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Erste Group brandbook (design research)

1. Aim of rebranding and its key provisions

Corporate identity are the face of a company, which reflects its individuality, not resembling the others. The image of a brand is necessary to portrait its values and philosophy, bring them to clients in a simple form.

It is necessary to go back to origins to once again remind us and others why we do our work.

The key to the answer is in its name – savings bank.

Our mission is to assist people in their everyday life and concerns, save their time, money, nerves so that they have more time to spend on what they consider to be more important in their lives – beloved people, lifestyle, etc.

Today the number of services provided by Erste Group is larger than ever, which means that we can assist people in much more cases.

Thus, the aim of rebranding may be described in several words – going back to origins and being close to people.

The key words characterizing the new image of the brand are simplicity, clarity, accessibility.

Thus, the new image of the brand reflects our friendliness, being 

close to people in their everyday 

lives and warm attitude to 

everything we do.

Our new image, universal and flexible, is created on the basis of principles of freedom, simplicity, clarity and accessibility. It confirms that the services of Erste Group are accessible to all and easily fit into everyday life. We treat our every client first of all as a human being, we understand his individual needs and aspirations, and care for our clients to receive maximum pleasure using the products, services, offers of Erste Group.

Give joy… 


1.1 Slogan

Slogan is the organization’s philosophy briefly expressed. Why does it exist, what aims at, how, for what and for whom. Slogan is not a mere mandatory attribute of an organization. Together with the logotype it plays the most important role to establish contact with people. Actually, a logotype is a graphical expression of an idea contained in the slogan.

Establishing contact with a person may not be successful, if the person does not understand you. Will you be able to have a good contact and understanding with a person not speaking your language?

Talking to someone, a person tries to turn to that person, see him and make the eye contact, have not you noticed? Absence of a slogan is the same as talking to a wall. Česká spořitelna has one of the best and proper slogans – Jsme Vám blíž, which may be translated as We are closer to you. As I have already mentioned above that is the most important and main aim – to bring to clients the idea of being close, accessible, clear, predictable, friendly and ready to help.

That is why I recommend using the slogan We are closer to you for the whole company Erste Group, and not only for its part. Moreover, a slogan is a unifying power, which makes a company integrated and united. It would be nonsense, if every part of the company had its own “constitution”.

2. Graphic Symbol

When I was thinking about the new logo, I was inspired by the old one – which is so well-known to our audience.

So I decided not to break the firm contact, which was established between the Erste Group and the people.

I see the challenge in evolution of the logo, and I think that something gradual is always better than something abrupt and hard, as revolution is. New logo represents the original idea of its prototype and evokes the response in peoples’ minds by only mild transformation, so that it still can be recognized.
But the new graphic representation of the brand should obviously differ from the old one.

So it is more modern and a little less conventional, it is maximally practical, variable and professional.
The adoption of the new logo will make the image of Erste Group integral, striking, marking its unique conception and the logic of its behavior.

So here it is – the new logo of Erste Group – simple and clear. The key to its simplicity is that it is made from 15-teen cubes, so it can be reproduced from any improvised material, which is available at a time (It will be demonstrated in the next sections, when we will talk about the possible examples of the promotional products).

While amplying the logo to each company, which belongs to Erste Group, I offer to add two more important elements to the symbol: the name of the company, which should be written with the corporate font, and the signature.
Here are the examples which it clearly demonstrates.
 

2.1 Proportions

The slogan is created by the net system, where every element has its strict position, definite proportions and fixed location in relation to each other. The layout is created with the following considerations:

1. The names of all members of Erste Group have the look with the sign as if it has been created specifically for every member.

2. The graphic peculiarities of languages (German, Czech, Slovak, Romanian, etc.) of members of Erste Group, which have diacritical (ascending) marks, i.e. áäéľňř, have been taken into consideration in names, slogans and signatures.

3. The proportions of all elements of the logotype, width of lines, marks, whole titles, white space between and around them, and many other things have strictly calculated sizes, which shape the esthetics and order, as well as they make it readable and scaled (to ensure its best accuracy in any sizes).

4. Simplicity and clarity of the sign make it quickly memorable. The sign has the highest degree of variability.

Beauty and proportions – basics of visual arts and the design is not an exception.

Aspiration of people for beauty and order in surroundings is natural. Even a child can understand where the beauty and order are checked mathematically and where not.

2.2 About the difference between UPPER-CASE and lower-case.

The upper-case is more architectural and monumental. Their peculiarity is that they are standing as if full face. They do not have motion, they are inert and “out of time”, and they are far away from the life-motion. The lower-case has internal dynamics and this is why they are considered to be more “alive”. In contrast to UPPER-CASE the lower-case does not stand looking into our face, but move one after another from left to right.

For long time lower-case (minuscule) and upper-case (majuscules) Latin letters have been used separately as alphabets and only then they have been unified into one Latin alphabet common to us nowadays.

These two registers of alphabet have its own clearly expressed character. It may be stated that the transition from capital letters to small letters is a movement to democracy. This is one of the reasons why I decided to use lower-case in the logotype of Erste Group.

Titles in upper-case are a bad tone, demonstration of some desire to put pressure on people, getting apart from them and also it smells bed!

Besides, there is one more important issue. Any title shall be according to the language rules it is written in. The orthography grammar, punctuation, phonetics are not useless things and shall be properly studied by the designer, who aims at doing his work properly.

In many languages known to us the abbreviations are written in capital letters. Among members of Erste Group it is BCR.

BMW, SEAT, USA, IBM, FBI, NATO – abbreviations.

Erste is a word!

I deeply believe that words shall start with a capital letter and then continue in small letters. This simple grammar rule is forgotten by many designers.

2.3 Unique graphic writing

In the basis of unique graphic writing of all members of Erste Group is the font ITC Officina Serif of the legendary Erik Spiekermann (ITC company) redrawn by me for this project.

The same font in Regular, Italic, Medium and Medium Italic (without changes) is used in the logotype for writing slogans and signatures, as well as in all printed products for clients and outdoor advertisements.

2.5 Coding of performance directions with color

Some of Erste Group members have subsidiaries, using the logotype general for the whole group. For example, Česká spořitelna bank has about twenty – real estate agency, pension fund, car leasing, etc.

Advertising posters, signs, facades and other attributes of any of subsidiaries shall be clearly distinguished for no confusion.

The best solution to this issue in design is color coding of subdepartments and subsidiaries of large companies.

It creates the feeling of order for public, sorts the visual communication of every element of the company.

3. The second stage of communication with consumers

 When the new image of the brand will become recognizable, when it will firmly settle in the minds of our consumers, we will be able to begin the most interesting stage of visual communication of the brand with the people.


I have already mentioned the three most important elements of the brand image. They are: clarity, simplicity and availability.
The goal of these elements – is to make the brand closer to people.

Intimacy and closeness – here are two main characteristics of the new brand. I mean closeness to people in their everyday life, in the things, which surround them, and in the sphere of their occupation and their interest.
To my mind, the communication with consumers via advertisement should be viewed through this prism.
The concept of the brand’s promotion is simple, and it consists of two items:

1.
The image (the picture).
2. The textual description of the image


It should be
А. simple, in arranging and in content.
Б
. accurate and laconic, so we won’t speak more than it is required
В. written in italic font and/or italic bold Officina Serif.

Promotional image

We can find the reflection of Esrte Group in everything, that surrounds us – children’s toys — bricks and block’s, the food we eat, the houses, we live in and its windows, block pavement etc.

So, the things, which are well-known and usual to our consumers, will begin to be accepted as something new and unexpected, bright and striking. If we will place such an objects on the homogenous tone, we could create our own visual language. You can’t deny that it will be rather difficult to confuse our style with someone’s else or find it complicated to understand. Our image totally excludes negative emotions and associations.

The following example shows us how is it 
possible to transform so usual thing as roll sushi and maki into the promo image.

3.1 Creation of advertising photos

With simple manipulations any photo may become an advertisement for a firm. One only needs to put the sign of Erste Group and sign the photo.

For example this way

Never use photos of all these happy and smiling people, who do not care what to advertise – toothpaste, bank or something else. 

Glossy photos will not do at all. They are outdated. Images from real life are needed without pretense, standardized poses and characters; images, which cannot be presented anywhere else other than in the advertisement of Erste Group; simple, clear, accessible, close to people in their naturalness and everyday life!

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