WIND, the first new mobile service provider to enter the Canadian market in ten years, launched in Toronto and Calgary in December of 2009 and was expected to provide fresh competition in the Canadian wireless market by offering low-cost plans and services as an alternative to Bell Mobility, Telus and Rogers Wireless which have dominated the Canadian market for decades. Canadians have long complained of high cellphone bills in comparison to much of the world and many consumers were expecting WIND to make a dent in mobile service prices by introducing low rates and forcing competitors to follow suit, but it doesn't seem like to be the case so far.
Existing Greek and Italian versions of WIND.
WIND is a European import, already operating in Greece and Italy under the same brand, although with some subtle differences. The Greek iteration uses a softer font and brighter colors and the Italian version has a wet floor effect applied to it. The Canadian version isn't too inspiring: Overall, the WIND logo lacks the light, soft, dynamic feel the name brings to mind. The type is extremely dull and devoid of any life, especially in combination with the soft, organic "W" worm. The combination of the two is jarring. I don't see anything salvageable or remotely memorable. What I do see: a shrugging neighbour behind a concrete fence, a fancy moustache, a pigeon cloaca. The happy squiggly character reminds me of a dot-com era start-up. At smaller applications, the logo loses any readability (just take a look at the favicon on the WIND Mobile site. All three versions use slightly different fonts and squiggles. There does not seem to be any coherent global branding effort — the regional logos are treated like red-headed stepchildren.
And what is it with spelling WIND in all caps? Brands that shout are my pet peeve, especially if the name is not a good fit for the tone.
On a brighter note, branding elements introduced in the Canadian identity are indicative of a more professional attempt to coherently brand WIND by Toronto-based AmoebaCorp. The choice of Gotham Rounded and a pastel colour palette seem like a good fit with the whimsical illustrations chosen for the brand.
Mikey Richardson, co-creative director and partner at AmoebaCorp says that the purpose behind the look of Wind Mobile was to be fun, friendly, optimistic and honest. 'We wanted to do something really fresh and human,' he says. '[We] wanted to do something counter to Rogers and Bell, which are really clinical and slick and void of human emotion.' AmoebaCorp decided to work with a palette of 16 colours for the project to further differentiate from the competitors' blue-or-red, one-colour formats. 'Wind Mobile is supposed to be talking to the diversity of Canadians,' he says. 'So we decided to go with many colours, which can create problems because it is difficult to manage something that big. We spent a lot of time creating a graphic standards manual, which lays down how the colours are used and how they interact together.'
The WIND brand still has a long way to go before it's mature enough to play with other competitors in the Canadian mobile sandbox. Most Canadians just want another mobile competitor and won't pay as much attention to the logo as long as there is a lesser of the evils. But as time goes on and WIND is no longer an underdog in the mobile brand game, Globalive will need to step up and move past the poor WIND identity. As they don't seem to take the WIND brand too seriously, hopefully there is a greater emphasis on their service quality.
Thanks to Andrew Hladkyj for the tip.
Valentine Makhouleen is an interactive art director with over a decade of experience in developing engaging traditional and new media. His clients include established brands, artists and grassroots organizations. Valentine spends most of his time working on arts, culture and non-profit design work out of his Toronto-based studio. Valentine is an International Correspondent for Brand New.