The new Arts & Business NI brand is designed to be flexible, friendly and authoritative. With a colour palette comprising ‘A&B Fire’ - a creative-friendly hot pink with a direct connection to our roots and previous brand mark and ‘A&B Steel’ our strong and ambitious new colour that resonates with our business partners and commands attention. The brand mark is designed to stand out equally well in full colour and mono applications. Additionally, it’s designed to ‘flex’, through the use of photography and pattern-based imagery in-fills, to keep the brand fresh and to the forefront of every application it appears in.
Q1: You’ve worked with many local arts organisations and businesses on their branding and identity. How important is branding, particularly in 2021?
At the end of the day ‘brand’ is all about communicating with an authentic voice which establishes itself in the mind and recall of the audience - that’s where brands live, rather than on a page or screen. After that the challenge is how to do that consistently yet creatively, regardless of the media, or circumstance.
Q2: Talk us through the rationale and process behind the Arts & Business NI rebrand.
The timing of the decision to rebrand may seem strange, but the roots of the new identity stretch back to pre-Covid times, late summer 2019, as we were developing the event identity for the 2020 Awards, scheduled for mid-January.
We knew we needed a visual theme for the night that was celebratory, attention-grabbing and flexible and the result clearly resonated with the invited guests, many of whom asked if this was the new A&B brand. Mary Nagele and I often joked over the following weeks that we’d missed a trick by not announcing it as such on the night!
As the weeks stretched into months and the world entered into the first lockdown, what started as an idle ‘what if’ conversation became a serious discussion about a rebrand, the justification for it, what it could look like and what it needed to do. It became clear that the timing was, actually, right but it needed to reflect how the organisation had changed to become even more fleet of foot and responsive during the pandemic. Having established the full brief we opened it up the Whitenoise brand team and a number of excellent concepts were developed, including an updated version of the 2020 awards identity, which was eventually chosen by the A&B team as the preferred option for the new brand.
We felt strongly that the new identity should incorporate the principle of ‘flexible branding’, with a central logo element that can ‘flex’ to reflect the audience, event, theme or activity, and a solid rationale for how this principle operates is a foundational part of the new brand guidelines. This magazine is actually the first manifestation of the new brand, and throughout it’s pages you’ll see positive, negative, mono and ‘flexed’ versions of the new A&B logo.
I look forward to working with the team throughout 2021 as we roll out the new identity, and hearing feedback from Arts & Business NI’s business and arts members on what they think - drop me a line with your impressions at email@example.com
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