Evolving a brand identity to stand the test of time.
Dixon Mitchell | Branding
No brand is immune to the ever-changing world around it - even Coca Cola has revised its identity many times over to stay relevant. We explore the need for evolution, not revolution when it comes to looking at your brand stretched in time.
Branding should never be seen as a “set and forget” exercise, because the internal and external variables that make up a brand are not guaranteed to stay the same over time. Even the world’s biggest and best brands are not immune to shifting market conditions. For example, Coca Cola has been through many brand iterations to reinforce their market positioning and adapt to constantly changing consumer preferences.
That said, a smart and robust branding exercise up-front may provide a solid platform for minor iterations over time instead of a full brand refresh. From market research to deep-dive discovery workshops, to employing some of the best forward-thinking and creative talent, some brands can be stronger than others right off the bat — but it would be naive to think one brand identity can remain the same forever.
It was this insight that brought Dixon Mitchell Investment Counsel to Skyrocket. As a maturing company that helps grow and preserve their clients’ wealth through prudent investment strategies, Dixon Mitchell knew that their brand had to say all the right things with an air of longevity.
With a solid branding foundation already in place, Skyrocket worked with Dixon Mitchell to evolve their brand identity rather than start from scratch. With 19 years of equity and relationships built around their existing brand, it made sense to adjust and adapt.
Revising a brand goes back to its roots
A strong visual identity should be based on several things. For one, it should take into account what competitors are doing — after all, we don’t want to get lost in a sea of similar looking brands. It should also clearly reflect the company’s ethos, while at the same time trying to connect visually with the target audience. Easier said than done, right?
That’s why we started by revisiting some of the written components of Dixon Mitchell’s brand, also known as a verbal identity. After diving into who they are and what has changed over the years, we were able to articulate their vision, mission, positioning statement, tagline, personas, guiding values, and tone of voice.
From that, we had a clear picture of what we needed to represent visually. We knew the existing Dixon Mitchell logo had equity in the marketplace, so we decided to revisit everything around it to bring the brand up to speed.
How to evolve a visual identity
With the brand fully articulated, we looked at our opportunities for visual evolution. We eventually landed on symbolic mark that promoted a sense of inclusion and candour, while retaining an image of expertise and confidence. The symbol is in fact a monogram derived from the same visual feel of the wordmark — a rectangular badge that features a small “dog-ear” on the corner. This visual cue came from the idea of folding the corner of a page — often used to mark a section or quote in a book that one finds to be important.
Our designers then cleaned up with wordmark font with custom treatment to improve legibility, including meticulously spaced letters and a bold stack of uppercase typography. Together, the new symbol and improved wordmark instantly evolved the brand identity into something undeniably professional, yet powerful and balanced.
We then decided to revise Dixon Mitchell’s color palette, paying close attention to what competitors were doing while ensuring we reflected the brand’s affluent edges. Our designers played with different ideas before finding a beautiful copper color, which evoked feelings of premium expertise, solid foundations, and formidable trust. When set alongside the other brand colors of black, steel, and white, the result was a subtle yet remarkable update to the overall feel.
Finally, we revisited the typography used for branded materials, both online and offline. Taking inspiration from the wordmark, we landed on Adieu for headings — a sans serif font rendered in upper case which naturally commands attention in a confident manner, yet peeled back slightly with a light treatment to make it more approachable. We paired this with Work Sans for body copy — another sans serif font which feels established and experienced, while retaining a strong and legible structure. Together, the fonts complement each other while still paying homage to the revised logo.
Coming together in applications
The best way to see all of the new brand components come together is in a mock up example application. This presents an opportunity to truly showcase how each of the elements work together for a cohesive look and feel, either through a draft website, business card, poster, or similar. During this process, there’s a chance to play with more than just the logo, colors, and fonts. Layout and imagery become critical supporting acts to how the brand is portrayed through different mediums.
We decided to use more conceptual imagery while keeping any profiles natural and unstaged. Prominent, large headings are used to create an obvious hierarchy while connecting imagery to smaller text. Supporting graphical elements retain the balance by using strong blocks with lighter lines (as represented in the fonts).
Overall, the final experience is clean, structured, and confident while being visually intriguing. To ensure Dixon Mitchell could live and breath their updated brand consistently, we put everything together in one document called a Brand Book. Not only does this act as a guide for future applications, but it’s also a quick and easy way for new staff to become onboarded while serving as a handy refresher for the existing staff.