Branding and Design

Rebuilding a brand: from Workshop to Core Identity

By Annie Wilson on 15 June, 2017.

This Little Duck

What comes next after a brand workshop? How do you take a collection of ideas and develop them into a cohesive identity?

After conducting the brand workshop with my colleagues at This Little Duck, the ideas we unpacked during the workshop enabled me to define a clear direction to move forward with the new identity. The key ideas I pulled out of this were around our vision, mission and values.

Our vision:

Creating the digital products and services powering the next generation of business.

Our mission:

We’re in the business of helping customers use the internet to create new value through software and innovation.

Our values:

  • The internet is magic. We are creating the tools, services and infrastructure to facilitate a positive economic and social digital transformation.
  • Solve the right problems. Asking the hard questions, challenging assumptions. Making research and education a priority.
  • People are at the core of our offering. We believe collaboration and happy people = better solutions.
  • Simplicity over the complex or the ornate. Simplicity is easier to test, understand and maintain.

In a nutshell, we are a small team of highly skilled, multidisciplinary designers and developers, who are passionate about building the next web, and we needed a new identity to reflect this.

Keeping the brand lean with a Core Identity

We were keen to start using our new identity immediately, so in the interest of keeping things lean, we decided on a small number of visual elements to make up the “Core Identity”. The Core Identity could be developed further as needed.

This would then be rolled out across a number of primary touch points (social media, website and the like), and expand the visual language for additional touch-points as needed.

The Core Identity included:

  • Logotype
  • Colour Palette
  • Type
  • Social Media Assets
  • Business Cards

The other consideration was the company name itself, This Little Duck, and how should we treat the duck element. We discussed using the duck as a mascot vs a graphical element, but there were no strong feelings in either direction so I ended up exploring both options in the concept phase.

Concepts

Artboard of logo concepts

Now that I understood what was at the core of the business and had a pretty solid idea of a direction to take, I opened up Illustrator and started generating a bunch of ideas in a large artboard. When I hit the point where I realised I was focusing on two particular directions, I moved over to a new blank canvas to develop these ideas further.

These two directions were what I presented as concepts to the team:

Option 1

Logo concept - Option 1

A ‘little’ duck contained within a circle, looking over it’s shoulder with curiosity. It’s form simple enough to be used as a graphical watermark, and providing an opportunity to create a personality to be built upon as a brand mascot.

Option 2

Logo concept - Option 2

A set of geometric shapes that takes upon the form it needs to get it’s message across — in the logotype it takes the shape of a duck. A reference to our business values of putting ‘people at the core of our offering’— the geometric shapes representing our multifaceted team, a foundation of solid engineering, skills and ideas, joining together to form a single, collaborative form.

They were both good options, and initially the team was conflicted. Option 1 felt like it was the ‘safe’ option, it looked more like a conventional logo. It was clean, it was simple, it could easily represent us. It felt like a grown up version of our old identity. But when has innovation ever happened from playing it safe?

Additionally the shapes in Option 2 also providing endless opportunities for animation.

The refined Core Visual Identity

After deciding to go full steam ahead with Option 2, I took all the feedback I received from the team and worked on refining the concept. This included tweaking the stroke width and space between the geometric shapes and created a set of rules over how the shapes could be used to ensure the duck was identifiable at all sizes and retained brand consistency.

This Little Duck Logo

A primary logo and logo variations were designed to work in several different instances, on different coloured backgrounds and in horizontal and vertical lockups for different size requirements.

Secondary Elements

Core Itentity- Supporting Elements

Two examples of how the logo can be pulled apart to create new meaning include the tile pattern and the deconstructed duck element. We have used these as a supporting elements to the logo across social media, to highlight our website call-to-action pane and on business cards.

The Colour Palette

Core Itentity - Colour Palette

I must have tried at least 100 iterations of different coloured ducks before settling upon a slight variation of the first colours I instinctively chose in my initial concepts, but it’s always a good idea to put those initial ideas to the test!

Social Media & Business cards

Business Cards

We decided the first primary touch-points we would refresh with the new identity were social media and business cards. Getting those things out first and analysing the results meant that we were able to see what was working well and what wasn’t and make any necessary improvements before it was rolled out on a larger scale.

One thing that became evident pretty quickly was that the coloured version of the logo at a small scale became almost unrecognisable when it was used as a twitter avatar. The orange beak in particular became a lost detail, and it didn’t stand out as you were scrolling through the feed. In the end we decided to opt for the black version of the duck for social media.

Looking ahead

By biting off small chunks of the visual identity at a time, we have been able to validate and refine the designs before making too many big commitments. Since the initial rollout of the core identity, we have designed a brand new website, which has given us opportunity to expand the visual identity to include typographic styles and an illustrations.