Contributed by Peter Christensen of Aarhus-based Ineo Designlab.
Founder of Højmark Cycles, Danish-born Brian Højmark Larsen, is a highly skilled precision metalworker and mountain bike (MTB) enthusiast who in the early nineties dropped out of the lucrative oil industry to start a small bike-shop in a secluded basement in Stavanger on the west coast of Norway. Being a sucker for craftsmanship he developed a fascination for American handmade MTB-frames like the early Konas by Joe Murray, Fat Chance (Independent), Ibis, Bontrager, and more. The dream of building bike frames was born.
Almost two decades later, after meeting one of Denmarks oldest frame-builders, the legendary Tonny “Tornado” Petersen, Højmark Cycles became a reality.
What did the design brief ask for?
I think you can say we got ambitious and broadened the brief a bit but basically the brief was to design a starter-kit of identity material with the logo elements being the main focus. The founder showed us an old Danish store sign he got from his late grandfather who was a sign painter. He liked the slab-ish font and had the idea that we should somehow do a re-interpretation for the Højmark logo.
Craftmanship, the concept of precision, and the fact that the logo should be simple enough to engrave into bike frames, were all obvious guidelines for the design process.
Garage meets lifestyle
Based on the core of the business, the logotype and brandmark are built with simple shapes derived from cycle-parts and bike frames.
We had a pretty clear idea on the look and feel of the end result but it took some sketching to come up with the right design for the logotype and brandmark. We wanted it to express craftsmanship but not in a dirty/garage/stencil kind of way — and we wanted it to convey a bit of high-end (elegant, expensive, unique cycles), but not in a boring/sterile/fashionable way. By adding a bit of an urban feel, it ended up being a simple custom-made stencil-ish logotype and standalone brandmark with just enough character to be memorable.
Being a small bike workshop the budget was tight, so we took a DIY approach to the stationery. Embossing is an elegant way to gain some visual effect so we got hold of a custom stamp with the brandmark and an embossing tool. Compared to printing and doing embossing at the printing house it is inexpensive and quick. You can change the type of paper you are using or the material but the concept of embossing the logo remains. Useful for a small business.
We ended up with Brown from Lineto and United from House Industries. Brown because it suited the keep-it-simple concept and United because it adds heavy contrast and has a very nice “garage” feel to it. We also designed a set of custom numbers to be used on in-store sales boards.
The color palette is muted and mostly derived from the colors of the paper used.
How long did the project take to complete?
A few months, on and off. The guys were quite excited about the idea for the brandmark and the logotype, so that part took off pretty fast. From there it was pretty free rein. The hardest thing when working with craftsmen is time — they want to get their hands dirty and not sit in front of a computer screen looking at logo proposals and typographic options.
Where did you get the custom stamp?
The stamp is produced by I.E.Andersen in Odense, Denmark. You can change the type of paper or the material you are using but the concept of embossing the logo remains simple and useful.
View more brand identity work on the Ineo Designlab website.