How the SG Brand is Evolving

By Jen Heil | May 21, 2021

It’s been a couple of years since the last Smith Goodfellow rebrand introduced our little crane and iconic green and copper colour palette. That rebrand was a labour of love and really helped us begin to understand who we are as a company. But we also knew that it was only the start of our branding journey. This month, we’re excited to begin rolling out the next phase of our art direction and we’re chatting to our Digital Exec, Owen, to explore what’s driving this development. 

Hey Owen! First up, can you share a bit about your role in general and the kinds of projects you work on?  

Hi! It’s difficult to give a definitive answer as I wear a lot of hats and do a bit of everything, from analytics reporting to building wireframes in Figma and training sessions to kick off workshops. More broadly, over the past 12 to 18 months I’ve been helping to grow Smith Goodfellow’s digital and creative offer, constantly exploring new kinds of content for our clients.   

Let’s focus on what you’ve been working on for SG internally. What drove the initial decision that it was time for the art direction to evolve again?  

For some time, we’ve been streamlining our internal frameworks and expanding our external offering. It’s taken us a while to get here but now more than ever we understand who we are and who we want to become, and it was important to me that we took our identity on that journey alongside our business growth. As Smith Goodfellow evolves, so should how we express ourselves visually.

We’re all pretty attached to our crane, colours and the story they were designed to tell — how did you set about expanding the visual aspect of our brand whilst staying true to those essential elements?   

Our crane is a symbol of our values, as is the colour palette and our typography. These are the foundational elements to our brand that we settled on, in part, because of their timeless appearance. I extracted what made those elements the heart of our brand and extended them to establish a fresh, editorial aesthetic that reflects our growth and expertise. This involved taking the gradient from our crane, introducing new ways of combining our font pairings and exploring the use of our colour palette with grain and texture. 

Talk to us about the shapes and other stylistic elements you’ve chosen to incorporate. What do they mean and how do they tie together into a visual brand system?  

Interesting shapes have become synonymous with Smith Goodfellow’s visual identity. From the intricate angles of our crane to the shape of the beams in the historic building where we have our office, everywhere I looked our history, knowledge and creativity was expressed within these shapes. I drew out the foundational elements of our identity and combined them with a defined series of shapes, each of which communicates a different strand of content.  

The exposed beams in our office have the distinctive i-shaped profile common to structural steelwork. It felt very natural to work with this shape to communicate our Industry Insights series, as it both highlighted the alliterative ‘I’ in the series title, as well as speaking to our specialist expertise in construction. It reflects not only an iconic construction material but has connotations of strength, support and reliability, which is exactly what we deliver to our clients. The ‘I’ shape works beautifully for this strand of content precisely because of the different layers it encompasses. 

Another aspect of our office environment that I drew on is the arched industrial windows. They make our office a lovely, bright space to work in which helps our team feel energised during the working day. As a family run business and a tight-knit team, one of our key strands of content is talking about what we’re doing internally – demonstrating the personalities behind our brand. The basic shape of these arched windows fitted well with this kind of content, as it’s designed to give our networks a ‘window’ into SG. 

The final core shape I drew on speaks to our brand history. Previous iterations of the SG brand have used speech marks to denote our expertise in communications — which is, after all, the bread and butter of what we do. In a nod to that, and also in acknowledgement of our desire to drive conversations within the industry, I played with the speech mark shape to create a more abstract, stylised version — a simple right-angled base with a curved third edge. This shape will be used to communicate content strands that are designed to promote discussion and spark dialogue. 

What do you hope the new art direction will achieve or convey about SG?  

I hope that the developed art direction can visually unlock how we communicate and continue to engage with our clients, the industry and community as we embark on the next phase of our journey.   

What tools did you use for this project?  

I utilised most of the tools within the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, used Figma for digital design and good old pencil and paper.  

Is there anything that has stood out to you going through this creative process? Anything you learned or that was different from previous projects?  

It demonstrated the value of insight-led design when creativity is bottom-up and why it’s important that visual identities adapt with the brand and business development.  

From your perspective, what’s next for the SG art direction/brand evolution?  

We’re soon going to extend the art direction out to each touchpoint, but I couldn’t possibly say what’s next for the identity. What’s important for me is to ensure that any creative evolution is led by the exciting work happening internally and our growth externally.  

 

Thanks, Owen! Watch out for our new art direction being rolled out across social media, our newsletter and our website. 

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