Category Archives: User Driven Branding
I was asked by Bill Best, a valued former colleague from my one2one days, to help create a new venture: an independent firm of seasoned mobile practitioners looking to pool their experience and skills. I took on the task of coming up with a name, logo and website in time for launch at Mobile World Congress 2012.
1. Starting with the potential clients
Of course I started by interviewing some potential clients – senior decision makers of choice companies we‘d love to work with across different areas within the mobile ecosystem. “Speak freely… no hard feelings,” I said. Our interviewees didn’t hold back, offering up honest, sometimes brutal feedback which was exactly what we wanted.
The research started with 7 statements of what we thought we could offer – our value proposition. The questions for respondents were
a) Does this remind you of anyone else?
b) Who have you worked with in this space – what did you like and not like about the experiences?
c) Why might you engage outside consultants?
d) How do you make your supplier selection?
e) Rate each of the 7 statements – how important are they as our value proposition
For obvious reasons, I cannot publish the insights, but I can say that as usual, each conversation took a really interesting turn. We found out some common issues with consultants, our perceived key strengths, potential risks and market opportunities.
I presented the insights back to the group with a revised value proposition. It was really important that we all felt we could sign up to the proposition. We were very clear about what we did and did not want to do. In addition, we worked through our tone of voice – how did we want to be perceived and how did that map to what our respondents had told us.
The User Insights gained from this initial research were key to helping us start the process of building our brand; and now help inform and drive every decision we make around branding, strategy and communications.
2. Finding the Name
I then brought in Katrina Damianou to help establish our brand tone and visual identity. We were looking for a name that was clean, elegant, short and memorable. We also favoured names as near to “A” as possible. Based on one of the key insights from the interviews, we began by working on “Explorer” analogies – playing with words such as “light”, “pilot”, “path”, “torch”, “polar” “route” and guide”, however, these analogies are widely used; and also felt very “done”. We hit a dead end. Katrina suggested a brand brainstorm. Known as “Forced Relationship” this is a fun exercise that forces you to think of your organisation’s brand in terms of another product or service.
Asked, “If your company were a brand of coffee, which would it be?” We were inspired by Monmouth Coffee – something of a favourite with coffee lovers “in the know”; purveyor of speciality coffee, one of the first London coffee shops and with clear, elegant, simple branding. Their name is derived from the street in Covent Garden on which their first shop opened. We loved the street name concept and started searching out possibilities for our own company. Very quickly, Azenby cropped up. It instinctively felt right.
As well as starting with an “A”, the name is an excellent fit with our original Explorer analogies:
• “AZ” = A-to-Z = map /directions = we can help you navigate the mobile landscape.
• The As and Bs = the alternatives = The As and Bs (and A to Z) of mobile = what we know and what we can offer.
We also really like that:
• “ZEN” – implies “relaxation” – serious but relaxed = That’s our style.
• “BY” (pronounced “be”) = to be present & current = Yes. Always.
• Azenby Street also happens to be in Peckham, where Founder and CEO Bill Best grew up. Which is quite a nice little tie-in we thought.
3. Design remix: Creating the logo
We appointed graphic artist, Stuart Crawford, at Inkbot Design to design our visual identity. Armed with a fully-comp creative brief and mood board, Stuart got back to us with a bunch of creative concepts within a week. Here’s the first logo we picked out:
We loved the “beacon” above the “y” (we named it the “beacon” as in: the light on top of the lighthouse a torch that guides the way). We were also into the edgy-looking “z”. We also liked elements from this concept:
The split “A” in this logo reminded us of an arrowhead, symbolising the “direction” we offer clients. And we really liked how the same arrowhead, inverted, could be used to construct the letter “Y”. We were also excited by the observation that Stuart had used the very same arrow to form the shape of the beacon insignia from the first logo concept. Brilliant, we thought; let’s combine the two logos and see what comes out. Et voila! The eventual Azenby logo was a veritable mash-up of two original designs and we love it!
“If Azenby were a type of food, what food would it be?” “Sushi”, we replied. Why? Because sushi is understated, minimal and intricately constructed from the finest, freshest ingredients. Sushi thus became our inspiration for the Azenby colour palette. Introducing: our main colour, Tuna Sashimi Red; and our accent colours, Rice Grey, Wasabi, Seaweed, Prawn, and Salmon.
5. Developing the Website
With the help of Todd Halfpenny at Gingerbread Design, we took all the visual elements Stuart had created and the user insights and got to work on our website. Katrina produced the copy, establishing a tone of voice to support our visual identity. As the entire look and feel of the site is, of course, based on our user insights, we’re delighted that, so far, the feedback we have had has picked up on some of the key points we aimed to get across:
“When I look at your Home Page I want to read more”
“You look very different from other consultants – they look like they use the same template and mostly say the same things”
“It’s clear from the content that there is a lot of experience here”
“It is clean and simple…”
“Very open and transparent approach”
And that is the story of how we got to Azenby’s name, branding and proposition. Not that our work here is done. We want to ensure that the Azenby brand remains fresh and relevant. With this in mind, we’re continually listening to our clients and taking their feedback on board.
You can keep up with progress at www.azenby.com. A final thanks to Katrina, Stuart and Todd for being a wonderful virtual team – and I would recommend their services to everyone.
If you like this story and need any help with your brand and proposition, please do get in touch!