Crit* Inka Cement

Established in 2002 by Carlos Choy, Inka is a Peruvian brand of high quality limestone cement developed for general use and initially sold as an unpacked product directly to industry. Following a move into the retail sector with a pre-packed product in 2007, Inka recently engaged Brandlab to develop a new visual identity and packaging solution, choosing to replace character illustration with heavy industrial cues, a subtle Inca duality alongside contemporary communication which convey reliability, longevity and quality.

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The update, while not without its faults, is a significant improvement. The friendly and slightly odd brand personality of what could only be considered an antiquated and rather cheap looking stereotype has been appropriately supplanted by a more product focused and expressive combination of hard-wearing design cues and a layer of finer ‘technological’ detail.

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It avoids the stark utility and large unprinted space of the category, instead choosing to deliver a distinctive impact from a distance through the bold aesthetic of a thick, edge to edge, geometric, chevron-like pattern that shares similarities with tire tracks set in mud, the warning signs and markings associated with heavy industry and the stone steps of inca monuments. A smart union of industrial strength and an ancient longevity that reflects the origin of the company.

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The weight of the pattern is matched by the use of a bold, tightly-spaced, uppercase slab serif, complimented by tall, condensed and broader sans-serifs alongside light and heavy underlines. Legibility, authority, functionality and high rise structure. Set within unprinted regions which help to divide content in a fairly conventional way the combination of pattern and type balance strong initial impact and brand recognition from a distance and the necessary detail on closer inspection in a cohesive manner.

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The logo-type’s elementary letter-forms and stacked composition feels intentionally rudimentary and neatly leverages the longevity of the inca structures. It is not great but it is certainly identifiable, its solid red frame sitting over and achieving a bright contemporary tone over the economy of a black ink which in turns sits across the practical durability of an uncoated, unbleached substrate with the practical traction of a subtle surface texture.

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The reverse, a combination of single line weight iconography with rounded terminals, cross hatch detail that becomes denser, circles and a radial composition creating a sense of time that perhaps reflects to the setting of concrete. Alongside light line weights, annotations, numbers and fine dotted detail these introduce a contemporary infographic, scientific and formulated quality that adds a subtle high technological quality to what could be perceived a very basic product with little to differentiation between brands.

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It is visual very busy but distinctive, side stepping stark utility in favour of significant brand distinction. Its subtle nod to the longevity of inca structures gives conceptual depth to the more obvious industrial sensibilities. The communication on the reverse is perhaps a little adventurous for a plain talking industry, but you have to admire a change in approach and the themes of time and technology these add to the design.

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Richard Baird

Richard is a British freelance design consultant and writer who specialises in logos, branding and packaging. He has written for Brand New and Design Week, featured in Computer Arts magazine, Logology, Los Logos, Logolounge, The Big Book of Packaging and runs the blogs BP&O and Design Survival.

Twitter:@richbaird

Blog: BP&O

Portfolio:richardbaird.co.uk

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