Hardcore gamers, look away now – or prepare yourselves for a questionable breakdown of some basic terminology. Unlike its misunderstood cousin nerf, a term in the gaming world that means to make something (e.g. a character or weapon) weaker, a buff refers to something that makes a character stronger. And just as a potion, strange floating bar or some burnt mac and cheese (for all you Sims 2 fans) powers up a character in a video game, the products at the Beijing-based convenience store brand Gogo have been cleverly packaged as power-ups for commuters in real life. Meat Studio, the design studio based between Beijing and Toronto, tells us about how it came up with the brilliant new buff-based identity.
“When you think of commuting to work, and picking up a quick bite at a fast food or convenience store location, you’re generally not engaged or excited,” explains Ronald Tau, creative director and founder of Meat Studio. “But these moments and brief supplements are integral to your day! So we wanted to make it as fun and energetic as possible.” Thinking about all the typical things associated with commuting, the studio managed to work another mundane activity into the brand narrative: looking at your phone. In the brief moments commuters might look up from Wordle or Instagram to grab food, Meat Studio continues the digital world visually with Gogo’s branding. “We thought alluding to gaming was particularly apt,” says Ronald, “fast food/convenience stores are like ‘item shops’ in games, or checkpoints between levels, they let you recalibrate yourself momentarily and keep you going.”
The buffs that appear throughout the Gogo brand refer to real-world items Gogo offers – which are “elevated beyond everyday fast-food offerings,” adds Ronald – such as rice balls with whole piece mala crayfish, hearty tom yum soup and gluten-free salads. To emphasise a Super Nintendo 16-bit era aesthetic, Meat Studio used a grid of 8x8 pixels for brand icons, ensuring that the illustrations were legible “but looked almost basic and raw at the same time”. Ronald continues: “There’s a sense of nostalgia and humour to the unrealistically chunky icons.”
This look has been extended typographically. The Gogo wordmark incorporates a “cut corner”, playfully highlighting the limitations of pixelated text but also serving as a “little jerk of a design gesture that signals the nerves and pace of a contemporary ultra-speed city”. Continuing this digital-native aesthetic, the colour scheme aims to maximise the RGB impact while retaining a sense of warmth and approachability.
The new Gogo brand will premier to a large audience; “There are hundreds of thousands of commuters every day at the Qingnianlu station (where the first Gogo is located), the audience is extremely broad and diverse,” says Ronald. “Younger people who tend to spend less time preparing their meals are our primary audience, but we also have to attract other age groups, so we needed to have an identity that would focus on communicating joy.” For the stressed and tense commuter, Meat Studio hopes the new Gogo will offer a “cheerful subconscious high-five to people on the go”.
GalleryMeat Studio: Gogo (Copyright © Gogo, 2022)
Meat Studio: Gogo (Copyright © Gogo, 2022)