Exclusive interview with S.SELECT LAB Wei-Jhe Lin and Gamania Group Brand Center Director Eric Chen – How to “design” Gamanian? The Big Reveal of Gamania’s New Brand Identity

As Gamania turns 25 years old, the Brand Center invited the Taiwanese-Japanese design team “S.SELECT LAB” to create the brand new supplementary identity. This seemingly simple Gama Globe can roll into any angle to display the brand logo’s character “g”. It symbolizes the unrestrained culture of Gamania and shows the world that – after a quarter of a century, Gamania is not slowing down, but continues to roll forward. 

G!VOICE has conducted an exclusive interview with the key figures of this project – Design Director and Founder of S.SELECT LAB Wei-Jhe Lin and the Brand Center Director Eric Chen (Ahbin) to share their strategies, ideas, and thoughts for creating the new identity. During the interview, we surprisingly find out the deep connection and mutual appreciation between them.

▲Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Wei-Jhe, who stayed in Japan, was unable to come back to Taiwan as expected, resulting in a “Taiwan-Japan Online Interview”

Interaction between Wei-Jhe and Gamania: Eavesdropping in the cafeteria about the employees’ passion for their job

Editor: S.SELECT LAB has done a lot of research for this design, including you personally coming to our offices for a week, and interviewing many executives. Could you talk about how your impressions to Gamania have changed before and after? 

Wei-Jhe: Actually, my impressions haven’t really changed. We’ve always seen Gamania as a liberal, frankly in a state of out-of-control, but still within some rules. To be honest, I think this design was quite tough. 

Editor: Were there any particularly impressive experiences while you worked here for a week? 

Wei-Jhe: I was very touched. I am a fan of Gamania, since I was a little boy and my memory of “Lineage”. I met Ahbin two years ago and he showed me around the entire headquarters. I thought it was quite fascinating that in Ahbin’s role, he could describe the corporation brand culture in such detail. 

The second thing that really moved me was that Gamania treats its staff like the company’s asset. We stayed at the employee cafeteria to listening to what they were saying, and we felt how Gamanians really love their jobs. The employee benefits offered by Gamania also prove the special culture here. It’s not about building a corporation, but the corporation is building a group of people. 

(Editor: Sounds to me like you feel in love with Ahbin before you feel in love with Gamania.) There are three people in my life that I admire. Ahbin is one of them. 

Editor: Why did you want to interview the executives in the beginning? What did you learn during the process? 

Wei-Jhe: The Brand Center proposed to implement “internal branding”, which is something I have never heard of in Taiwan. People generally think of branding as external. When the target is Gamanians, we must be aware of the real situation “inside Gamania”. 

One of the executives mentioned that the company staff were very close in the Gamania Digital Entertainment period, but as the company expanded, they drifted apart. He lamented that the “Old Gamania” days has gone. The staff get confused when the company keeps telling them to be creative and challenge themselves, but actually they are people other than the creative talent. For this reason, we want the visual presentation to be very simple, without excessive decoration, delivering a message that is easy for anyone to receive. I think the most important thing that those interviews can lead to the correct “visual solution”. 

At the time, a report called “The Gamania Survey” was produced, in which we summarized some of the executives’ philosophies on Gamania. Gradually, we saw the Gamania that is shaped into its current self after 25 years. I think the most important thing in a person’s life, including the existence of a corporation, is to have its own history, beliefs, and philosophy. So I think this company has quite a strong culture.

Brand Center: A partnership is like a blender, we saw the Japanese team’s prudent approach

Editor: I would like to ask how Ahbin met Wei-Jhe and ended up working together? 

Ahbin: I was in Tokyo 2 years ago, and Wei-Jhe was organizing an exhibition at the “Nibunno”, in which we saw his great passion and energy that blew us away. Wei-Jhe has a particular strong energy, a type of charisma. After we spoke, what surprised me was his deep understanding of the essence of a corporation, probably due to his experience in Japan. At that moment, I thought that I must work with him on something. Wei-Jhe also has a rich cultural and design experience with S.SELECT LAB, having worked with many internationally renowned brands. 

Japan has Sakamoto Ryoma. I often say that Wei-Jhe is “a man like Sakamoto Ryoma”. This project proceeded in a way much like he brought us into the right direction. The communication channel is crucial. The middle process doesn’t really work like a vending machine, where a beverage drops downs after you insert a coin. It works more like a blender.

▲Ahbin says Wei-Jhe is “a man like Sakamoto Ryoma”

Editor: Ahbin, what do you think Gamania has learned from this partnership? 

Ahbin: While the branding is at the early stage of market development, the demands are mainly external communication and external marketing. However, the relatively mature Japanese or European luxury goods brands would constantly position itself and conduct employee trainings. It just so happens that Taiwan has much to learn in the process. 

Japan has an excellent existing structure for the division of labor, but when we work with Japanese professionals, the communication is often one-sided. Wei-Jhe has already done the translation for us in this partnership, so it was more like communicating with S.SELECT LAB to find out the most suitable method. 

(Editor: What has the Brand Center learned from this experience?) I think the changes were all subtle. What we saw this time was more about the attitude. Wei-Jhe’s team is very prudent. Sometimes we get too familiar with our internal culture and in turn neglect some possibilities.

Gamania from the designer’s point of view: Variable, Bold and Liberal – the great differences between Taiwan & Japan

Editor: Wei-Jhe, could you give us some adjectives to describe how you see the “Gamania style”? 

Wei-jhe: “Variable” is a word that often pops into my mind. An executive once said something cool, “What Gamania doesn’t change, is that it’s always changing.” Then, there’s “Bold”, the type that is unrestrained, and behaviors that are unrestricted. Lastly, “Liberal”. When I walked into the headquarters, I felt a sense of freedom. I guess these keywords are what made a greater impression on me.

▲Wei-Jhe describes Gamania as “Variable, Bold and Liberal”

Editor: I want to ask Wei-jhe the differences you have seen between Taiwanese and Japanese corporate styles. 

I think the greatest difference would be the flexibility in responses. All the new projects in a large Japanese corporation starts with establishing a massive amount of regulations. The creativity comes from extremely limited conditions. In Japan, maybe nothing is right at the beginning, but at Gamania anything could be right. In my opinion, both approaches are fine, but it’s best to strike a balance. The greatest difference would be the level of freedom of thought. 

The Japanese co-designer (Kato Ryosuke) of the project found it hard to comprehend. Because he has worked on so many huge projects, like Muji, and during the process, he was often confused. I had wished that the partnership would result in very simple visuals and messages, so I wanted to apply his simplified style sense. However, the process involving the variable Gamania blocked him. One of my roles was to strike a balance between the two sides. This is what differs the Taiwanese and Japanese style approaches.

The big reveal of the new brand identity image: Keep it simple, and keep rolling

Editor: With regard to the execution process that Wei-Jhe had just mentioned, could Ahbin share your thoughts as well? 

Ahbin: Wei-Jhe is the center point of the whole project execution. We would ask him, for instance, how do we make that globe look more serious in certain scenarios? It might seem like just an image, but it has to be able to withstand many challenges in its application. We are rather like a engineering team, thinking about how to make the program function, and how to make it expandable. 

There’s a term now called “rolling”, which is to continuously add new information during the process of finishing a project goal. The whole process is dynamic and flexible. Actually, this is one type of Internet thinking, which a new project format for us. A rolling budget, a rolling execution. 

Gamania formed Internet thinking in the 90s, and created its online games, and that was a quarter of a century ago. Time doesn’t make any stops though. Something right might disappear in the next second, so we have built a flexible system. I’m really looking forward to this identity becoming a new starting point for Gamania’s next leap. 

Editor: I would like to ask Wei-Jhe about the identity strategy for this 25th anniversary new identity image. 

Wei-Jhe: I think the key to every action is to discover the problem first. When I interviewed with the executives, I found that the problem was the weakened connection between Gamanians, and that it is hard for people to understand the Gamania culture from the outside. I want to resolve this problem visually, and I need the visuals to be very simple. The conclusion was to apply the most effective popular language, and that’s where the “Rolling Gama Globe” came from. 

As long as Gamanians can describe the image of the Gama Globe rolling, and the rolling Gama Globe is formed by Gamanians, then the image would visually suffice. The rolling motion makes people feel a dynamic forward motion, and as long as they can describe it, that means we have successfully implanted that message into people’s minds. Then, we can derive all the Gamania messages from there. That is our strategy. 

Editor: Finally, what is the core of this Gama Globe? 

Wei-Jhe: We summarized somewhat of a slogan “Keep Rolling, Gama Globe”, in which the Gama Globe symbolizes everyone’s solidarity, expanding to the Eco-services. Then why is it constantly rolling? It’s an echo to the “Constantly Moving Forward” concept. After a quarter of a century, Gamania has not slowed down its footsteps, nor has it felt satisfied or let its guard down because of status quo.

▲The Gama Globe symbolizes everyone’s solidarity, expanding to the Eco-services

(Editor: This rules for the application of this identity is quite liberal, which is a bit different from my prior understandings.) This globe is the supplementary graphics of the corporate brand identity. Its role is to inspire spirit and attract attention. In a general sense of identity design, there is rarely any corporation that would let itself be challenged by its own logo. But we use a rather humorous approach: because it’s a sphere, so you only see one angle in certain images. It’s a bit playful and self-mocking, because we are clearly defining it as “supplementary graphics”, not a logo. When no one dares to do this, I think it’s something only Gamania would dare to take the challenge.

※ G!VOICE File

A branding strategy and graphic design team with offices located in Japan and Taiwan, combining international design resources, and offering branding strategy and graphic design services in Taiwan and Japan. 

About Wei-Jhe Lin
A design that aspires to connect Japan and Taiwan. After graduation from the Department of Design Graphics Design School, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 2014, he was employed by GK Design Group. In 2016, he founded BXG in Tokyo with friends and started the Nibunno creative hotel. In 2012, he founded S.SELECT LAB, providing branding strategy, graphic design, and other services, and also writes about Tokyo design news, exhibition, and other information. Lin’s greatest wish is to promote design thinking methods, because he knows what his life mission is. Lin hopes to contribute some changes in the industries of Taiwan, and wishes to become that bridge between Taiwanese design and international exchanges.

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