Two Approaches in Identity Design and Consulting

Every client is different, so every challenge posed has a different approach. After asking a set of questions meant to understand the current business situation and personal motivations behind the (re)branding, I adapt according to their answers. From there, I build a customized solution based on their specific needs and situation.

Here are two example cases from two of my latest clients.

Case one - A property management firm

A real-estate start-up that had been founded five years ago, based on selling and renting apartments in prime locations in Bucharest, had contacted me to assist in their rebranding efforts.

I asked why they wanted to rebrand themselves, and they began to list their reasons: first, they had shifted their services more towards property management, and some clients still had trouble adapting to the new portfolio; second, their initial branding was hastily done, and they were somewhat forced into the name (due to the company being already registered), so it didn't really reflect their mission and values; third, the brand wasn't graphically positioning them in their desired market segment; lastly, and critically, they were ashamed of the old identity, and actively avoided mentioning the company name, instead going for presenting themselves with their personal names and positions in the company.

Delving deeper and asking further questions, I also found out there were some discrepancies between the vision of the two managing partners, as well as their assumed current and future role in the company. Clearly, this was an issue that needed attention.

I organized a workshop focused on clarifying the identity, vision, statement and voice of each partner, both from a personal and a business perspective. The result was used to create a clearer collaboration and vision between the two, and ultimately a value set was created internally that now stands as a model for their employees, looking both inwardly and outwardly.

Only after they reached this agreement, and after we had a lengthy discussion on the emotional impact of changing the business identity—changing it completely after five years under the previous can be hard to adapt to—did we start on the brand itself. The positioning was set in the premium segment, where they had already been operating for a while now and were clearly experienced in, and the personality was adjusted from a friendly, dedicated broker, to a business partner that's open and focused on building close relationship.

Centering the branding around the concept of 'peace of mind', which was the feeling we wanted the clients to have through dealing with the start-up, we agreed the name should have an impact and directly communicate the personality, and decided to rename the company. After exploring a myriad of options, one thing was clear: it had to powerful and it had to be confident. A name to be proud of.

The final name embodied these qualities: The Estate. It clearly voices the fact that the services are not only of great quality, but that they work hard to ensure your loyalty. It's not just a company in the field, it's the company you want.

With such a large accent put on the name, there was no need for a visual mark; a logotype would suffice, one built from strong, vertically geometric letterforms, apt for both the industry and the personality.

The colour scheme was built around a dark purple hue, a classic go-to colour for affluence, and a pale yellow; the purple dominated the main branding and the property management segment of the portfolio, while the yellow dominated the rental segment.

With a brand promise that stated the client wouldn't need to worry about their property once they contracted the firm, we crafted together a list of slogans, and from there came a clear winner: property managed properly. Simple and to the point, The Estate would take care of your business with the upmost professionalism.

Everything was put together in a final form that would be modular and flexible over any ratio and format, and would be scalable for expansion to offices in other cities and integration of new services in the portfolio.

The final result, built over 5 months, was a completely refreshed identity with a clear and coherent message. The Estate now had a new look, a new voice; a brand that could go toe-to-toe with the best on the market and come out on top.

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Case two - A public relations agency

Although they had started the agency almost 3 years ago, they had yet to build a clear brand—all they had was a name, Positive Communications, which they were intent on keeping.

They also wanted a different kind of positioning, to get to a premium or even new luxury stage, and that had to be translated into the visual identity. New clients were to be accessed under the new branding, and they had to be ready to place their trust of the agency; they needed to transmit competence and refinement.

We had a personality analysis, both individual- and company-wise, and we found that they're very comitted to maintaing an extremely friendly, very joyous relationship and attitude with their clients—hence their name. Which was a great approach, but the fact is that the higher you go up the chain of positioning, the more you lean towards a more reserved, haughty way of interacting, and this created a conflict between the aspiration and the reality of their client interaction model.

A long discussion about the implications of such a profile switch later, we agreed that since at least part of this wasn't liable to change much—understandably—then the visual elements of the branding had to compensate.

The concept behind the brand was a reinterpretation of the 'positivity' attitude, more fitting for their aspirations—soaring. From here, we built a moodboard showcasing visual motifs surrounding the concept, and out of this there came the logomark, a bird in flight, seen from either above or below, in a geometric circle shape with sharp angles, all of it built to denote an impression of the strength of character and professionalism that consultants should have.

Adjusting the typography to a more suitable typeface and giving the branding a clean colour scheme, I also added a secondary mark to add as a kind of complementary to the primary logo. Born out of doodle explorations during a meeting, the client loved the balance options it offered and we kept it for use in some future applications.

How the mix of the rebranding and approach redirection will work still remains to be seen, as everything is still fresh, but the first successful trials gives us confidence for the road ahead.

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