The Brand Identity Interview
The Brand Identity recently spoke to our Co-Founder Max Ottignon and Design Director Luke Woodhouse about a few of our recent projects.
Let’s start off with your new website. What are the key things you wanted to communicate, and why?
We wanted to communicate two things:
1. That we believe in the power of integrity.
2. That we’re an integrated branding agency.
Integrity is fundamental to everything we do. We think that brands built on truth have the power to form longer, more powerful relationships with their audiences. So our process is designed to identify a brand’s core truths, and bring them to life in ways that are meaningful and relevant. We call this ‘branding with substance’.
It was also really important to communicate our integrated offer. We don’t just create brands – we bring them to life across all manner of touchpoints. We think the ability to understand how a brand has to behave across every channel helps us go beyond the theory and create really robust brands that work in the real world. It also keeps us learning. This year alone we’ve created 3D animations, art directed film and photography, designed interiors, products, packaging, websites and a whole lot more.
How has Ragged Edge evolved since starting in 2007?
We started out of a shared working space in Covent Garden before that was a thing. Luke joined in 2009 and, over the course of three actual studios, we’ve grown to a team of 27. The team includes designers, strategists, writers, developers and account managers. And we’re working on global projects for some of the world’s biggest brands, as well as some exciting and ambitious start ups.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind the two bespoke typefaces created for Camden Market?
We started the project by conducting consumer research, speaking to traders, locals and tourists. These insights helped inform our ‘unfollow convention’ brand idea and creative strategy, which led us to reject anything trend driven.
The Camden typefaces were based on the iconic Camden Lock bridge sign. It was painted by John Bulley in the 80s; it’s completely unique to Camden and full of character. The perfect fit with our brand idea.
So instead of competing with it by creating something new, we decided to embrace it. We took its letterforms and used them as the basis for a set of typefaces. Those quirky slabs give the timeless geometric forms a slight twist, which we loved. So it really was the ideal starting point. Our aim was to create an authentic, ownable voice for the whole area.
Is there a system behind how the two Camden typefaces interact?
Camden is famous for its irreverent creativity. We wanted a system that would champion this, so we intentionally created the brand as a toolkit for self expression.
It was important that the brand could flex ‘from punk to premium’ for Camden Market’s diverse range of audiences. So introducing a slick sans serif and having a broad family of typefaces to work with was crucial because it gives users the opportunity to really express themselves. It means that you can be creative within a framework and the result is always distinct and unique to Camden.
The two Camden typefaces work seamlessly together and we encourage people to experiment. In the guidelines we added some guidance for ‘functional’ typography to provide some structure but also said, ‘if you’re not breaking the rules, you’re doing it wrong’.
Does the way you approach work for a global client such as Grey Goose differ to how you approach work for a start-up such as Hipchips?
Not really. Only the amount of time changes. We always take a strategic approach and the design is always a visual expression of the creative strategy. We’re building in processes that we try and use for every project. We always start with loads of rough ideas and gradually edit and refine, regardless of what we’re working on.
The patterns used for Hipchips possess an elegant simplicity. Can you explain the idea behind them, and the rules for when and where they’re used?
We created them to reference the variety of dips and their different flavours and textures. The dips will change seasonally so it was important to be able to use a unique colour and pattern combination. We have a secondary colour palette which includes 10 colours and a suite of 10 patterns, so that gives us the opportunity to use 100 unique combinations.
What do you think is the most important part of the process in a branding project?
The most important part of the process is the process itself. We’ve honed and fine tuned the way we work over the last few years and we’re always looking for better ways to do things. Our process always starts with workshops and research. They inform the strategy, which inspires the design, with great ideas running through everything.
If you could only use the same combination of two typefaces and three colours for every future project, what would they be?
We’d use our bespoke brand typeface; Modern Era Substance paired with Lyon from Commercial Type. We designed Modern Era Substance to work perfectly with Lyon and to us, they’re just perfect. And for colours we’d use black and white, with a splash of yellow.
The Bulb identity moves away from the corporate feel of other energy companies. Why do you feel it was important to make that jump?
No one loves their energy supplier. Bulb wanted to change that with a simple, customer-focussed brand that provided renewable energy as standard.
Our strategic approach led us to our brand idea – ‘Positive Energy’ – inspired by millennials’ desire to embrace brands that strive to make the world a better place.
We intentionally chose a vibrant pink as the core brand colour to stand out from the corporate blues and greens of the ‘big six’. It expressed our brand idea in a warm, human way and avoided ‘green’ clichés associated with renewable energy. We brought in more natural and human cues with hand painted elements and created a logo inspired by handwriting, electricity and forward momentum. The result is something that is intentionally disruptive and eye catching.
What’s coming up for Ragged Edge in 2017?
We’re constantly striving to get better at everything we do, so the plan for 2017 is to push our skills and our work as far as we possibly can.
We’ve also just added a few more talented designers to our team, and are looking for strategists and writers to help with our expanding work-load. So it’s an exciting place to be at the moment.