A Branding Back Story

By Cathy Barlow | August 19, 2019

A good brand should ideally reflect what a company does, how it does it, and what it stands for. That’s not always easy to achieve, especially when a business grows and evolves. Smith Goodfellow has been going since 1980, and during that time has seen many changes, including how it looks. Here’s a snapshot of SG fashion through the ages.

Back in the 1980s things were very different. Bear in mind that computers were not yet prevalent in most businesses, personal computers were only just emerging, and the basic, pixelated fonts looked a lot like this:

In the Smith Goodfellow office we had one computer, which was used for accounts. We created all our copy in handwriting, which was then typed up on an electric typewriter by our admin team, photocopied and posted or faxed. Because our work was so firmly focused on print media and the written word, our logo was designed to take the S and G of Smith Goodfellow and turn it into stylised ‘speech marks’, using the blocky ‘3D’ look that was all the rage then. The colour palette was chosen to look professional without being too corporate, and the iconic end result stayed with us for decades.When I re-joined the company in 2002 there was a feeling that our image was long due an overhaul, and that something more colourful was in order. My son had just created a graphic as part of a school project, which caught the eye of our then Chairman, and out of that our ‘rainbow’ design was born.

By updating the font and playing with the idea that the colourful stripes could be aligned with the different skills and services we had to offer, this simple design provided a much needed refresh. It also allowed us to create a striking button to use on social media platforms. Our rainbow certainly jumped out at you in any twitter feed!

When Paul and I took the business on in 2010, we felt it was time to look at the branding again to better reflect where we were going. After much debate it was decided that we needed to move away from the ‘communication specialists’ tag line, as that could easily be misconstrued to mean something to do with phonelines. We wanted to emphasise the fact that we were first and foremost a Public Relations consultancy, and to have a much shorter, easier to remember URL than smith-goodfellow.co.uk. This led to many variants of SGPR being explored, until we went back to our roots about communication and settled on our ‘speech bubble’ logo. With different long or short versions this gave us the opportunity to highlight our specialisms or be instantly recognisable on social. We stuck with the blue from the main body of our previous logo for consistency and changed the font to locator to give it a more contemporary feel.

This straightforward look served us well whilst we were consolidating our business and beginning to grow. But that growth really started to take off, and before too long it became evident that we had become much more than a simple PR consultancy, and that the work we do encompasses far more than the written word. We also wanted our growing team to have ownership of our new persona, whatever that might be. We wanted it to reflect their skills and talents, and for them to feel a sense of pride in being associated with this business. So, we handed the design and development of Smith Goodfellow’s brand over to them (with a little bit of input from us), and the next part of our branding journey is theirs to tell.

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