How to brand yourself
Why change an established brand?
JUMP is a brand strategy, design and digital innovation agency that combines outstanding creativity with formidable technical knowledge to drive business success. We strive to be the region’s most effective brand communications agency by providing world class design and online solutions. The decision to completely change our own brand was therefore one that we didn’t take lightly, bearing in mind that whatever we produced would need to be an exemplar of good design under the scrutiny of our clients.
Our original logo was a little white stick man jumping in the air, reminiscent of the 1970’s Olympic sport icons, designed by the brilliant Levanti Tani, an Italian Graphic Designer from Pisa who accidentally ended up in our first office in Portland Terrace, Newcastle via Glasgow! He had randomly picked cities that have easyJet links to Pisa airport. Nicknamed ‘Eddie’ after the mascot for the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden the logo was our icon from 2007 until 2011. At this point we ‘radically’ decided to change the primary brand colour palette from red to black but retained Eddie until his demise in 2013. At this point we were starting to feel that the brand was becoming a bit dated and it was time for a refresh. The design team then spent three months exploring designs based on the theory that if our strapline was “You say JUMP! We say how high?” the concept of reaching the sky was not unattainable.
A completely new brief
After three months of drawing versions of the sky and finding fonts that emulated smoke-like white aeroplane tracks, our Creative Director pulled the entire project because her gut told her that it was just “not quite right”. Disheartened, the design team set out on phase two of the rebrand project, but this time ensuring that the brief was perfect before we put pen to paper. We wanted the brand character to be “well respected, enduring (have longevity), risk-taking, adventurous, gets the job done, gutsy, has balls”. And we wanted the new brand design style to be “‘intelligent’ (thought provoking) and ‘crisp’ (fresh + sharp)”.
Following a series of workshops, conversations and deep user research, we decided that our work is our most important asset.
The new brand identity was based on an old United Colors of Benetton advert depicting a group of models wearing acid bright rainbow colours whilst riding bicycles spray painted white on a white background in a white studio. The idea being that our client’s work is the colour and JUMP is the blank canvas on which their projects are designed. This also fitted nicely with our company ethos that less is more.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, novelist and aviator
In terms of the logotype development we chose a font and then meticulously removed elements of the lettering until we ended up with an optical illusion where by the brain fills in the parts of the font that are missing. The result: an ‘intelligent’ (thought provoking) and ‘crisp’ (fresh + sharp) logo. I would also argue that the new design is timeless.
Our chosen complimentary brand fonts are Gotham for print and Open Sans for digital applications. The monochrome colour palette is white, grey and black. Our stationery was inspired by the concept of removing all colour completely and having a beautifully embossed JUMP logo imprinted on to thick card. Finally, the minimalist approach was carried out across all printed materials as well as the interior design of the office space itself as part of the overall brand strategy.
The minimalist website design
With regards to the re-design of the JUMP website, we decided to throw away the rule book and do something completely different that would stand out against our competitors in a crowded marketplace. Created to better represent the JUMP brand, to drive innovation, not follow it, but also to encourage our clients to think about doing the same.
Based on what is quintessentially a print design movement, the design team at JUMP decided to use the Swiss Style as inspiration. Due to the grid format and rigid design rules, this style is notoriously hard to replicate on the web, and almost impossible to make responsive.
Emerging from the modernist and constructivist ideals, the Swiss Style can be defined as an authentic pursuit for simplicity – the principle ‘form follows function’ became a battle-cry of Modernist architects after the 1930s. As a consequence of this principle, most of the Swiss Style craft is devoted to the minimal elements of style such as typography and content layout rather than on textures and illustrations.
Swiss Style artists tend to put their creative efforts in to the content they are conveying in order to deliver its intended message in a clear, unobtrusive fashion. One can make the point that they were thinking, in a broader sense, about usability long before the web even existed. How can we not learn from these great masters?
Danielle Stone, Lead User Experience (UX) Designer at JUMP and project leader comments:
“We are always evolving, so when a website redesign came up, we were all keen to do something challenging, both in terms of the design and technical approach. We are constantly researching and looking at design and websites and it struck me how formulaic web design has become.”
Each page is a bespoke design based on an agreed 12 column grid traditionally used by the Swiss Style designers, so there was no template to replicate in order to build the site, despite this, the project only took three months to deliver and came in on time. JUMP has in-house graphic and web designers and developers, who worked together to build the website. Kris Consadine, Head of Development comments:
“This website certainly has not been designed to cut corners, and it’s very unusual to be building each page from scratch, but I think it adds real value. Each design was approved and handed over to the tech team. Obviously, the grid matrix, which is central to the Swiss Style, was difficult to make work on all platforms, and it was a real challenge. I don’t think we have compromised the design, if you look at the original designs, we have been true to each one.”
Lucy Batley, Creative Director comments:
“It is important to push the boundaries. How can you have a distinctive brand, if your website looks and feels like your competitors’? This website, in terms of design and technical execution is the perfect calling card, and it truly reflects us in terms of brand. We want to be brave, original and stand out from the crowd.”
Whitespace can never be underrated. It is an important element for both visual impact and readability. It feels quite inviting when a web page is laid out in such a fashion that the organisation of the page (and the site) is clearly conveyed in a split of a second. In this sense, the original Swiss Style designers are leveraging much more than just top-down communication in their poster designs, they are creating user-friendly interfaces.
Swiss Style is all about using less, so instead of adding more elements to work with, they prefer to remove as much as possible. This is a great example of the ‘less is more’ principle and of the ‘the content is the interface’ wisdom.