Welcome to REACTOR Reactions, a new blog series where we share thoughts and theories on our most current obsessions and take a closer look at how design is always impacting our world.
As we near the end of the first season of Westworld (and it starts to sink in that we will need to wait until 2018 before we can ride into Sweetwater again) we have been reflecting upon the show’s ability to totally captivate us in our quest to figure out what the heck is going on. Fan theories have been swirling since its premiere, creating a community of couch detectives that is not uncommon for shows of this nature. Talk of timelines and true intentions has fueled our water cooler conversations and walks to Mildred’s for weeks. Not only has this show given us a thrilling puzzle to solve, but it has also provided a visually stunning experience that we just can’t stop/won’t stop talking about.
One of our favorite topics of conversation is how the wild wild Westworld is so well-branded. From color theory to logo design, Westworld has inspired us to share some of our favorite aspects of the show with design in mind.
DiscoverWestworld(.com) - We discover more about Westworld each week, but it’s not until you enter its website that you get to make discoveries beyond what’s allowed as the audience. Just like all brands that we adore, DiscoverWestworld.com takes you on a unique and immersive journey that can only be replicated by the brand itself. From chatting with host bots to finding info on booking your stay, the site invites the audience to experience Westworld first-hand. Even the tiniest details let us go deeper into this world, including a lengthy “Terms of Delos Destinations” and the ability to get emails from the Westworld team. The sleek design and user experience of the site is 100% Westworld without any visible trace of HBO, which allows us to take part in this fantasy, making the brand harder to quit. The episodes hooked us in, but it’s details like the website that keep us in Westworld.
Fun Fact: Make sure you hold onto the Shift key next time you DiscoverWestworld.com
- Jenny Lee
“Live without limits” — the perfect tagline for a destination such as Westworld. We’ve seen this tagline in glimpses of park marketing on the show, such as the promotional video playing in the headquarters, as well as on the interactive Discover Westworld website. Although the phrase is simple, it packs a punch when you know what limits can truly be tested in the park. The overtones of luxury and adventure speak to their ultra-wealthy audience seeking escape and a thrill of a lifetime. This voice really shines in its usage in the website, verbally positioning itself among the world’s most exclusive travel destinations. We may not yet know the meaning of all this, but thanks to a clear and consistent brand voice, we do know Westworld is one hell of an experience. - Julie Walter
The Music/Sound of the Brand
The Westworld Brand is a multi-sensory experience inclusive of the complex array of sounds and music that surround its visitors. As guests navigate the park, the auditory experience is as aggressive as the bold story lines for which it sets the tone. From the frequent gunfire to the chatter of the scripted scenes taking place in every corner of this programmed reality, we are loving that the music both gives its guests (and viewers!) respite from the intense scenes as well as foreshadows what’s to come. For the hosts, the quintessential Player Piano both signifies and initiates the beginning of a new day, symbolizing the contrived but complex nature of their roles in the pricey entertainment of the men whose imaginations they serve to spark and accommodate. - Traci Ketter
The Evolution of the Westworld Logo
We’re introduced to Westworld’s logo in the opening title sequence. It’s spaced out type and thick symmetrical design are the pinnacle of modern, if not futuristic. Since it serves as both the logo for the show and the “amusement park” within, it’s even more potent as a symbol for everything Westworld to the viewer. This makes Episode 2 all the more shocking when we’re smacked in the face with a completely different logo in the park’s marketing video. Ultra thick and thin lines with flattened type is distinctly not modern— retro, in fact (perhaps an homage to the original 1973 film). Throughout the series this other logo pops up here and there, but nowhere as brazen as that first introduction. Is this meticulously orchestrated feat of human engineering that careless with its branding? Probably not. Episode 9 confirmed what was long suspected: the show runners have been carefully alluding to past and present timelines with these different logos, but they may be telling us more than that. Rebranding can be a product of growth and necessity, revitalizing an older company’s image for the present. But an equally, if not more, important cause for a rebrand is in conjunction with a major shift within the company. It’s also been alluded in the show that Westworld was saved from closure after something bad happened in the park. It wouldn’t be the first time a bad reputation was repaired with a new face. - Travis Stewart
Westworld Style: Significant & Symbolic
In a place like Westworld where nothing is done or shown by accident, details are king - maybe most obviously in the clothing the characters wear. As marketers we know how important, impactful and thought-provoking colors can be. Take Dolores for our most major example. We first meet her in a corseted, old-fashioned powder blue dress that feeds right into her innocent horse-riding damsel in distress persona. The Alice in a Wonderland. As we learn more about her past and potentially future storylines however, we see her transition to a less traditionally feminine, more rugged outfit of a white collared shirt, brown pants and a bulky holster. Westworld is clearly sending the viewers a message that Dolores is more complex than we originally thought - and the outfit's style and color change is largely reflective of this personality shift. Another example is when William and Logan arrive to Westworld in Episode 2 and choose the white and black hats, respectively. The use of black and white has long been a way to incorporate light versus dark (more obviously) and good versus evil (more symbolically) in movies and TV (where my Breaking Bad people at?) and this sequence is no exception. Only time will tell what these characters become and how their wardrobes reflect their journeys. One thing is for sure, though. What people do - and more importantly wear - may reveal more clues to the mysterious world than we ever noticed before. - Megan McClure
The Real World
The show clearly does an excellent job of creating an immersive, believable world. But what about in reality? “Hollywood” doesn’t live in this bubble of only pushing content to viewers. Shows, especially Westworld, have to have an outside voice. Fans are scouring the internet looking for clues, behind-the-scenes looks or reading fan theories. A certain level of interaction is expected by their viewers. They want more than what is presented to them weekly on the screen. Why not embrace it? Westworld has done a killer job with this from the website above to the creators commenting on a random Reddit post before the show started.
More now than ever you have access to the creators, actors, and writers through social media. Westworld and its team have a great internal culture and natural social talent. Evan Rachel Wood’s (Dolores) seamless promotion and interaction is perfect on Twitter. It feels really genuine and feels like they are really having fun on set. This is true across the board. All of the actors are big Twitter users and are constantly tweeting back to fans or answering questions.
Or, like show creator Johnathan Nolan replying to someone's completely irrelevant question about a character in the show. Nolan not only uses a “viral” phrase from his show but also posts a gif (never before seen on the show) that answers the question. Insert fanslosemind.gif!
Small things like the first-ever tweet from Sir Anthony Hopkins (!!!) was for the show. Or like, the actress that plays Armistice responding to someone about the Debates while tying it right to the show are making waves on Twitter. Of course HBO spent the big bucks promoting this show. But, they also created and are supporting something that everyone is participating and both actors and fans - in the real world. - Chase Wilson
violent end finale will air this upcoming Sunday, December 4th on HBO.
First image credit: HBO