Højmark Cycles

Contributed by Peter Christensen of Aarhus-based Ineo Designlab.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

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.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

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.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

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.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

The stationery

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.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

The typography

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 colors

The color palette is muted and mostly derived from the colors of the paper used.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

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.

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

Hojmark Cycles brand identity

View more brand identity work on the Ineo Designlab website.

8 responses

  1. Initially when I saw the mark on its own I thought this could soooo easily go down that ubiqituos hipster look that is so pervasive at the moment (yet so bland and meaningless) but I actually like it and it was just on the right side of making a statement and having enough character while maintaining a muted sophistication.

    My only misgiving would be that the final design/look doesn’t appear to be, from the text here at least, really informed by research properly and that look was thought up and and just run with simply because the designers were seduced by the idea of the aesthetic. I really think its important to research and find out what it is that is needed, and is appropriate and relevant before coming up with the idea in order to produce something that is successful in it’s end communication goals. Ultimately its about making sure the idea answers the question about why it is the way it is.

    However having said all this one can’t deny this is gourgeous identity and the design alone I like a lot and it does feel like a design that is more than just pretty and has some depth and substance with sound reasoning about how it relates to the product. I particularly like the DIY approach to application which has been really well thought through,which is even more striking given the elegance and premium feel that has been achieved so successfully.

  2. I’ve not yet formed an opinion but a question. The characteristic feature of a bike frame is that it’s made by joining parts, mostly tubes. I am puzzled as to why the stems of glyphs in the logo font are not joined. This degrades readability but, more importantly, for me it also breaks the connection with the frames that I believed to be the theme of the design. I understands that it highlights modularity but this is not a feature of a bike as it is sold and hence not experienced by the customer.

  3. I really like this. I understand what Ash is saying, it certainly seems to border on “design for design’s sake” in some regards. But, maybe that just makes it a stronger mark. The product isn’t perfectly utilitarian, design is an element of the bike’s appeal. If the mark were … not sure how to put this … transparent, perhaps, it wouldn’t feel as good as it does.

    I like that line “seduced by the idea of the aesthetic” … I am going to steal that.

  4. @Christian
    I think that in uniting the segments you lose the idea that they are segments. It then just becomes an ordinary slab serif H. By breaking them apart while keeping the letterform clearly readable, you are reminded of the “whole is equal to the sum of its parts” concept.

    Personally, I really like the finished product. It has that industrial look but in a very clean and inviting way. It communicates the right message and it does it simply.

  5. @Dan I like the look, but is it fitting? Looking at the photos you will find that the bikes have very beautiful joints. It might have been a good idea to emphasize those in the logo. At least to me, it currently looks more like you are about to buy a bike kit than a bike and that is the essential problem that I see. I like the identity otherwise as it does convey a “custom metal shop” flavor. I’m glad that the fashionable hipster aesthetic is not too dominant and consider the photo in combination with the caption “Prenzlauer Berg” the strongest one.

  6. This feels very clean, fast, and genuine. It actually makes me want one of their bikes. Well done, I think it was a great success.

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