Contributed by Kirk Clyne, creative director at The Juice Agency.
The Juice Agency is a Toronto-based digital marketing firm which sits at the intersection of strategy, user experience, and technology innovation.
Juice evolved from Communicate New Media, a design and development shop with a seven year history of creating award-winning work for some of Canada’s leading advertising and marketing agencies. As marketing budgets shifted more towards digital initiatives, we often found that the briefs we received were lacking in sound strategy, weren’t grounded in best practices around digital or social executions, and often weren’t asking the right questions or solving real business problems.
In 2011, we made the bold move to rebrand and become a direct-to-client agency, with the belief that we could plan and execute digital marketing better, cheaper and more transparently. Being our own agency would also allow us propose the innovative solutions we often generated; ones that traditional agencies often shied away from.
While several potential agency names were added to a whiteboard over the course of a few weeks, over time, “Juice” proved to be the one that resonated the most with the founding partners. It references an energy-giving, healthy liquid from a natural source, and colloquially, “juice” can also refer to energy, or electricity.
When the founding partners identified the core values and vision for the agency, much of the language that evolved from those sessions — concepts around honesty, transparency, natural processes, a lack of artificiality, dynamic flow — found their way into our initial brand story. The visual identity we designed would need to communicate this vision and language.
As a digital agency, we believe in constant evolution and change. We didn’t want a static identity but a dynamic, changing one; a core shape that could serve as container for different layers of meaning. We began by sketching numerous different ideas with the goal of finding a pattern or system that we could apply in various ways. We explored several promising options (a sort of “orthographic juice box” was popular for a time), but we kept returning to the simple, organic droplet shape time and again. It spoke to our brand story better than anything else, and held the potential for a larger identity system.
As soon as we had developed a few successful iterations of our identity (the bulb, the pencil), and saw that it would provide a rich and fertile system, we moved toward selecting the typeface. Recognizing that we needed something clean and rigid to lend stability and maturity to the ever-changing, colourful variations of the droplet, DIN became a logical choice with its clean, technical appearance.
However, we eventually altered DIN’s “J ” in order to improve its relationship with the curve of the droplet. This unusual “J” is also a nod to the innovative solutions we strive to bring to business problems.
While we use DIN in most of our communications, we also use Foco Black Italic — a “wanna-be” script font — as a complimentary typeface. In cases where our playful illustrations do not appear, Foco keeps the flavour of our brand intact in ways that DIN alone never would.
The colourful icon system we developed was never intended to serve as the logo itself. Rather, we developed a clean, simple logo based on a green droplet and wordmark. While we were tempted to use a bright, friendly orange, we recognized that the stereotypical colour of ‘orange juice’ would come to mind far too easily. Since our brand story uses words like “evolution,” “natural” and “seeds” (our process is “Sow, Grow, Flow”), the lively green spoke to our personality quite well. After experimenting to find a complementary colour, the dark blue emerged as something that showed-off the identity well, while providing contrast and legibility.
Today, different iterations of the “droplet” appear throughout our blog, alongside copy in sales decks, in our print ads and more, allowing us to tailor our visual message while remaining true to our brand.
Our business cards provide a good example of our flexible, dynamic identity. We have developed a large number of icons so far (some of which can be seen in our animation at the foot of the post), but we chose eight iterations for the cards that best communicated our personality. For example, the “strategic” dart, the “social” bee and the “energetic” hummingbird.
We sometimes present our cards with the icon showing and allow people to choose the one they like best. This experience — that some people interpret as a playful little “personality test” — tends to break the ice. In the process, our card becomes less of a formal necessity and more of a personal keepsake.