Eshaan Kaul: Rebranding Knowledge: Monochrome by 1THING
This article by designer and LaunchX mentor Eshaan Kaul appeared in Medium.
When I started my journey with 1THING, I didn’t know I would be handling a brand on my own. A brand which I feel would lie at the core of the knowledge base for our design network. I never expected this to happen. But then again, start-ups.
I’m a designer, and I like doing everything that surrounds it.
Start with Design. Don’t end with it.
Sending a weekly-emailer might sound trivial but that is how the inception of Monochrome started, with an aim to seeding the network with the best news from the world of design, the best practices for their workflow, best tools and resources for their next project, inspiration and designing manners.
Our objective and vision grew in strength parallel to a rapidly growing subscriber base. When Monochrome continued to grow, even with us spending next-to-no time on it, we realized we may be onto something special. Something we needed to explore deeper. We started by dedicating full-days to understand the readers and track the data and build a roadmap for it.
Since then, Monochrome crawled into the inboxes of everyone in the design network and became a go-to newsletter for all their needs. What started as a little engagement activity for our network, grew to become some insanely powerful. Thanks to our network and friends, this small activity grew out to become the best learning of our lives, and it was time we introduced a brand new identity for it — in time for Monochrome’s first meetup.
1THING + Monochrome
When a brand’s visual representation form, in other words, the brand identity, that has been in the market for quite a long period of time, it is difficult for not only for the consumers to adapt to this change, but also proves to be stressful for the decision makers to begin with the practice.
Monochrome was still far from reaching a milestone where its change would be questionable by the entire generation of designers, and that’s the reason we had to begin with a brand identity for us — to lay down the ground principles.
Branding is never about just visual perception or verbal message. Branding is about the whole image people get hearing the name of a company or seeing its brand identity signs. So, designing the signs and symbols which make a brand recognizable and transferring the appropriate message is a job with great responsibility. Still, there is one more stage of the process when this sort of responsibility get another shade. It happens at the point of branding redesign.
Visualization is very personal and perspective driven.
Monochrome’s first two volumes had laid the foundation for it to have a low visual appeal with the exact essence of ‘monochromatic colours’ embedded in it. Being sent from a design-focused startup we didn’t exactly think we had done justice to ourselves. Monochrome had to embody the knowledge and learning for the design network but didn’t necessarily need to have a dull appeal to it. We wanted to break the barriers.
I met again with rest of the designers at 1THING and reinforced the primary goals of a logo. In the immortal words of Paul Rand:
- A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon.
- A logo doesn’t sell (directly), it identifies.
- A logo is rarely a description of a business.
- A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
- A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it means is more important than what it looks like.
First volume and henceforth
For a start, our mentality towards Monochrome had to change, as it began growing. We had to take out the words: symbolic, newspaper-like, elegant and generic of our mind space and replace them with the words of new-age communication. If you had it following from the start, you would have noticed how we always maintained a casual and quirky language for our introduction messages in all the volumes, but it seemed to be out of sync from the newspaper-like habit we wanted the users to treat it as. Like any other young product in the market, we failed to achieve consistency throughout the newsletter.
Even though the read ratios and all other metrics were over the roof. We wanted to fix the link which was broken from the start — A great Visual Identity.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
We flipped the strategy in lines with our vision for it. From a dull boring newspaper-like identity, we pixel-played. Monochrome was now a fun playground for learning, sharing, and enlightenment — Just like your play school.
At 1THING we want to be the drivers of the design industry in India, and Monochrome was to be the knowledge mammoth. This branding strategy was integrated with many other goals and objectives; to name a few of these: the newsletters, conferences, meetups, workshops, publications etc all supported by one ultimate platform and community on WorkSpace.
We took the unconventional to a whole new level: Monochrome doesn’t have a fixed logo. Its logo is an artboard of 800 x 800 px with a 10 px grid, and other design guidelines that we have formed. A fixed theme was selected from the very fundamentals of digital design — a pixel.
Monochrome belongs to the network. It belongs to the community of designers out there, who have the ability to make it, feel it and look at it like it’s their own piece of art work. It builds a stage for everybody to come out and learn with us — Always changing and never staying the same.
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