Contributed by Alastair Reid, managing director of Brighton-based Red Design.
Union approached us to create the brand identity for a contemporary costume and bridal jewellery store. The first store located in Brighton’s South Laines offers collections by some of the world’s most celebrated designers including Mawi, Lara Bohinc, and A Peace Treaty. The brand is also launching it’s own range of jewellery under the ‘Union’ banner later this year.
The brief was to create something that felt classic, but still contemporary; elegant and sophisticated, but also with a sense of fun. There was also a desire to create a visual language that was distinct from the generic visual language of other jewellery stores.
Our objective was to appeal to affluent, largely female, fashion conscious customers. The identity had to reflect the eclectic, colourful and contemporary jewellery from their designer collections, and engender a sense of quality and craft that they wanted to associate with their own range.
The identity had to work equally well online and in store, from signage to own-range hallmarks. With further shops to follow the identity needed to retain a strong sense of personality whilst also being scalable. The first store’s interior was to be clean and modern with vintage fittings and fixtures. The website — due to launch shortly — is one of they key sales channels for the brand, so also needed to reflect and promote the overall identity, whilst also offering a simple user experience.
The client had also presented their aspiration of creating ‘affordable modern heirlooms’ and the identity needed to reflect this.
Our departure point was extensive creative research to identify key themes and trends in the world of the target audience. From this we distilled a few potential themes to explore for the brand. These were: ‘modern classics’, ‘20th century modernism’, ‘current’, ‘ethical modern’, and ‘pure/clean/timeless’. These themes were then tested against the brief, with the target audience and the client. The theme that came to the fore in this process was ‘modern classics’. This tied in a number of the key elements: it allowed the brand to feel contemporary, but still familiar and accessible; it gave a sense of lasting heritage, credibility and craft in keeping with the modern heirlooms aspiration; and engendered a feeling of quality whilst still retaining freshness and style. As they are stocking a number of jewellery brands, we also felt that it was important to create a strong identity and a Union personality in its own right. In addition in keeping with some of their more avant garde designers like Mawi, we were keen to retain a sense of fun.
With a very broad set of uses proposed for the identity, from hallmark, to packaging to signage. We felt it important to create a multi faceted identity, with elements that could be used together or individually, depending on size and purpose. The identity is made up from 4 main elements; a logotype and accompanying symbol which can be used together or individually, a graphic which is derived from the symbol and an extensive bold colour pallet, offset by some more muted accent colours.
The final logo has two components, a symbol and logotype. The logotype is completely bespoke. It can stand alone where use of the name is important and space does not allow for it to be stacked with the symbol. Out of the shortlist of logotypes this one was chosen as whilst it still fitted the modern classic idiom, it managed to feel fresh, light, elegant but very distinct from what else was out there.
The symbol uses the typeface Golden Cockerel, which is also used as the main copy typeface. The Union ‘U’ in the symbol will form the basis of the own-range jewellery hallmark. Four rings hold it in place in the symbol marque, reinforcing the obvious associations of rings and union but also an oblique reference to the nature of jewellery; both on a pure atomic level, but also from the perspective of the four mythical elements required to make jewellery — earth, fire, water and air.
Where the name is not required, the symbol element offers a standalone piece of branding identity for use on ring boxes, bags etc. When space allows, the logotype and symbol sit together, with the symbol offering the classic element offset against the modern logotype.
The sense of fun required in keeping with the avant garde nature of the collections, comes from use of the extensive colour pallet. We wanted to create a contrast between the elegance and sophistication of the classic modern logo and graphic alongside a modern bright colour pallet. The full palette also offers some muted colours to offer a sense of contrast.
This palette is perhaps most vividly applied when we utilise the fourth main identity elements, the repeated pattern graphic. Derived from the logo symbol, this repeated pattern forms a piece of the identity in its own right, especially when daring colour combinations are used. This brings the identity it’s sense of theatre, drama, opulence and fun.
This is most obviously implemented on the series of jewellers postcards which are also used as display items in store to sit along side their respective designer pieces, as well as being offered to customers as a ‘takeaway’. Each postcard features the Union brand’s graphic but has it’s own unique colour-way, and gives a profile of the designer on the reverse. The postcards were litho printed on a thick uncoated stock. The letterheads and business cards follow this theme and are printed in a variety of colour-ways and again on a heavy, uncoated stock.
We also designed a receipt pad which allows Union to capture their customers’ details and ensures that the customer takes away a piece of Union branded material which contains contact details and website address.
The store front and masthead is painted white with a muted grey, but to give it a ‘colour pop’ we have used a lime green on the swing sign. The clean, muted outer of the shop helps the products inside of the shop become the focal point. Union wanted to entice people into the store and make it feel like a welcoming space. Inside the muted colours continue, along with a range of authentic vintage furniture and display pieces, off-set by the colourful jewellery itself and the other brand collateral.
For launch we took some off-the-shelf packaging solutions, and customised them, applying the brand logotype and symbol, and using the full range of the colour palette to help establish brand presence as customers walked the streets. We’re working on a bespoke packaging range for Christmas.
The full website will follow in due course and will meet the need to establish the brand online, whilst also offering a simple, practical, scalable e-commerce portal.
The shop opened on schedule, and was immediately well received. The client has commented that the brand is consistently ‘attracting exactly the right profile of customers’. They are also finding that customers are often coming once to browse, and then returning to purchase. Takings have increased week on week since the store opened its doors despite the official launch not being until the autumn. The identity was featured on the Creative Review blog, the bible of creatives and taste makers everywhere. The identity was tweeted and retweeted to over half a million people.