We only need a logo…

We were asked to put together a proposal and costs to design a logo for a Tudor stately home. Our proposal was rejected immediately on receipt because we used the term ‘brand identity’. They didn’t want a ‘brand’, they just wanted a logo.

This raises the question: can any business, even one rooted in Tudor history, decide it doesn’t want a brand? By wanting a logo they are acknowledging that they need an identifier of some kind? If it wasn’t required to do anything more than signpost, why wasn’t just writing the name sufficient? Perhaps they thought that a ‘logo’ would be cheaper than a ‘brand’.

Every company and organisation – even individuals in some cases – have a brand, whether they choose to manage it or not.

The logo is the visual representation of the organisation – an identifier – and once used on a website, visitor leaflets, merchandise and signage it builds a bigger visual picture that further develops the perception and, dare I say it, builds the brand.

Businesses with a clear vision of what they are and what they want to be, who choose to manage how they are perceived through their visual branding, are the most likely to succeed and build a memorable, cohesive brand aligned to their vision and future ambitions.

A logo used without control and consistency and without considering the bigger picture, quickly becomes devalued and can, potentially, drag the rest of the organisation with it.

I hope they end up with a well thought through, appropriate logo that’s aligned to their future plans as well as being rooted in their Tudor history. You don’t have to use the word brand to create one but whatever label you put on it, without careful management you’ll probably end up wasting your groats.

Howdy nominate their top five Charity identities

mind-logo
We love this logo. It’s a great idea implemented with honesty and energy – it looks like it’s just been scanned from the first ‘back of the envelope’ idea. It communicates what Mind are about in a single blue pencil (or mouse) line. And you can’t say that about many logos. On the down side, Mind use a particularly nasty, scratchy ‘hand written’ typeface on their web site which clashes horribly with the logo. Nice logo, shame about the implementation.

macmillan
Speaking of nasty hand written typefaces take a look at Macmillan’s identity. The intended friendliness of the blobby, hand painted letter forms is tempered by the use of caps which lends a certain toughness to the look. This toughness works well in the context of what Macmillan do – they support and help people stand up to, and fight, the horror that is cancer. The inspired addition of ‘WE ARE’ adds a sense of togetherness and an almost football terrace belligerence to the brand – ‘Oi Cancer! Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. The Identity is implemented consistently, and, though considered, has the look of an identity that hasn’t had loads of money lavished on it – important for a charity. We also love the blanket use of green, green and more green. However, don’t mention any similarity with Greenpeace.

WWF
A beautifully drawn panda that’s more than WWF’s logo – it’s almost become a symbol of our threatened environment. This cuddly logo from the sixties is proof that logos do look better in black and white – although what other colour could it be? However, we’re still not sure what WWF stands for. I know it used to be World Wildlife Fund, then it was changed at some point in the 80s to World Wide Fund for nature, to cover flora as well as fauna, I guess. To some it stands for World Wrestling Federation. But does it matter – anyone know what IBM stands for? (That’s rhetorical by the way, don’t email us the answer.)

Amnesty international
Another one from the early sixties that’s stood the test of time, due to the brilliance of the idea and the simplicity of it’s execution. This, probably more than any of the others, has the ‘I wish I’d done that’ factor. We can but dream.

Prostate-UKWe really like this man of men logo. It suggests unity and the power of working together. It’s a simple idea that’s well executed. The individual figures within the logo give flexibility for implementation as individual icons and use within infographics helping to reinforce the brand. As we like to say, this is a logo with legs – in this case literally!

Buy it cheap, buy it twice

This wise old adage may seem redundant in today’s throwaway society but we think it still offers some valuable lessons in the design and marketing world.

As marketing budgets continue to shrink, the temptation to scour the market for a cheap solution is inevitable, but we believe that when it comes to design, working closely with good designers and careful planning, are better ways to maximise your budget…

Know where you’re going
You need to have the internal focus right before you can brief an external supplier. All branding and marketing should be steering an organisation towards its long-term vision rather than just meeting short-term needs. This helps to give branding and marketing communications a longer shelf life and make them more effective. Quick fix solutions are tempting but are rarely the best way to communicate the bigger picture.

Learn from past mistakes
Plan carefully to ensure that communications tell the right message, to the right people, at the right time. Regularly audit marketing materials and all manifestations of the brand to assess the effectiveness and value for money. What works and what doesn’t? Don’t just produce things out of habit. Sometimes one communication can replace three. If you really need three, can they be printed up together to save on print costs. A few well thought out, engaging, relevant and well designed pieces will be more effective than lots of unfocussed, poorly produced ones that end up in the recycling bin.

Get your designers problem solving
Develop a dialogue with your designers. Tell them what you want to achieve and invite their input on format and content, as well as on layout and design. Ask them to suggest smart solutions to save money in production and distribution. Don’t be over prescriptive or limit their creativity at the outset. Tell them what information you need to communicate, and who to, and let them propose solutions. Consider different technologies and distribution methods? Does it really need an envelope for mailing or can it be designed to negate that? Sometimes a powerful single colour piece can have more impact than a  full colour one? Be open to new ideas.

Pick our brains 
Draw on your designer’s industry knowledge. As designers we really understand print and production – from presses to paper sizes and how jobs are planned up. We can help plan jobs economically to minimise waste. Some papers bulk up more than others so they appear thicker but are lighter in weight – useful to know when considering mailing costs without compromising on quality. A few millimetres trimmed off an edge could save a lot on distribution costs.

And finally, the ultimate false economy…
Free-pitching may seem a good idea – after all, who doesn’t like something for nothing? Putting a job out to many companies as a free pitch may at first appear to yield lots of exciting glossy options, but will they really reflect your organisation and future vision? Did they spend hours of unpaid time researching your organisation, your marketplace and your target audiences – probably not. The fact is that a free job will always be at the bottom of the pile behind the fee paying jobs in any design studio, so even if you get something you think is OK just imagine how good it could have been if you’d paid them to give it real time and effort. Find a designer or design group you respect and trust enough to pay them for their time and you’ll get the right design solution without the wasted time – after all, time is money.

Is bigger always better?

Since setting up Howdy in 1999 we have worked for a wide variety of clients of all types and sizes, from global multi nationals through to lone entrepreneurs. During that time we have never had more than six staff at any one time, yet we have met many crazy deadlines, developed global brand strategies and identities, and produced suites of literature, exhibitions and signage programmes. We have delivered each job within the timescales and budgets agreed at the outset.

We previously worked at some large global branding companies, where we worked in equally small teams. It often appeared to the clients that the entire design department were working on their job, therefore justifying high fees from seemingly endless hours of work having been spent their jobs. Sadly, that often didn’t accurately reflect the reality.

Before client meetings and presentations we would spend an hour updating an extended team of people on the project’s progress since the last meeting so that they could all turn up and appear to have been fully engaged and a productive part of the process throughout. We would then negotiate a tricky path throughout those meetings as the peripheral team agreed to unrealistic deadlines and unachievable deliverables, while we tried to rein in expectations and agree appropriate and realistic goals while still meeting key client deadlines and budgets.

We left that world to set up Howdy, knowing that we would be able to build honest and transparent relationships with our clients, without hidden fees or an illusion of extended teams of people behind the scenes.

Careful planning and preparation, in partnership with our clients, ensure that clear, achievable deadlines and fees are agreed and managed by the people directly involved in the projects. Maintaining a dialogue directly between the client and the designers throughout ensures that there are no chinese whispers, and reduces the risk of things getting missed or overlooked.

We do the work and discuss issues and suggestions directly with the clients, giving them the benefit of our design experience and training. We’re not ‘yes’ men. We explain why we’ve done things a certain way, say when we don’t think something will work, and then discuss the options to reach a mutually agreeable solution. We believe that this direct dialogue between clients and designers makes the process more efficient, less frustrating for both sides and ultimately more cost effective.

Howdy celebrates 15 years

On 1 June 1999 Neil and Sharon launched Howdy.

During those 15 years we have had the pleasure of working with many great clients and staff and we would like to thank them all for their support. Throughout June we’re going to be showcasing some of the great work that we’ve produced during that time so we hope you’ll enjoy our nostalgic trip down memory lane and check out our daily updates.

Howdy

We moved into our freshly painted studio in Battersea and are still here today.

1999

Labour Party ARWorking on the Labour Party Centennial Report was particularly interesting as we researched and sourced all the archive material for inclusion in the report looking back over the past 100 years. We also directed a photoshoot with Tony Blair at Downing Street.

M&S ShowWe worked with Camron PR on the design and branding for the Marks & Spencer, ‘Time to Celebrate’ roadshow celebrating the millennium. The Show travelled to different stores around the country showcasing products as well as featuring catwalks, food demonstrations and workshops. We produced signage, brochures, carrier bags and promotional materials for the event.

2000

UIP_GuidelinesSo 2000 was upon us – the world hadn’t come to an end and our computers hadn’t ground to a halt – and we did the new corporate identity (as they were known in those days) and identity guidelines for the film company, United International Pictures, dragging their brutal dated 70’s logo into the noughties.

It was the dot com boom and we produced this identity for dig-it.co.uk, an online gardening company and implemented it across the website, marketing materials, ads, packaging and catalogues.

2001

CA_Annual-Report

We gave this Annual Report and Accounts for Christian Aid a magazine style showcasing the great pictures from their picture library.

Kalends_website

In 2001 Reuters launched Kalends, a service that provided notice of future events covering finance, sports, society, conferences and market/public holidays aimed at business customers. Howdy designed their website and office interiors, promotional materials including advertising and Christmas cards.

2002

We designed this press pack promoting the Design Council’s Design Against Crime campaign. A set of case study sheets were sent out in an ‘evidence’ bag. We directed the photoshoots for the project and the photographer even smashed his own car window for one shot. Now that’s dedication!

The prints for these Black & Decker seasonal press packs were made using grass, leaves and flowers from our own gardens.

2003Reuters

We designed this exhibition for the Reuters Journalist of the Year awards ceremony showcasing the finalists.

This brochure for Ulster Carpets was to promote their custom made carpet service.

2004

#2 001These materials promoting Reuters’ Formula 1 sponsorship were based on the layouts of each F1 circuit.

Vega_cardsThis ‘talking’ logo for VegaStream had a warm friendly feel to introduce VoIP to a wider consumer audience rather than just business users.

2005

Reuters-LiteratureWe redesigned the promotional literature for all Reuters products and produced extensive design guidelines and templates for implementation.

#8a 001We designed the identities for four Christian Aid Week campaigns from 2001-05. We implemented the designs across a wide range of materials in English and Welsh including posters, worship materials, information leaflets, collection envelopes and schools resources.

2006

howdy_folio 0188This identity for food and drink PR specialists, Phipps, used playful food references chosen by each member of staff on the reverse of business cards as headlines.

howdy_folio2 0002We produced this identity for GuildHE following a name change. They campaign for distinction and diversity in Higher Education.

2007

/Users/ranaldmac/Desktop/howdy_folio2/Output/.howdy_folio2 0011.tifA strong professional identity for executive search organisation, Hoggett Bowers.

OpiniumThis clean and simple identity for research company, Opinium, used a visual play on the periodic table reflecting their strapline, ‘the pure element of opinion’.

MitreThis trade catalogue for sports manufacturer, Mitre, focussed on grass roots sport and we directed the mood photography around that theme, as well as directing the product photography of over 300 boots, balls and accessories.

2008

howdy_folio 0152 UKCISA is the UK’s national advisory body serving the interests of international students and those who work with them. Our brief was to develop the logotype and branding to unify all publications and electronic media. We produced templates and guidelines so that all materials could be produced inhouse.

GA_GuidelinesWe first starting working with Green Alliance in 2008 and they are still a great client of ours today. One of the first projects that we did for them was to review and develop their identity and design guidelines developing a colour palette for each of their six work themes.

2009

IFF-LogoThis identity and branding project began with email and telephone research among IFF’s existing, lapsed and target clients, and staff workshops, to build a clear picture of IFF’s position within the marketplace and any barriers preventing their future growth. This formed the basis of the design brief.

wot_4We designed this book – Window On Teens (WoT) – for marketeers about teenagers based on extensive research conducted by Lowe Advertising. The pictures were all supplied by the teenage participants.

2010

CHPA LogoWe designed this identity and design guidelines for the trade association, Combined Heat and Power Association to help shift the name towards CHPA following a shift of membership to include other sustainable industry and district heating providers.

DUCO_clothingWe designed this identity for a range of site tools and anciliaries for the building and construction industry. The brief called for an identity that shouts ‘strong, tough and reliable’.

smitf_wall_3We produced the identity and brand guidelines for St Martin-in-the Fields church in Trafalgar Square. The logo was based on the story of St Martin cutting his red cloak in two and giving half to a poor beggar on a snowy night. The logo launched at a special service on St Martin’s day and featured a hymn specially written about the new brand. The identity received a Highly Commended in the Third Sector Excellence Awards beaten by our identity for the QNI featured below.

Qni_guidelinesThe Queen’s Nursing Institute is a charity dedicated to improving the nursing care of people within their own homes. They wanted a new modern and distinctive identity to  engage a wider audience beyond the nursing community following a shift in mission and focus. This won best brand in the Third Sector Excellence Awards.

lifehouse_bagThis droplet logo for Lifehouse – a spa in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex – reflected both the beautiful gardens and lake as well as the significance of water within the spa. The droplets were then also used in a fun illustrative way throughout the signage and across the communications. Further examples of this can be seen on our website at http://www.howdy-pardners.com/portfolio_identity_lifehouse.php

2011

Marlborough clinicThis marketing campaign for the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust was to promote their sexual health clinic, primarily to a younger audience. It appeared on buses, bus stops, tube posters and in doctors surgeries.

LBF_1

We have been working with London Business Forum since 2003 designing a wide range of marketing materials for them promoting their business events. In 2011 we redesigned their website. You can see more examples of our work for LBF at http://www.howdy-pardners.com/portfolio_print_lbf.php

2012

Reform_book_1To celebrate their tenth birthday, the independent think tank, Reform produced this collection of essays. You can see more of our work for Reform at http://www.howdy-pardners.com/portfolio_print_reform.php

BIICL2We produced this identity for the independent legal research institute, British Institute for International and Comparative Law (BIICL), and associate organisation, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law delivering design guidelines and templates for inhouse implementation across all print materials. We designed all templates for the website http://www.biicl.org/

2013

GA_UKsuccessstory_infoWe turn the raw data from Green Alliance research into infographics to help convey their research in a more immediate and engaging way. These work well both in printed form and online but are also extremely successful for use across social media.

2014

UCLH AppWe worked with UCLH NHS Foundation Trust to create a unified brand that was implemented across all their communications, including phone and tablet apps.