There is a lot of dialogue (read debate!) happening in the industry this week about the Google rebrand. Many designershave been polarized by the make over (or under - depending your point of view) of the worlds most visible brand. I think historically Google has been super smart (and really playful) with their visual identity elements. I am easily excited by the google doodle animated searches, getting sucked down the rabbit hole learning new facts and playing the games hidden behind the logotypes thematic illustrated letterforms.
The new logotype is coming under fire for not being human enough and it is admittedly very precise and mathematical when static. But the geometric typography is not only highly legible and scalable for small devices (which seems to be the positive many designers are hanging their hat on) but I believe this genre of type gives Google the perfect foundation for play and personification. The simplification of forms open the door to more distortion, experimentation, deconstruction and illustration with the typography. The launch video shows the the new mark evolve into voice responsive sound bubbles - and there are already a number of videos and animated gifs doing the rounds that demonstrate how the letterforms, monogram and dot elements, bounce, quiver, revolve and morph. I look forward to seeing how the motion and expression we have come to know and love from google softens the precision and geometry the new mark.
Which leads me directly on to this awesome exploration of brand identity by Kiwi Designer Sara Marshall. I received an email last week from one of my former lecturers Peter Gilderdale who included a link to check out Sara's work. Brand by Hand is a student project undertaken in Sara's third year of her Bachelor at Auckland University of Technology.
Sara notes while aesthetic trends in branding seek minimalism, the trajectory of expressive hand-lettering in art and editorial design is also booming, “characterised by imperfections, texture and embellishment,” she writes. “Brand by Hand is intended as an intersection of these two trends by introducing the personal, hand-treated and flowery nature of hand lettering into the cold corporate world.”
Sara uses custom scripts and brushwork, calligraffiti and contemporary signpainting to transform corporate logotypes into softer and more personal versions of themselves. Each Identity retains key defining elements of their original branding, (the Fedex logo still incorporates its ingenious white-space arrow device!)
So much of what we do as designers is about imbuing depth of meaning into very refined visual representations. This project shows that corporate iconography can also burst with character and celebrate human qualities. I think Sara has a beautiful hand - there is a lot of clear ability and understanding in her craft of letterforms. But as well as celebrating this Brand by Hand project for the beautiful outcomes lets also recognise the value of de-digitizing and the potential of honoring expression and personality in the visual language of corporate identity.
Sara Marshall is working as a freelance lettering artist and graphic designer based in Auckland, New Zealand. For collaborations, lettering inquiries/commissions, or just to say hi, get in touch with Sara via @itssaramarshall on instagram, behance, vimeo and twitter