AutoPro a car care brand

AutoPro is a premium car care offer that is both forecourt and independent roadside retail offer.

A benchmark car care brand, leading the way in roadside car care retail. We did the research, strategy, identity creation, design implementation and interior design. This concept has been rolled out across Dubai and is now a franchise package too. Another bench mark branding project by a leading creative agency.

We designed every touch point, from seat covers, to interiors, from uniforms to air fresheners, from wayfinding to livery, from stationery to promotion and advertising.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle re brand

Garden undertook an re brand and image refresh project for the car shuttle offer of EuroTunnel. With clear objectives for the project, we worked closely with the EuroTunnel team to create a cohesive strategy and identity design to be launched in phases.

The objectives for the re brand was to build onto the heritage of the brand, connecting the UK and Europe’s own brands, and making people understand that this offer is about the car shuttle service rather than the people carrier that it is often confused with. It was also to provide the customer benefits that using a car to get to Europe has.

We approached the challenge on several levels, firstly we made sure that we created a visual identity that shared European and UK values, using the rich blue and red heritage. By creating a mark that showed the flow from two sides created a sense of simplicity and freedom. We created a tagline ‘drive though europe’ clearly set the customer benefit on every brand touchpoint.

Essentially, we created an attract, engage and convert approach, by owning the colour palette we get instant association with UK/Europe offer, the tagline defined the benefit and differentiator of it being a car shuttle brand, and by using images that inspired the imagination we manage to seduce hearts and imaginations.

Garden rebrands Summerhill+co

The London office of branding agency Garden is excited to announce the launch of the new brand Summerhill + Co – A London based company offering a carefully curated collection of luxury furniture brands.

John Summerhill of the European Design Centre decided that after 35 years in the luxury furniture business building a brand by product addition, that it made sense to build a brand with a full product portfolio. In order to do this he turned to London based branding company Garden.

Garden created a brand strategy aligned to this philosophy and created a brand concept that could sit alongside some of the most famous furniture brands in the world whilst representing the ethos of Summerhill + Co.

Proud to be DBA members!

We are proud to announce that we are officially members of the Design Business Association (DBA)!

Top 100

We are proud to announce that we got into the top 100 design agencies this week at number 87! This is great news for us!

Rebrands and context

The resent Aldi re brand has lead me to write a piece about change and audience relevance, and how having a broader understanding on how brands relate to customers, in the process struggle of brand change, the important core is often replaced with fear induced waste.

Re brands all have their own boundaries, and it is understanding these that makes them stagnate, grow or shine. Take the recent Co-op retail brand, although I or Garden didn’t do it, I have to say that it is by far one of the best re brands I have seen for a long time. Its fresh view with its relationship with the customer is insightful, it elegantly manages to use its past – a ’touch’ of retro, with the future, through simplicity and colour. What this re brand manages to do is bridge its heritage with the future, it manages to retain its past loyal customer and grow its younger more progressive future customer.

All too often, no actually I would say almost always, the design process and client side fear stifle re brands. But it needn’t be that way, it’s all about context and relevance. For example, Mars has a loyal customer base, people know it, they know what to expect, and any change needs to understand the level of recognition that needs to stay, any sudden change in this would far out-way any rebrand benefit. But with high street supermarket brands, people don’t purchase on impulse, they don’t reach out their hand on autopilot and grab a Mars, they shop because of location, price, brand loyalty. Therefore the visual identity of a brand in these circumstances needs to reflect what the brand promises to offer.

So, in the case of the Aldi re brand, in my ‘humble’ opinion, they have missed an opportunity, they have almost religiously it seems, tried to stay loyal to its past, but simply modernise the font and forms, and yet the customer wont care about this, but what they could have done is create a brand that sheds some of the things that dated the old brand, shifted into a new and exciting space, and still captured the spirit of the original brand – like the Co-ops retail brand has managed to do. Imagine the Aldi symbol, simplified, cleaned up, similar but fresher colour palette – much nicer!

At the end of the day, it is all about context, and as I said earlier, understanding this context is vital, as it allows you to see very easily how far you can go, what you need to hold on to, and how much a customer is willing to accept. Get this right and you can create benchmark world leading brands, get it wrong and you run the risk of costly mistakes. I suppose an analogy would be, if you are going to play poker, it helps if you can count cards, if you can’t count cards, play a safe hand and you ‘may’ walk away with the same money you started with, the trick though, is to count cards.

Of course re brands go much further than just the logo, let’s hope that the brand application shines more than the logo.

 

Questions on rebranding

Why do companies rebrand?

A rebrand is when a company or organisation with an existing brand decides that they need to re invent them selves. This could be for many reasons, such as market changes, mergers or acquisitions, product launches, competitor changes or simply a change in the direction of the business.

How long do rebrands take to do?

The time it takes to rebrand a company depends on the size of the company and other areas of consideration, such as how long an audit takes, the size of the team, the scale of physical changes, such as signage, interiors, packaging, manufacturing etc.

How much does a rebrand cost?

The cost of a rebrand depends on the scale of the commitment. For example, a high street retail brand with multiple outlets will need to consider the impact of signage and interior costs, maybe uniforms, packaging and print, livery, receipts and billing – there are many considerations. Where as an online business can change relatively quickly and cost effectively as implementation costs will be much smaller. The actual cost from a brand consultancy point of view is easier to calculate, ranking from 10 to 20 percent of marketing spend, or at least, that is the level of importance that should be applied to the process.

Desk space available in Shoreditch East London

We have quality desk spaces available within our studio, large windows with lots of light, clean modern space with high ceilings, creative book resource, colour printers, wifi broadband, kitchenette, views of East London.

Located within easy walking distance of Liverpool Street and Old Street stations, our office is located right in the heart of the creative capital, with bars, restaurants, shops and many exciting events. We are a branding agency and as such often have a requirement for additional services, so if you are a photographer, illustrator, programmer, 3D visualiser, architect, animator, if you bring skills we we use, we may well also have work for you too.

There are currently 5 desk available, and they are £220 per month, this also includes, wifi and electricity.
Drop us an email if you are interested; [email protected]

Why should I be brand loyal?

“You’ve worked even harder than we imagined you would – have some more money”.

“You didn’t use as much as we thought you would – have some money back”

I think it’s fair to say that we’d like to hear these types of things on a regular basis. Not because we are getting something for nothing but because it’s fair – it’s the right thing to do.

The key thing behind these two statements – and what makes them a little unusual – is that their main focus is…me…the customer….the end-use… (call it what you will). Quite often, brand messages focus on the brand. So, typically, “we are a great place to work because______” or “our service leaves the competition standing…”. Both of which are probably quite true but – in essence – these brand messages promote & justify the status quo. True enough there are implicit “user” benefits in there, but the primary purpose is for them to tell you how good they are (just in case you were feeling a little hard-done-by by paying too much for example.)

But, going back to the “me” focus for a while. It genuinely makes me take notice when a brand seems to be thinking about me – about what they can really do for me, what they can do to improve a service or give me a better product.

I got a text the other day from Orange. It read:

“Hi from Orange. Best Plan is our free service that reviews your mobile usage every 6 months to make sure you’re getting the best value. We’ve just completed your review and you could save money by switching to your recommended Orange talk plan. Visit Orange.co.uk/bp for details. Terms apply.”

I suppose the reason that this has some resonance with me is that it seemed to form part of a genuinely empathetic strategy: “they seem to be thinking about things from my perspective”.

It’s very common for people to shop around (especially in the telco sector) but the reality is that people probably don’t quite have the time. And when they do get round to it, the chances are they will leave for another provider (especially if they get approached by the other provider). But I think that this particular strategy will go some way into ensuring that their brand loyalty stays pretty strong. And one of the reasons for that loyalty/retention is down to simplicity: “they did the thinking for me”.

On a similar cost-saving note, my recent experiences with BT show that they can be quite flexible but I can’t help feeling that they don’t do simplicity very well. For example, it’s pretty difficult to email them if I don’t have my long account number handy (when I get the urge to email them, I generally don’t have a copy of my phone bill handy!) When I eventually get through by calling them, they are flexible inasmuch as they will reduce my direct debit amount down to the amount that I want to or should pay (which makes sense given that I rarely use a landline any more & I get a ton of credit balances). But somewhat annoyingly they do have a habit of increasing the amount arbitrarily again afterwards when you aren’t looking (apparently the computer does it). So you need to call them and go through it all again!

Anyway, just looking at these two scenarios, it’s pretty clear to me that brands can give themselves a significant advantage over their competitors when they can show clear empathy: think about me, do something for me, make things easier, make things cheaper. They don’t have to be big things. The example I gave above isn’t exactly ground breaking but it does go some way towards making me look at that brand in a slightly different light: a little bit of positivity.

Actually maybe it IS a big thing example. Orange apparently have 144 million customers worldwide. If this approach means they retain 5% of customers that they would otherwise have lost. That’s a hell of lot of business!

So, simple lesson here really: think about me and I will like you and I might stay with you. Make it hard for me and I won’t necessarily leave you but you’ll make it easier for me to do so.

Now, if only Orange would ring me with an offer to replace my BT landline and broadband…

Can you be TOO friendly? (branding and authentic attitudes)

Branding and authentic care has its place.

I got a call recently from my car breakdown people. I’d called them out recently so I assumed that this was a follow up. I don’t have a problem with follow-up calls in principle – feedback is always good, especially bad feedback. But as it turned out this was a sales call masquerading as a follow-up (so a slight ruse on their part really). To be fair, I don’t really have a massive problem with sales calls either: they may well be offering something that I could just need so, assuming I have the time, I like to keep an open mind.

In fact, I’d filled in their online questionnaire at the time of the breakdown, and with the exception of the time it took to get to me (2 and half hours!), I’d rated them as excellent throughout. So the reality of this calls must, logically, be purely sales. And it was.

I have a pretty good memory but the only problem here is that I can’t actually remember what the call was about now. All I can remember is the caller constantly referring to me as “mate”, “bud” or “sir”.

Now I know all good brands have guidance in terms of how they should speak. I’m guessing (and it is just a guess) that the above probably doesn’t really fit with that guidance. I mean it’s good to be approachable, it’s great to be friendly and a little familiarity can be quite useful but I can’t help thinking that this one was slightly overdone. I mean in a scenario where I really need them then I may put up with it and even think it’s a little quirky. But if the scenario is reversed then it’s irritating at best and downright annoying at worst.

Maybe I’m overreacting here but the reality is that odd or inconsistent behaviour will get talked about much more than good & consistent behaviour: it’s much more likely for someone to say “I spoke to X company’s customer services the other day – can’t get over how rude/arrogant/patronizing (delete as appropriate) they were….” than “I called Y company last week, what a nice bunch they are…”. Clearly that’s the case here as I’m writing about it!

What’s the lesson here?

A brand doesn’t want or need a bunch of robots at the other end of the line, speaking from a script – that’s as off-putting as my “mate” at the other end of my call. But what it does need is a consistent approach. Being friendly for example, is open to interpretation but it shouldn’t veer into over friendly. But regardless of your individual brand values, the most important approach is honesty. If my caller was honest & simply courteous (which is clearly the safer option) then I probably would have listened on. I might even remember what it was he was trying to sell me!

Don’t waste my time – People don’t have time for brand fluff; talk less but talk smart!

You know what’s really annoying? People who talk too much!

And not just people but things in general. For example, you know when you watch a film that lasts for hours and you sit there and eventually stumble out of the cinema nursing a sore behind and you wonder “so what was the point of the 1st hour? It didn’t really tell me that much. OK, maybe we could have kept some of it but definitely lost a good 20 minutes. And come to think of it, they really dragged towards the end there.” So in the end, you could have ended up with a great hour and a half rather than a long and drawn out 3 hours. OK, I’m not saying everything should be purely practical and functional – there is and should be scope for the artistic for the sake of it – but there’s always a limit.

The point of this piece is pretty simple really: we live in an age where time is at a premium – we want to know what something does and quickly. What’s the benefit to me here? Will it improve my life? Will it entertain me? What does it cost?

Recently I downloaded an app called AppGratis – a brilliant concept for those who – like me – don’t like parting with money. The idea is simple – get a paid app for free every day. The people behind AppGratis negotiate with the app developers, feature their app for 24 hours and move on to the next. Like I say, a brilliant idea and it’s definitely one that I refer to regularly.

The only problem is this. It’s completely mysterious at 1st glance what each and every app actually does. Any meaning is buried under a vaguely tenuous and wooly intro paragraph (or 2). Usually buried even deeper somewhere in the middle of the 2nd paragraph is where you’ll get a clue as to what the app is actually for.

I suppose it’s pretty clear on the law of averages that not every app is going to appeal to me, but surely that makes a functional and practical intro even more appropriate? Or just get to the point!

This brings me to one the best things I ever heard in relation to brands – what’s the point? A simply brilliant question. And one every brand should ask itself. What’s your purpose? What are you trying to say? Why are you saying that for? Does this improve or detract? Are we talking to the right people?

If brands constantly asked these types questions, I reckon life would be a lot simpler. And isn’t simplification a good thing? The best and most lauded inventions tend to do just that, simplify; the computer, the plane, the wheel…All these things make our lives easier, more efficient and even more fun.

Maybe the pointless wording only takes away 20 seconds from my life everyday. But it’s an annoying 20 seconds. And I remember it and I’m not getting it back! And the more a brand communicates fluff the least likely that that will then turn into a brand experience.
Perhaps it’s just a question of time. The more brands think, the more they understand what they are about, the more they understand what their audience is about, the less they have to say. Or as Blaise Pascal once put it “I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter”.

So, the moral is THINK MORE > LEARN MORE > THINK SMART > SPEAK LESS

And that lesson is truly universal and shouldn’t purely be restricted to brands. I started on a film analogy and I will (sort of) close on one. Many years ago, I believed that the key to delivering a good & effective presentation was to build slowly and get to a big (maybe even “audience- surprising”) finish. What I neglected to realise at that time was that I wasn’t there to entertain: I was there to deliver a solution. So, the approach changed to: 1) 1st tell your audience what you propose, why & how they are going to benefit and 2) then tell them how you are going to do it.

Put simply: if you believe in your solution (which, of course, you should!) then you have the audience with you within the 1st couple of minutes. If you bore them with peripherals then you lose them and you may not get them back. If you don’t believe in the solution then maybe you should start over…

(Oh, I’m aware of the irony of me including an analogous pre-amble here by the way!)