Blyk Offers Free Minutes And Texts to 16-24 Year Olds

A new mobile network has discovered the advantages of a mutually beneficial relationship with young people. Members of Blyk, a new network which launched last month, receive a six adverts on their phones each day and in return for free texts and calls, without having to sign up for a monthly contract. This idea is revolutionary in the world of mobile advertising, up until now seen largely as SPAM.

But that’s not the only thing that makes Blyk different. It’s also available exclusively to 16-24 year olds: an age range that is extremely hard to reach via other media and a group with a cast-iron belief in their right to mash-up, splice and remix anything that’s sent their way. Blyk’s branding, recently given exposure on the web via six YouTube animations, is testament to a new culture of give and take.

Blyk’s unusual approach branding emerged from its user experience. Early on in the genesis of Blyk Antti Öhrlling, the company’s co-founder, realised that in order for mobile to be viable as a media the content it had to offer desirable content. Mobile users would not put up with SPAM on their phones, what they wanted was relevance.

So by gathering information on its members’ tastes during sign-up Blyk offers advertising from brands that are of particular interest to them. And it won’t just be advertising either, special offers and news on events, updates from favourite bands and opportunities to interact with the rest of the Blyk community will also form part of Blyk members’ daily diet.

Blyk Offers Free Minutes And Texts to 16-24 Year Olds

Ideally then, the members should see themselves reflected in their experience of Blyk. Blyk’s brand, put together by Contra London, was designed to do the same.

The first step was the logo. This consists of an abstract mobile screen containing a typographical symbol called a caret. You’ll see this above the 6 on your keyboard, it means “insert here”, symbolising the fact that Blyk relies on its members’ willingness to participate. Because on Blyk, in terms of relevance, you get out what you put in.

With the logo in place Blyk had to generate a visual identity for the age of out-of-control. Rather than trying to create a brand that was representative of the youth market, the idea was to allow members to represent themselves. It was time for Blyk to hand the brand over to the audience. To this end a competition was set-up for students of the London College of Communication.

Since, at this stage, the business model was still a secret, entrants were given a brief consisting of the logo, the words “play”, “mobile” and “free”. The response was excellent, with enough work to fill a gallery space in Soho. The Blyk team then judged the work democratically and ten winners were chosen. This is not an identity that will be ever be finished, but one that was designed to evolve and develop over time. So, as well as a cash prize, all the winners began what was to be an ongoing relationship with the brand.

Blyk Offers Free Minutes And Texts to 16-24 Year Olds

The YouTube animations are just the most recent fruits of these relationships, which Blyk sees as integral to its youth credentials. They were produced by the illustrators, with Contra providing whatever level of assistance was needed to take their concepts to finished animations.

Blyk’s brand has a few necessarily fixed parts, the logo and the tone of voice for instance. Beyond that, it has a loose recognisable aesthetic. You could describe it as optimistic – and there’s only one way to get this very particular look. It’s not borne out of three-day long meetings and fascistic policing of the brand. What you do have to do is get young artists together, give them proper resources and pay them properly. In this, as in so many other things, Blyk seems to be virtually unique.

The animators and animations:

Beatrice Richardson – 22 year old Beatrice loves the delicacy of complex paper cut-outs. Nonetheless she bravely agreed to have one of them gradually snipped into tiny pieces for a stop frame animation, a process which was reversed to create the film you see. You can see a range of her work, and buy her wrapping paper, on Myspace:

Elin Svensson – Swedish illustrator Elin Svensson has a spontaneous approach to illustration, working in ink and then retouching on a mac. Although she’s currently studying at LCC she recently found time to create an animated music video for Minimal Youth. You can visit her Myspace page here:

Thomas Knowler – A “meticulous drawer” since the age of four Thomas’ detailed ink drawings show a fascination with the quirky and grotesque. In his Blyk animation we see just a few of the recurring motifs in his work – fish, decay and dancing monsters. You can find out more about Thomas here:

Noibura Oiwaka – Having studied extensively at the Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo, Noibura is now a second year graphic design student at St. Martins. His work spans design, illustration and web design. You can see more of it on his site here:

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