Moving Brands has been working closely with Madefire to launch a business that redefines the way stories are created, read and shared. Madefire, founded by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden has developed a digital publishing platform that reinvents visual storytelling, launching into a market long dominated by a handful of major players. Their browser-based Tool is intuitive, helping creators develop their own stories into Motion Books. The first of these Motion Books are available to experience within the immersive Madefire app for iPad and iPhone.
Madefire is for people who love creating and reading visual stories. Moving Brands began working with Madefire at its inception, together defining the Madefire purpose as, ‘A thrilling reading experience that’s shared. Creators first.’ For the first time creators will be the heroes. Madefire provides a platform for storytellers to shine, whether they are ‘old masters’ like Dave Gibbons who have penned graphic novels we’ve all experienced, or up-and-comers itching to express their skills with paint and pixels. This notion is what differentiates Madefire as an alternative to the near-anonymity of creators that the existing publishing models demand.
Our work captured trends in tablet use, and in the reading and publishing spaces, in order to fully understand the opportunity. The purpose of ‘creators first’ was underpinned by audience definition and user journeys. These helped us to map the layered Madefire user experience for people who are creating or reading. This analysis laid the foundations for the commercial model, ensuring the business’ scalability. We also defined the Madefire brand architecture and naming tightly in order to create a family of interlinked offerings.
Moving Brands worked with the Madefire team to ensure this purpose and the behaviours were at the heart of the strategy and business model, brand and identity and all the experiences they developed for the creator and reader communities.
Madefire was created as a truly moving world identity — with every element of the identity system specifically designed to appear more tactile and immersive when seen in the app’s native environment.
The core Madefire identity assets — including fonts, colour palette and textures — pay homage to the vernacular of traditional comic visual language. “We wanted to create a powerful symbol that would be at home within the world of graphic novels. There’s absolutely no room for flimsy complexity in this world. It needs to be full of conviction; spare and instantly recognizable,” explains Mat Heinl, Moving Brands Chief Creative Officer.
The logo, built out of four circles, reads as an ‘M’ and feels book-like in its form. It comes to life on screen through animation and sound design creating a sense of atmosphere and anticipation.
All the assets in the identity system take cues from the logo using it as a red thread to hold a very tight system together — geometric radii and sharp end points can be seen within the icon set, button language and UI panel design.
Whilst Madefire was being developed, Sharp, Wolstenholme and fellow Creator Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen fame) were developing their own stories for the platform. Moving Brands worked collaboratively with them on the identities for these stories. Gibbon’s ‘Treatment,’ Wolstenholme’s ‘Mono’ and Sharp’s ‘Captain Stone’ are available exclusively as Motion Books.
Together, the Madefire and Moving Brands team set a vision for the app; the design will be thrilling, pushing the UX and UI boundaries of the iPad, eliminating complexity. Sharing is critical; both online via seamless integration of social profiles, and offline, to foster and engage the powerful community that exists within the industry.
The Madefire app itself provides a uniquely immersive experience. Not only is the content rich and dramatic, the iPad’s technology is employed to create a thrilling reading experience with panoramic and parallax views of hand rendered scenes. The brand cues seen in the navigation buttons, background textures, loading animations and navbars are powerful reinforcements of the Madefire brand, but refined enough to ensure the stories themselves are able to shine.
The Motion Book Tool was developed to help creators with varied levels of experience bring their stories to life on the iPad and Iphone.
Madefire exists as much in the physical world as in the digital world. We created a full stationery set, moodbooks, storyboard sketchbooks and posters. For launch and events like Comicon we designed merchandise including T’s, stickers, iPad totes and badges. Swag like this is critical to build a brand in an industry that attracts fanboys and girls like no other.
Online presence is crucial for any start-up. We developed Madefire’s digital ecosystem assets, from favicon and chiclet to UI and messaging content. The website serves as the hub, connecting with video sites, social sites and to established artists communities.
The Madefire offer also needs to appeal to investors and partners. We created presentations and content, messaging and investor films to help communicate the business opportunity and the story of the brand.
On September 9, 2015, the Madefire app became the first and only digital books app available on the Apple Store at the time of the Apple TV4 launch.