My Yellow is brighter than yours

JD-storiesThis morning I had to cut through the clutter on my mobile device – too little space left was the device’s big complaint. Rummaging through the photos – I found quite a few that tell the story of Indian brandscape – which includes homegrown, international and aspiring local brands. Everyone trying to outdo the other in shouting louder, looking brighter, positioning (purely in terms of location) cleverly. Here is their story in a visual form… Continue reading

Chroma Key

Forbes-articles-mainpicRay+Keshavan | The Brand Union collaborated with the Forbes Magazine for an article (July 3, 2009 issue) that explored the role (and statistical distribution, if I may say so) of colour on corporate marques or logos in India.

For the comparative exercise, involving both Indian and International brands – companies from the Indian benchmark index, the NIFTY 50, and the top 50 of Interbrand’s 100 Most Valued Brands were chosen.

The comparison revealed some similarities – the big grouping in blues and reds – as well as few key dissimilarities. The similarities were noteworthy in the colour of the logos itself. What makes Indian brands colourful is at the level of brand communication – esp. at retail and trade.

Whereas the article did play upon that, I think the complex network of factors that influence colour choice, which were considered, could possibly have been included. The intent definitely was to have a detailed article Continue reading

Creatieve Stad

CreativeCity-DeHaagI came across this interesting piece of work, a printed brochure, documenting the journey of the The Hague’s initiative: Creatieve Stad or Creative City and their many constituents. Of course the brochure was cleverly done and the link-ability of the printed piece in many ways reflects the thinking behind the project. Hagues’ emergence as the “seat of the Netherlands government, has become much more colourful with the arrival of all kinds of international organisations and the growth of its immigrant population” [1]. Which implies that “the Municipality of The Hague together with the business community is aiming to attract the creative industry to locate” in the city. The initiative is not unique, I once worked in a similar setup in the North of England, aimed at encouraging and connecting the myriad creative communities.

According to the website: “The program includes making commercial properties attractive for the creative industry, such as the former Caballero factory, which has been converted into the FabLab, and the old KPN building in Binckhorst where expositions and theatre performances are staged” [1].Add to it research, mentoring, monitoring – some of these are often supported by Universities, City Councils, private players and external funding bodies like the EU.

CreativeCity-DeHaag2Switching to the compare and contrast mode I look at India – at Bangalore. Prof MP Ranjan put forward Bangalore as one of the Design Cities of the future, currently trying to balance its newly found status as the Silicon Valley of the East. A tough task from some perspectives but then there is no dearth of talent or ideas or design entrepreneurs. What is severely lacking is the infrastructure – even if not physical, but a supportive ecosystem. I can’t expect Bangalore to match The Hagues’ intentions, even if the monetary prowess can be relatively matched. Possibly the intention has to come from private players in the Design domain (like Ray+Keshavan amongst others), from institutions like Shrishti as well as NID and extending the thought along, even IIM, Bangalore. A mentoring programme, a not-for-profit programme in Design Entrepreneurship? I am optimistic…

[1] From The City of Hague’s Website,

A Soft Corner for Slabs

Jdallcaps-slab-softHeres an admission I have to make.

I have always had a soft corner for slab serifs. The chunkier, the clunkier the more exciting I find them. Especially when set in all capitals. With weights that are hyper contrasted.

One of my all time favourites is Paul Barnes & Christian Schwab’s work for The Guardian: the Guardian Egyptian commissioned by Mark Porter. The range of weights, the companion sans serif and the ever so slightly quirky italics make it a delight to read. For the fascinating Guardian Egyptian story, you could make a quick detour to the SchwartzCo site. The Guardian’s Saturday edition also features on the top three list of things I miss about England – for both content and design. Apart from the beautiful beige carpet at our apartment – almost destroyed by spilled red wine. Well thats another story, for another time.

Another favourite is Archer, which I have been using in generous proportions since the end of 2008. Designed by Hoefler and Frere Jones initially for the magazine Martha Stewart Living, Archer is at once practical and elegant. The curved faces – the ‘C’s and the ‘g’s are beautifully drawn, with elegant ends. I did a 2009 personal planner (customised for my very own use) using every weight of Archer possible and some imagined as well. If I am not mistaken, I did come across Archer in a newer issue of Newsweek. Miss BJR, are you listening – you must try it in your Magazine design…highly recommended! Looks very elegant, modern and ‘sharp’. For more of the Archer story visit H&F, more images of my planner (apart from those here) can be found here.

Last, on my list of top three, but by no means the least, is another Christian Schwab designed slab called Stag. There are gentle, softer joints in the heavier weights reminscent of Robert Besley’s Clarendon. Unlike Archer and Guardian Egyptian, the influence of the Geometrics is less marked than the influence of the Antiques – giving it a gentler and less mechanistic feel. The variants are interesting – though I have yet to test drive the full range. If there are any others that you can suggest by all means, and please do and post the URLs.