Sputnik Magazine | Spring 2013

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Identity Investments When change is a constant, innovation becomes the new normal.There are many ways to innovate, from financial modeling, to process design, to delivery. We've always believed a brand is the sum total of these actions—how customers, suppliers, and employees experience your organization. Here are some examples of identity work that we recently completed for companies in the financial sector. Benchmark Wealth Strategies A standard by which something can be measured or judged; a basis for comparison; a reference point for evaluation. This project began as a naming challenge. Benchmark was a startup that wasn't just looking for a new visual identity, it was also looking for a name. To tackle the problem, we researched the market with the goal of creating a name that told the story about what made the company different and had an emotional tug that connected it with its target audience—all in one or a few words. That's not as easy as it sounds. Naming is a tricky business. Things that must be considered when developing a brand name include comprehension, memorability, ease of pronunciation, negative and positive associations, competitors, trademarks and domain name possibilities. We settled on 'Benchmark' as it met much of this criteria. We've learned that the biggest mistake companies make is being too descriptive with their names. A name should not attempt to simply describe; it should have the ability to suggest the essence of the company. A name that is narrow or too descriptive does not have the depth or dimension to become an effective brand. Benchmark was a great name because it got to the core of the company's personal advisory approach by identifying the key ingredient of integrated wealth solutions: measurement. Clear Focus Financial This assignment started out as a 'business card rescue.' A new logo had been developed for the firm and was printed on business cards, and the owner was not happy with the results. While the printing of the cards was definitely substandard, the logo itself had more issues than a reality TV show. The logo was very complicated. It wasn't clear or focused. That was a problem, considering the company's name. We suggested the logo had to go. It was presenting a mixed message, and it was uninspiring. In their work, the client used a symbol of overlapping circles to demonstrate the key area of focus for each of their clients' portfolios. We enhanced that and brought it right into the middle of the type signature. With that adjustment there was a better overall visual symmetry that was enhanced with the introduction of more compelling fonts. The result was a stronger brand identity that would translate well in today's multichannel universe. We tell clients that graphic identities, identity programs, and brand identities are elements of a system. The brand platform is really the foundation of the system. When an organization starts with a strong foundation, each element provides evidence of the brand value—what the organization means to the people it serves.

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