, if I can call it, looked like million suns of gypsies’ ice a la Marquez.

    Call it love at first sight. Apple it was – hook, line and sinker. I was a convert, a self-confessed fanboy and hopelessly smitten for life.

    At college they taught me BASIC on an Apple. I met a Macintosh at a design school. Not that we were allowed to use it freely. We used to set type in Aldus Pagemaker, take prints and paste it on our artworks with rubber cement. That was quite a promotion from hot metal where we have to set type laterally inverted or phototypesetting where we pretended to solve a thermodynamics problem on a blue screen and got a small piece of photo paper with type exposed on it. We loved and grew on Macs.

    Then came the candy colored eMac at home, a Powerbook G4, an early iPod, more Macbooks, an iPhone and a strong affinity for a brand that thought of people who used their product more than the machine itself. An affinity to the creator of this brand – Steve Jobs.

    More on Mac and me soon.

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