The Big Rethink

Citing nostalgia and humour as potent antidotes in recession-time branding, Elmwood Chairman Jonathan Sands addressed business leaders and designers today on the second morning of The Economist’s Redesigning Business Summit.

Jonathan Sands, Chairman, Elmwood
Jonathan Sands, Chairman, Elmwood

Sands warned that ‘the biggest challenge for business is being brave’ when approaching branding projects. Smaller clients are more likely to embrace a ‘frighten and enlighten’ approach and are willing to take risks said Sands.

Coming on like the Michael Parkinson of design, grey suited, white haired, dulcet-toned Jonathan Sands, concluded a catalogue of jovial examples with an Elmwood project, which saw waste management company Envirotech rebranded Serious**.

Serious** Logo
Serious** Logo

Stemming from Sands’ suggestion to Envirotech company MD that breaching environmental regulation is ‘serious shit’, the ‘Serious**’ brand was established, with a sewage brown and dysentery green colour palette, winning critical acclaim. 

Serious** Stationery
Serious** Stationery

Company case studies followed from Penguin, which has engaged with a teen audience by empowering them to take editorial control of a reviewing and social media site, Spine Breakers. 

Serious** Truck
Serious** Truck

Virgin Atlantic Airways Head of Design Joe Ferry talked up risk taking, heavy investment in research and development and patenting ideas. ‘It costs us £1.5-2m to design a seat and £100m to roll it out over business class,’ he said. A stern reminder to protect IP then.

Ingrid Halters, head of user experience for satellite navigation company Tom Tom, said that its ‘map share’ software means users can update a shared database, and have made 11 billion alterations since its launch. 

The revelation led compere and Economist correspondent Veejay Vaitheeswaran to remark that Tom Tom are making great headway with user experience, but were ‘crap map-makers.’

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