Ragged Edge Infuses Go.Compare’s Rebrand with Quirky Charm

Go.Compare, the UK’s renowned price comparison website, has undergone a fun and energetic transformation spearheaded by Ragged Edge, a London-based creative agency known for its bright and bold branding strategies.

Founded in November 2006 by a team of insurance experts, Go.Compare has long been recognized for its meticulous approach to comparing various products and services, including insurance policies, financial products, energy tariffs, and more. Unlike traditional comparison sites, Go.Compare distinguished itself by prioritizing the display of policy details alongside prices, setting a new standard in the industry.

Over the years, Go.Compare’s mission has evolved while remaining steadfast in its commitment to providing reliable and comprehensive comparisons. The company has cultivated a vast network of trusted partners, ensuring users can access a wide range of reputable options. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (equivalent to the SEC in the US), Go.Compare offers users peace of mind in their decision-making process.

The rebrand signifies a strategic step forward for Go.Compare, solidifying its reputation as a dependable ally for consumers while injecting a burst of new life and character into the brand.

Go.Compare’s standout feature is its accessibility. The service is free for users, a testament to the company’s dedication to empowering consumers with transparent information.

Unlike others, Go.Compare doesn’t just list options; it serves up choices that are genuinely beneficial for users, placing their interests at the forefront,” says Max Ottignon, co-founder of Ragged Edge. “So we amplified that difference, positioning Go.Compare as the Champions of Choice.”

With an impressive 97% awareness rate, the recent rebranding initiative aims to capitalize on the website’s recognition and attract even more users. At the core of Ragged Edge’s rebrand is a genuine point of differentiation: Go.Compare is the sole comparison site accredited by BIBA (British Insurance Brokers’ Association), emphasizing trustworthiness in every recommendation.

“Ragged Edge worked closely with every part of our business to ensure they understood exactly what our aspirations were and how we wanted to evolve in the future,” says Paul Rogers, Marketing Director at Go.Compare. “Insurance can be heavy going – a grudge purchase. Ragged Edge has made it fun and rewarding. The rebrand has helped us to evolve visually and strategically and given us an even stronger sense of purpose, authority, and momentum as we continue to provide transparency and support for customers across a broad range of complex products.”

Central to the rebrand is the iconic figure of Gio Compario, Go.Compare’s beloved mascot. Gio, portrayed with exaggerated features in charming cartoon form, serves as the brand’s “choice champion,” advocating for users across every aspect of the Go.Compare experience.

In collaboration with artist Rami Niemi, the rebrand introduces an illustrative style that breathes life into the brand’s insurance products, departing from conventional stock imagery to offer a fresh, engaging visual narrative.

Complementing the visual overhaul is a new verbal identity – “the voice of choice” – characterized by relatable wit that resonates with customers. A custom-designed typeface adds warmth and character, reinforcing the brand’s distinctive personality.

The rebrand, designed to be instantly recognizable and scalable, ensures maximum visibility and engagement across various platforms. Ragged Edge’s collaboration with Go.Compare extends to the brand’s high-profile sponsorship of the Wales rugby union team, further solidifying its presence in the public eye.

Extreme Reach Unveils Forward-Thinking Rebrand by Athletics

Extreme Reach has long been a cornerstone of the entertainment industry, offering essential services in asset management and payroll assistance for advertisers. However, its role has transcended traditional functions. Each day, Extreme Reach mines its vast reservoir of industry data to uncover valuable insights, shaping the trajectory of entertainment. Their recent rebranding initiative signals a significant shift in focus, positioning Extreme Reach as a platform and a forward-thinking technology partner poised to transform the industry with insightful data-driven solutions.

The rebranding of Extreme Reach to XR signifies more than a name change; it represents a bold reach into the future. XR partnered with brand studio Athletics to create an identity embodying purposeful momentum and enlightened performance driven by insight. The new identity reflects a modernist aesthetic infused with imagination, drawing inspiration from diverse sources, including fashion, skincare, film culture, and research consultancies.

XR’s distinctive logomark, centered around the letter “X,” is the nucleus of the rebrand. The mark symbolizes versatility and intelligence. It breathes through subtle animations, adding a dynamic element that mirrors XR’s forward-thinking ethos. Including a transitional asset incorporating the entire Extreme Reach wordmark ensures continuity during the brand transition.

The approach to color is highly differentiated, evoking warmth and boldness. With its analog, tactile feel, the color palette instantly distinguishes XR. In photography, the accentuated blur captures the essence of motion and dynamism, reinforcing XR’s commitment to progress and forward momentum.

The expanded visual system utilizes dynamic, generative patterns composed of language and letterforms to create a variety of motifs and textures. XR has developed a custom tool that generates on-brand patterns with minimal input to ensure consistency and scalability, empowering its team to scale the brand efficiently.

The supergraphic, featuring enlarged letterforms from the logomark’s “X,” is a versatile framing device. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the supergraphic plays a crucial role in building equity and recognition for XR’s newly abbreviated brand name, reinforcing its identity across various touchpoints.

Video, UI, and animation are integral to XR’s storytelling strategy, illustrating the entire production process from ideation to outcome. Graphic elements overlaid on video provide insightful annotation, highlighting XR’s understanding of the industry and its role in facilitating seamless implementation.

XR’s rebrand marks a significant milestone in its journey. With its forward-thinking identity and cutting-edge technology, XR is poised to continue shaping the future of entertainment, driving productions forward with insights and creativity. 

Another groovy project done by Athletics was their recent rebranding of the Seattle Sounders.

From Hummingbirds to Hard Agave: Crafting Thorntail’s Refreshing Brand Identity

Grabbing consumers’ attention on crowded shelves requires a truly distinctive visual identity. Especially in the beverage market flooded with seltzers, canned cocktails, and ciders. Thorntail, a new player in this competitive arena, turned to the creative minds at People People to develop a brand that would not only stand out but resonate deeply with consumers.

The west-coast-based brand strategy and interactive studio People People is committed to helping companies across the Northwest and beyond discover and tell their stories — and have been doing so for over 20 years.

The brief from Thorntail was clear: create a visual identity as light, energetic, and uplifting as the beverage itself. People People’s solution? An abstract illustration of a thorntail hummingbird, complemented by a script typeface and tones of teal influenced by the Blue Weber agave plant.

Thorntail defies categorization—it’s not quite a seltzer or tequila, but something entirely new. This presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Rather than following the usual tropes of the market, People People sought to break away from the norm and communicate the product’s uniqueness.

The packaging needed to feel fresh, vibrant, and invigorating, mirroring the attributes of the beverage. Inspired by the Blue Weber agave plant, the brand’s light and dark teal blues evoke a brightness that reflects Thorntail’s refreshing taste. Maintaining color consistency across all packaging was a strategic move to bolster brand recognition, a departure from the common practice of changing backgrounds per flavor.

Drawing inspiration from Thorntail’s namesake—the thorntail hummingbird—People People created an abstract illustration of the bird, symbolizing upward flight for an uplifting feel. A script typeface inspired by the hummingbird’s graceful movements adds a touch of elegance to the brand’s visual identity.

‘Hard Agave’ or ‘Fermented Hard Agave’ is prominently displayed alongside the logo and product name to intrigue consumers. With limited packaging space for detailed information, Thorntail’s website serves as a hub for in-depth education, featuring a playful infographic detailing the production journey of hard agave from farm to can.

People People’s creative approach ensures that Thorntail Hard Agave stands out on the shelves and resonates with consumers seeking a unique and refreshing experience. In a market saturated with choices, Thorntail’s brand identity soars above the rest as a beacon of originality.

Do Right By Nature: Unpacking Wolff Olins’ New Brand for NYBG

From a local gem to a global force, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) unveiled its first significant brand update in over a decade. This refresh encompasses a refined brand strategy marking a new era for NYBG — with the focus on strengthening ties with the local community while extending environmental efforts globally. NYBG partnered with Wolff Olins to evolve its visual identity to reflect this vision while respecting its long history.

The central idea behind the updated brand is encapsulated in the phrase “Do right by nature,” highlighting NYBG’s commitment to studying, protecting, learning from, and enjoying nature. It serves as a call to action and recognizes NYBG’s leading role in environmental stewardship.

The new brand voice mirrors the tone and spirit of New York and the Bronx, embodying optimism, empathy, and purpose. It aims to convey NYBG’s enthusiasm for the natural world, promote inclusivity, and demonstrate expertise.

A redesigned logo emphasizes the NYBG abbreviation in a bolder, more contemporary style, blending the essence of New York City with the Garden’s natural beauty. The typography, featured in our 2024 Typography Report, draws inspiration from hand-drawn natural forms, symbolizing confidence and impact.

Curious about the strategy behind the project, I spoke with Jane Boynton, senior creative director, and Ana Camargo, lead strategist of Wolff Olins. NYBG’s CMO, Michael Crowley, also weighed in. Our conversation is below (edited for length and clarity).

With a vision of deepening community connections while expanding environmental action, what specific elements of the brand refresh aim to strengthen local ties while also addressing global environmental concerns?

AC: The former identity, while elegant, had some cues of a “white box gallery” — where maybe not everyone feels welcome, and not everyone feels seen—places where you usually can’t touch the art. The Garden is such a sensory experience. So we wanted to make sure that in the evolution of the brand, we created a platform in which many different audiences could feel welcome, connected, and seen in the brand. Addressing those issues locally helps us tackle them from a global perspective.

We also wanted to reclaim the fact that this is a New York cultural institution and own that with pride. So, as we thought about the tone of voice being more approachable and empathetic, we also wanted it to be deliberate. We wanted it to be a straight shooter, like New Yorkers are, and residents of the Bronx.

We want NYBG to feel like everyone can own it, from the neighbors to the trustees, the board of directors, and the investors. We created the brand to flex according to all those audiences, from the neighbors to the people who visit the Garden physically, the people who visit online, the people who do research connected to the Garden, and the trustees.

The brand refresh includes a new logo that unites the spirit of New York City with the natural beauty of the Garden. How does the new logo, with its references to natural forms, reflect the personality and impact of NYBG?

JB: The old logo already stood for the ongoing impact on preservation the brand was actively doing and its participation within the local community. So we didn’t want to throw those associations away. We’d like to think that we took the previous logo and amplified it.

Our big, beautiful idea for the New York Botanical Garden is this concept of doing right by nature. Unpacking that idea, the ‘do right’ refers to the active state of the organization, the call to action, the study of nature, the protection of it, the enjoyment of it, and the learning from it. That ‘do right’ is expressed through the boldness of the letter forms. They evoke a sense of confidence that speaks to the organization’s impact and leadership. 

The boldness also speaks to nature. Think about when nature is at its best, and it’s thriving, it’s lush, and it’s rich, and it’s full of form. It’s not skinny. That boldness speaks to where we want nature to be in that thriving state. That boldness is also a nod to the spirit and attitude of New York and the Bronx. We are New Yorkers, and our boldness and confidence in that sense of being direct is part of what identifies us.

Bringing all of these things together, we’re hoping the new logo unites that iconic spirit of New York with the natural beauty of the Garden, paired with the active nature of the people behind the organization fighting against climate change and biodiversity loss.

AC: What I also love, of all the things that Jane has already mentioned, is the ‘doing’ – the action – and the ‘by nature’, which has this beautiful idea of side by side with nature. It’s not behind nature. It’s not in front of nature. It’s not that nature is leading, and we need to follow. We wanted to convey a symbiotic relationship. Because I think part of why we’ve gotten into this environmental mess is because humans have forgotten that we are nature.

Doing right’ is everything the Garden does: taking that perspective of the plants and doing right by them, speaking for them, researching them, and bringing their wisdom and intelligence to life.

The photography is from nature’s perspective, ranging from intimate to immersive shots. How does this POV contribute to telling the story of NYBG, and how does it create a more engaging and immersive experience for visitors?

JB: This element in the toolkit was already working hard for the client. The Garden really invests in photography. They have a photographer on staff and an incredible library of stunning images.

So, our task was more about how we can better align the photography moving forward with this idea of ‘do right by nature.’ Photography offers the opportunity to amplify that wonder in nature and its ability to teach, guide, and inspire us

For the style of the photography, we drew on a diverse set of different angles and perspectives, which allowed us to capture more surprising and unexpected views of all the plants, people, and the place. And more specifically, it’s from nature’s angle or perspective. What would nature’s perspective be if we’re embodying ‘do right by nature’? How would a bird see the Garden? We put nature behind the lends to try to capture the spirit and vitality of this wonderful place and how being here can shift all of our perspectives.

AC: This is a really important point. It’s also part of the evolution we considered because if we’re thinking about that shift, to remember that we’re all part of nature, photography that focuses on the plants and the fungi, it’s easy to forget that we’re part of the same system. As Jane said, that was a vital element to bring the people back in to make all those audiences feel seen and part of that environment.

How do you see the updated brand identity actively contributing to and supporting ecological initiatives? How can a strong brand presence influence public perception and participation in sustainability efforts?

AC: Our client was already doing so many amazing things. Our job was to take those actions, enhance them, and amplify them. As we expand the brand to be more empathetic, welcoming, deliberate in how it shows up, proud, and more New York and the Bronx, that platform can strengthen the brand’s presence and put more weight behind it.

Then, NYBG can use that weight behind its sustainability initiatives. We wanted to make sure that more people care about the environment and engage in sustainability initiatives as they’re drawn into the new brand.

Sometimes, when you see brands or NGOs showing up, the discourse focuses on the things that you need to lose for the planet to gain or for the planet to thrive. We wanted to make sure that NYBG communicates in such a way that doesn’t revolve around what any of us has to give up for the planet to continue functioning. It’s about what we can all gain in a more sustainable life, in a more conscious way of being on this planet. We wanted to bring more folks into that conversation through beauty, abundance, and through that lens of what is there for all of us to gain.

What was the most interesting thing you experienced working through this rebrand with the New York Botanical Garden while developing this project?

JB: I represent a lot of the general public in the area in that I didn’t realize there was all this incredible research and rigor behind the organization. I only saw NYBG as a place, as an experience to visit the train or the orchid show. I didn’t realize that behind all of that are these incredible climate and science research efforts. And it’s very inspiring. It’s what makes NYBG unique and different. And to Ana’s point, it is the reason to get people to care. And so that was a big, eye-opening moment when I understood the full breadth of this organization.

AC: So it’s not just a visual transformation by any means. It’s a way to signal to the world all of these amazing things NYBG has been thinking about and putting into practice as an organization and will continue to accelerate over the next few years.

How does the ‘Do right by nature’ idea translate into practical initiatives or programs within the NYBG’s mission and activities?

MC: ‘Do right by nature’ reflects NYBG’s longstanding commitment to plants, fungi, and the natural world. Since our founding in 1891, our mission and activities have centered around three pillars — science, horticulture, and education — that bring plants and people together. We’re helping nature to thrive so that humanity can thrive.

Branching Out, our strategic plan for 2024-2030 includes longstanding NYBG programs and new initiatives to help us achieve five goals, all of which serve people, plants, and the planet. Bronx-centric programs serve our local community through projects such as Bronx Green-Up, which supports hundreds of community gardens, urban farms, and school gardens across the borough, and Bronx Neighbors, which provides free access to our grounds for residents. As a cultural destination in NYC, we help people to find peace and well-being in our natural oasis. Educational programs bring children close to nature from a young age to incubate the environmentalists of tomorrow. And our scientific research programs are re-centered through a lens of environmental action, focusing our diverse efforts around goals addressing the dual climate and biodiversity crisis.

What initiatives is NYBG undertaking to more fully engage with climate and biodiversity crises? How does the new brand inspire public engagement and action towards a sustainable and biodiverse future?

MC: New initiatives include the program for Urban Conservation Strategy, a research and engagement platform that will engage with local and international non-profit and research partners to advance urban resilience and assist decision-makers across New York City— and in cities around the world. The Bronx River Watershed Health & Resilience Program will be a collaboration between our scientists, horticulturists, and local partners to develop local outreach and plant-based strategies to improve our local ecosystem. We will prioritize high-impact research collaborations across various areas where our researchers have expertise, including nature conservation, restoration, and sustainable agriculture. We are committed to pursuing botanical and fungal research with applications that will serve the planet. The new brand foregrounds NYBG Science with its own style treatment, which draws attention to the incredible research conducted by our scientists. Overall, our new positioning as “plant people” creates a more cohesive identity for our entire staff and programs, uniting science, horticulture, and education experts to apply all of our resources to the broader mission of doing right by nature.

The new brand identity is described as an active, bold, and welcoming presence that connects and inspires. How does the brand aim to foster a sense of connection to nature and the NYBG mission among diverse audiences, including current and future generations?

MC: Every aspect of the new brand identity—from the logo to the color palette to the brand voice—was designed to celebrate science and nature and to create a more welcoming and vibrant experience for our guests. The refreshed logo takes inspiration from iconic New York City designers and institutions, but you’ll also find nods to nature hidden within. The logo and our new custom typeface, NY Botanical Gothic, are full of organic shapes and draw inspiration from posters from the environmental movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. We also created a special logo treatment to represent NYBG Science, signifying our scientists’ microscopic view of the plant world.

The colors we use in our new branding are inspired by nature and named after various plants and fungi. Our vibrant color palette is more welcoming and, in combination with the bold typeface, draws visitors in to learn more. It’s a reflection of the biodiversity found on our grounds and represents our diverse city and the borough we call home. After all, the Bronx is NYC’s greenest borough! Our brand reflects the Garden’s 133-year history while looking ahead to a bright and botanical future. NYBG is so many things for so many people – a place of respite in a concrete jungle, a place for cutting-edge scientific research, a place to experience art and culture – and our new brand embraces each of these roles, not just for today, but for the generations of purposeful plant people that follow.

The recently released 2024 PRINT Typography report speaks to an intense balancing act between legacy and future impact of typefaces. This renewed identity for NYBG is evidence of this consideration, with a custom wordmark that is a confident, bold, and impactful embodiment of the organization’s call to action.

Seeing is Unseeing: Bianca Bosker’s Immersive Year in the Art World in ‘Get The Picture”

Art is a resonant source in a near-constant orbit around my life and work, so I was immediately drawn to Bianca Bosker’s new book. Get The Picture titillates as a peek inside the closed society of fine art, as the author infiltrates art dimensions that mere mortals dare not enter. The hallowed art halls are exclusive by design, and Bosker confirms it.

You aren’t alone if you’ve ever responded with ‘huh?’ to someone speaking International Art English at you, or felt icky about the unspoken social capital at work at a gallery opening, or found yourself struggling to come up with the correct answer to ‘But, what do you see?’ when standing in front of a painting or sculpture.

The promise to confirm all my sneaking suspicions propelled me into the story. Many moments provide red meat for my inner judge, not least of which was Bosker’s hoop-jumping first assignment as a Brooklyn gallery assistant and her expectations around her first Art Basel Miami. But alongside this look at the art glitterati under a microscope is a softer, more personal story about a woman yearning to understand why art is so important. Why did Bosker’s grandmother teach art in a displaced persons camp in Austria after World War II? Why do world cultures honor art as essential as air, food, and shelter? Why do artists toil away in their studios for years in obscurity with little financial reward? When artists do ‘make’ it, why do they put up with the incredible heaps of bullshit from the art-capital machine?

This why is the essence of Bosker’s research in Get The Picture. I sat down with her to discuss the book, and we veered into art, writing, and life. Our interview is condensed for length and clarity.

Reading Get The Picture, I was struck by how untouchable and unknowable the art world is, and I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the publishing industry. As a writer, did your immersion change how you view your place in your industry and the process that writers go through? 

So much about the world is magnified by the art world: the way we judge quality, the extreme wealth disparities, and the power of gatekeepers.

I went into this process to develop me eye, to learn to see the world the way hyper-obsessed art fiends look at it. I wanted an answer to how a work of art goes from being the germ of an idea in someone’s studio to a masterpiece that we ooh and ahh over in a museum? I learn by doing, and so my way of learning was to throw myself in, to insert myself into the nerve center of the art world. It’s very different to listen to someone describe how they sell an artwork from schmoozing with billionaires for a week at an art fair and selling a $9000 photograph in the backseat of an Uber while people are doing cocaine around you.

Observing all the power plays behind the scenes, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own industry.

I learned that all the decisions that shape an artwork are all the decisions that shape us: what we define as art, who can make art, and why should we bother to engage with it? Throughout this process, my relationship with art changed but my relationship with everything else changed as well. 

I hope that Get The Picture empowers people to develop their eye and trust themselves. And if we do that, then that has implications far beyond the art world. My hope is that people reading this book, whether they are in finance, or publishing, or simply developing a new recipe, is that it will spark them to think more expansively, but also to think more for themselves.

Bianca Bosker at Art Basel Miami; Below: Perspectives of Art Basel Miami.

You mentioned it just now: the question of, well, “What is art?” Someone has to define it, right? 

The intimidation we feel is not an accident. I got an intimate look at how the art world wields strategic snobbery to build mystique and keep people out. Based on what the art world advertises about itself, I expected to find this group of open-minded iconoclasts who wanted to share the magic of art with as many people as possible. But I encountered the clubby elitism that I associate with stodgy country clubs. Case in point: I worked for someone who encouraged me to get a makeover, rethink how I spoke and dressed, and rethink my “overly enthusiastic” personality. He wanted me to address what he saw as my fatal uncoolness. But you can also see this in how galleries hide themselves on the second floor of nondescript buildings. The way that art aficionados use this unnecessarily complex, made-up language of art speak. The way that gallery professionals judge you even more than you judge the work. All of this contributes to this deliberate gatekeeping.

Through tracing the history of the museum, I was surprised that these seemingly “public” institutions have historically had mixed feelings about letting in the general public. Deliberately or accidentally, the art world erects these barriers to preserve power in the hands of gatekeepers, to preserve the mystique, and to preserve it as the playground of an anointed few. Getting to see all of this helped me feel validated. The art world is doing anything but rolling out the welcome mat for the “Schmoletariat.”*

[*Joe Schmoes, aka Schmoes, is the term for the rest of us. Bosker first learned this term from the same gallerist who had suggested a makeover.]

We’ve been told for the last 100 years that everything that matters about a work of art is THE IDEA. This outsized importance on context has effectively put up a barrier to anyone engaging with works of art. Gallerists I met offered data points, often “a cloud of names,” such as where an artist went to school, the social capital of the artist, who their friends are, and even who the artist has slept with.

Being a museum guard at the Guggenheim made me rethink my relationship with art history and museums. I’d always thought of them as these unimpeachable custodians of the best culture had to offer, and working in galleries and museums shook my faith in that idea. You come to understand that that piece over there is only in the show because one person or collector forced it to go in. Or that a curator took a rich person by the elbow through an art fair and then said collector bought two copies of a piece and sent one to the museum collection. What we see in these hallowed halls of culture is not necessarily the “best” but the result of a series of decisions by flawed individuals who are all like us – read subjective. 

Ultimately, when you see what’s at play, it loses a little bit of its power. Everything you need to have a meaningful relationship with art is right in front of you.

My hope is that people reading this book, whether they are in finance, or publishing, or simply developing a new recipe, is that it will spark them to think more expansively, but also to think more for themselves.

Bianca Bosker

Image of The Guggenheim Museum, courtesy of Bianca Bosker.

How did this experience change the way you engage with art?

As I worked with Julie Curtiss in her studio, I realized that an idea is not a painting. Making art is practically athletic. It is a bloody business; you must wrestle with the laws of gravity. Following an artist’s decisions offers us a path into the piece. 

One artist encouraged me to notice five things about an artwork. They don’t need to be big. It could be as simple as “I wish I could lick that green” or “that corner of the canvas seems unfinished.” This process also lends itself to slowing down and ignoring the wall text. 

Art is a practice for appreciating life, but art is also a practice for creating a life worth appreciating. Art teaches me to open myself up to the beauty and surprise of everyday life.

We can have that experience of art where our mind jumps the curb.

Bianca Bosker

I loved your relationship with Julie (Curtiss). You describe her expansive mindset; her apartment full of her artwork, other artists’ work, and stuff she’s found along the side of the road and elevated as ‘sculpture.’ Can you talk about what you got from working with Julie in her studio?

Julie changed my life. One thing I appreciated about her was that she taught me how to look at the world with an art mindset. When you do that, the world opens itself up to you. 

I’d always thought of art as a luxury. Yet artists behave as if art is something absolutely essential. But, I was surprised to find that scientists were right there with them, calling it a fundamental part of our humanity. As one biologist said, “as necessary as food or sex.” One scientific idea that intrigued me was that “art can help us fight the reducing tendencies of our minds.” Vision is a hallucination. Our eyes are different, and the data we take in is paltry. Our brains proactively compress, filter, and dismiss the data before we get the whole picture. Art helps us lift our filters of expectation, allowing us to take in the full nuance and chaos of the world around us.

Lifting this filter, like Julie, exposes us to a great nuance of experience, but we can also see art where we never did before. And we can have that experience of art where our mind jumps the curb. 

Let’s spend less time looking at so-called masterpieces and more time looking at underappreciated art that surprises us. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fix all the flaws in the machine, but we can begin to build a better art world by broadening our horizons about what we choose to go and look at.

Julie taught me that art can emerge when we slow down, when we question, when we lift our filter of expectation, and when we look at something and wonder about it.

Beauty is a moment that nudges us to wonder about the world and our place in it.

Bianca Bosker

The Guggenheim Museum, Image courtesy Bianca Bosker

How did your relationship with color change? It blew me away when you talked about your experience at the Visual Science of Art Conference in Belgium. 

So much of what we understand of vision science was discovered by artists before scientists discovered it. These historical divisions are more flexible than we currently think.

Vision has always been celebrated as the most trustworthy of the senses. We’re told that good data comes from our eyes. I was shocked to learn that vision is a hallucination. I didn’t realize how slippery color is—it’s befuddling but also a gift. I became enchanted with color and by this concept of color constancy. Color is a great place to feel your filter of expectation at work. 

My love affair with color has only intensified. I’ve started wearing more color. Color spotting has become a hobby. The other day, I was on the subway, and rather than pull out my phone, I watched the ticklish orange of the seats, and it was a delight. It was like eating a delicious snack. I’d never thought of color having that hedonistic dimension, but it does. My two-year-old son is currently learning colors, and I think I’m confusing him. I can’t unsee the variety in colors that might live in the middle. While he sees blue, I see more green. But I’m not going to correct him. When it comes to color constancy, who actually knows what color it is? This knowledge has given me some humility.

So, what did you learn from AllFIRE (the performance artist who sat on your face)? The thought of it scandalized me. At the same time, if art is supposed to get us slightly off-balance and spark questions about our thinking, our biases, and our outmoded ways of thought, then, by that token, AllFIRE is art on steroids. I appreciated the internal conversation you invited readers to have with themselves.

Art doesn’t have to be a physical object. It can be a behavior. Art is a handshake between the viewer and the creator. 

The night in question, I did not leave my house that evening expecting to be sat on by a nearly naked stranger. Weirdly, my mind went to my fictional future political career, and I felt nervous and concerned. To my surprise, I was very much at peace once she was on my face. Afterward, I felt intensely conflicted and intrigued. As I engaged deeper with her work, it took me to an interesting place. Her work hits at the definition of art. It taught me to look for art in places I didn’t expect to see it and helped me see it in places I didn’t anticipate. Everyone can have an opinion about AllFIRE’s work (not just in the art world). It’s accessible. Her work caused me to think so deeply in ways that many abstract sculptures or more obvious art forms did not. Her work is not uncontroversial. It’s not easy. And it’s not for everyone. But, I hope that people go through this journey with me from thinking it’s absurd and, by the end, happy that she helped you consider these questions. That’s a gift that can knock our brains off their well-worn pathways and let the universe jostle our souls.

At the beginning of the book, you fondly mention your grandmother’s watercolor of carrots. Do you have a different relationship with her carrots after going through this experience?

For me, it brings up our relationship with beauty. Beauty has become a dirty word—in the art world, in elite society. There’s an idea that beauty is corrupted, frivolous, and a waste of time. That it’s old-fashioned. I came to feel differently about beauty. It’s essential. It’s not something that can be found in a color, a shape, or morality. Beauty is a moment that nudges us to wonder about the world and our place in it. Beauty is something that pulls us close and pulls us deeper into life. 

With that, there’s a value in challenging our idea of beauty. One of art’s gifts is the ability to stretch our ability to see beauty in places we never thought to look. 

Regarding my grandmother, I wonder how she’d answer these questions for herself if she were alive. The way she turned to art when the world was turning itself inside out speaks to the primacy of art in our lives.

A Window of Opportunity: The Lack of Cultural Nuance in Air India’s Rebrand

In the landscape of global aviation, where airlines strive for a distinctive brand that echoes both relevance and familiarity, the recent rebranding of Air India has emerged as a poignant chapter. Last year the airline announced a massive rebrand and new identity rollout. The iconic Maharaja mascot, once synonymous with the airline’s face, now stands at a crossroads.

While initially exciting, the Air India facelift took an unexpected turn by opting to sideline historical nuances in favor of positioning the airline within the ‘global market’. The rebrand seems to turn away from what could have been a very significant change. Travel is a market that feels akin to quicksand, undergoing constant change, where preferences oscillate between consumers and corporations, and budgets redefine scopes overnight. Designers face the intricate task of delicately balancing brand legacy with the desire for a new and innovative approach. The Air India rebrand prompts us to explore not only the transformation of a logo and wordmark but also the deeper implications of cultural distinction being turned into consumable morsels for the West in the name of progress. 


Founded by JRD Tata, an industrialist, entrepreneur, and India’s first commercial pilot license-holder, Air India (originally known as Tata Airlines) established itself as an independent company in the country’s aviation sector, launching its first aircraft in 1933.If you came of age in India during the early ’90s, the aviation scene was characterized by simplicity, with only a handful of airlines dominating the skies. Among them stood the Maharaja mascot of Air India, first conceived in 1946 by Bobby Kooka, Air India’s commercial director, and illustrated by Umesh Rao, an artist at J. Walter Thompson. Characterized by a potbelly, distinctive oversized curled mustache, sharp nose, striped turban, and a calm expression, he stood as a symbol of the nation’s hospitality etched into every Indian’s memory forever. The identity before the rebrand showcased the Flying Swan silhouette and the Konark wheel within, complemented by a deep red wordmark and Devanagari script. It marked Air India’s distinctive presence in the aviation sector and encapsulated an era when air travel was a novel and privileged experience—a time when aviation in India was synonymous with wonder and wealth.

Initially establishing itself as an independent entity, Air India bloomed in India’s aviation sector before being acquired by the Government of India in 1948. After operating under government ownership for roughly 70 years, Air India was reacquired by the Tata Group in 2022. In December 2023, Tata announced the rollout of a new global brand identity for Air India, led by the London, UK, office of Futurebrand in collaboration with its Mumbai counterpart. The rebrand also seems like a valid step to distance itself from the negative pushback accumulated during decades of government management. But, the agency charged with redesigning one of the oldest airlines in India was left with a research task that must have been both daunting and exhaustive.

Air India’s historic fleet of iconic Boeing 747s, nicknamed “Your Palace In The Sky,” featured interiors curated by Tata himself. The fleet epitomized luxury travel’s golden age, with the renowned Maharaja Lounges and a first-class cabin adorned with Indian motifs, vibrant bandhani print uniforms, Gupta period art, murals from the Ajanta caves, and Kashmiri textile patterns. The white facade and red ‘jharokha’ windows became a signature. Air India was known for amalgamating heritage and meticulous design.

While the history of the aircraft featured so many elements to draw inspiration from, the new identity seems to limit itself. The updated logo and livery feature a revised color palette, and typeface and the airline’s mascot now assumes a predominantly subdued role confined to the premium classes. As a component of the rebranding effort, the airline has launched a fresh website and app, along with initiatives such as round-the-clock customer service, full lounge access for premium passengers, and a revamped loyalty program.

The logo underwent a major overhaul, replacing the previous red swan and Konark Chakra with a gold window frame symbolizing a ‘Window of Possibilities.’ The wordmark appears impressive along the entire length of the fuselage. While the custom type family designed in collaboration with Fabio Haag Type, Air India Sans, is a crisp addition to the identity. The new visual system features deep red, aubergine, and gold hues, along with a chakra-inspired pattern and the main element i.e., ‘The Vista’ graphics.

Inspired by the 747’s jharokha window, the Vista graphics use the window as a framing device. Though neatly executed as an animation, the gradients and chakra patterns seem force-fed into the system. The sarees, designed by celebrity designer Manish Malhotra, are sharp and don’t dilute the essence or authenticity of the uniform but rather transform it.

While the new identity aims to position Air India as a globally recognized brand, some critics argue that it might have diluted its distinct cultural elements. Introducing a more minimalist logo, featuring a gold window frame, deviated from traditional symbols like the red swan and Konark Chakra, potentially disconnecting from the airline’s rich heritage. The shift in the mascot’s role, with the Maharaja appearing predominantly in premium classes, signaled a departure from its historical international prominence. 

The public reaction to the Air India rebranding in India has been a mixed bag. While some individuals appreciate the airline’s efforts to change its image, others have criticized the changes for potentially disregarding cultural nuances. Positive feedback emphasizes the modern and vibrant aesthetic, considering it a step towards aligning with global standards. However, there are concerns about the potential loss of the airline’s distinctive identity and whether the rebranding adequately honors its rich history.

When comparing Air India’s rebranding with other global airlines, it becomes evident that the pursuit of global standards often leads to a certain level of homogenization in identity. In an interesting development, the new branding of Air India bears a resemblance to another airline, Vistara, also owned by Tata. This similarity is not coincidental, as Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines have agreed to consolidate Air India and Vistara by March 2024. This consolidation highlights the challenge of maintaining distinct brand identities while aligning with global standards in an industry marked by increasing convergence.

In an article titled ‘Are rebrands starting to look the same?’ writer Elizabeth Goodspeed phrased it right “While designers might debate the intricacies of truly unique branding, beneath these immediate concerns, there’s an underlying truth: what’s seen as popular often holds a key to broader appeal and effectiveness.” The tension between global aspirations and cultural preservation is a challenge faced by many companies seeking international recognition. Air India’s rebranding reflects a broader trend where the quest for global standards (aka recognition from the West) poses challenges in maintaining cultural nuances. Air India’s rebrand underscores the delicate balance required to navigate growth strategies while preserving the unique cultural fabric that defines its identity.

Roshita Thomas is a writer, designer, and business development manager. She previously worked with Porto Rocha as the Operations and New Business Associate and as the Editorial Assistant for Oculus Magazine with the American Institute of Architects. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Design Research Writing and Criticism from SVA shortly after which she worked with Buck alongside the resourcing team.

Banner image licensed from Unsplash+

‘Long-er Bao’: Singapore’s The Secret Little Agency Celebrates the Year of the Dragon

The Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, is set to dawn on February 10, and to commemorate the occasion, The Secret Little Agency has crafted something unique and exclusive – the ‘Long Bao.’ This tongue-in-cheek take on the traditional red packet, or 紅包 (hóng bāo in Mandarin), pays homage to a centuries-old Chinese New Year tradition that dates back to the Han Dynasty in 202 BC.2 BC.

Traditionally filled with money and given as tokens of good wishes, red packets are integral to Chinese New Year celebrations. The Year of the Dragon holds special significance, symbolizing success, honor, and dignity — believed to bring growth, progress, and abundance.

The Secret Little Agency created the Long Bao to celebrate this auspicious year. A play on words, the name is derived from the pronunciation of the Chinese character for dragon, which is ‘lóng’ or ‘loong.’

This dragon year, we decided to extend the red packet and make it long-er.

The Secret Little Agency

Nodding to a rich tradition, The Long Bao also serves up some humor and a contemporary aesthetic, making the symbol of good fortune a unique gift.

This limited edition creation captures the Chinese New Year’s essence and exemplifies The Secret Little Agency’s commitment to creativity and innovation. Founded in 2009, The Secret Little Agency remains the only creative agency in Singapore to be named both Independent and Creative Agency of the Year multiple times in the last decade.

With only 1000 pieces available in this exclusive run, the agency plans to distribute them to friends and partners in Singapore and worldwide. Intrigued? Request your own Long Bao with an email to The Secret Little Agency.