5 important things that happened in design last week

From a NatWest rebrand to Google’s first smartphone, we round up the important design news from the last seven days.

NatWest took on a new 3D logo

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British Bank NatWest rebranded last week, taking on an animated, three-dimensional logo based on its original logo mark created in 1968.

Designed by FutureBrand, the rebrand sees NatWest’s three-chevron symbol turned into three interlocking cubes, which animate and move for digital applications.

A bright new colour palette of pink, purple, blue, yellow and white accompanies the new logo, alongside a series of illustration-style graphics.

Though the new look – with its block colours, animations and illustrations – appears to be aimed at a younger audience, Dan Witchell, executive creative director at FutureBrand, says the rebrand aims to attract all audiences – but, of course, “we all know that you need to attract younger people into banking”, he says.

The rebrand is part of FutureBrand’s wider redesign for the RBS Group, which also saw it refresh the look of Royal Bank of Scotland’s posters and advertising materials, adopting a similar, colourful aesthetic.

NatWest’s new branding is currently rolling out across print, in-store and online materials, and will roll out across shop-fronts at a later date, says FutureBrand.

The design industry still positive despite Brexit

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The Design Business Association (DBA) released its annual survey report last week, which showed that designers are still optimistic about the future of design despite Brexit – however, optimism has still dropped since the vote in June.

The results were taken both before the referendum result in May and June, and afterwards in August, with the second round of the survey showing that 62% of respondents expected fee income to increase during 2016-2017. This sat at 66% prior to the vote.

64% also reported that the outlook for the future of their business was good, although this did drop from 77%, recorded before the EU referendum.

The majority of businesses also expect staff numbers to increase over the following year, at 54%. However, this has dropped from a pre-referendum figure of 60%.

But overall, figures still lean towards optimism, with the majority of respondents reporting positive trends. There is no indication as of yet how this will change over the coming years, or following the activation of Article 50.

Google unveiled its first own-brand smartphone

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Google is set to rival Apple and Samsung, as it announced its first ever smartphone last week, Pixel.

The phone will come in two different sizes, will cost £599, and will be made from aluminium and glass with a curved edge.

It’ll include a 12.3-megapixel camera and Pixel Imprint, its own fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, which can be swiped to access notifications.

It’ll also include Google’s own artificial intelligence system Google Assistant, which will rival Apple’s Siri.

The system can be integrated with Google Home, the company’s connected home hub which allows users to control multiple electrical and gas elements within their homes.

Google has not yet confirmed a release date for the new smartphone.

A build-it-yourself speaker and camera were revealed

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Company Kano partnered with design consultancy Map last week to launch a new series of DIY kits which aim to make coding more accessible.

The Pixel Kit, Camera Kit and Speaker Kit enable people to create their own working products, and customise them as they see fit.

To make the sets more approachable, a series of bright colours have been used to help people navigate the kits and guide their construction – as well as making them more aesthetically pleasing.

The kits have launched on Kickstarter, and are well on their way to meeting their $500,000 (£393,000) target. You can back the project here. If the money is raised, the kits are expected to start rolling out from March 2017.

Google and Monotype launched a new typeface

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Type foundry Monotype and tech giant Google have worked together to create a new digital typeface, which hopes to be universally used across different languages.

The Google Noto typeface took five years to produce, and encompasses all written languages and scripts, including rarely spoken languages and those not spoken anymore.

It covers more than 800 languages and written scripts, and aims to facilitate communication across borders, according to Monotype.

Google director of internationalism Bob Jung adds that the new typeface family will help to “preserve” languages which are “lesser-used, purely academic or dead”.

Google funded the project and worked on its strategy and design direction.


Got a design story? Get in touch at sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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