Case Study


Mapkin’s co-founders—who hail from Nuance’s iOS development team and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory—were at a critical phase with their product, a GPS app that adds a layer of personal experience in getting from point A to point B.

Mapkin’s users see their route in a new way—just the route itself, with key cross-streets and sig­nif­i­cant land­marks. People can also cre­ate their own cus­tom maps, adding per­sonal land­marks and points of inter­est, even record­ing their own turn-by-turn voice-overs. This enriches the space between ori­gin and des­ti­na­tion, and helps us enjoy the jour­ney and not just the destination.


In approach­ing Mapkin’s vision, the Brand Hack team con­sid­ered the prod­uct as an answer and worked back­wards to deter­mine the question—if the ques­tion at hand is “how can peo­ple enjoy the jour­ney?”, Mapkin becomes a very strong answer. If their prod­uct changes or new fea­tures are added, they can assess the value of those changes and fea­tures in how well they help answer this core question. 


Brand writer Angela Gaimari car­ried this con­cept through to Mapkin’s pitch. The con­cept of “copi­lot” fig­ured heav­ily; human­iz­ing nav­i­ga­tion. The tone and cadence are friendly and invi­ta­tional, fac­tors that will help Mapkin’s audi­ence perceive value in enjoy­ing the journey. 


Designer Ben Whitla’s iden­tity suc­ceeds on many lev­els. In the lit­eral, it shows a map which, like Mapkin’s name, con­jures the cat­e­gory right away: this is about nav­i­ga­tion. We see the map as if it’s unfold­ing (a char­ac­ter­is­tic that was coor­di­nated with Angela’s tag-line “the jour­ney, unfolded”), com­mu­ni­cat­ing that the app expands a sim­ple GPS-navigated jour­ney into some­thing fuller and more experiential. 


Ben’s palette is a direct reflec­tion of the app’s key qualities—qualities we look for in a good copilot. 


Ben chose the logo’s font for its unique qual­ity; the let­ter­forms of Neutraface No. 2 Inline are divided, like a road. Proxima Nova is at once human and geo­met­ric, with the flex­i­bil­ity and ease of Helvetica but none of the boredom.


Portrait artist Allana Taranto (who also kept us all on sched­ule as project man­ager), equipped the team with indi­vid­ual por­traits for use with LinkedIn and other pro­fes­sional social net­works. From left to right: CEO Marc ReganCTO John Watson, Alex Kinney, and Jacob Wasserman.


Allana chose to shoot their group por­trait in a land­scape (not far from the CIC) that incor­po­rated sev­eral key visual sig­ni­fiers. The new archi­tec­ture, old archi­tec­ture, and scaf­fold­ing all serve the idea that land­scapes are rich and changing.

Angela extended her pitch lan­guage into copy for a single-page mar­ket­ing web­site, pro­vid­ing peo­ple with a brief, two-sentence descrip­tion of Mapkin, the app’s key fea­tures, and team bios.


Erik Weikert’s respon­sive web­site design is a cul­mi­na­tion of the iden­tity, writ­ing, and por­trai­ture. As of the writ­ing of this post, Mapkin is hard at work cod­ing the site, and until it’s up you can view it in sta­tic form here.


Erik’s design for Mapkin’s retina iOS icon.


Angela sup­ported her writ­ing approach with sug­ges­tions for in-app tone of voice.


Ben Whitla’s busi­ness card designs.

As the day wrapped and every­thing deliv­ered, Mapkin, the Brand Hack team, and the com­mu­nity at CIC all agreed that the work—extending from core vision to com­mu­ni­ca­tion tools—will be instru­men­tal in attract­ing and securing the company’s first batch of users.