Case Study: EU Tech Branded for US Expansion
ETRM Services is a trading technology IT service provider for the global energy industry. When they found us they were having a fair amount of success in Europe during their first eight years in business, with hopes to expand their footprint to the US market. Their brand identity consisted of the following; logo, business card, website, and some self-made marketing documents that were originally established upon the launch of their business. Their business was primed for expansion and they were competing for new clients with some of the top-consulting firms in their industry. They felt as if they had outgrown their identity and needed to make a bold move to take their business to the next level. After a meeting with two of their partners here in New York, they decided shortly after to engage us for the full rebranding project.
We started by leading a discovery workshop to ensure that the ETRM management team was aligned on project goals, and gained a deeper understanding of the US market, after their success in Europe. The workshop took place in New York, bringing together the ETRM brain trust, so that we could perform our deep dive strategic consulting work. The collaborative strategy workshop defined the ideal customer and worked on things like positioning and key messaging, ultimately producing an outtake document that charted the path for all creative execution and hiring moving forward. This clear understanding of their customer, culture, and competition gave us the criteria from which to work, and always helps avoid catering to the whims of personal preferences and biases of the brain trust.
As a follow-up to the discovery session, we completed a research phase to get an external perspective on the organization and to confirm hypotheses posed within the workshop. Further to that, extensive online research helped get us familiar with the client’s industry, how others presented themselves, and a broad scope of the competitive landscape. Along with client interviews and outtake document, this research was helpful in giving us a deeper understanding of their client, their industry, as well as the target audience.
Based on the strategy session and initial discussions with ETRM, we began to compile keywords and verbiage based on the strategy interviews and research. These keywords become a springboard for design inspiration and a keystone for our graphic direction throughout the creative process. In the end, the identity needs to have meaning and purpose behind it, and be captured in the most simple, digestible way. Otherwise our brains will do what they are designed to do, and filter out the noise.
Design exploration begins
It became clear that an icon would be best to differentiate the brand, so the first task was to sit down and think about the best way to approach this. Initially, we worked with pencil and paper to sketch out rough ideas and then quickly brought those ideas to the computer, exploring shapes, color, and fonts. From the start, we steered clear of anything rigid, angular, or corporate, but were looking at shapes that suggested motion, collaboration, unity, and energy. As we further ventured into the design process, many of our conceptual ideas started to take shape with our core keywords of PARTNERSHIP, FLEXIBILITY, ENERGY and TECHNOLOGY becoming the focal points of our efforts. The continued progression of our designs started taking shape with the idea of various elements working together forming a unified whole and unique graphical form.
We develop hundreds of ideas and sketches in what becomes a conceptual playground of ideas.
At this point in our process, our designers start recognizing ideas with strong potential moving forward, while at the same time discarding weaker concepts. Concepts that have great potential are compiled and prepared for our internal review. During internal reviews, all the proposed concepts are discussed, the thinking behind each design is weighed, and measured, and debates are conducted on the merits of each design and how they adhere to our outtake document. This specificity allows us to make decisions on what will make the cut and what will not. This can become a difficult part of the process, as we are removing concepts that might be visually striking and of technical and artistic merit, but don’t fit the overall strategy. The end result is a concentrated selection of the few very best concepts that will be presented to our client. We always refer to the strategy outtake document to ensure that our chosen concepts are in line with the strategic positioning set forth.
After our internal review, the next step in the design process is the presentation of only the top concepts to the client. The client presentation consists of numerous pages dedicated to each design concept outlining the proposed design with pages dedicated to our thoughts behind the design, possible color palettes, typography, and practical mockups of the logo in use. This allows the client to see the logo in context to give them a sense of how the identity can be a springboard for their brand as we move beyond just the logo or mark. The presentation allows the client to see the logo as their core audience would see it, and compare each of the concepts side by side. As we took ETRM through the presentation, we initiated dialogue on each concept to get first impressions and an overall sense on which ideas best captured the strategy that was established. After the presentation, we handed off a copy for them to internally review and discuss further.
We have a winner
After the presentation, the ETRM team had two favorites, but there were aspects of some of the other concepts that resonated with them, so further discussion took place. In the end, after their internal review, ETRM decided on one concept they felt hit all the points we were trying to achieve and was the unanimous choice across the board. The final logo choice conveys a sense of complexity and order. It has a continuous flow of energy and movement which is representative of the company’s philosophy of working together as one, bringing moving parts together and working seamlessly with one-another within their organization as well as with their clients. We gathered ETRM’s feedback and incorporated that into the further development of the mark.
Once the logo was tweaked and refined, we finalized all colors and typography. To ensure cohesiveness and consistency across all touch-points, we created an identity guidelines document for use by the ETRM staff moving forward. These guidelines outline the logo and its uses, define colors and typography, and list out best practices in using the logo in different situations. These guidelines are instrumental in keeping everyone within the organization on brand in a consistent fashion, and help streamline all marketing efforts moving forward. Along with the guidelines, we delivered all final digital and print files so ETRM always has access to all the logo assets. The logo went through trademark process with an attorney and ETRM was able to register the mark.
The ETRM logo was chosen for inclusion to LogoLounge Book 11. Logo Lounge is a premier logo design site amongst industry professionals, which showcases expert identity work by notable designers and up-and coming talents all around the world. Each book features the most recent top 2,000 logos selected by industry judges.