For this weeks task I had to chose two organizations/brands that I admire and describe their visual language and positioning. The first one (rather obvious once I started to think about it) is the Adobe CS and the second one is London’s TfL.
The way I see it, the Creative Suite (now it’s called the Creative Cloud) is not a technically a brand or organization, rather a family of products that belong to the Adobe brand. The way that each suite of products has been sub-branded and visually managed has had my attention more than once in my few years as a graphic designer and that’s why I chose it. Although the first version of CS was released in 2003, many of the softwares (like llustrator and photoshop) had been in the market for many years and have had a visual evolution trough out their life. To illustrate this I’ll use illustrator as an example
The reason I admire the visual identity of these products is because Adobe has managed to create a strong brand architecture with each Creative Suite. I believe this has been achieved by using a powerful color identity that has been constructed and enhanced trough out the years. This began with the CS3 and CS4 versions, which focused a lot in color management in the splash screens and icons that we all know so well when we open the program. After the color code was out in the open and into our brains, Adobe then went a little further with the CS5, changing the visual language but not in a radical way. However the CS6 version went beyond; while still maintaining the same color code for its products it focused more on the possibilities, creativity and freedom that the product offers rather than the software itself. I believe Adobe seeked and emotional response through strong and provocative images where each product stands out by itself and communicates different messages, but without falling apart of the big idea.
Also another reason why I admire this family of products is because the visual identity is not only aesthetically beautiful, but also highly functional and flexible (image below). It can be applied in a great number of formats and sizes, going from packaging to cds to desktop folders, and still maintain the visual language intact.
The second brand that I have recently began to admire (I’ve been in the UK for only two months now) is the Transport for London trademark. I consider it a trademark because it has become an mayor visual identifier since it was created back in 1908. It was first known as the “bar and circle” and was designed to help distinguish the name of the station from the surrounding advertising on the platform walls. In 1910 it began to appear in maps, posters, publicity, signage, etc, marking what would later become a flexible and renowned visual identity system.
Although it has been updated several times since its creation, the overall structure of the logo remains the same: a circle with a bar. Quite simple if you think about it, but extremely powerful. As the years have passed by the logo has become not only a trademark, but also a visual element that is used to communicate messages in a straight but clever way.
Because the brand is located all across the city in a multitude of formats, the unified use of graphic elements such as typography, shapes and color codes and above all the logo roundel make it one of the greatest visual identities there is.
On 2000 the TfL was created to manage most of transport services in London such as bus system, taxis, London river services, etc. The blue band was maintained across all the roundels (due to its historically value) and the circles behind it changed colors to identify the services. The use of a color code to brand each service is one the most powerful tools of this visual system, since it allows people to quickly identify each service and lets them have their own identity while still be known for belonging to something bigger
I believe that one element that changed the visual language of the TfL was the redesign of the underground map by Harry Beck, who by the way was not a graphic designer. Considered a masterpiece of design, this map accomplished its goal of communicating the underground routes in a simple and orderly way but still maintaining an aesthetic value.
The fact that the map is still used (of course a few changes have been made) makes me believe that this element shaped the TfL’s graphic communication and transformed it into what every public brand like this should be: a highly functional and aesthetic system that maintains its visual language across a number of formats without losing its identity. This trademark has been around 100 years in London, becoming not only a part of the city but also of the people who live in it.