(Looks like branding’s back on the menu’s boys!)
Once again, we’re back at the branding, this time for a contemporary furniture company. Starting off, I’ll look at current branding of several popular and successful furniture companies to base my idea’s off.
I’ll start with Vitra. A Swiss company following the traditional view of these sorta of sites. Plain colours, most of the site is monochrome and all of their products are in conspicuous white voids.
Professional, clean and borderline-clinical. These are traits that crop up consistently, when examining the brands of sites like Vitra, as well as our next example:
Anything seem familiar?
This theme continues, even to resource books on contemporary furniture – such as ‘Contemporary Furniture – An International Review of Modern Furniture 1950 to the present’ by Klaus-Jürgen Sembach, in which the covers appearance appears to be little more than a Haynes car manual, and the interior is a black and white Ikea catalogue.
The point is, most, if not, all sites that sell or trade in contemporary furniture have the same aesthetic – colloquially described as: ‘a monochrome ensemble, mimicking the images featured within it as: ‘overcast Swedish morning in the worlds most neutral house.’.’.
However, despite all the conformity and same-ishness it’s clear that the sites seem professional, trendy, attractive and cool.
So, on topic of branding, how do I create a design that looks professional, trendy, attractive and cool…
Without falling into the monochrome pit of despair, that is conventional furniture sites?
Well, I believe that in order to work that out, I’d best look at other high-end brands, outside of the furniture world. In this case; Rolex, Chaplins and Selfridges – to name but a few.
So, Rolex, the home of stupidly overpriced clockwork.
That being said, the site itself looks extremely professional, clean and look; It has colour!
Rolex’s site carries the same level of professionalism and class that their watches do – well designed and sleek looking, as well as including shots of products featured in ‘successful’ locations – as though to say that the products themselves will get you to these places.
LOOK! A CONTEMPORY FURNITURE COMPANY THAT USES COLOUR, LORD SAVE US ALL!
Yeah, much in opposition to other furniture companies, Chaplin’s furniture is both – in rooms that are actually coloured, and features them in-situae.
Unfortunately, when it comes to actually buying furniture, they have once again been vanquished to the negitive zone, and the backgrounds have once more disappeared.
A clothes shop for people who like clothes more than money. This site too, falls into the trap of models being shot on white backgrounds, however at least this site shows the price of items on it.
Investigating further into successful brands – as well as widespread brands! – will ultimately lead to Virgin Media. Infact, I’ve already written about Virgin elsewhere on this blog, but will re-itterate for sake of convenience.
Virgin started in 1970 as a record shop, under the title: ‘Virgin Records’ and rapidly expanded into other fields – ranging from Trains, Airways and recently, part of the NHS.
One of the reasons that made Virgin Records – now collectively known simply as ‘Virgin’ -so successful, was it’s brand styling.
The name stemming from the creators opinion that they were both ‘Virgins’ in the business world, with the V being stylised tick, showing their approval of the things they sold.
Mentioning their recent acquisition of part of the NHS, truly shows how powerful the Virgin brand has become, and how far their name and brand has spread since their inception.
…so, with this basic-tier research under my belt, what now? Well now, I’ve got to put on my designing cap, and think of my own:
Name, Colour Scheme, Branding Material, Ethos and Technical Document – for a contemporary furniture shop…
Cap’s on, let’s go.
Brand Manager’s bit
The precursor thoughts to all of this project – taking place even while searching for references and idea’s found in the above pieces – was:
Who would come to this shop?
Ultimately, I settled on the D.I.N.K -Dual Income No Kids- demographic. Why? Because they’ll be new homeowners, likely in their 20’s and 30’s.
They’ll likely want furniture that is more professional and better put together than Ikea, but wouldn’t like to spend excessive amounts on one piece of furniture – like one might find in shops like Vitra.
So that is where my business steps in, as the stepping stone between affordability and quality!
The products are aimed at eclectic individuals, who admire contemporary styles. Sleek and Savvy furnishings, brought together under my own; ‘one roof’ and hopefully, theirs too.
These individuals won’t want to live in a boring house like what their parents do, and will want to inject a touch of style, class and elegance from all over the world – reflecting their lifestyles.
Stereotypically, these people have large amounts of disposable income, generally drive two cars in the household, and enjoy long walks or possibly tennis. This could be true of our demographic, but it’d be more beneficial to aim big and aim wide, encompassing many people, and what’s the best way to do that?
Professionalism, mixed with hints of playfulness. That way, the company will be taken seriously, but also have a slightly ‘cheeky’ side – which could appeal to those with kids and slightly more income.
Lastly, what did I learn from my research? Colour is absent from these sorts of shops, meaning that there is some form of gap in the market. A gap I shall exploit!
Using these lines of thinking, I came up with the tenants upon which my business will be founded:
Professional, but playful.
Aim for D.I.N.K’s, everyone else is a bonus.
Keep a good mixture of styles. (to appeal the the Eclectic nature of my targets).
Make it feel northern. (We live in Sheffield after all, and this shop will likely take up roots in the north.)
The Projecty bit
So my first issue was thinking of a name of a Contemporary Furniture Shop (henceforth, shortened to CFS) from Sheffield. Thinking back to my previous work, both in the City Re-branding found here and the Sculpture unit, found here – I already knew a few things about Sheffield’s origin’s, as well as what it’s more famous for nowadays.
So, my first thought came in the form of either Greenery or Steel and part of me wanted to add some form of subversion to the project…
but then, I had an idea! What is something unique to The North?
The proper pronunciation of Scone!… Stylised to look like a Scandinavian Furniture shop. Memorable, humorous and most importantly – clearly northern.
Skön is born! Now, what sort of colour scheme would Skön use? More importantly, what sort of marketing would Skön use?
Well, firstly – and in hindsight, unwisely – I thought I’d have a crack at it regardless, coming up with this as a first design:
Have a ‘fancy’ made up name for every item in the book then in brackets – put it in ‘proper’ english.
Now, at first, I loved this design and idea – the yellow-black design catching the eye easily from a distance, the written font giving off vibes of playfulness and personality!
But then, I sat and thought some more, and realised just where the problem with this lie.
The strips of yellow-black, while eye-catching, also alluding to police tape, and restriction.
So I sat back and thought about my design and what could be done about it, then, after a brief thought, it came to me! The umlauted O could be used elsewhere as it’s own ident.
But then, once again, I came to a stall. The whole thing didn’t sit right, as a whole design so I took a step back and used my knowledge from my early contextual work.
Who shops at places like this? People with a large amount of disposable income, for a starts. People who’d likely drive two cars, and go backpacking across the Fjords.
I also thought about more contemporary designs – as well as idea’s of minimalism.
…Inspiring the name, of course.
The seat however, is a subtle nod back to the to Umlauted O from the first iteration of the design. Page 2 expands on this further:
Page 3 is purposely blank, as to draw the readers eyes to the detail on the left – the same prose as before, this time housed within the O, to both highlight the prose it’s self, as well as give the whole page a character.
The first spread takes this form. Inspired by swiss design, as well as simply typography. The meaning should be clear in the typography – if not, then drumroll please… Skon – where elegance and class meet!
Not my finest moment…
This is!… Get it cause it’s fine art? No?
Well, either way, I feel proud of this spread. I took loose inspiration from The Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save The Fucking Queen’
I also personally feel it adds to the absurd sub-tone I’m trying to permeate through this collective design.
The larger C1 text was at first made be accident, after I realised that I forgot to write the products actual name on this page – then, not knowing the font was different, I wrote C1. The end result looked impressive, so I changed the titles of all of the products to the same font (Code Bold) throughout the booklet.
The Park Sofa!
The park sofa spread is one of my personal favourites – but in truth I couldn’t tell you why, though I think I just really love the contrasting colour. The contrasting colours was inspired by the difference in colour of the original images of the settee’s, and proved to be more stark than I initially thought it would have been – which ultimately, worked to the piece’s benefit.
Lastly was the ‘Map Table’ spread. The ‘Stack The Deals’ was made in response to the table itself being stackable, for easy storage – the styling/positioning of the font was inspired, simply, by Jenga pieces which a friend of mine was talking about nearby.
While producing the work for this unit, I’ve also been working on the ‘Design in the digital environment‘ unit. During that unit, I was tasked with producing a mock-up site to show what my completed site might look like – as a way of inspiring me. Taking inspiration from that, I decided to design a site that could be suitable to Skön:
As well as a few selections of business cards:
In situae here:
The site was designed with simplicity in mind. To make it appear clear and clean was a top priority, as ease of access and simplicity are what I feel, to be great favours to a website.
What’s more is that I could include the font from the original drafting, as a homage to the past designs in the quote box – which I feel is an appropriate location for that font.
I chose the URL: ‘Skönline’ as a portmanteau of Skön and online (and feel patronising for having to point that out!)
The business cards were made as simple as possible – to retain clarity and legibility at a distance, as well as get across the name and type of service Skön performs across.
Overall, I think Skön’s branding is coming along nicely – however, I keep feeling like something’s missing! banner ads!
Why Banner Ads? Because the ‘D.I.N.K’ demographic – Skön’s ultimate target – are moving to be more digital in this day and age, as more 20-30 year olds are becoming computer literate…
But, why stop there? Why stop at banner adverts? Thinking back to Virgin Records and how they rapidly spread to encompass a large selection of businesses – both successful and unsuccessful.
What could Skön become?
A music company?
A medicinal company?
Perhaps even a space-flight business!
Blue sky thinking? More like BLACK SKY thinking!… No..?
This project is done.
The Conclusion bit
So, this was The Skön Branding project! One of my favourite projects thus far, and I’m extremely proud of the end result/end idea. My personal favourite – as well as annoying – part of this project was definitely the manual itself. Seeing it progress and how it drastically changed from idea 1 to idea 2, 3, 4, etc. was satisfying – if infuriating at the time, because nothing about it ever sat quite right.