From Robots To Trees: A Rebrand Story
Once upon a time, we were driving to York for a team meeting. The reason for which had been kept secret, leading to a few wagging tongues in the office. (We’re all a bunch of gossips.)
“You’ll be disappointed.” Andy said, smiling as we pulled up to our destination.
Andy guided us to an ample conference room, told to help ourselves to coffee AND biscuits and to take a seat. Craig took a swig of tea and rose from his chair. “The reason we’ve taken you all out of the office today, is that Andy and I feel that ‘GotFocus Solutions’ no longer serves it’s purpose. We need to rebrand.”
On hearing the word ‘rebrand’, my nerves and excitement crashed together. I’d always hated the GotFocus robot (sorry, Craig) and I would be the one to design our new visual identity that would be seen and judged and scrutinised by people and clients the world over. It was around the word 'judged' that the panic set in. I mean, what if I produce a monstrosity akin to the London 2012 Olympics logo and everyone’s just too polite to say 'it’s rubbish that, lad!'
“But first we have to settle on a name.” At this point, Andy locked the door. We’d all fallen for the allure of curiosity and coffee and were trapped with no hope of a toilet break until we had a new name. So like a bunch of teenagers in their first band, we began to throw around various names of questionable quality. For five hours. Eventually, we settled on the first one that was suggested: Eden.
My Start-Stop Design Process
Back in the office and with pen in hand, I began sketching out various ideas from the themes that ‘eden’ conjured. Apples, snakes, gardens and fig-leaf-wearing-nearly-nudes all featured on the pages of my sketchbook. All these initial ideas were considered before being duly rejected; none of them stuck.
Getting nowhere, I tried a different approach; stare at the blank page of my sketchbook, willing it to design itself. When this failed, I put all thoughts of design to one side and instead contemplated what it was we wanted to say and how we wanted to present ourselves. So like filling in an online dating profile, I listed various words and adjectives that would best describe us: geeks, friendly, technical, creative, good sense of humour, etc. These keywords gave me a foundation on which to develop Eden’s visual language.
Taking each keyword I brainstormed, looking for symbols, colours, styles, anything that would correspond to both the listed adjective and ‘eden’.
It was also via this brainstorming process, I began to realise what I DIDN’T want and could start dismissing ideas as soon as they appeared. For example, the keyword ‘religious’ came up and as soon as it did, I knew straight away that I didn’t want to rely on the religious context or connotations of ‘eden’. Not because I’m a hell-bound atheist (I'll leave that to Craig), but simply because it has no bearing on what Eden is and what we do.
My Initial Designs
So enough talk, let me show you some of the initial designs that came about as result of this process. Hopefully you can see some of the elements from these early iterations in the final Eden logo.
So what did I learn from these pretty failures? Well, I knew that I didn’t want a soft or subtle logo - it needed to be bold. I didn’t want it frilly or too ‘pretty’. I wanted to include an illustration of some sort within the logo and I also discovered, that green was not the right colour for Eden. Green seemed to place the branding firmly in gardening or cosmetics territory - it gave it a 'natural/nature' feel. After some experimentation, I found that red could be used as an alternative ‘plant-like’ colour and that it was simply more striking on the page. It also removed the association with gardening and cosmetics that the green couldn't seem to shift.
The Final Design
Another thing that I wanted was an adaptable design that could suit whatever purpose we needed. So with the list of requirements acquired from the brainstorming and design process, I created a series of illustrated elements that as a whole would become the logo but could also be edited and used for the other things such as stationery, various iconography and business cards.
Designing the branding for Eden has probably been the most daunting and most rewarding piece of work I’ve done in my two years as a professional designer. Sure, I’ve designed for branding before, but it’s never been for something quite as important or personal as this; our own figurehead and the first impression that client’s will have of us as an agency.
Looking back, I realise the importance of doing the initial groundwork of thinking about what the design is to represent and convey, rather than skipping over it and marching headlong into the fun bit of drawing it all out. I’ve also learned to repsect the fact that rejected designs and failed attempts are a vital part of any design process. They ask questions of you, forcing you to whittle down your design to what it is you want to achieve. But despite the frustrations they may pose, without them, success would never have been attainable.