Studio Oker’s identity for JIDU mirrors the high-tech nature of the AI-powered electric vehicle
JIDU is a joint electric vehicle venture between multinational car manufacturer Geely and leading AI company Baidu. The companies, headquartered in Hangzhou and Beijing respectively, have combined their two areas of expertise to create the ‘future of mobility.’ Thanks to its combination of cutting-edge engineering and state-of-the-art AI tech, JIDU features level four autonomy – the highest level integrated into a car – which includes accurate speech semantic recognition for human-vehicle communication.
Heading into the rapidly expanding EV market, JIDU needed an identity that would position the venture in a unique way whilst embodying the ambitions of the collaboration. This was the task of Studio Oker, a design practice found in Stavanger, Norway. Partner and Designer Baard Kolstad reveals that the process was slightly different than the usual branding project, owing to the highly secretive nature of the car’s design. “One of the biggest challenges was that the design of the car was highly secretive, so the process was quite unusual in the ideation phase,” he tells us. “When we had a potential direction for the symbol that we wanted to explore,” he continues, “we began by sending it to the JIDU brand team, they then 3D-printed the symbol and tested it on the actual car model.”
Throughout the team’s explorations, the core idea – a pixel – was omnipresent. This became the key element in the visual language, with the small square mirroring both the digital-first approach and symbolising data as a foundation for autonomy. “Combined with a simplified geometric ‘J,’ we felt it stood out in the category with its asymmetric composition and bold look,” Kolstad notes, describing the wordmark.
Along with the pixel, another recurring element is the beautiful metallic violet that accents the monochromatic palette. Reminiscent of luminous city lights and a future-facing aesthetic, the hue was incorporated to represent technological intelligence. The identity not only emphasises the importance of the technology, but also highlights the fact that a leading tech company is involved in the design of the car. This technical expression is further emphasised with a duo of custom typefaces.
The display typeface, designed by Prague-based foundry Displaay, inherits traits from the symbol and wordmark such as the extended proportions and ‘pixel.’ “It felt right with a wider wordmark to fit with the symbol we developed,” Kolstad explains. “From there we designed the bespoke typeface with Displaay, and after exploring many possible stylistic directions we ended up continuing with the extended approach.”
Balancing this typographic expression is a custom sans serif delivered by CoType Foundry. Based on Aeonik, they developed JIDU Sans to meet the project’s needs; to pair well with the display typeface whilst proving versatility across text use. “We had collaborated with Mark (Mark Bloom from CoType Foundry) on the wordmark,” the designer recalls, “so naturally there are some similarities with the approach to the construction of the letterforms.” Describing the customisation of the typeface, Kolstad adds that Bloom “developed a mono version of Aeonik for the identity that we felt was necessary to reinforce the highly technical aesthetic direction we were taking the identity in,” he concludes.