Branding for Hummingbird Drones

First to Market

Drones and wildfires. Somehow, no one in the world had succeeded in associating the two until Robert Atwood and Richard Sullivan met each other during their studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. It was their mutual interest in science and volunteer firefighting that brought them together. Later, after working to extinguish wildfires that had taken over British Columbia, they came up with the idea to change how wildfires are handled globally.

For decades, wildfires have been fought using a combination of extensive human resources and helicopters. Robert and Rich saw that drones had the potential to ease the reliance on both. So they designed an infrared scanning technology to swiftly and accurately process gigabytes of raw footage filmed by drones. They also envisioned and prototyped a crowdsourced platform where anyone can assist in detecting nascent wildfires, helping to snuff them out before the onset of irreversible damage. The only thing left was to let the world know about their breakthrough.

Brand Toolkit for Effective Positioning

Hummingbird Drones was a good match for Skyrocket on many levels. A startup balancing innovation with social impact is right up our alley. In fact, the essence of the challenge they were facing (how to develop a strong brand identity) is so common among startups that we have designed a framework for it — Minimum Viable Brand — that we used as a foundation for Hummingbird and expanded upon as needed

Reach Internal Alignment

Any successful brand starts with the why. The vision, the purpose, the reason to be. Going through our process we arrive at the verbal identity, where the company gets a solid foundation to align team members around its core competency and later project this message to public audiences. After discovery and multiple sessions with the Hummingbird Drones’ team we distilled their vision:

“Wildfires contained by the fusion of cutting-edge software and hardware.”

After the vision was established, we proceeded to define other components of the verbal identity, including a positioning statement (the core of the company), unique value propositions (the pitch for each service offered) and tone and voice (the guide for internal and external communications). Each deliverable was primed to deepen the positioning of the company in the market and accelerate the path to reaching their goals.

Brand Naming Hierarchy

Early in our work with Hummingbird Drones, we saw that the two existing services, Hummingbird View for infrared heat-detection and Hummingbird Watch for crowdsourced fire prevention, lacked individuality and were easy to confuse.  We proposed a new brand hierarchy, with Hummingbird Drones remaining as the dominant identity, while  Hummingbird Hover provided a slightly more playful replacement for View. Finally, Hummingbird Watch was renamed to the more descriptive and representative Hummingbird Network.

Distinctive Visuals

Appealing to fire agencies—but, maybe more importantly, thousands of potential volunteers—Hummingbird Network especially needed a distinctive and recognizable visual identity, which became the focus of our work.  Taking cues from the existing Hummingbird Drones aesthetic, we designed a new identity which riffed on the elements of searching for fires with accessible representations of network opportunities.  The new palette was inspired by earthy tones found in nature. For typography, we juxtaposed a distinctive Merriweather Boldin headers with a clean and highly legible Overpass Regular for body copy. The visual identity became lively and inviting, perfectly serving the purpose of speaking to the audience.

Ready for Growth

Upon receiving the verbal and visual identity, Hummingbird Drones are ready for rapid growth, but this time with the confidence in their direction and equipped with the right tools to get them there.

...Skyrocket's approach was inclusive, comprehensive and effective.
The ideation … involved a remarkable effort to understand Hummingbird Network, the audience and the true value proposition. The design … reinforced our ideals and has immediately increased our brand's impact.
Working with Skyrocket has been an exceptional experience, the value of which cannot be overstated.
— Robert Atwood, Hummingbird Drones

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