Archive for the ‘Brand’ Category

From Sketchbook to Brand

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Typeface has been working with restaurant upstart Billy’s Burgers and Shakes since February. With a diner in Manchester and a larger restaurant opening in Bradford, there’s been lots of room for creative projects which have come together to create a solid, fun brand.

The new retro

Fashion moves in circles, so instead of looking directly to the 50s/60s for influence; Typeface has taken its inspiration from the 90s interpretation of 60s retro. After all, we’re as far away from the 90s as the 90s was from the 60s.

Developing the brand

Once the flow and shape of the letters was decided, they were redrawn in Illustrator and built in to a coherent icon. Because the logo is such a complex shape, Typeface created four variants ranging in simplicity.

Beyond the logo

Typeface created two custom 8x3ft wallpapers to dress a dividing wall in the new Bradford restaurant. The brief was to use modern, recognisable comic book characters, and to create something a little fun.

To emulate that 90s comic book style, pannels were drawn in pen and ink, scanned in and then vectorised and coloured. Very little work was done to clean up the images themselves to keep the hand drawn look.

Over the last 6 months, Typeface has created signage, posters, bags, window graphics and wallpapers. If you want to see the progress on the Bradford store, follow Billys Burgers and Shakes on Instagram.

Ital Logistics Celebrates 20 years with a new website

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The new Ital Logistics website is a landmark project for me; while Typeface is about to celebrate its third year in December, the original Ital Logistics website was my first professional project back in 2000. I’ve been designing and developing their web presence ever since.

Currently in its sixth iteration, has always aimed to be as informative as possible. Now the company enters its 20th year with a mature, informed online presence that reflects internal development, roots and confidence.

The choice to put staff front and centre is something I’ve been eager for, as it adds a level of professionalism and personality which has allowed me to be as minimal and clean as possible with design choices without creating a clinical experience.

Interesting times

Over the years as the company has grown, it became more apparent to me that the quality of the company and service had sidestepped and moved past the message and tone projected by the website. In order to realign, we needed to open up Ital Logistics, from the warehouse to the office; and to show as many faces as possible and answer as many questions as we could.

Having the opportunity to grow as a designer while a company like Ital Logistics grows in both scope and reach is quite unique. We both started at a special time where businesses were still trying to figure out how to use the internet. We’ve tried a lot and I’ve learned a lot with the Ital website, and I see this current version as the next stage in one 20-year-long project.

A companies biggest asset is its employees and when your company is made up of people with over a decade’s experience working with you, you need to let your clients know who they are. As much as it is a celebration of 20 years in business, this new website is also a celebration of the Ital logistics team.


A new online store for Lets Vape

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Typeface is pleased to launch phase one of the new Lets Vape website.

Why a first phase?

Because the paradigm has shifted, allowing us new ways to react. Consumer priorities have shifted, opening up new avenues for ambitious retailers to explore.

Over the past month, Typeface has been working with Lets Vape, a Manchester based vaping and lifestyle store. Like most high st. retailers, CEO Mo Azam found himself having to close the store during Covid lockdown. With the prospect of reduced footfall in the immediate future and an unpredictable consumer market moving forwards; Mo had to take his business online, as quickly as possible.

An Agile Development Process

Mo has had to adapt his business model to the current realities of retail and to support this Typeface has had to adapt its creative frameworks to prioritise deployment, while retaining thought and creative integrity.

The end result retains the same level of quality that clients have come to expect from a Typeface project. This was achieved by stripping the project down to its minimum viable product, and then building on top to produce a refined experience.

Fast deployment was key to the success of this project, but it’s important not to cut corners.

Phase Two

With phase one live, Mo can begin selling product. This gives us time to plan and to think about the more complex parts of Lets Vape’s online offering. It allows us time to refine the look of the website, ensuring that it feels on brand, and to engage with his close knit client base to find out what they like and what they’d like to see. While feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, there are still refinements we can make to improve the overall user experience.


Mo came to Typeface five weeks ago with a POS database of 1500 products and prices. He now has a fully bespoke Shopify build that’s both on brand and on budget. Products have been categorised, photographed, collated and integrated in to the Shopify system.

As well as the Lets Vape website, Typeface has updated Mo’s window graphics, shop posters and signage.


Just one more thing…

During the development process, Typeface also produced a complete brand for Lets Vape’s sister project, Urbanite Coffee. This wasn’t just a one-off logo, but a complete branding exercise utilising the Typeface creative framework, to create something that feels established and looks like it belongs.

How much does a website cost?

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There are a few common, measurable costs associated with starting a new business. A logo, as a banner to gather under. Business cards and letterheads to make the company tangible. Livery. Signage. Elements that make your vision physical and inspire confidence in you and your clients. Things are starting to go well, until somebody mentions that maybe you need to think about getting your business online.

And now you need a website. And you’re about to hear a certain question repeated ad nauseam.

When you contact a competent agency for a rough quote, the conversation will probably go something like this:

I’ve been told I need a website, how much does a website cost?

Well firstly, what’s your budget?

Not that question again...

It sounds like a loaded question, and it kind of is.

Knowing where the client wants to be and how much they have to invest to get themselves there helps the studio to tailor their offering. Initially, the studio should be focused on the clients goals. The exciting stuff, the how do you get there; that all comes later. 

Design isn’t one-size-fits-all and there are ideas, techniques and technologies that can be adapted to suit a business’ needs.

Different industries are, well, different. They have different sets of client expectations, different cultures. Different ways of interacting with their clients and different routes to market. 

So why do you keep hearing that question? ‘What is your budget?’

It boils down to the nature of creative work. The bleeding-edge studios and trendsetting agencies are forced to constantly grow with and adapt to an always changing landscape that in some cases is still finding out what it is. Often there can be multiple ways to answer a question. Some are more cost effective, others may provide more value in the long term. It’s not often that the quick fix, get everything done at once approach will give confident results. A project made up of parts that are just good enough will always be mediocre. 

A great studio wants to marry your goals, needs and expectations with your budgets limitations. To do that, the studio needs to know how much time, energy and money you have to spend.

Most quotes will be towards the top end of your budget. If available, Typeface will always try to offer the client a couple of quote options. But in a sea of pitches, you’ll often find yourself reading through multiple similarly worded, similarly priced quotes. Take a look at the proposed deliverables, the suggested focus points, the project goals. Has the studio suggested alternative ideas not in the brief but dismissed ideas that are, and have those ideas bumped the quote up to the top end of your budget? Chances are they’ve found a way to give you more value with fewer steps. If the proposition is unexpected, ask them to elaborate. 

So then. What’s your budget?

Even those of us who communicate ideas for a living can fall in to the trap of assuming that the people we’re talking to understand what we mean. Somewhere along the way, the answer to the very reasonable question ‘can you tell me how much this is going to cost me‘ has been distilled in to a three word answer that feels like a trap. But it’s not all about money. We’re asking you:

  • What do you want? How do we make that happen?
  • What can you afford to spend? But what do you need?
  • How much time, money and effort do you have to invest in the future?
  • What are your expectations? How do we exceed them?

Where do you need to be next month and again in five years, and how much do you have to commit to get yourself there?

Contact Typeface with a rough estimate of your budget. And Typeface will tell you what we can do with it.

What’s your aesthetic?

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I’ve been asked more than a few times what my style is and it’s a difficult question to answer. If you look at my work over the past 15 years, there’s a natural progression in quality and technique as I gain more experiences, there are certainly frameworks that have been both dropped and developed on.

But my portfolio is peppered with everything from corporate to consumer work. Music Festivals, Artists, Actors, a certain Darts Player turned Jungle Celebrity, Property Managers, SEO Agencies, even other Design Agencies. The start of my career was spent creating branding and packaging for the kids toy and gift sector; something I was glad to leave behind but now holds a soft spot for me if anything similar comes along.

What I’ve learned as my career has progressed is that while trends come and go, design thought and design theory remain consistent.

From a designers perspective, the finished project should reflect the company its for, and not the ego of the designer. I’m not ashamed to say that I was a few years in to my career before I realised this. Sure, there are ‘celebrity’ graphic designers that facilitate a style, Aaron Draplin springs to mind, but they’re few and far between and most of them are selling a slightly different product and they’re selling it to other graphic designers.

Stylists occupy the gap between artists and designers. Style inherently relies on trends, which is something Typeface tries to avoid. That’s not to say that modern shifts in technology and culture are to be avoided, those are integral to providing a coherent experience. But shoehorning a designers ego in to a client project is never going to give good results.

A leaf is beautiful not because it is stylish, but because it is natural, created in its exact form by its exact function. A designer tries to make an object as naturally as a tree puts forth a leaf. He does not smother an object with his own personal taste but tries to be objective.

Bruno Munari – Design as Art, 1966

Design is the key word. Everything presented should have reasoning behind it that goes further than ‘because it looks good’. A brand should be designed to fit in with its tribe, a website should be designed around its goals. Function should dictate form.

Typeface as a brand has been designed. The words chosen, the images shown, not to reflect me as a person, but to reflect the tone of the businesses and the type of client I want to work with.

It goes without saying that Graphic Designers should have a sense of style. But that shouldn’t overshadow a clients goals and it shouldn’t dictate tone. The end product should reflect the client, and also their audience.

It’s what they think you are

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Let’s get that Jeff Bezos quote out of the way first. Yes, your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. 

It’s always pulled out during these kind of articles because it’s succinct and to the point, but it’s hardly a new idea. Let’s translate it in to Warhol.

It’s not what you are that counts, it’s what they think you are.

Andy Warhol

A customer’s perception of you, how they see you and what they say about you is your brand.

We can control a lot of the customer journey because it’s punctuated by small interactions. From the first website impression, exploring the online shopping experience, to the first time they hold a business card or meet a sales rep. All touch-points where we can insert quality and experience. Your customer’s impression of you is reinforced at every step and it’s the coherency between these touch-points that creates and cements your position in your customer’s mind.

A brand framework helps to pull your value proposition, your tone, your message and it wraps it up in a coherent, easily identifiable package. On it’s own though it’s just a pretty package because your brand is nothing without people. A solid brand starts from within the company and it permeates out. It should start with your staff and your employees. If you build a brand that they can connect with, that represents them and your offering then you have your first set of brand ambassadors.

We need to take in to account:

  • Your offering and your ability to communicate it.
  • The client experience.
  • Your ability to fulfil your offering as communicated.

Branding is a tribal affair, because people are tribal. So give them something to connect with. To create a coherent experience for your clients you need to start with your own tribe. Be friendly, be transparent, informative and intuitive. Give your staff something to rally behind, that represents them; foster a culture. Your brand is what people say about you and that all starts with what you tell them about yourselves.