Google caught our attention twice this week with two different mapping projects.The first, Rio: Beyond the Map, guides users through the favelas of Rio, presumably to draw attention to the city ahead of the Olympics. The different uses of imagery are quite impressive, a combination of experiential 360 video, flat imagery that displays when you want to explore certain areas, and more narrative interviews. It’s a great display of the kind of storytelling that Google can do, incorporating all of its capabilities. The second project, Verne: The Himalayas, is an app that uses Google 3D mapping to allow kids — and big kids! — to explore the mountain range with a virtual friend: a friendly yeti named Verne. It’s an interesting way to use the mapping imagery Google has of the area, gamifying the experience so that you can move through the Himalayas with a story and get more out of the resource.
We discussed the rebranding of Kashi by London-based Jones Knowles Ritchie. The logo has been simplified and taken out of its container, and the brand overall has been minimized to bold typography with clean photography and lots of white space. Our conversation mainly revolved around whether this rebrand has taken the simplification trend too far and whether food brands should ever strip their design down so much, since they risk a repeat of the Tropicana “disaster” from a few years ago. In that case, the iconic logo and orange-with-a-straw image that people recognized was completely gone, and perhaps Kashi has avoided repeating Tropicana’s mistakes by essentially keeping the logo (arguably the most recognizable piece of branding) the same. Keep an eye out for their new packaging next time you head to the store, and judge for yourself!
This week would of course be incomplete without some Olympics discussion, and one article in particular caught our attention. We’ve discussed Olympics logos before, but design great Milton Glaser takes that conversation a little further with his rating of every logo in the Games’ modern history. I was pleased to see that Athens 2004 was scored the best of the bunch; the design of those games was particularly well done. Looking at the hand-drawn logo now, and how the patterns and colors were used at venues, the branding holds up and wouldn’t be out of place even today — and check out those pictograms! Berlin 1936 sits in last place with a sad score of only 20 out of 100, a very fair assessment of a logo overtaken by pride rather than a true representation of the spirit of the Olympics.
And finally, you can now chat with a T-Rex on Facebook. Because dreams do come true.