Building the Brand: What’s With the Crane?

By Jen Heil | August 21, 2019

We get a lot of comments on our logo and people are curious to know what it signifies, so here is the story of how it came about.

Our new branding was a labour of love and a true collaborative effort. We’re all very fond of the Smith Goodfellow crane, and the journey to its creation and beyond really gave us the chance to stretch our wings as a creative agency.

Starting the Process

Any re-branding process starts with understanding how a business is currently perceived, how it needs or wants to be seen and then creating a look that helps move the company towards that vision, whilst remaining familiar to its established networks. We knew that our visual identity needed to reflect our ethics, the company we were growing into and what we could offer. To do this, we began by asking our clients and connections for their feedback. We asked questions around how they saw us, what they valued in us, what words accurately represented us and what types of work they associated with us.

Our team considered the same questions from an internal perspective, as well as thinking about how we wanted to move forward as a business and what the future might look like for Smith Goodfellow.

The responses that came from our stakeholders painted a clear, consistent picture of how we were perceived. We were described as ‘a class act’; a phrase that embodies Smith Goodfellow on different levels. Clients said the work we create is high quality, produced from an expert position. They did not see us as ‘corporate’ but said that both our creative and genuine personality as a company had enabled relationships based on high levels of trust and friendship. These were the elements we felt deserved to be reflected in our branding.

Having established the core principles, a brief was produced to provide clear guidance as we embarked on turning them into compelling visual identity touch points, such as the logo. These would be the lynchpin as we moved forwards.

The Brief

“We want our logo to be visually striking and meaningful. We want it to illustrate our story and become an emblem of our hard-earned reputation.

We are moving away from a logo that literally represents what we do, towards a more conceptual, lateral approach. This will allow us to focus on and expand into other areas of our industry without being restricted. It is also more fun!

At the same time, it needs to fit with the decision to re-niche into working with the construction and manufacturing industries. Whilst it does not need to do this explicitly, it needs to appeal to people working in these industries.

On a practical level, it needs to be something that won’t date and therefore we need to root it in a timeless concept. It also needs to work in a number of different settings and offer the scope for changes over time.”

The team working on mood boards as part of the rebrand process.
One of our rebrand concept images.

Bringing the Vision to Life

What followed was a veritable storm of discussion and mood-boarding, with plenty of laughter as we spiralled down the occasional Pinterest rabbit hole in search of the one thing that would help us tie it all together. It began with stories round the campfire, with the flight of birds, with architectural shapes and terrible puns.

Of course, there was a fair dash of frustration thrown into the mix as the inevitable conflicting ideas arose. But with the help of our team’s endless creativity, respect and persistence (and a lot of coffee!) we finally found it.

The Chosen Logo: Origami Crane

The logo concept we landed on was the origami crane. Aesthetically, its clean lines and angles have the architectural feel we were looking for, like the perspective lines of an architectural drawing or scaffolding. Along with its precise yet creative nature, we felt it established a clear link to our construction specialism.

Our chosen design’s elongated tail and nose give a sense of direction; birds move with the seasons and the wind, as we must move with trends and be flexible to the needs of our clients and the demands of the industries they operate in.

The bird shape echoes the teamwork that is central to what we do, as the natural murmurations of flocking birds are only made so beautiful by the small parts that make up the whole. It is also a very personal type of art, embodying the ‘human element’ of the work that we do and our core value of serving our clients with individual care and attention. After exploring the many different perspectives from which the crane could be viewed, we decided for our logo it should be drawn from a straight-on perspective, to put our clients and us on an equal level and emphasise the partnership inherent within those relationships.

From a practical point of view, the shape balances easily with our chosen fonts and creates a simple but refined logo with the potential to create unusual collateral.

It also offers boundless opportunities for fun! Our friendly crane is perfectly suited for different settings and situations – everything from being adorned with a Father Christmas hat for the festive season to acting as an actual crane in conceptual sketches.

Together, it gives the sense that we are constructing something beautiful, authentic and sustainable. It subtly highlights our creativity and technical expertise and embodies the best of what we have to offer.

The finished logo resulting from our rebrand.
Our rebrand included developing the new Smith Goodfellow logo - a copper/orange origami crane on a green background.

The Crane Takes Flight

With the logo finalised, colour palettes and complementary fonts chosen and the whole team excited to see our crane out in the world, the long process of creating our new website, stationery and business cards began. After a lot of hard work, our new look was officially launched in May 2019 at Grafters Live in Manchester.

We have loved where this little crane has taken us so far and we can’t wait to see where it flies us to next.

As our crane spreads its wings, we are thrilled to launch our first charity campaign under the revamped branding. The crane has long been a symbol of peace and so in recognition of World Peace Day on September 21st, the SG team will be folding 1000 origami cranes from donated and recycled paper to create an art installation for this year’s World Peace Day theme: Climate Action for Peace. The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world – an issue that is close to our hearts.

With our crane folding efforts we are raising money for Friends of the Earth, in support of their tireless efforts to protect the environment, promote safe and healthy food and water everywhere and support alternative energy solutions that can change the world for the better for everyone. You can sponsor a crane (or two, or ten!) on our Just Giving page and help spread a little peace and support positive climate action.

Thank you for joining us on our journey as the crane takes flight.

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