Branding agency Garden re brand an legend

Branding agency Garden rebrand Janes, the global defence intelligence agency. Starting with a full brand audit, leadership and stakeholder interviews and industry research, we defined a clear strategic path that saw Janes change their direction from being known as a publisher of military magazines and yearbooks, to a forward thinking intelligence agency specialising in delivering relevant, unbiased defence data.

A competitor and industry study told us that many colours had been taken up, however orange was a stand out opportunity. Plus after exploring the colour palettes associated with the military sector, orange felt fresh and contemporary, it reflected their new brand values and with a base of slate grey, it provides Janes with a balance of technology and strength. We felt that a strong symbol would be the right direction,  which lead us to use the letter ‘J’ in a way that felt like a stamp or authority to reflect it’s importance, as well as a subtle hint to the traditional stencil lettering of past military and defence typography.

Janes defence rebrand.
Janes defence rebrand.

A six month program saw us take their team through the branding process, from brand strategy through to creation, and then on to implementation. This included website IA, wireframes and page design, a series of brand and capability videos, full brand and technical guidelines, a brand extranet, trademark advice, stationery design and template creation, PPT design and Microsoft template creation, and even their masthead for their publications.

From the moment of launch, it has very well received by the Janes team and the defence industry world wide.


Wafi is a Saudi forecourt offer, the first Saudi offer to be based around sustainability and modularity. Changes to policy in the region meant that all forecourt offers need to raise their standard to align to international levels, however the model has been mostly based around fuel and not retail in the past, and changing the focus to retail has meant many changes. Equally as important is the fact that most forecourt outlets could not afford to re build their outlets, and so modularity for cost reasons as well as faster implementation has been imperative.

New offices

We are very pleased to have moved into a new office and location by the canal in Islington. Our new address is; 28 Waterside, 44–48 Wharf Road, London N1 7UX come give us a visit, although, mind the boxes, as still got lots to unpack!

Sandwich Cream

I recently read the news that Heinz is considering changing the name of Salad Cream to Sandwich Cream – I find this fascinating!

I can’t say if I think this is a good thing to do or not, but I have to say that my initial instinct is that it isn’t necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in getting naming right and aligning brands to consumer expectation, but this feels instinctively ‘unnecessary’. Ok, so this is my logic, and let me just preamble with the fact that I have no background data on this, no surveys, polls, no qual research, it is only a feeling.

You see for me, consumers lived for years with Carphone Warehouse, yes massive mistake to leave their brand like that, in fact I told them 17 years ago it was a mistake, and they told be to bugger off I didn’t know what I was talking about… ahum. However, they did stumble on for 16 years before they completely lost any relevance to consumers. However my point here, is if Carphone Warehouse can stumble on with a name that has no relevance at all, then I can’t see that a name that has such a long standing history (114 years) with a product that changing it is going to be wise.

I have another issue, and it’s this; salad cream ‘to me’ has been a way of adding flavour and texture to something that can sometimes taste a little less interesting than our tastebuds have been trained to desire. It therefore has a emotional connection that has been deep set in our conscience. The two things, salad and cream, are a perfect combination. They bring an emotional match that tells us that flavour and texture can be added to something fresh and healthy, thus a partnership made in heaven.

The trouble with Sandwich Cream is that the match feels stodgy, it feels unhealthy, dirty, a match made in chips shops, and while I’m at it, many people cover their chips in it, should we call it Chip Cream?

I am all up for relevance, but please Heinz, don’t ignore all other context just for the flavour of the strategy day – relevance (pun wasn’t intended). The name was a positive thing, it encouraged people to eat salads, and yes it may not be healthy in itself, but in the same way dips are unhealthy, if a small amount can add flavour to a salad, then is that so bad?

So you are taking a name that has rich history, people know it and love it, and yes it isn’t the healthiest, but it does have a healthy benefit, and you change it to associate with something stodgy, unhealthy and in the process, encourage people to use it in an unhealthy way – hmmm… not sure.

The mysteries of brand creation versus the realities of brand perception.

You do branding? Oh you mean you write a load of bulls**t?

This is a genuine comment that I received relatively recently at a dinner party. It’s actually a pretty common response (well not that exact sentiment) when I get asked the inevitable “what do you do?” question at dinner parties, general social events, picking up the kids from school etc.

And – to an extent – I can understand it. As brand strategists, designers, managers & creators our collective existence is not as easily understood as, say, lawyers, politicians or traffic wardens – it’s certainly far more nebulous than these (but hopefully a little more popular).

But, I think it’s important to distinguish what we do as brand creators with what brands are as a general concept.  The former can be allowed to be a little mysterious but the latter most definitely should not be.

How we go about our business varies from individual to individual, agency to agency.  Some agencies are very much led by abrand strategy; some are very much led by a visual concept (I very much believe that we, at Garden, balance these approaches very well but that’s for a different piece for a different time). Some ideas spring from the mind of a visionary whilst other ideas come from a committee (I mean to use that word in the nicest possible way rather than the pejorative way that that word can be used in the “creative” context).  Similarly some designers find inspiration by using good old-fashioned pen and paper whilst others could never function without a screen. Some immerse themselves in research: living and breathing every minute of their lives in a product or sector whilst others favour a more remote, removed and clinical approach.

But in the end, it probably doesn’t matter. How we go about creating a brand is of very little importance to the outside world. By analogy, the lengths & depths that Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis or Christian Bale would go to in creating roles, the drug induced inspirations (I’m not condoning!) underpinning Aldous Huxley’s books, William S. Burroughs’ “cut-up” techniques or the reasons why an apple became representative of Apple are of minor anecdotal importance. What matters, is the end result. And that’s exactly how a brand should be viewed. Does the brand work? Does it engage visually? Does it engage emotionally? Is it clear? Is it coherent? Is it consistent? Does it deliver? These are the indicia that matter.

I’ve wanted to post this video here for a long time and I think that it really does prove that good brands are far from mysterious. And it also proves that people understand brands far more than they give themselves credit for. At Garden, we’ve been lucky to have created brands all over the world and also ran as many brand engagement programs in as many places with as many diverse audiences as one can imagine. I tend to start these sessions with this or a similar video explaining what branding is – the general nodding of heads over the years have shown me that: 1) irrespective of their backgrounds, people really do connect with these brands 2) great brands do not necessarily need complex words to effectively engage with an audience 3) simplicity is still key.  And, just as importantly, what these sessions have also shown me is that people don’t care about how we went about creating their brands but they do care about what their brand means to them: an emotion that’s very similar in the ”real” world, and, I would argue, exactly how it should be!


As a branding agency, I would say that naming is probably one of the hardest things that we ever have to do. Like many things though, these things always seem deceptively simple after the event. Great names sometimes feel like they were just plucked out of the air but I’d say that they probably came at the end of a lot of blood, sweat, tears, tantrums and several disagreements. Or, maybe it was one of those rare occasions when they just got lucky.
But if you’re not feeling lucky, there are some basic things that you should think about. These are not “rules” per se but just some general guide points.

Set some (reasonable) boundaries
You don’t want to stifle your creativity before you’ve even begun but it’s important to set yourself some general rules before you get going. Before you embark on your quest for the perfect name, you need to set yourself some clear boundaries. That way, whether you are working alone or as part of a group or even briefing a branding agency, you’ll be able to keep a fair degree of control over the potential routes that you could take.Generally, by the time we get to the naming phase we would have already conducted extensive research as well as created a brand strategy or strategic summary. So, in these cases, we will have a pretty clear idea of our product’s “personality”, audience, promise and voice. These help to shape and control any potential names by answering fundamental questions such as “are we serious?”, “are we fun…amusing…cheeky?”, “are we talking to teens, mums or business men?”, “are we talking to everyone?”, “are we budget or premium?”,“Who should care about us?” and “why?”.All branding agencies tend to work in their own way. At Garden, we initially tend to work on naming ideas individually (to a short brief) before convening and conducting a group brainstorm (or 2 or 3…). I find that the individual exercises are useful, as people tend to feel a lot less restricted when working in isolation. It also means that you can start a brainstorm with some fair preparation and avoid any tumbleweed moments.

Have fun
To some, approaching a naming exercise can seem daunting and – at times – even embarrassing. Although I’ve said that you need certain boundaries (for practical reasons) you should still feel free (and encourage everyone) to go for some more interesting – and maybe even wacky – routes: apples have nothing to do with computers but it’s a pretty good name & oranges have nothing to do with telecommunications but, likewise it works too. Having said that, I can’t say I’ve ever been a great fan of BlackBerry! Of course, there are infinitely more routes (& some non-fruit routes too) but hopefully you get the idea!

Be open
Keep an open mind in your brainstorms. Listen to every name idea and try not to shoot them down or judge too harshly as soon as you hear them. It’s an interesting thought but sometimes the silliest sounding names can spark off some really good ones. And also some of our best ideas come from the most unusual sources – some branding and design agencies stick purely to the creative roles for these sessions but we always involve the entire agency wherever possible. Great ideas are not limited to job titles!

Don’t be too mathematical
Democracy is great but it often doesn’t work. Let me qualify that: we’ve often generated names and put them to a vote (where you are not allowed to vote for your own) and quite often everyone’s collective 3rd or 4th choices end up mathematically with the most votes.

Be prolific
Rather than ache over single names, try and run your way through as many as possible. It’s often whilst you are in a flurry that the best names come out. Encourage others to do the same.

Be brave and don’t play too safe
Feel free to make up names – Xerox, Sony, Häagen-Dazs are 3 simple examples – the latter is especially interesting as it’s an American brand that wanted to sound as exotic (and European) as possible. Similarly, sometimes bolting words together can also produce some interesting results. Superdry looks like a strange & historic Japanese/American hybrid but it’s a relatively modern English brand.

Be descriptive
If at all possible. For example, if you’re an online only offering, it would make great sense to be descriptive in terms of what you do in the name. So, if your business is booking hotel rooms then something like “” may help in terms of being a good, practical name. OK, it’s not the sexiest of naming types but a descriptive name will help immensely in getting people to find your site. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a pretty complex area and a little beyond the scope of this piece so we’ll post a piece on that soon. Most names however – especially the more personality driven ones – are not descriptive. But if they feel right for the brand and offering then you are probably on the right path. What is important to remember here though is that marketing spend and campaigning may have to be increased in order to embed the brand in the public consciousness. Spotify opted for a more “verb” driven name when launched in October 2008. They invested heavily in marketing and awareness-led campaigning in general – so much so that they actually reported a significant loss at the end of that year (-$4M+) but the overall investment paid off as they had in the region of 10M paid and 30M paid subscribers by mid 2014.

Once you’ve found your name you may just want to check them. You’ll need to do a couple of checks:
IPO check. This will identify names that have already been trademark registered and in the relevant classes (of course, you’ll need to check which classes are appropriate to your product)

But, note that not every brand will be registered. Some are not (and cannot be) registered – or certainly would be met with a lot of resistance – Chanel, for example, failed to register the word “jersey” in the UK after objection from the Channel Islanders. Similarly “Google Glass” can be (and is) registered but Google may struggle to get “Glass” registered on its own (it’s too generic)

Acronym or initialism. If you go for a multiple word name, it’s worth checking that you don’t accidentally have an unfortunate or rude acronym. In 2009, The Wisconsin Tourism Federation had to change their name to the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin because they got tired of the jokes – although to be fair the WTF expression probably came afterwards. But in 2000, a newly formed Canadian political party came up with the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party or CCRAP for short. They quickly changed it to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance.

Other language fails
This one is a little harder and clearly some of the biggest brand owners have fallen foul of it over the years. Mitsubishi’s Pajero works well pretty much everywhere but in Spanish (you can check the meaning of that one yourself!). Nokia’s “Lumia” is Spanish slang (again) for prostitute, whilst Apple’s “Siri” is a rude Georgian word for a certain part of a man’s anatomy. Finally, “Pee cola” from Ghana just about fails in most parts of the world as does “Urinal Hot drink” – except the Czech Republic where it’s from.

Say it over and over and over again, if you’re not bored of hearing it after a 1000 times then it’s probably not that bad.

Look at it over and over again
Write it out, type it out, stick it up on the wall – look at it endlessly. If your eyes don’t get bored then you are almost there.

Ask yourself if the name is capable of creating intrigue & interest. You don’t want to be mysterious – far from it. But you do want something that will catch the imagination. And who knows, maybe create or completely redefine a category. Innocent smoothies did just that with their brilliantly named brand a number of years ago.

Ask yourself if the name is “campaignable”
If your chosen name is of the made up variety or not especially descriptive, it could still lend itself to being campaigned or “taglined”. In fact, as a branding agency, these are areas that we look at separately to the naming phase but it doesn’t hurt to think about them as early as possible either. Think: Believe
Because you’re worth it, Just do it, Indeed – and certainly in the case of the latter – they can stir up an emotional connection on their own – even without the brand name.

Ask yourself if the name feels “right”
If you think you’ve ticked all these metaphorical boxes, then all you need to do is:

Finally, find a great designer!

Now that your hard work is over, take a breath, create a nice brief, find yourself a great designer and enjoy!

Aquila – a brand for construction management

A new and fresh approach to property construction project management required a new and fresh approach to the brand. We created a bold and unique brand which contrasted black and white photography with a bright a colour palette and graphical shapes, bringing to life the delicate balance perfect architectural delivery with the art of solid project management.

From brand strategy, naming, brand creation and implementation, an enjoyable process has defined a new and engaging brand, check out the website;

Congratulations to Khalid & Spirit of the Emirates!

Garden would like to gratulate Khalid Alansari for winning the Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for young Business Leaders, for best idea for his Dubai airship project Spirit of the Emirates. How exciting to have an airship grace the sky’s of Dubai – a new Dubai icon possibly?

The idea behind this project is not only about bringing a new icon to the Dubai skyline, but to bring with it new technology, with ideas such as augmented reality, social media integration, event support and much more.

Khalid has worked hard for his passion and this is a well deserved award, a long dream to bring the grace of an airship to Dubai’s sky, it would be amazing to see this come to fruition.

Garden are also proud to have supported Khalid in this project, it’s exciting to see this brand getting traction.

Good luck Khalid!