Asterisk Investments

Contributed by Andrew Sabatier of Andrew Sabatier Limited.

Asterisk Investments identity design

Positioning

Born of Forex, Asterisk is a premium investment fund catering for high net-worth private investors. The fund offers a highly specialised investment service where investors benefit from detailed personal attention from traders who require a minumium of 100 000 Euros investment from each investor. Utilising a highly specialised trading method, restricted to those schooled in a proprietary, copyrighted 16-point system Asterisk offers an investment experience with a distinctive advantage. Asterisk deals mainly in Futures but has the flexibility to trade in other markets such as Forex (Foreign Exchange).

The original strategy for Asterisk was as an online Forex hedge fund for a mass market with no minimum investment. I conceived of the brand name as a Forex hedge fund and also created a brand identity for the previous positioning, which is also available to view on my website. Although the strategy had changed dramatically the client wanted to retain the name for the Futures investment firm and commissioned me to ‘premium-ise’ Asterisk for a more up-market investor.

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Naming

Asterisk is derived from the Greek word ‘asterikos’ which means little star. It’s also a symbol for multiplication, represents the exponential and marks special top grade A (A*, A-star) as distinguished from grade A. A* is also a potential abbreviation for the fund in financial listings. Asterisks are also generally used to mark out notable exceptions.

Asterisk is particularly relevant to Forex as it’s used to denote foreign goods. Our interpretation of this is that foreign currencies can also be considered as foreign goods. The ‘foreign-ness’ of the goods is not so important but the fact that the fund trades on the difference in the exchange value of foreign currencies. Asterisk also includes the word ‘risk’ which we thought was a strength because risk is an inherent part of making investments.

My client and I believe that the Asterisk brand, both for the previous Forex strategy as well as the current mainly Futures-oriented strategy, has been treated in a manner that suggests it’s a remarkable fund that manages risk exceptionally well. Asterisk as a business (and a brand) intends to be a notable exception.

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

The symbol and brandmark

I created a symbol that is a sophisticated interpretation of an asterisk, whereas the symbol for the previous strategy was unambiguously an asterisk and more suited to a mass market. The new symbol requires a dynamic presentation of a simple line-drawn asterisk revealed as circles side-on to grasp the fact that the symbol is an Asterisk. The static symbol of the brandmark is at a stage somewhere before the circles in perspective open to form a complete circle, and the resulting sequence creates a sophisticated visual pattern for use as a premium brand identity element. The dynamic presentation of the symbol is required to grasp the insight that the new symbol is, in fact, an asterisk.

Asterisk Investments identity design

The brand-idea

The 16-point trading method enables traders to take a highly disciplined but relaxed and informed approach to trading. Notably, this technique utilises sophisticated computer software to visualise trading in a way that identifies investment opportunities that would otherwise remain obscured. This enables traders to apply insights by literally trading ‘in sight’. On offer is an investment experience suited to investors who expect the best-of-the-best in all facets of life, investors who can expect to receive personalised investment advice from insightful and highly focused traders. Asterisk is an investment firm with an ambition to create an unprecedented wealth generation experience that goes above and beyond market-related and financial performance.

Asterisk Investments identity design

The brandline

The 16-point trading method gives Asterisk’s traders a real advantage over competing investment funds and so as an expression of the ‘Trading Insight’ brand-idea the public-facing brandline is ‘The insight advantage’.

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

Top-level brochure

The ‘premium-ised’ version of the Asterisk brand was launched to private investors in September last year. For the launch I also oversaw the production of a high-production values brochure. I wrote the bulk of the content, all the bold headline messages and worked with an editor who edits for the Financial Times to sharpen-up and enhance the body-text.

The idea was to not only briefly describe the firm at a top level for time-poor investors at face-to-face meetings but to present ideas in a conceptual and poetic way, much like The Economist uses short phrases to communicate complex financial ideas in their advertisements. For example, ‘actively calm’ appears paradoxical but makes sense in the manner in which Asterisk delivers value ie. calm but active as well as actively seeking a calm approach to avoid becoming the stereotypical view of traders as frenetic and stressed-out; Asterisk is fit to work for investors (ie. capable) but also custom fits individual investor requirements and, my personal favourite, Asterisk is mindful of security, which is presented as ‘mind-fully secure’ and this communicates that the minds working in service of Asterisk’s investors are fully secure. Asterisk are confident that no other investment firms are able to offer such a high level of confidence when it comes to making returns on investments.

Asterisk Investments identity design

Asterisk Investments identity design

About my client’s business, my business and the visuals shown above (disclaimer)

Asterisk is a start-up company run by relatively young traders based in Paris. The fund is regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission, Chater House, Hong Kong (www.sfc.hk). Although anticipated investments are large amounts of capital, the initial budget for the brand identity was limited, particularly in view of the fact that developments in the brand strategy have proved so changeable. I offer a standard package for a set fee that includes naming, brand consulting and creative brand design that delivers all the core visual and language-based brand-marks determined by a distinct strategic insight.

As brand consulting is about the business of uncovering business and brand-related insights the thinking is generally what matters most; brand-thinking is what clients buy from me. Design is, by and large, just a tool to deliver creative thinking in a pragmatic and accessible form. In order to demonstrate my creative thoughts for brands I use images and visuals – unadulterated as well as manipulated – from various uncredited sources. The presentations I put together for my clients are not intended for commercial public-facing consumption. However, should my clients use any copyright protected images or typefaces for public-facing commercial purposes I always ensure, as much as possible, that they are aware of copyright issues. In the unlikely event that any objections be raised (and validated) by my use of uncredited images on this blog or on my website I’ll be happy to work with the respective legal owners of the works to find mutually acceptable outcomes.

View more of Andrew Sabatier’s work on his website. Also found on Twitter.

16 responses

  1. Am really liking this. It’s a really well thought out package, both the visuals and the language used. Especially like the bold headlines in the brochure and the secondary graphic elements to show that the symbol is an asterisk.

    Well done!

  2. The logo is quite striking, though my initial thought was ‘why isn’t it just an Asterix’?

    I can appreciate the subtleness (or sophistication) of the logo mark now, considering the brand’s position as a the premium version of the forex brand.

    The idea that the ‘asterix’ symbol is only seen dynamically (through an animated sequence of the logo?) is really sophisticated and hints at ‘exclusivity’ or ‘inside knowledge’ which matches the brand perfectly.

    Looks great Andrew!

  3. It seems like a far stretch to compare the symbol to an asterisk. It’s understandable and I get the logic, but the idea is a little too far fetched. That doesn’t mean this is the wrong mark for the company, but trying to make that connection dumbs down the logo concept, in my opinion. At first glance, I got much more of a science/technology vibe from the logo. The type is all over the place too. None of the letters seem to relate. The weight of some of the individual letters don’t even match. It’s as if a bunch of different fonts were pulled together to make sort of a Frankenstein font. Also, the light teal blue against the black/dark gray has a very dated feel. That color combo can work, but needs to be executed more effectively. All in all, not overly excited about this. Thanks for sharing, though, David.

  4. @Kevin Burr

    Because you can make something fail doesn’t mean you should. The Asterisk brand I created isn’t faultless. Nothing in the world can be identified as faultless. And, everything if pursued hard enough will fail – without exception. If you consider all the various types of brand-marks working together in this identity you should recognise a robust and distinct brand experience suited to the sector. I’ve created a unique conceptual space for this brand that is born of insights into the business that go well beyond pragmatic design considerations. I’m confident that no amount of nit-picking or pot-shots-at-a-distance is likely to discredit this piece of work. I don’t mind that you aren’t excited about this work but I do mind that you make highly subjective and unsubstantiated criticisms of my work in public. Judging by the logo-obsessive and logo-centric work on your website it would seem far more likely that between us it is not my work that is dated. The Asterisk Investments brand identity might fail if pursued rigorously enough where it counts (ie. by my client, their consultants and customers) but it is unlikely that you have the experience or the resources to make it fail. If I were you I’d consider my criticisms more carefully, or remain silent.

    A.

  5. @A.

    That’s what happens when you publish and display your work to the public through sites likes this. Is it bad? No, not necessarily in my opinion, all criticism and feedback, one can take advantage of, in one way or another. No matter who or where it’s from.

    But I loved this.

  6. I especially like that the pattern you use is the logo in motion as opposed to just the logo repeated. Very nice touch. The symbol works very well in one color, two color and I see great potential for animation… Which you have kind of story-boarded.

    There is something visually strange about the word mark. It seems to optically fluctuate. Almost like there is a ripple that rolls across the top and bottom. This does not have to be a bad thing, but it is there.

    Over all I think you hit all your objectives and explained you rational extremely well. Nice work, hope to see more in the future.

  7. @Andrew

    Design is subjective. And as Robin mentioned, “that’s what happens when you publish and display your work to the public.” My comment was purely an opinion. Judging by your work on your website, you’re a very talented designer. However, thank you for your lack of approval of my own work. Unfortunately, as busy as I’ve been, my site hasn’t been updated since 2006. My works have been published in several books on logo and identity design and featured all across the web. I’d say I have more than enough experience to make a substantial critique. Guess if I would have stroked your ego a little bit, you wouldn’t have been so quick to threaten me. Cheers!

  8. @Kevin Burr

    Show me something that is not subjective and that is not also an opinion. Of course your comment is an opinion. And yes, you are entitled to your opinion. But, the issue at stake is whether or not you can afford your opinion. You’ll notice that I’ve only really taken issue with your comment. And, this is not only because you have voiced a disapproving criticism. I’ve used your comment as an opportunity to qualify my position about expressing opinions in public, particularly as creative design work is so open to interpretation. This seems to allow people, particularly egotistical designers, to think that this gives them licence to say whatever they like. The line has to get drawn somewhere about what constitutes a relevant criticism and at what point it doesn’t make sense to try to make something fail – a nuanced point which seems lost on you as you have made no reference to it whatsoever. And, a discussion for which I expect you are ill-equiped. As far as I can tell, from what is publicly available for me to assess of you and your work, you cannot afford to present your opinion with the authority you have assumed above. It doesn’t help that you try to assert further authority by claiming that your work has been published. Your work still appears as only logos in a discussion about brands. This point will stand until you demonstrate otherwise. It also doesn’t help that you make reference to the apparent fragility of my ego. You know very little about me. Such a gross assumption says more about you than it does about me. However, good on you for standing up for your opinion (you and I make a living by our opinions) but it seems to me that you should choose your words even more carefully now, or, as I wrote before, remain silent.

    A.

  9. I’m a little reluctant to comment, but…

    Overall I like it a lot, I have to say. My only gripe (and this is a personal pet hate, and is therefore very subjective) is the mixing of upper and lower case letters in a word, although I’m an editor so I notice such things perhaps more than other people. I also wouldn’t have hyphenated ‘mind-fully’. These are small criticisms, however.

    The ‘unexpected details’ layout and photography is brilliant – I love it! The logo is smart and fits the various applications very well.

  10. Though the design work here is excellent I really wish the logo was a * shape instead of the circle-type shape. When I think of Asterisk I think of an asterisk *.

    But the website and all the other work put into this project looks really thorough, the colour scheme looks wonderfully corporate, and it works pretty well.

    Also I find the logotype looks a little odd, because its typed like ‘aSTeRISK’, and I think in this case, capitals would look better. Great work though.

  11. The little handwritten ‘*ASTERISK’ from the concept stream is quite lovely (and I’d love to see a big version of that concept stream, it’s a fascinating visual in its own right) – it would have made for a really fresh and interesting take as the logotype in a fairly sterile marketplace.

    I’d imagine a lot of hand-drawn asterisks appear in the lives of business-folk as they wade through reports, papers, lists and summaries. As a device for remembering, highlighting and demarcating. Just a thought.

    Shame, as it’d be quite a bold, confident move for a business identity too.

  12. Lively debate, but then there always is where Mr. Sabatier is involved…

    As a non-designing suit in the branding world, I quite like the symbol paired with the word Asterisk. A literal asterisk would be redundant with the word and, IMHO, superfluous. This mark is unexpected, even though it is still evocative of a real asterisk, and adds dimension to the name.

    My only concern would be with the name Asterisk. It’s an appealing word, but I’m more familiar with its use in terms of an afterthought, a footnote or a qualification (at least in American English). I’d want to make sure (and I’m sure Andrew did) that similar connotations don’t exist internationally. And if they do, the name can still work, I would just think the brand would need to address those secondary associations directly, either visually or verbally.

    Overall, a nice package, and thank f*ck for a financial brand that’s not dark blue.

  13. Nice work. The one thing I don’t get is the comments that an * would have been more suitable. We already have the word “asterisk” so showing an actual asterisk would be a bit redundant.

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