branding an iPhone app

Sometime just before the summer last year (2011), I was contacted by Nick Cox of EverydayType to create the identity and user interface for an app concept he was thinking of. It was going to be called Archetype and it was a typographic reference for the iPhone, something with two simple features: 1) to act as a dictionary for typographic terms & phrases and 2) to give users visual references to those terms, to offer diagrams and illustrations. The current list of terms exceeds 200 and the diagrams number over 75.

The difficulty in creating a brand was the fact this app is centered entirely around typography. The identity needed to be typographic while maintaining certain iconic elements for scalability. The color palette was a tender subject because typography is generally black and white, especially in the context of an educational atmosphere.

Initial sketches for the typography of the logo, spanning years and years of typographic history. I tried to incorporate the classic blackletter with the infusion of pixels to hint at the span of typography from calligraphic to digital (top). I did the same with Garamond: transforming the letters into a bitmap grid (bottom). A little Caslon in there as well. And of course there is Helvetica, Akzidenz-Grotesk & Gotham for the cliché, engineered Swiss options. I even tried a few swash characters with Sauna.

The color palette for the brand that will extend into the interface of the app and of course the website.
The color palette also took on a small texture in an effort to create a more comfortable user interface on mobile devices. With that, I applied a 2% monochromatic, uniform noise patter on all color instances.

Knowing where the mark was going gave me the chance to explore the diacritics and they placement. However, at this point some of the diacritics are clumsy and improper.
The final mark as one color, greyscale and full color.
Final mark with diacritic animation.
A small set of icons—still a work in progress. 

Thats all for this post. I should follow up soon with either a post on design the interface and applying to brand or something larger: announcing beta testing for the final, functioning app. I'm really excited with how far this is come up until now, and how its maturing into something really special.