Co.Design

Is This The First Logo Based On Touch-Screen Gestures?

The New Aesthetic is art’s newest movement, and it will likely be the next big thing in branding.

There’s been a lot of talk about the New Aesthetic since this year’s SXSW. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s okay! This overview is a good place to start.

Some argue that the New Aesthetic is the digital world crossing into the analog world, but I think it might be best summarized as making art from digital tools we didn’t have until about 25 years ago--it’s art that a pre-Nintendo generation might not have understood, ranging from creating portraits from Google Maps to dresses from polygons. And it’s also logos like this one which draw their visual language from how we represent touch-screen swipes in instruction manuals.

TU Me is a social networking app for the iPhone by Spain’s broadband/telecommunications giant Telefonica. “TU” appears to be drawn with your own fingers on a screen, the round edges and overlapping lines representing the work of our pudgy meat sticks after some intense smoothing algorithms. And in this regard, it’s incredibly fresh-feeling. It could be the first web 3.0 logo, if you will, drawing upon the perspective of a more electronically worldly user, one who understands the swipe as intrinsically as a web 2.0 user understood the intricacies of typography (for the past 10 years, creating a unique logo was no more difficult than choosing the right font). It’s a logo that looks at the Internet, not as a destination, but as an experience. And it has me thinking of this idea of the New Aesthetic in a whole new light.

A lot of people are writing about the New Aesthetic. With the self-aggrandizing nature of the unlimited-word Internet, coupled with our obsession with analyzing the now in the now, it’s a still-emerging movement that’s already become remarkably difficult to deconstruct. The only thing everyone seems to agree on about the New Aesthetic is that it’s “new” and an “aesthetic.”

But the more I think about the New Aesthetic, the more I don’t think it’s a new way of thinking at all. The New Aesthetic is an old idea (playing with available pigments) with a new type of paint (pixels, digital maps, video glitches, etc.). That’s it. Etching your face through Google Maps GPS points is really no different than shading your face in charcoal. The only thing new about the New Aesthetic is that we haven’t had computers as long as we’ve had chalk on sidewalks.

All of that said, TU Me is a pretty remarkable example just what the New Aesthetic’s new set of paints can do. There’s no reason branding needs to be a word when it can now be a gesture, or an icon when it can be a filter or glitch, or anything needs to be one single stagnant thing when crowdsourcing can add an array of every-shifting facets to any idea. For the first time in a long time, we don’t need to look at Nike as the quintessential best-case scenario in branding, not now, not when we have so many screens to paint on with so many new colors of paint.

[Hat tip: Brand New]

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26 Comments

  • Adam

    This is well worth exploring, though it has long been the case that a brand's identity has many factors (or attributes, or parameters) that can be dialed up or down in communications.

    Of these, a symbol is often one. So is the characteristic of a box (Tiffany); the texture of a bottle "recognizable even if smashed on pavement" (Coca-Cola); the tone of voice (MTV, Nike); the quality of experience (ANA Airlines, American Express); and so on, endlessly.

    Even the new-new AOL is similar to Nickelodeon: how much changes and how much stays the same across threaded communications?

    I agree with you that new experiences and ways of interacting will bear more points of reference. Frankly, I think consumers tend to take much ownership of brands and largely define them, after becoming aware of brands.

    So yes, it's more than a standards manual with templates for a publications department, just as was true during the IBM days.  

  • Jamie Roche

    Very appealing.  The concept of "3D gesture based" is intellectually stimulating, but the font stands on its own without understanding its genesis.  It makes me want to know more about the app and to buy and use the font.

  • Marc Posch

    As long as there is human imagination involved - I'm for it. Otherwise it's just fluff, computer generated fluff

  • guest

    What does it mean that the new aesthetic is "difficult to deconstruct." This phrase needs some unpacking.

  • viktoriana

    i hope the gestures in UI will bring back sensuality into design. i am tired of seeing all the "clean, minimalist"architecture, interiors,logos,websites and other grid-based creations that completely lack sensuality.  we've become so depraved of fleshliness in design , because there is so much tasteless overdecoration and kitsch, and designers are oh so scared to even remotely show any sign that they are living beings .

  • Bryan

    Agreed...what Tinco said what Michael said.

    This is the first post I've read on Co.Design which has left me more perplexed than informed or entertained. Should I conclude we are now - just now - seeing brand identities which capture the essence how the medium it occupies, or its inspiration as centerpiece? That starting with the New Aesthetic, now - just now - brand identities may perform outside of established convention and entice audiences to learn more about the entities they represent?

    Um. No.

    The story behind how the logotype and typeface were created are nice background and might even get me to appreciate the brand story as a designer, but at what point do we stop heralding backstory/inspiration as contributing factors to the value/impact of an end product? The TU logotype is cute and colorful. It appears to be an appropriate solution; hats off to the imaginative minds at the source agency.

    It's a logo. A cute, colorful logo. It's not a movement.

    "There’s no reason branding needs to be a word when it can now be a
    gesture, or an icon when it can be a filter or glitch, or anything needs
    to be one single stagnant thing when crowdsourcing can add an array of
    every-shifting facets to any idea."

    Wow. This bares a refined repeat-paste... "when crowdsourcing can add an array of
    every-shifting facets to any idea." I'm not sure which leaves me more eeyore, the fact this post promotes the idea of crowdsourcing as sound strategy for brand pivots, or the fact that a columnist is promoting this notion when trained journalists find themselves replaced by crowdsourced novices.

  • Michael

    with all due respect, this is still a mark and frankly just a new font, not a gesture. and it can still be reproduced in print and other media beyond a smartphone. not sure what you real point is here, except to launch a new font. PS, great brand marks are far more than a font selection and thats an insult to many of your readers in the brand biz.