Web-developer brand transformation
Friday, April 5, 2013

In March last year I was approached by a web-development firm based in Austin, Texas to write a proposal to take a fresh look at their brand identity. On the strength of an astonishing track record, a vibrant company culture and business growth the CEO and founder (who is also a champion of entrepreneurialism as well as a local thought leader in SME business development) was ready to upgrade the brand identity for the next stage of growth in the business he has established

I won the project over other designers, who, from what I gather, offered design-led branding and the usual contracts and service agreements. I take the view that my client's success is also my success and so my clients' best interests are also mine. From a brand reputation point of view this approach renders contracts and service agreements redundant and so I don't offer them at all. In my view, 'hard-nosed' traditional business practices have a marginal place to play in the 'soft power' world of brand identity consulting

A significant part of my creative process involves a getting-to-know-your-business phase, which I usually conclude by delivering a business description and single positioning line that demonstrates a sound understanding of my clients' business ambitions. Consequently, 'strategic web-solutions partner' is a catch-all positioning line that indicates my client's business doesn't merely offer supplier level web-development but that they work closely with clients as an embedded partner to transform the business strategy at a foundational level by adding an internet dimension to their business operations


Wiley brand identity concepts
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In keeping with my recent run of showcasing work long kept from public view, the above identity concept for Wiley is one of four identity directions that I developed for Soullelis Studio in 2009

I agreed not to share my contributions to the project for a period of time, in consideration of difficult decisions the Wiley family were having to make concerning the future of their business. Soullelis Studio delivered top-notch brand strategy for this project and, although my involvement was relatively brief, I got a high speed and in-depth view into the business

At the time Wiley were a global top 20, US-based publishing house specialising in technical printed literature. The imperative to rebrand was that the colophon-based identity gave the impression that Wiley was stuck in tradition and not keeping up with the times

The concept above offers a coded message that suggests Wiley has all media covered, it 'approves' and has all the boxes ticked. A simple device with a wealth of meaning that offered a great opportunity to stand out

Other ideas that I proposed also promised much for Wiley's future (click on the images above to see the full entry and to view the other ideas that I proposed). I love, particularly, the brand-idea The Edge in Knowledge and the symbol for the Uncovering more route. Also, route three was developed before AOL was launched and reviewed later in the same month on Brand New

Considering the recent soft launch of Wiley's new brand identity it appears that there is no longer any substantial reason to withhold my contributions. And, judging by the new identity it appears clear why Wiley got cold feet when our ideas were being developed

The new identity is a total cop-out and Wiley is now almost entirely devoid of ideas. Wiley may publish technical literature but this is no reason to avoid being evocative. I fear that if Wiley doesn't clearly differentiate itself with its identity it will need to offer significant innovation in the brand experience

See the new Wiley brand identity on Brand New


Brand identity concept work for Qtel
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Freelancing often means that concept work is subject to Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and cannot be shown for risk of letting the cat out the bag, upsetting a client for internal politics and/or because an agency won't allow external designers to claim credit

I often find myself chomping at the bit to show work because in some way it 'got there first' or preempted a trend. The work I did for Qtel at Siegel+Gale in early 2008 is one such project. I've shown it in confidence to prospective employers but never shared it digitally because of the NDA restrictions

A few years later and the company that was Qtel have rebranded completely to Ooredoo (click on the Ooredoo image above). And, the original project turned into a "Look & Feel' update only, anyway – as can be seen on Siegel & Gale's website. So, it's now reasonable to assume that the NDA covering the work is no longer relevant; you can tell a lot by the keypad phones in the context visuals

This was an exciting project, involving creative teams collaborating across the globe (London, New York and Los Angeles) and directed from London. A lot of work was generated but most of it fell by the wayside. A few contenders rose swiftly above the crowd and evolved

Before 3D modelling and skin-changing identities became commonplace, exhausted and now generally overlooked, I developed the concept above. However, this was no mere skin change, this was 'reflecting family life', because – with the best intentions, Qtel – a major Middle Eastern telecommunications company with a monopoly stranglehold on it's domestic markets for decades that resulted in an extremely bureaucratic corporate culture – intended to 'treat its customers like family'

Perhaps an over-ambitious attempt at a brand strategy, but Qtel was feeling the heat from international competition and needed to do something different. Heavyweight global brands such as Vodafone and local companies with superior brand experiences were winning customers. A more user-friendly brand was required to gain traction, particularly at a retail level and, also, in order to move with greater focus into foreign markets

The concept that I developed (above) came to the fore and was chosen at the highest level to go forward. But, unfortunately, company politics conspired to get in the way and this identity was cast aside. Another round of development was undertaken but a similar fate befell another of my ideas also chosen to go forward (see concept 2). And, eventually, the entire brand identity project was put on hold indefinitely... until Ooredoo


Life Financial Group – New identity
Monday, March 11, 2013

As mentioned in the previous post, Life Financial Group has a new brand identity, launched in late 2012 and designed by Russian agency, AIC. Click on the 'after' work above to find out more about AIC

The new brand identity looks to be based on cell division and growth, which is yet another interpretation of the brand-idea 'the essence of life' that we also worked with

The relationship diagram 'Look & Feel' route that I developed at SCG London in 2007 (click on the illustration visual in the 'before' work above) appears to have been implemented for Life Bank and also carried through into the new Life Financial Group brand. But, rather than the literal version that I designed, a looser and freer interpretation has been created

The new Life Financial Group identity is an improvement over the old identity, which we only had licence to evolve slightly and within a new brand architecture that was decidedly more corporate. Life Financial Group now has a vibrant and modern brand that should serve them well, especially if they take on a masterbrand strategy that delivers the brand at a retail level


Life Bank – Look & Feel
Friday, March 8, 2013

Working as a freelancer means that you often get left in the dark about what happens to your work. People with whom you worked move on, clients fall out of favour with agencies, projects reach natural conclusions and/or something totally unexpected happens, like a major global recession, and you never return

At the risk of pestering agency staff it's perhaps best to lay low and not ask too many questions. Sometimes years pass before any client-side developments become apparent and work that was kept confidential for so long eventually becomes redundant. When this happens non-disclosure agreements become void and, in my view, that work is free to be displayed publicly

In 2007 I worked on the Life Bank brand for SCG London. We evolved the corporate brand identity established by another London-based brand consultancy, supplying the bank with a full set of brandmarks derived from a typeface that I tweaked to meet that requirement. Click on the typeface above to see the live work entry in my portfolio

In addition to the updated identity I developed three 'Look & Feel' routes, all three of which were chosen by the client to go live. The thinking was that the second route would replace the first and the third replace the second in roughly 5 year intervals. Click on the typeface above and then on 'Look & Feel' in the right-hand menu

As I didn't have any client contact and I've never been to Russia I saw no evidence of the route in use. I assume that at least the first was used and properly implemented. The illustration above is part of a relationship diagram identity system that I created for route 2. Click on the illustration to see the full entry in my portfolio

Last week I discovered that Life Financial Group have an entirely new brand identity, developed by a Russian agency in late 2012. It appears that the accompanying 'Look & Feel' illustration style of the lines and dots has been directly influenced by the system I developed for Life Bank. The lastest 'Look & Feel' has distinct visual similarities to my design but doesn't appear to be based on the initial idea, which is that 'the essence of life' is all about relationships

I'll write a separate post with links to the new work as well as the agency responsible for the new brand identity