Our identity is how we tell our story to the public. It tells people who we are, what they can expect from us and most importantly, what we stand for. In 2019 we felt our identity had not kept pace with some of the innovations that had taken place within the practice, so began (what marketers call) a ‘brand refresh’, i.e. changing our brand identity without altering the fundamentals of the brand itself. In this article, I want to provide a little insight into the steps we took to achieve this change, as well as highlighting some of the new features and tools we have developed.
Ask most people what they think of when they think of a re-branding and they will mention logos, the page layout or colours; what I'll call the design. They might even discuss copywriting, imagery or tone of voice; but what they won’t usually talk about is the evidence based research that should have got them there. I say ‘should’, because this is often the step in the process many organisations omit when they first begin to think about updating their identity or brand.
Before the Design…
We started working on our new identity long before we looked at anything visual. Tooley Foster have always updated and changed with the times: it’s why we have flourished for 128 years. Of course technology and processes develop, but since we last took a hard look at our communications, our offering as a practice has grown massively. Partly this reflects fundamental shifts in customer’s expectation in all B2B markets. But is also, a result of the continued growth of the practice as it seeks to deliver new and innovative services.
Over the proceeding weeks we held group workshops, informal discussions and internal meetings to develop our creative platform - exploring who we are as a practice? what we wanted to say? and how we wanted to say it? As well as undertaking analysis of our immediate environment, clients and competitors. This kind of self-assessment does not come naturally to all architects and it can be time consuming. But it is an essential process; providing the insights to enable clear messaging and helping maintain an undiluted, consistent message.
Finally; the new design...
The first thing you will notice is the new website design and our new brand colours, logo and photography. We have slimed the site right down: keeping the most popular areas, developing others and enhancing your ability to find the information you want. We’ve developed our copy too; you won’t find jargon for the sake of it, and we have developed a tone of voice which is simple, direct and approachable.
We have simplified our business name to Tooley Foster. The shorter name is more contemporary, but still rooted in our proud heritage, referenced by the new ‘cleaner’ logo that features our 1892 founding date. We now use three colours across all are communications which feel modern, professional and warm. And have developed our photography; creating more consistent, bolder and innovative imagery to illustrate the stories behind our buildings as well as the people who will live and work there.
The more we examined what we stood for, the more our purpose and strengths became clear. We hope this shines through in our re-brand and that our new authentic voice will see us successfully through the next 128 years.