Brand Aid 5: Knowing When To CROSS The Line

The Brief: Before each design process begins, a brief needs to be agreed. Sometimes clients provide us with a comprehensive written document and other times we resort to a good old Q&A session to determine what’s needed:

Q: Why does St Elizabeth’s need a new logo?
A: “The old logo is well known and liked, but because it features graduated tints and very fine in-lines, we’re finding it extremely difficult to maintain quality and consistency both in print and online.

Over time, the existing departments within St. Elizabeth’s – The School, College and Adult Care have developed different straplines and inconsistent treatments. As we’re looking to introduce a new Nursing and Therapy department, the time’s right to review our Corporate Identity as a whole.”

Q: Why St. Elizabeth’s ‘Centre’ and not just St. Elizabeth’s?
A: “Good question, the whole operation is set on our 65 acre site in Perry Green and each department runs independently. As we’re the only charity dealing with epilepsy in the country, St. Elizabeth’s Centre is unique, so we’d be happy to hear your recommendations on the best way forward.”

Q: What about the current typeface and colour?
A: “Typeface and colour are generally liked, but again, we’re open to suggestions.”

Just as we were feeling that there might be a blank sheet of paper to work with, we asked:

Q: Is there any part of the existing identity which is set in stone, can’t be altered and is non-negotiable?
A: “Our cross symbol dates back to 1833 when our founders, ‘The Daughters of the Cross’, were formed and it’s quite literally set in stone. It’s chiseled into large stone tablets at numerous locations, so this must remain unchanged!”

OK, now we know where not to ‘cross’ the line, it’s on with the design concept…

Analysis of the existing logo:

We drew up a list of pro’s and cons; the positives were that the logo was memorable, relevant and liked. The issues were balance, readability, reproduction, consistency and how the sub-departments would work.

The brief told us that ‘evolution, not revolution’ was required, the only thing set in stone was the cross, all other elements were variables. We weren’t keen on the existing dark green and felt that perhaps something softer and more sympathetic to the care offered at St. Elizabeth’s would be more appropriate.

As always, the first port of call was the sketch book, here are some of our early doodles:

Right from the start we were steering away from the abstract off-centred look of the original, to a more balanced, formal layout.

We quite liked the existing typeface which was sympathetic to the period when St. Elizabeth’s was formed, but we tested a wide range of other fonts to make sure that there wasn’t a better option available for our purpose.

We then drew the artwork for the cross very accurately, ensuring that the size, proportion and number of halo segments were exactly the same as the original stone carvings.

The next step was to explore how the new logo would work contained within an oval made up from the halo segments as per our sketches. Then see how we could develop sub-branded departments within the identity.

We agreed with the client that it would be a positive step forward if the brand became ‘St. Elizabeth’s’ and the word ‘centre’ was removed and replaced with ‘established 1903’ which would give them a link to the charity’s history.

The final logo and sub-brands:

The final result was that we developed a colour coded Corporate Identity:
the main St. Elizabeth’s logo being a soft purple and the sub-branded departments being complimentary colours of equal tonal value. We also suggested that the Bishop’s Stortford ‘Cross Gallery’ (owned and run by St. Elizabeth’s) should be brought under the umbrella of the new identity.

The new Corporate Identity was very well received and is in the process of being rolled out across all areas of the charity. However, given the size and complexity of the operation, the process may take some time.

Since it’s successful launch, we’ve been working with St. Elizabeth’s on the re-branding and merchandising of their charity shops, ever mindful of striking the right balance between knowing where not to cross the line and when to ask the right questions in order to push the boundaries and ensure they get what they need, not just what they think they want!