The short & Sweet
We partnered w/Aerial to develop their visual identity and turn their technology into a consumer-facing product.
Here's some select artwork – read the whole story below.
The Whole Story
We were approached by Montréal incubator TandemLaunch to help one of their startups develop its product, rename the startup, and give it a visual identity. We had a great time collaborating with fantastic partners.
Based in Montréal, TandemLaunch scouts, accelerates, and commercializes early-stage technologies from the world's top universities in close partnership with major Consumer Electronic brands.
Value + Application
Naming + Visual Identity
Physical Product Design
First, we explored the technology.
Aerial (formerly Smartiphy) came to us with a pretty neat technology – it uses wifi signals to map and monitor physical space in real time. We won't pretend to fully understand the inner workings but we like to imagine it works like sonar but omnidirectional and in real time.
Next, we realized its applications.
Technology isn't valuable until we understand how it helps us.
All team members were asked to dream applications for this technology – things people care about.
We all landed on the idea of an energy that cares for your home and the people in it – the product comes from a place of love and care.
Security – The product creates profiles of each person living in a home. When it detects a new person/profile, it alerts the home-owners via the smartphone app.
Safety – By monitoring the activity of the people in the home, the product can detect if someone has fallen or is choking based on their body movements.
Knowledge – By observing people's movement habits within their home, the product can report on people's behaviours. Example report – "Profile 001 'John' spent 13.2 hours dancing in the kitchen in December."
We gave it some personality.
Naming, Visual Identity, Brand Essence
3.a – Creative Direction
Our creative director, Joel Blair of Detraform, lead our team to consider the company as a 'home-decor brand' rather than a tech company. Positioning Aerial this way was done to differentiate them in their market. This idea set a clear, objective direction for all future creative decisions.
People don’t care about technology, only how it affects their lives. We need to create something people can easily imagine in their lives and in their homes.
– Joel Blair
This creative direction was chosen with the intention of leading the company away from the idea of 'malicious computers watching people' – a common theme in science-fiction. We needed Aerial to be perceived as loving (like Rosie the robot care-taker from The Jetsons) rather than cold and heartless (like HAL from 2001- A Space Odyssey.)
3.B – Naming
When we were approach by TandemLaunch, the startup they were incubating was named 'Smartiphy' – a name that needed to be replaced before taking their product to market.
Naming a company is the most challenging task in the creative field. The process requires emotional buy-in from all parties and many people find it difficult to make objective decisions when it comes to names. If your ex's name was Alex, you probably won't like it for a company name.
Our Naming Criteria
- Aural – sounds nice
- Short – is five to six letters long
- Positive – positive connotation
- General – not industry specific
- Available – unused in industry
- Translatable – different languages
- Marketable – has an available url
We named her Aerial.
We loved how it sounds like a woman's first name rather than a tech company. Aerial is defined as "existing, happening, or operating in the air."
3.C – Brand Essence
Our comprehensive branding process wasn't appropriate for this project. Instead, we opted for a condensed version and focused on the elements that provided Aerial the most value.
communicating from the inside out
Here's an excerpt from our brand exercises.
We Care (Why) – We have to let people know we care what happens in their home. Everything comes from a place of love.
We Act Human (How) – Being human means we’re approachable, relatable, and we have the same needs and wants as others. We aren’t another faceless technology corporation.
We Create Beauty (How) – We want to be a part of people’s dream homes. This means being in-tune with today’s style and considering what people want to live with.
We Make Technology (What) – We develop our own custom technologies, building new ways to understand what happens in a home.
CONSIDERING OUR DESIRED PERCEPTIONS
Another excerpt from our branding exercises.
We want people to invite us into their homes. By showing people we’re caring, human, and beautiful, we’ll build the trusting relationship we need.
This chart helps understand who we are and how we communicate.
3.D – Visual Identity
We developed a visual identity for Aerial based our desired perceptions and brand essence. We then captured and articulated it in our visual identity guidelines.
The logo couples a strong sans serif typeface (modified Futura STD heavy) with a unique symbol.
The logo features a unique symbol in place of the tittle on the letter 'i' (yes, it's really called a tittle.)
The symbol helps convey the idea of something beyond the name Aerial. It asks people to consider 'Why is that little shape there? What does that mean?'
It combines three visual metaphors:
- the roof of a home
- the letter a
- an upward arrow
Chronicle Display is a serif typeface with an elegant and classic feeling. It lends itself well to quotes and the rounded terminals give it a sense of warmth and friendliness.
Using geometric shapes and clean lines, Brandon Grotesque is a modern sans-serif typeface ideal for headlines and messaging. Rounded terminals and arms add a sense of welcoming, and approachability.
Kiwi & Pom did their magic.
Physical Product Design
We teamed up with our friends at Kiwi & Pom to design a discreet smart hub that would elevate the technology, presenting a stylish product addition to any home. Kiwi & Pom brought polish and personality to five, fully rendered, design concepts.
As the device was to be used within the home, Kiwi & Pom proposed that the design should be discreet and elegant in form, providing a comfortable addition to the home. Initial design concepts were developed experimenting with form, materiality and texture.
The chosen concept delivered a face plate and split outlet design, obscuring the two outlets from front view. The design used materials such as wood to soften the look and give a more domestic feel to the product.
The face plate detail gives the device a stylized element in situ, while also allowing the user to choose a finish to suit their environment.
The smart device physical design and language was also used to inform Aerial’s visual identity and branding, which was developed by design consultant Detraform alongside the project.
The face plate detail gives the device a stylised element in situ, while also allowing the user to choose a finish to suit their environment.
This was one of our favourite projects and without a doubt our most collaborative. We're thrilled with the final result but more importantly, the creative process was a real joy – many thanks to our collaborators.
This project had many moving pieces and people involved so it was nice to working with a team that was truly collaborative and creative.
Project Lead, Aerial
Partnering with w/studio on this project was an easy decision. With their experience inside and outside creative agencies they brought all the skills to deliver the work according to our brand strategy and the client's timeline.
Creative Director & Founder, Detraform
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