This skit from “Burnistoun,” the comedy sketch show broadcast by BBC Scotland, reminds me of all the devices that, at first, seem like marvelous inventions, but still need work. An example is a recent exchange with that annoying automated iPhone twit, Siri. She keeps calling me “Del-fiend-E,” even though I’ve corrected her multiple times. Last week I asked Siri for the cross street of Gump’s, San Francisco’s venerable luxury home décor and jewelry store. Everybody in the Bay Area knows the 150-year-old Gump’s — except Siri. She said, “There are three dumps in San Francisco, which one do you want?” I enunciated more slowly, spelling out G-u-m-p-’s. She ignored me and started telling me the addresses of the local dumps. I finally asked a passerby for directions.
This video is not an ad for Nike+ FuelBand, but it is an offshoot project that fuses technology, human movement and music. The “Field” video is based on HTML technology and requires Google Chrome to let viewers control the experience through the use of a keyboard and mouse to change colors and dot patterns. Nike created it in collaboration with Dazed Digital Magazine and Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles-based music producer, and FAIR, LA, the design/technology collective led by Julia Tsao. It was produced with Swedish interactive studio, DinahMoe.
Engaging users is also key to the Nike+FuelBand, a matte black rubber-coated wristband that tracks the wearer’s activity through a sport-tested accelerometer that translates every move into NikeFuel – a point system to measure progress against a pre-set goal. The wristband notes every movement – walking, running, jumping – and the amount of calories consumed. Each day users set the goal they wish to attain, and the LED display indicates how well they are doing by changing color from red to yellow to green. Users can upload the data onto their computer or send it via Bluetooth to their smartphone. The FuelBand changes users from passive to active participants in setting and meeting their fitness goals. It becomes a one-person sport challenging users to exceed their personal best.
Extending a brand into global markets isn’t a straightforward process. Product makers have to consider all kinds of cultural and language barriers. Can the letterforms be read? Can the name be pronounced? Does it have a pleasing or harsh sound when spoken? Does the name mean something else in another language? (An example is the famous case of the Chevy Nova, which in Mexico translates to “doesn’t go.”) Then there is the challenge of trying to maintain some graphic consistency so the brand is truly global and not the same product that looks different in every regional market.
Consider how Carlsberg Beer and Coca-Cola graphically translated their logotypes into multiple languages, for example. LogoDesignLove brought the Carlsberg comparisons to our attention. With Carlsberg, note the way that the designers tried to carry over the signature style of the brand — the flat-top squared-off “C,” tri-leaf accent pattern, the swash decorative flourish under the type, the brushstroke-like serif on the last “r.” Although the letterforms differ dramatically from language to language, the various logotypes have a family look that suggests their roots stem from the original Danish Carlsberg logo.