Fitness brand positioning line
Friday, December 30, 2011

In late November I was approached by a successful internet entrepreneur looking to disrupt the fitness market with an innovative approach to gym-centred fitness programmes. My portfolio of brand identity design was liked very much and I responded by demonstrating competencies beyond design to include name generation and strategic brand consulting.

Having developed, managed and sold a category-defining online start-up recently my new client was looking to create a high quality brand experience to be led by a high quality brand identity. I explained that I wasn't merely a design supplier and that my success is a measure of my clients' success, and that together we would build a brand identity based on the new brand experience.

After immersing myself in supplied documents and asking a range of questions about the audience, environment and capabilities of the business, I made a number of key observations and assessments.

Initially presented to me as a 'Fitness and Diet Comparison Website' I proposed that although a sophisticated website was the point around which the entire offer revolved, in reality, the website would be one of many important touch-points, including an innovative gym-lab where users would get free high-quality personal training in exchange for agreeing to post their fitness progress online. More significantly the relationship of fitness to diet in the supplied description wasn't clear as diet and exercise are on the same level of importance in determining fitness.

With these insights in mind I proposed that in creating a cohesive experience beyond a website the brand should exist independent of media and that the brand itself should be managed as the platform of the business. To this end I defined the positioning line 'Fitness Comparison Platform', which can be extended to include 'Evidence-based Fitness Comparison Platform' for further clarification. This evidence-based aspect of the business provides the 'self-evident' substance of the entire offer.

I wasn't commissioned to provide a positioning line as part of an unspecified brand consulting package but I used the positioning line as a way for me and my client to understand the core value of the business around which we would build a brand experience. This also placed me in a good position to consult on supplied brand names as well as recommend additional brand names.

This start-up looks set to revolutionise the way people access fitness programmes and has the potential to be another category-defining brand.

In a separate news post I'll describe the progress of the project as well as reveal my recommended brand-ideas and brand names.


Working with Breakfast
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

During the month of October and the early part of November I worked with Breakfast as a specialist brand identity creative on a couple of branding projects. Breakfast are an advertising agency based in the very cool and vibey, and very accessible Soho in central London.

This has been the first time I've ever worked with an advertising agency and the experience has been a refreshing change from the studio cultures that I tend to find in the brand consulting and other related below-the-line studios such as corporate reporting. I found the atmosphere at Breakfast to be more open and casual, the working process more iterative and exploratory but no less serious or lacking in intellectual rigour. Breakfast are a small but very smart agency who adapt to their clients' requirements by bringing in specialist skills when needed.

On the strength of my advice proposed to Breakfast's client a couple of weeks previous a three week brand identity concept development stage was secured and I was brought in to fullfil this expectation. The project was to create a brand identity for an exciting new molecular science technology aimed at big businesses who consume vast quantities of fuel – the value proposition of this new technology is cost-based sustainability through lower fuel usage and related environmental benefits. These large scale businesses are in the haulage industry, shipping and railways at the moment. In the foresee-able future this is likely to also include the aviation industry as well as other large scale fuel-dependent operations. So far a number of benchmark trials have secured the business potential of this technology and the project has the backing of serious investors. There is also a major secondary business of water purification aimed at government level agencies as well as a number of other potential business applications that are yet to be proven. I'll explain the business in more detail when I show the work but for now it suffices to mention only the name, Small Science, which was created by Breakfast.

The second project involved name generation for another new business in the assistance industry based in the UK. The assistance industry typically brings the services of local providers and large insurance aggregators together in a seamless customer experience on behalf of various brands. For this I scaled up the name generation package I normally offer to start-ups and worked up a selection of three final names into potential brand stories for a final name choice by the board.

Not having a hierarchy of 'design-know-it-alls' breathing down my back I was left to do what I do best and the guys at Breakfast supported me where necessary, gave me what I asked for and provided excellent feedback on the work I created. Click on the Breakfast brandmark above to find out more about the agency.


Blue Marlin – Major brand logo design
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For the record, in the early part of September I spent a couple of weeks on what, at first, appeared to be an interesting project at Blue Marlin. Blue Marlin is generally known for it's consumer brand work that is mostly comprised of large scale FMCG packaging and branding projects. Although I've been involved in developing consumer facing brands in the past I tend to work on business brands and so Blue Marlin is not the sort of brand consultancy normally on my radar.

The project sounded interesting and potentially an opportunity for an outstanding portfolio piece. The work was high profile and on a global scale for a major brand, both corporate and consumer facing. On the surface I probably appeared to be ideally suited.

At first the project seemed quite exciting but after what appeared to me to be a strong creative start it quickly became apparent that the scope of work and the creative range narrowed down to something to which I couldn't add much value. From this project I've learned that any project, no matter the scale, requiring logo design skills exclusively I should steer entirely clear. If there's no opportunity to make strategic interpretations or if the strategy isn't robust in the first instance, and especially if a major client presentation is only a week away, then I should definitely not allow myself to be enticed.

From this project it's painfully clear to me that traditional logo design work alone is profoundly problematic and that not only should consultancies not request this kind of work from brand creatives like me but they should also advise their clients that if a logo represents the final extent of the work then either someone is terribly desperate or something is horribly wrong. Without a radical re-think of the entire brand I don't expect to see anything good come out of this project.


Ashley House – Brand strategy document
Monday, November 14, 2011

In May of this year I worked with The Design Portfolio to re-brand one of their existing clients. Ashley House is a property solutions company operating in primary healthcare, care and community sectors in England and Wales. The company is listed on the AIM stock exchange and has a proven track record of more than 20 years.

Faced with a major re-structuring of the NHS and a changing marketplace that harbours both new challenges and opportunities Ashley House recognised that they needed a new brand identity to lead the organisation into a more sustainable future. In a mature but increasing competitive marketplace Ashley House offered high quality design and construction of primary healthcare properties with an emphasis on cost effectiveness and had an established reputation as a materials and construction infrastructure specialist. An adjustment to the overall positioning of the business meant that a complete re-brand offered an opportunity to add a lot of value to an already strong business platform.

Initially when The Design Portfolio approached me I advised them to work with a dedicated strategist to help position Ashley House. The Design Portfolio felt that I had enough strategy experience to help them make sense of existing market research, the client's marketing ideas and strategic materials developed by other consultancies in the recent past. I was to then create a new brand identity based on this existing material in combination with the outcome of a brand workshop involving key managers, which it was also intended for me to structure and lead.

To better understand the organisation I spent a little more than a week compiling a single strategic document from these various sources. This entailed removing repetition, clarifying descriptions, emphasising key ideas as well as adding brand-led insights to the document. Click on the image above to get an overview of the document. The large pages show how I structured the document and the insights that I added. The document also includes a brand theory section at the end to illustrate the role of a brand identity made up of brand-marks in transforming an organisation.

This single strategic document enabled me to establish a strong foundation for the brand workshop and for the creative brand identity work that was to follow. The document also provided me with an opportunity to implement and demonstrate a differentiated brand consulting methodology based on ideas I've been developing over the past few years.


SES re-brand pitch presentation
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It turns out that the creative pitch presentation for the satellite company I worked on in March of this year was unsuccessful. Early in September SES launched its new identity to lead a new brand strategy. The reasons for not winning the pitch remain unclear but as with these sorts of pitches they're often fraught with miscommunication, changing goal-posts, opportunism and client-side strong-arm tactics. It appears that this pitch was no different.

For me this is a Deja Vu...

In September 2006 I created what was, at the time, we believed, a ground-breaking brand refresh idea for Mercedes-Benz. Although Henrion Ludlow Schmidt came a close second against five other top-tier brand consultancies it appears that the outcome of the pitch was pre-determined. Claus Koch has yet to demonstrate his consultancy's winning idea in a convincing way.

I digress, back to SES...

As I mentioned in May in this news feed there were numerous personal highlights working on this pitch presentation. I proposed a number of ideas that weren't put forward but that I would have loved to work up fully. I'll mention a couple here in brief as they were language-based ideas that I felt encapsulated the SES business and might lead the new brand strategy.

But first, the business strategy in short...

The three divisions of SES, namely, SES Corporate, SES Astra and SES World Skies were joining to form a single company. The divisions although performing separate functions in principle were replicating services and were often in competition with each other causing confusion and frustration among its customers. A consolidated company with a single interface was required.

SES World Skies was the rapid deployment and developing markets division representing the 'reach' of the group. SES Astra, most well known in countries like Germany for Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite television and represented the 'consolidation' of established markets. SES Corporate, the holding company, was also responsible for the design, procurement and maintenance of the satellites.

My ideas...

Succinctly put the relationship of SES World Skies and SES Astra to each other was described as 'the hunters' and 'the gatherers'. This I proposed be interpreted in an idea that might lead a new type of satellite services experience and, perhaps, a new type of delivery of both narrow-casting of the internet and broad-casting of television via satellite. The idea I proposed was 'SMARTCASTING' with 'casting' intended to mean the casting out (the 'reach') of SES World Skies and the 'setting' as in to cast something of SES Astra (the 'consolidation').

The other notable idea was the interpretation of an equivalent to HSBC's 'Think global act local' or, in broader marketing terms, 'GLOCAL'. An idea that only satellite can deliver and an idea that is particularly relevant relative to the 'GEO' of Geosynchronous or Geostationary Earth Orbits. As well as the highly specific and local delivery of services and the customer-centric business model.

The big idea... 'GEOLOCAL'.

It seems that there wasn't really scope to include these ideas in our presentation as this was the territory of our strategist who proposed 'Together we aim higher' and which we put forward in the end. The branding concept we put our weight behind to win the pitch is the idea featured above. Click on the images above to see the entry in my portfolio. I thought this was a particularly exciting idea. Not only have I always wanted to see one of my brandmarks on the side of a rocket but I've always looked for an opportunity to use a fractal in a brand identity. And, also, to do something a bit more 'new-school'.

Judging by the chosen identity it appears that I may have been a bit too ambitious. The final solution is a classic identity system that is quite obviously easy to manage, but, in my view, also easier to forget. Its a handsome solution but it's not outstanding. 'Your satellite company' is an off-the-shelf customer-centric brandline that will quickly look like a 'me-too' idea. 


Interbrand – Money and prestige
Thursday, September 1, 2011

Last week Monday I started what was expected to be a two to three month project at Interbrand via the recruitment agency Network.

Against my gut instinct I took on the project in order to strengthen my claim to have worked with Interbrand, get another top-tier brand into my portfolio as well as enjoy a decent length contract with a world-class consultancy.

It turns out that the client was indeed a premium brand, in fact one of the best British Brands of all time, but the project was a workplace brand identity and what I would have normally created for a brand had already been established by another brand identity creative.

During a couple of phone interviews with the Creative Director and Design Director the week before I was assured that there was room to progress the work but I didn't enquire about the extent that progress would be possible in terms of developing the fundamental character of the brand.

After being given plenty of space to immerse myself in the strategy to a high level of detail I soon realised that there wouldn't be much of an opportunity to improve the work, it was very good, approved by the client and, to my surprise, already in use. So when the client pulled the project in order to continue implementing the brand internally after the better part of the week of my involvement (for cost reasons) I was hugely relieved.

Interbrand offered to keep me busy with bits and pieces for a while longer but I felt it was better to call it quits altogether on this occasion. Normally if I don't have the opportunity to add real value to a brand then I'm not interested. And, now this will also mean, not interested even if it makes me look good on paper – no matter who the consultancy or how prestigious the brand.


Design Portfolio – Strategy, workshop & design
Friday, July 29, 2011

Over the last couple of months I've been helping another corporate reporting firm with specialist brand consulting services.

Initially I advised The Design Portfolio to work with a dedicated brand strategist to handle a workshop and, more importantly, the reason for the workshop, the brand strategy, and then to potentially work with me to develop a new brand identity for one of their clients.

In the past I've been comfortable delivering brand strategy advice to start-ups on limited budgets but for large organisations I usually expect to work with dedicated strategists as part of larger creative teams. However, last year I did some brand strategy for an investment bank in Vietnam at Allen International. There I worked closely with a brand strategist and, in part, as a result my confidence as a brand strategist has been increasing steadily.

Expecting to hear no further from The Design Portfolio a week later I was invited to handle the brand strategy and workshop as it was felt that the scope of my experience as a brand strategist, in combination with my creative brand design skills, would meet the requirements of the project.

Since then I compiled a single strategy document from various other sources supplied by the client, structured the document and added strategic insights of the sort I normally expect from brand strategy documents. This document was well received by the client and served as a precursor to the brand workshop, which I also structured and ran. The Design Portfolio's client is an AIM listed company and a well-established provider of health and community property solutions in England and Wales with a track record going back 20 years.

After a nervous and shaky start the day went much better than I expected. The client group was more than half a dozen strong and comprised of senior managers across the company, and all clearly highly skilled and motivated. By the end of the day we were all palpably excited about the outcome of the workshop in anticipation of the creative brand design work.

Last Friday I delivered my ideas for the new identity. This was another milestone on both a personal and professional level. As a freelancer I very rarely have direct client contact on large projects. I'm always confident of the creative work but I've never had to present it myself in a high level boardroom situation. This meeting went exceedingly well and I found myself enjoying the experience thoroughly.

Perhaps the time has come for me to play more of a direct role in brand consulting to large organisations.


Idea – Technology dot Consulting
Sunday, May 8, 2011

In November and December of last year I worked as part of a large team of senior brand creatives on Siegel+Gale's branding of the restructuring of Adecco. Idea is Adecco's technology consulting arm, formed from the merger of Idea Integration, Glotel, Idea and Ajilon Consulting.

As part of Adecco, a global HR firm, Idea puts a strong emphasis on finding and maintaining the right people for the job. The merged firm makes the best of the exemplary track records of the four companies in IT solutions for large organisations. The newly formed Idea sees itself as the 'no BS' Information Technology solutions firm that 'cuts to the chase' and just gets the job done at no unnecessary cost, and without the long drawn-out consulting procedures that plague the industry. Idea makes smart choices from tried and tested technologies and off-the-shelf solutions and services, and works to demystify technology in a version of consulting on IT technology that they consider 'the real deal' for their clients.

Idea presents itself as an extension to their clients' businesses but also as a point of completion in terms of finding the most cost effective IT solutions. This is the primary idea in the Idea brandmark. The dot indicates an extension much like a computer file extension and after the dot the name stands as a point of finality.

For the first time as a senior brand creative none of my initial seed ideas were put forward to the client. My route was cut close to the end of the concepts development process and I undertook to build the dot idea route as a brand (and as it appears in my portfolio); for which the original seed idea was originated by another senior designer on the team.

Although the initial seed idea wasn't mine I was almost entirely responsible for the creative authorship of the sophisticated brand messaging system and the final designed form of the overall Idea brand identity. The brand messaging formula as well as the content put forward to the client produced an 'aha' moment internally after the strategist, at first puzzled, realised the strength of the idea. And, judging by the proliferation of ideas for the messaging on the Idea website it seems it did not take much to convince the client that our idea for their firm was a good one.

Click on the image above to see the entry in my portfolio.


MerchantCantos – Major pitch
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just over a couple of weeks ago I completed a month contract at MerchantCantos. I'd never heard of the agency in all my time in the UK. It turns out Merchant as been around for twenty plus years and is a substantial corporate reporting firm. Merchant joined forces with Cantos in 2010 and announced the merger during my time there. Cantos is a communications firm specialising in corporate videos.

More production-oriented than I'm used to, the studio tends to be 'heads-down' and less discussion-oriented than the strategic brand consultancies with whom I normally work. However, this may be set to change as the creative director has a very good grasp of the role of brand and is looking to get more directly involved at a top-tier strategic brand consulting level. To this end I was brought into a small team of senior brand consultants to work on a pitch presentation for the branding of the merger of a major satellite company.

There were a number of personal highlights during the project and I look forward to showing the ideas I contributed to the project. Hopefully I'll be doing this on the back of a win, and not, as has happened all-too-often in the past, end up consigning these ideas to the concepts section of my portfolio. Either way, expect to see a proprietary interpretation of 'think global, act local' in a brand-idea and the use of a fractal in a 'new school' kind of way. I've longed to get a fractal into a major brand identity. I'm hoping this project will be the one as the fractal I've chosen couldn't be more appropriate.

At the tail end of my contract I also contributed to ideas for the re-branding of a prestigious Jersey-based wealth management firm. These were rapid-fire ideas and this 'shoot from the hip' process appears to have produced at least a couple of gems. Hopefully I'll also get to show these ideas in the not too distant future but most importantly, for now, it's fingers crossed for the pitch presentation results.


Identity Designed features Asterisk Investments
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Towards the end of last year David Airey approached me to submit work for his latest blog, Identity Designed. Identity Designed marks a significant shift away from what I call dedicated logo design towards a more comprehensive brand identity consulting for online publicity-oriented designers such as David.

David originated and still maintains the widely publicised and largely successful blog Logo Design Love. The name says it all. Logo Design Love tends to attract young logo-obsessed designers of which there appear to be untold scores online, hoping, no doubt, that their logo design talents will get noticed.

David and I have had a number of email interactions and I've participated on Logo Design Love on occasion, mostly in relation to the declaration that logos are dead by Simon Manchipp. I like to think that David's shift in focus towards brand identity design has been influenced by the position I've been advocating about the limits of design and the relevancy of brand identity design and consulting, and that ideas about brands are becoming much more than logos in the mainstream media as a result.

Logo Design Love still has a place and, impressively, last year Peachpit published Logo Design Love the book, which also featured one of my projects, Kerling, and has gone on to be a top-selling design book on Amazon. I've recently bought the book and will feature Kerling as a published piece in my portfolio sometime soon.

The origins of Identity Designed aside, last Friday I submitted one of my latest start-up brand identity projects, Asterisk Investments. Although this opens me up to naive criticism it's been great to demonstrate the project somewhere other than on my website. I'm very proud of this brand identity as the firm is an exciting new type of investment offering catering for high-net worth private investors and looks set to achieve extraordinary results.

I believe that the brand identity I created for Asterisk investments is particularly insightful and demonstrates (and enhances) the strengths of the firm. Identity Designed has provided me with a good opportunity to showcase just how a brand identity is much more than what design can do for brands.

Click on the image above to see Asterisk Investments as featured on Identity Designed.


Asterisk's premium-ised brand identity
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Several months after successfully delivering a brand identity for Asterisk's Forex Hedge Fund in February last year Asterisk made a dramatic change to their offering that required a re-think of the brand I created for them.

Instead of aiming for a mass online market dealing in Forex markets with no minimum investment, the new offering was to be aimed at high net-worth private investors with a minimum investment of 100 000 Euros. The new offering would still trade on Forex markets but the bulk of trades (90%) would be in Futures. And so, I recommended that we 'premium-ise' the Asterisk brand.

Although Asterisk was born of a Forex concept we decided to retain the name and I was commissioned to 'premium-ise' the brand identity and find a new brand-idea and create a more comprehensive look & feel. I delivered two routes and the brand identity concept expressing the brand-idea 'Trading Insight' was selected.

I created a new symbol that is a more sophisticated interpretation of an asterisk, whereas the previous symbol was unambiguously an asterisk and more suited to a mass market. The new symbol requires a dynamic presentation of a simple line-drawn asterisk revealed as circles side-on to grasp the fact that the symbol is an Asterisk. The static symbol of the brandmark is at a stage somewhere before the circles in perspective open completely to form a complete circle, and the resulting sequence forms a sophisticated visual pattern for use as a premium brand identity element. The dynamic presentation of the symbol is required to grasp the insight that the new symbol is, in fact, an asterisk.

The 'Trading Insight' brand-idea is an interpretation of the insights required to trade in the manner in which the new investment fund is to become known. The re-imagined Asterisk brand trades in Futures using a proprietary and copyright protected trading system that utilises sophisticated trading techniques and computer software to enable traders to trade visually – to literally trade in sight. This trading system gives Asterisk's traders a real advantage over competing investment funds and so as an expression of the 'Trading Insight' brand-idea the public-facing brandline is 'The insight advantage'.

The 'premium-ised' version of the Asterisk brand was launched to private investors in September last year. For the launch I also oversaw the production of a high-production values brochure. I wrote the bulk of the content, all the bold headline messages and worked with an editor who edits for the Financial Times to sharpen-up and enhance the body-text.

Click on the brandmark or dynamic symbol pattern above to view the project as an entry in my portfolio. I've also included the previous Asterisk Forex brand identity to demonstrate the different versions of the brand as expressions of distinctly different brand strategies.


Modis – The brandmark
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In November last year I was called in to Siegel+Gale to help develop brand identity concept routes for the new Modis. Three routes were already in place when I joined but the brandmarks for all the routes weren't quite working for the senior Creative Director.

In light of the now ubiquitous and largely useful notion that a logo is not a brand it's important to point out that a brandmark is part of many other types of marks that make up a brand experience. I develop all the types of marks that work in concert to describe a brand identity (in order to do justice to, enhance or even determine the brand experience on offer) but the design of the primary mark is my particular speciality. This component of my skill-set is especially useful when budgets are tight and only a limited set of brand-marks are required.

Had I not been committed to Allen International I would've been involved earlier in the project when thoughts determining the main thrust of the routes were more critical. Constrained by time and the ideas already in place I concentrated on developing brandmarks only.

The route for which I'd designed the mark above was all about connections. I proposed that the identity idea be 'Uncommon Connections' and not just 'Connections'. The strategist felt that although insights are indeed well-presented as 'Uncommon Connections' that 'Uncommon' might be seen to be negative and so 'Exceptional Connections' made the final cut.

Click on the brandmark above to go to the entry in my portfolio. I had no hand in choosing the colour so I've presented the chosen brandmark and concept brandmarks in black and white.


Asterisk – Forex Hedge Fund
Thursday, February 3, 2011

After internal discussions and discussions with potential investors a final choice from the three routes I presented in February last year was made by the newly named start-up Forex Hedge fund, Asterisk. The route chosen was the most straightforward concept and appeared to make sense for a mass online market.

The idea related most directly to the asterisk used to denote foreign goods, a conceptual parallel for trading in foreign currencies – and the return on investments (ROI) made trading in the differences between currencies. Click on the small visuals above to view the Asterisk case study, where you can see the overall process as well as download the full concept presentation.

The brandline 'Maximising Returns' suggests that returns on investments are maximised by Asterisk. It suggests that going for a mass market returns ie. that 'going big' returns. And, it is also a potential subliminal prompt for customers to 'go big' with their investments.


3663's New identity
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Working as a freelancer in 1999, Dragon contracted me to design the new identity for the re-branding of Booker Foodservice. Booker was a dusty and tired business brand in a stagnant and extremely traditional sector. A radical re-thinking of the positioning and the type of brand was necessary. Dragon (now Dragon Rouge) found an extaordinary solution in the alphanumeric keystroke combination that spells out food on a mobile keypad.

F - 3 - O - 6 - O - 6 - D - 3

Conceptually this is very clever as the idea is beyond the gimmick of remembering a phone number, which was never intended, or ever used. The idea falls in line with the sort of services expected of business-to-business brands. It's a behind-the-scenes idea for a behind-the-scenes brand. The business is about the distribution of high quality ingredients to the food industry. The business is about foodservice and not the business of making food. Also, conceptually, the mobile phone represents communication and mobility of the future (a 'prediction' now proving true) and the mobile phone idea offered an alignment for a new type of foodservice brand going somewhere exciting.

After Dragon's rebrand of Booker, 3663 went on to become the most dynamic and successful player in the sector. It's been suggested that it's not Tesco eating up Britain, it's a brand you've probably never heard of, 3663.

The brand appears to have rejuvenated the industry and even to have spawned a couple of imitators. With a national fleet of over 600 lorries on the roads throughout Britain and major depots throughout the country the brand gets a lot of exposure with a high rate of recognition and recall even among the lay population. It also has a very good reputation as an employer. In the foodservice sector it would seem that the brand lives up to its original brandline as the 'First for foodservice'.

I'm all for identity changes that demonstrate an improvement in the brand experience on offer, even of identities that I've designed. 'Fresh off the boat' in '99 I knew about corporate identity and had managed to design the identity of a major IT brand in South Africa but I was new to proper heavy-weight strategic brand consulting. Perhaps, naively, I made a few obvious design errors, the swoosh being one. And, admittedly, the rather awkward relationship of the name to the brandline. But, the concept was so strong the design only needed to carry the idea and my solution fitted better than any of the others on offer. The double six was important and the colour change and direction of the swooshes helped people to say the name as Three Double Six Three.

However, despite some misgivings about my original design the new identity is not an improvement, despite my obvious bias. At least the original was sound in pure design terms. The brandmark could be easily reduced to one colour and etched into the blade of a knife, for example. And, the design was clear and unashamedly a swoosh, which, arguably, lies outside the design cliché because of the strength of the idea in the name. The new swoosh is an obfuscation and although it's got a superficially attractive transparency it looks like it's been designed by a designer who didn't take design school all that seriously.

In addition, the new brandline 'Truly, tasty... together' indicates a significant misunderstanding of the relationship of the brand identity to the business. The brand is about distribution to businesses who provide food. Hotels, restaurants and fast food outlets contract 3663 to provide the ingredients and although 3663 does provide ready-made meals to these businesses it is these businesses who carry the need to be seen to provide a taste experience. The new brandline is a consumer facing brandline and it does not make sense in a business-to-business environment.

Also, the cost of implementing the new identity doesn't make sense. Three Double Six Three is a huge brand and the brandmark appears, not only on a huge fleet of trucks that will require new livery but throughout the business on a large scale. An update of the 3663 brand may be due but such a radical change appears ill-conceived. It seems that someone at 3663 is going to learn the tough lesson of not employing top-line brand consultants. And, the sad truth of this is that because the brand is so big it will probably be a long time before someone realises the mistake.

Click on the before brandmark to go to the entry in my portfolio or click on the after brandmark to got to the new 3663 website.


Hedge fund start-up – Name
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

As part of my standard start-up package I make allowance for a day's worth of my time for generating brand names. Out of ten days in total I recommend a maximum of two days for naming, considering that an extra day usually takes time away from the precious creative brand design stage and tends to delay the final deliverables. The design stage requires a minimum of six days exclusive of all the brand consulting and final artwork necessary to deliver the core components of a brand identity.

The start-up hedge fund identity I was commissioned to create needed a name and after a day's worth of my time generating names we settled on Asterisk. Quorus was a name I invented and was shortlisted (and chosen by my client) as a strong contender. I was extremely disappointed to discover that an existing fund was already using the name.

Asterisk is derived from the Greek word 'asterikos' which means little star. It's also a symbol for multiplication, represents the exponential and marks special top grade A (A*, A-star) as distinguished from grade A. A* was also a potential abbreviation for the fund. Asterisks are also generally used to mark out notable exceptions as per the visual from the presentation above. Click on the image above to go to the Asterisk case study were you can download the naming presentation should you want to look more closely at the format.

Asterisk is also particularly relevant to Forex as it is used to denote foreign goods. Our interpretation of this is that foreign currencies can also be considered as foreign goods. The 'foreign-ness' of the goods is not so important but the fact that the fund trades on the difference in the exchange value of foreign currencies. Asterisk also includes the word 'risk' which we thought was a strength because risk is an inherent part of investments. We believed that Asterisk could be treated in a manner that suggests it's a remarkable fund that manages risk exceptionally well.

The naming process I offer is purely generative and doesn't include existing usage or legal checks. It relies on the pursuit of original creative naming solutions, the idea that any suitable name can be owned in the manner in which it is treated and that naming choices should be viewed in terms of how much effort is likely to be required to assert ownership in a particular industry sector.


Forex hedge fund start-up
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In late 2009 I was approached to develop a brand identity for an investment program based on sporting arbitrage. However, due to technical challenges and laws regarding betting, the project turned into an online hedge fund dealing on Foreign Exchange (Forex) markets with no minimum investment required.

The main objective was to instill confidence in experienced as well as first-time traders, in competition to the High Yield Investment Programs (HYIPs) available online. HYIPs is an industry that suffers from an extremely poor reputation as most offers are scams. This new venture was to distance itself as much as possible from HYIPs.

After numerous email exchanges and a single Skype messenger chat I was commissioned to develop a name and brand identity. Notably, I had never spoken to the client in order to secure the commission. It seems that my emails were enough to instill confidence in what has proved to be a rewarding business relationship. Perhaps, fittingly, this remote treatment from my client was some sort of confidence test reflective of the task at hand. A task that was to create a secure and robust online Forex trading brand backed by ambitious but private principle traders determined to create a credible investment experience for a mass market.

As there are a number of stages and significant strategic changes to the outcome of this client relationship I'll post a commentary on the evolution of this project in news entries to follow. Click on the image above to see the project entry in my portfolio.


Jooma – Coffee on-the-go
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Originally intended as a high volume coffee outlet in selected retail spaces in Cape Town, Jooma is building brand awareness by bringing coffee to the people. To this end Jooma has designed, engineered and developed a highly specialised mobile vending unit called the JoomVU.

Jooma's maiden run began in November last year with a successful launch at the Good Food and Wine Show in Durban where many exhibitors as well as exhibition goers included Jooma in their daily schedules. Jooma also made its presence known at the Urban Rage Mountain Biking festival recently.

I've added an image section to the portfolio entry for Jooma on this website. Click on the image above to see images of Jooma in action.