Following our recent blog post on ‘Planning an Effective Rebrand’, I thought it would be useful to delve under the creative hood and provide insight into the creative process we took to develop the new HMA brand identity.
Re-branding is a complex process, but if you throw into the mix that the company you’re re-branding is your own, that your time is prioritised on client work and you want everyone to get involved in the process then you have all the ingredients for a potential mud pie!
So how did we do it?
About 12 months ago, we spent a lot of time reimagining HMA’s proposition which had to be the focus and a starting point for the creative brief. This was a vital piece of the puzzle; get this bit right and the rest should just fall into place! So we focussed on ‘Who we are’.
We are HMA
Our vision is:
To be the most effective digital agency specialising in Health, Science and Technology, widely acknowledged for our creativity, innovation and exceptional client service.
Our mission is:
Our vision and mission is integral to the HMA story and needed to be reflected in our new brand identity. So by focusing on Effectiveness, Knowledge, Creativity, Success and Ambition within Health, Science and Technology we had a foundation for our rebrand journey.
Brand identity workshop
We were conscious that a change of this nature required buy-in from the all the HMA team – after all, they will be the ones living and breathing the brand on a day to day basis. Our usual process would be to use the refined brand proposition and values to guide the creation of the visual identity but with our own rebrand, we also wanted to take advantage of the fact that there were many people in the business that could creatively contribute to the visual manifestation of the brand.
Unfortunately, the day job just kept getting in the way and the project was being delayed further and further which couldn’t continue. So what could we do to engage everyone and extract their valuable contributions without taking up too much time?
We got the paper, pens and Post-it notes out! We filled the office with visual cues to spark thoughts, discussions and interactions which would inform the aspirations of our brand identity. We considered elements such as typography, colours, photography, visual styling, and illustration and reviewed their alignment with our brand proposition. And with digital at the heart of what we do, we explored the art of the possible with regards to the presentation of content and the creation of digital experiences.
Everyone contributed, gave honest feedback without it disrupting their daily schedules and workloads. We also set up a Pinterest board so that everyone could contribute ideas remotely if needed.
Getting the crayons out
Once we had our ‘inspiration’ we began to focus on our brand identity creation – this is where the fun began with my crayons at the ready! We had clear direction from our brand proposition work and the brand identity workshop which all fed into the creative brief so using this information, I initially created three different logo concepts based on thematic shapes.
Each shape has a different visual and symbolic meaning which resonates our brand proposition and values. But they also had more obvious visual cues, for example, the cylinder…
In the early stage concepts, I experimented with each of the shapes…
…before the decision was made to progress with the cylindrical route as it had the strongest rationale and was the most aesthetically pleasing. But the final logo had to be aesthetically PERFECT, down to the finest details such as the width of the cylinders, letter spacing and the position of the bar in the ‘H’ to create the perfect balance so the refinement work began.
Once the logo form was developed, we established the colour palette. Colour psychology is an interesting subject and we were keen to ensure that our selected colour palette reflected our brand proposition and values. The Teal, Crimson and Blue selected all provided the value association we were looking for so our new logo was born!
Developing the rest of the brand
Our purely typographical logo provides simplicity and the depth of colour ensures it can ‘standalone’ so we didn’t want to interfere with this too much. We did, however, want to develop a graphical element which would support and complement the logo for our collateral if needed. For this, we combined visual themes from the logo with HMA’s focus on Health, Science & Technology.
Of course, the logo and graphical element is just one part of a brand identity. If brand elements were a band it’s likely that the logo would be the lead singer and the graphical element would be the backing singer, so the next step was to bring in the other members and like all good bands, balance is the key.
Using the proposition, our brand identity workshop results and the expertise of our team, we developed our tone of voice, photography, typography, iconography and Illustration styles to help us create a seamless and consistent visual experience all brought together in a robust brand guidelines document.
And there you have it, my insight into the HMA strategic rebrand. The process wasn’t seamless, they were disagreements, there were moments where some of us held our head in our hands, but there were also moments where we grinned like idiots… Our brand has a story behind it, it was a team effort and one we are proud of.
If you’d like to discuss your rebrand project with us then please do get in touch. You might also be interested in taking a look at a few example branding projects for Form2 and Norwich Research Park.