It's not just about the logo (although that's important!). Your brand is how your customers see your company and is the first step in deciding whether they want to work with you,
New brand and website for Sheffield recording studio and social enterprise
Hybrid 3 is a social enterprise which blends a fully-fledged professional recording studio complex with educational and arts projects. Their amazingly well-equipped recording studios, rehearsal rooms and audio production facilities are the go-to place for Sheffield’s musicians, but Hybrid3 also has a passion for developing local talent and providing community education…everybody deserves the chance to be heard!
Our task was to come up with a brand which covered the overall concept but also emphasised the two distinct halves of Hybrid3 which sometimes work apart and sometimes together. Then our concept would be tested fully by design and building a single website which did the job of the two previous, separate sites which had grown up around the two arms of the organisation.
After a fascinating series of ideas and concepts, we came up with a colour scheme and set of shapes which we worked into a brand for Hybrid3 (the overall organisation), Hybrid3 Pro (the music studios) and Hybrid Play (the educational side).
The colours of the main logo match the architecture and decor of the building, whilst the sub-logos are a single colour but echo the shapes of the main. This colour scheme becomes important on the website…
As Hybrid3 were familiar with WordPress, we decided it would speed things up and reduce the learning curve to use that as the content management system. We added WooCommerce for the merchandise shop and used a few custom-built Gutenberg blocks to give them a toolbox of pre-built elements they could draw on to quickly build new content.
Imagery was very important and the selection of large header photos and videos used were chosen especially for their colour and style, all supporting the brand.
The site needed to appeal to professional bands and musicians as well as educators and community groups. There was the danger that the style of a slick, cool, exclusive recording studio website mixed with a friendly, happy community site would jar badly and we needed to make sure both extremes met in the middle without compromising either. During the branding and site build, the one word which spanned over all of the parts of the business was “inspiration”. We needed to inspire people to create, whatever the reason they were at Hybrid3 and whatever their background or aspirations.
Video and large photos of real people actually creating and enjoying themselves in the Hybrid3 studios were a must, and formed a major part of the look of the site. Also, embeds from SoundCloud let visitors hear what is being made by Hybrid3’s users, so there is a feel of a working and busy organisation.
A recording studio is all about sound, so we also enabled the use of embeds from Soundcloud to showcase the huge range of work that is produced at Hybrid3.
Navigation-wise, the Pro and Play areas needed to both belong to the main site to avoid a confusing journey around the site, but also have a distinct feel of their own. There is a high chance that a visitor to the Pro area will never look at the Play area (or vice versa), so we needed to have common areas as well. Clever use of colour and content along with the specially commissioned copy also added to the uniform vs. separate feel we were trying to get across the site.
Hybrid3 work with the BBC and other arts organisations and it was important to show this to enhance the reputation of the studios.
Due to COVID-19, the studio was closed during much of the design and build work. Hybrid3 used this time to their advantage, being able to concentrate on a project which would have normally been interrupted by the day-to-day running of a business. This gave us the time to get all aspects of the site just right for a December 2020 soft launch, building momentum as the studios gear up to reopen at the start of 2021.
Brand and Website Rebuild
Whenever we mention that we work with hypnotists, there are always plenty of smart comments about our minds being controlled, or being mesmerised into working for free. And this is a problem with hypnosis in general – the entertainment, comedy stage hypnosis most people think of first overpowers the role hypnosis plays in healthcare.
The European Society of Hypnosis comprises of medical professionals who use hypnosis in their work as psychologists, psychotherapists, dentistry and other medicine. The society is, in fact, a society of societies. Each country has at least on organisation for medical hypnosis and the ESH brings all of these 45 separate European societies into one in order to share research and promote the highest professional standards across Europe.
Or task was twofold:
It’s an old cliché that a racehorse designed by committee is a camel – i.e. when too many people have input on a project, the result of adding all of their good ideas together becomes not a sum of all of the best parts but a disjointed, ugly hybrid. The ESH is a committee made up subcommittees of members of other committees! On top of that, each member of the board is from a different country and culture and speaks a different language. It’s well known that different countries and cultures have wildly different ideas about what looks good – even the same colour can represent life in one country and death in another. We needed to focus on the horse!
Rather than entering into the cycle of coming up with hundreds of brand options, inviting comments, refining and asking again, we decided we needed to keep a tight control on the process but, at the same time, make all the members feel like they were part of it. So we spent more time talking and writing before moving onto any design. The one thing that was unanimous was that we should steer away from spirals, concentric circles, eyes, etc. – all the done-to-death imagery associated with hypnosis. It was clear that a European map was high on everybody’s list. The other thing which helped was the the ESH has adopted English as its official language, so we were able to use a typographical approach when it came to the logo. Finally, everybody agreed that they didn’t want to move too far from their old look and there must be some nod back to the origins of the society.
The most important breakthrough came when we decided we were branding a society not hypnosis itself. It freed us from the problems with hypnosis gimmickry we had already identified. We also spoke a lot about what our idea of “European” was. A task made all the more challenging by the fact that Brexit was rumbling on and becoming ever more toxic. Even a reshuffle in the society’s top tier of leadership didn’t derail us.
We went for a limited palette of dark turquoise, dark grey and light grey. These colours looked trustworthy, clean and professional whenever we tried them out on print and web applications.
We thought Futura was a great choice for ESH as it’s a classic with very European influences. The sharpness of the “N”s and “Z”s along with the precise, geometry of the curves gives a scientific feel but with the elegance of signs you might see at a European art gallery. It also has a good set of weights which make it quite flexible for layouts and copy.
The existing logo had been around for over twenty years. Our issues with it were:
The thought process:
The website brief was simply a continuation of the same concepts covered in the branding: professional, gimmick-free, trustworthy and clean.
The site needed to do the following:
To the brief we added the need for:
The site has a large page count and we spent some time categorising and organising the information to make everything easier to find. To get to these pages, the navigation had to be undaunting and simple despite the number of links. We went for “megamenu”-style dropdowns backed up with lower “related pages” shortcuts where needed. This also helped the site to work well on mobile devices, unlike the previous site which had been built before the advent of smartphones and tablets.
We had already enforced a strict brand guide as a lot of ESH’s output is produced by different people in different places. This had led to serious inconsistencies in the way their documents, newsletters and other communications had looked in the past, with members often going off in their own direction. Even the regular newsletter struggled to keep to the same look from one issue to the next. It was important, therefore, to work to a set of rules ourselves as we were creating the site and to then pass those rules over to the ESH when it was time for them to take back the running of the site.
The site needed some large pictures and we decided to use a full-background approach, with imagery covering the entire page. The page content was pushed down to reveal the top part of each background image and the rest fell behind the content. This meant that the choice of photographs was important, so we set the following criteria for ourselves, and then the ESH for future updates:
The images we picked were a combination of originals from our own library and some from relatively obscure stock sites which matched the criteria.
The original site used WordPress and the ESH wanted to continue with this as their staff are used to updating the site.
A brand-new addition was a user-only area which allows members to have their own profile and home page to share information, their own publications and promote collaborations and contributions to their research from other members.
“A breath of fresh air.”
“A major step forward.”
“A fantastic job. Well done!”
Branding, illustration and website for plant hire company.
Chesterfield Paver Hire is a small company who had operated for years on word-of-mouth marketing. The owners decided to bring the company up-to-date and asked us to see what we could do.
We suggested that we first needed to provide a clear brand as it was deeply confusing for customers to see different colour schemes and logos on different paperwork and machinery.
This formed the basis of the design for a new website which describes the products available to hire simply and without clutter. We created some illustrations to show the machines alongside a simple specification table to make it easier to decide on the correct equipment.
The heavy use of black evoked the environment the machinery is used in but we countered this with bright, large pictures of the most colourful machines in CPH’s collection. On the photoshoot we also captured a library of closeups of the machinery and road surfaces to use as textures where a non-specific image was needed.
We also thought it was important to add real-world quotes from current customers to give potential new customers a sense of trust.
Hiring large plant machinery is best done on a local basis to minimise transportation costs and logistics so the site was written in order to highlight the company’s location wherever possible which, along with the very relevant domain name aimed to boost the search engine ranking of the site.
The collection of several different telephone numbers and email addresses was also rationalised.
The new website and its associated brand has resulted in an increase in bookings because of the online forms.
The local approach we took with the search engine optimisation has seen Chesterfield Paver Hire go from nothing to being the top result in a Google search for “Paver Hire Chesterfield.”
Future plans will involve building on the initial success with CPH engaging, with our help, some social media marketing.
Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation
Coverworld Steel Roofing and Cladding
Superfast South Yorkshire
Webasto Thermo and Comfort
The Copacetic Gentleman
The Garrison Hotel
Oakworth Homes Timber Housing