Chantoneasy: logo for a language learning start up
ABOUT THE PROJECT
When Tiff Chan asked if I would like to create a logo for Chantoneasy – her intuitive tonal method to learn Cantonese – I readily agreed.
I spent time understanding the nuances of her system, which is based on what every school child is familiar with – the universal musical notes do-re-mi-fa-so. Tiff has ingeniously mapped the 5-level tone scale onto the palm of a hand, enabling learners unfamiliar with tonal languages, to use their hands as ready reckoners to get the tones right while speaking. Though the tone symbols are derived from Putonghua pinyin, using the palm to map them is Tiff’s innovative and original contribution to the method.
Creating any identity is a collaborative process
Chantoneasy’s target audience is anyone – absolutely anyone – who wants to learn Cantonese, there are no barriers. Tiff has visualised her classes to be lively and informal and her dance/ theatre background helps her achieve that. Creating an identity is a collaborative process and half way through it, Tiff was very clear that she wanted to use ‘Ch’ as a visual shorthand for the identity. She reasoned, “I was drawing out tables comparing the same Cantonese phrase and how it would be written in Jyutping, Yale and Chantoneasy. I got tired of seeing and having to write out the name so often, so having ‘Ch!’ as an option made me feel a lot better.”
Though our interconnected global village allows us to access a wide range of visual information, I am often struck by the homogeneity with which people of different ethnicities respond to similar visuals.
Though I cannot read, write or speak Cantonese, the designer in me intuitively grasped what had to be prioritised for this logo: a friendly and non-intimidating look. It had to be rooted in a Chinese form, but not cloyingly so. We agreed on a warm, sunny yellow as the brand colour and a font that echoes Tiffs playful personality and her creative, fluid way of working.
Rolling out the Chantoneasy logo
The logo now appears on Chantoneasy’s business cards, their email template, social media posts and all printed materials. Tiff is going to be speaking at the TedX Lingnan University event in February, and it will be interesting to see the audience’s feedback, both to the content of her talk and to her teaching method. Here is a link to the event: http://tedxlingnanuniversity.com/
I was familiar with the pioneering work done by ShaoLan Hseuh for Chineasy and referred to it before starting to design the Chantoneasy identity. Chineasy has become the world’s most recognised brand in learning Chinese with over 550,000 followers across the internet. ShaoLan’s passion resulted in 5,475 backers on Kickstarter pledging £197,626 to help bring this project to life. The role of thoughtful graphic design is evident in Chineasy’s identity and interface. Mid-range tones complement the sharper signature blue of the identity, while attractive and memorable pictorial flashcards form the building blocks of the Chineasy method.
Like ShaoLun Hseuh, Tiff Chan has entrepreneurial vision, absolutely essential for a start-up of this kind. Besides Cantonese, this method can be used to teach other tonal languages like Putonghua, Thai and Vietnamese.
In an increasingly diverse world, the need to appreciate the finer points of different cultures is vital and what better way to start than with a new language? Though our interconnected global village allows us to access a wide range of visual information, but I am frequently struck by the homogeneity with which people of different ethnicities respond to similar visuals.