Keeping the fish out of it

Design may still be celebrating the year of the fish, reeling as it is from the Addison/British Gas debacle. But west London consultancy Pearlfisher is doing its best to change all that by introducing a bird, the flamingo, into a corporate identity brief without so much as the hint of a feather.

Flamingo is the name Pearlfisher came up with for a fledgling global research company, hatched following a management buyout of research company RDS’s international arm. The reasoning, says Pearlfisher partner Karen Welman, is that both the name and the identity had ‘to reflect the flair and youthfulness of the company’ and its willingness to question the norm. Flamingo has to ‘lead from the edge’, she explains, for such clients as Levi Strauss. So out went the ‘safe’ clichés to do with number-crunching and statistics, in favour of the more unconventional name.

Pearlfisher has added an extra spin by avoiding direct reference to the exotic bird in the typography-driven marque. A feather crept into an early concept, ‘but looking at that concept we decided it was best not to have a feather in sight’, says Welman.

So this ‘untypical’ company has ended up with a bold identity based on the letters of flamingo, jumbled and layered and picked out in bold, bright colours. As language is important to this ‘energetic’ international company, Pearlfisher has sought to create a kind of system for it that is sufficiently fluid to translate in a number of ways. The only hint of the bird is a strong pink to give ‘a touch of aggression’, says Welman.

Fish aren’t that easily forgotten though. One idea rejected by Pearlfisher was a flamingo pink tropical fish, which Welman maintains looks nothing like a goldfish.

Designer: Pearlfisher

Client: RDS (now Flamingo)

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