johnson banks Naming & Strategy

Fifteen point brand values and 48-page brand presentations are fine, to a point, but our customers and clients want clear, simple and memorable brand ideas that are succinctly put then beautifully expressed, not a marketing textbook full of impenetrable jargon.

Increasingly we’re involved right through the branding process, from initial research to internal and external roll-out. And even though we now have nearly two decades’ experience, we still try to solve the problems with the most concise answers we can find.

We’ve learned to be flexible with how we work. Some of our clients have already researched and investigated their brand so have a good idea what the problem is, just needing some verbal definition before proceeding to the visual. Some ask us to collaborate with strategic partners they’ve already appointed. Conversely, and now quite regularly, some commission just the strategy.

Several of our projects become more about brand architecture – the BFI, for example, quickly became a strategic exercise to get the various ‘fiefdoms’ of the organisation to rally behind one flag again.

Regularly the structural issues have almost driven the creative solutions: both of our schemes for the Pew Center and Trinity Laban provide innovative solutions for organisations wishing to show that they are multi-faceted.

For all three of our education-sector projects so far, we have been immersed in detailed strategic work before any design took place. For the World questions | King’s answers project we helped distil their development messages from a long list of 29, to three key areas, summed up by one clear message.

For Ravensbourne, over a series of workshops and boardroom meetings we provided a clear verbal direction for the design college as it planned its move to a dramatic new site in Greenwich. Only when we had board sign-off of the words, and had presented the principles to their staff conference, did we move to the graphic design.

Conversely, our work on recent rebrands of the Science Museum and Virgin Atlantic were much more collaborative: the museum had already agreed new values and a working positioning once appointed, so our task was to take the agreed words and turn them into a viable brand. For Virgin Atlantic we attended key meetings and workshops on initial stages and acted as support to the strategic work undertaken by our regular project partner, Circus. Then we commenced our work on streamlining the airline’s visual identity.

A decade ago we were part of the team that came up with, named and branded More Th>n, at the time a slightly risky venture into the UK direct insurance market. But now it’s the third biggest name in the sector, commands a multi-million pound annual advertising budget and we’ve just finished our most recent set of design and communications guidelines for the brand.

These are two more examples of new brands we helped create – ‘Mouse‘ is Microsoft Europe’s advertising award scheme, and Think London was for six years London’s inward investment agency. Both were saddled with generic and unmemorable names and brands before our work – both received high quality new names and visual solutions.

And our strategic work isn’t limited to the blue-chip and education sectors – since 2006 we’ve been helping Save the Children raise their UK profile with a series of brand positioning projects that started with a large campaign to get the organisation communicating in a far more ‘agit’ way.

Our involvement with Save the Children continues to this day: helping to create the global ‘Every One’ brand that looks at child mortality and also to roll-out their current ‘Born to…’ campaign in the UK.

To sum up, our aim is to supply the highest quality strategic and creative work and ensure the two work in tandem. Easy to say, but difficult to do.