Christopher Nolan Logo Controversy, Dark Patterns in Trump Website and more

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The Tenet Logo Controversy

It is every designer’s worst fear – your work will look like something that already exists. That’s what happened to the logo of Christopher Nolan’s new movie, ‘Tenet.’ The trailer showed the film’s logo with an inverted ‘T’ at the end, mirroring the time inversion that is at the centre of the film’s plot.

The original Tenet logo

Tenet Components, a company in Washington that manufactures bikes, wrote an Instagram post claiming that the stylisation was a rip-off of their logo.

The Tenet Components logi

This is what owner Tyler Deschaine said:

We were granted the trademark for Tenet in the bicycle world on October 9th 2018. In trademark law that only protects us from word use within our industry. I don’t have any issue with them using the word ‘Tenet’. My issue is with the stylisation. I’ve spoken with my lawyers but have been advised not to pursue it

Tyler Deschaine, Founder, Tenet Components

We loved Christopher Nolan’s very classy reply to Deschaine:

Warners just showed me the logo for your company so I wanted to reach out directly and reassure you that our logo was arrived at without reference to your. I know this because I designed it myself, evolving it over the last six years, driven by a fascination with the symmetries of a word which is central to my story and its themes. I thought I had done something unique but clearly you were driven by the same creative impulse. I guess lightening can strike twice. I love our logo so I hope you won’t feel it is necessary but if you like, I can stop using it since you went public with your first.

Christopher Nolan
The modified Tenet logo

The new trailer for Tenet has a logo without the inverted T. We assume that Deschaine didn’t agree to Nolan’s request and despite there being no legal compulsion to do so, the film’s logo was changed.

The Dark Patterns in Trump’s Campaign Website

User experience designer Mary Formanek, is a TikTok influencer who breaks down politicians’ campaign websites for laypersons. She has created a series of videos on Trump’s campaign website. Here are some findings – her videos unfortunately cannot be viewed from India after the Tiktok ban.

  • The ‘donate’ checkboxes are pre-clicked for a user, so they automatically consent to donate $1,000 monthly
  • The donation box is above the total, which is a departure from normal UX practices, where the user chooses to submit the donation, after viewing the total. 
  • The website has a pop-up that you can’t easily click out of, so you are forced to go straight to the donation page

Formanek says the site is built to give you a ‘psychology overload’, from the colour palette to the countdown ticker. She also tried a screen reader, typically used by visually impaired users, and found several problems, including ambiguity about the exact amount the user was donating.

Can Independent Design Studios Survive Covid?

New Deal Design is an influential name in the independent design in the world – with work for Postmates, Fitbit, Comcast, Samsung, Verizon and even Google’s moonshot Project Ara (the modular phone whose axing sent geeks into misery).

Having weathered several storms, founder Amit Gadi says that 2020 was going to be a year that celebrated twenty successful years of NDD. Instead the pandemic hit.

As corporate clients felt the brunt of a slowing global economy, projects were cancelled or pushed out. The past two months have been better for NDD, with some COVID-19-related design projects in food, sanitation and remote work. Gadi has reduced the firm’s fees to bring these in, but he doesn’t expect these projects arising from the ‘pandemic afterglow’ to last.

The current situation highlights the foundational problem with indie agencies:

  • A revenue model that is project-to-project
  • More firms taking work in-house. Gadi cites HP’s example which decided to sever ties with 98 different design agencies a few years ago to move all the work in-house. He laments, “I cannot name 98 design firms to this day; I also can’t name anything exceptionally exciting that HP has produced recently.”
  • It is getting harder to compete with the big networks that offer multiple services, at lower fees

Add to that the stress of remote design, which is “the new reality.” NDD’s predicament is sure to resonate with independent design firms around the world.

Note: Here’s some great advice for independent design firms by Rahul Gonsalves, co-founder, Obvious

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