This is the rebranding project for our own branding and graphic design studio. Originally based in Uruguay's capital city, Montevideo, we now work remotely with associates and clients from all over the world based in London, UK.
'Switzerland of America' was what Uruguay was called by the media in the early 20th century because of its prosperity and financial stability, which made it resemble the Helvetic country.
As a studio, we want to recover that long gone sense of productivity in this era of global turmoil and financial crises. We will do it by bringing together the best Swiss style design techniques together with the Latin personality, its bold colours, 'outside the box' thinking and modest use of resources.
The studio is born as a response to the entrepreneurship boom in Uruguay and the rest of the world by 2013. We realised that these blooming new businesses could be an interesting niche to explore and to whom provide services to, since these new companies and start-ups were getting financial support both from the public and private sector. By that time, it didn’t exist in the market a design firm that offered an affordable, high quality service that catered specifically to these new business models.
Initially we had a standard studio approach. The differentiation was in providing an affordable market research investigation and either an internal audit of the company for product and service businesses, or an introspective analysis based on psychology and coaching techniques for personal brands. After 3 years of experience and a relocation to the UK, we were able to get a series of impressions of what was working and what had to change to remain profitable.
- We had a virtual team, online payment and streamlined communications.
- We had very low operating costs and somewhat low fixed costs.
- We already had competitive prices in developed markets.
- We offered very high quality design compared to most of the competition.
- The prices were too high for the Uruguayan market.
- It was not possible to work efficiently in more than three projects at the same time while maintaining a minimum expression of the business.
- Clients were slow to send materials and give feedback.
- The visual identity did not correspond with the spirit of the studio.
In order to continue giving a thorough and personalised service we would require to have a suitably standardised and guided process so that the timeline of the projects could be shortened even more.
At the same time, for this business model to be sufficiently differentiated and profitable in Uruguay and the region, as well as competitive for worldwide clients, we needed a different pricing mechanism.
We found the need to use some efficient and specific management software for creative studios working remotely, allowing for communications and tasks to be managed on the same place, refraining from messy emails. We would also need an integrated online system for on-boarding new clients, a way of guiding them through the process and a way of managing all of the assets in the same place.
- Asana project management tool would be used.
- The project process would be housed within a Client Microsite, hosted in our website and accessible through a password-protected login area.
- We will be working via bookings, and one project at a time. The process would begin with a pre-project stage.
- Economic penalties and discount incentives would be implemented to prevent the project from being delayed.
- A smaller but holistic branding pack would be our only product, offering a very competitive price to a very specific niche, therefore having the perfect balance between time invested in the projects and profitability.
A Neoteric Branding Studio
The Neoterics were a series of poets who lived during the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC). They departed from classic Homeric epic poetry, which was the accepted style at the time. Because of this, the word “neoteric” has been used as a synonym of new or fresh that goes against what is established or that questions paradigmatic concepts.
The Design Solution
In the style of the original SDA monogram, a series of icons are created that together with the backgrounds, are inspired by the flags and the coats of arms of Uruguay and the Swiss cantons, as well as other influential symbolism from each of the cultures.
Simultaneously, each icon represents a value the studio identifies itself with: Independence (of thought and action), Guidance (as in passing on knowledge), Abundance, Hope, Friendship, Responsibility (in the craft and doing business), Rejuvenation (permanent renewal), Leadership.
Colours are accentuated versions of the ones from the flags and coats of arms, on which the metallic gold foil coexists. Typographically, an alternative to the Helvetica, the Aktiv Grotesk, is chosen, which also refers to Swiss design but has certain details that make it unique. Its creator, Bruno Maag, designs it with the specific aim of replacing grotesque sans-serif fonts that have historically represented what’s considered modern design, yet paradoxically have been created in the Victorian era. The Aktiv Grotesk is truly modern.
In all cases we play with the duality of what is considered 'good design' and with what is established versus the most contemporary, that breaks the rules and sets a fresh and alternative approach.