Extreme Joe Makeover

Brand Expression
By 
Matt Brehony
May 5, 2023
Brand Expression
By 
Matt Brehony
May 5, 2023

In the wake of the pandemic, everyone indulged in a little well-earned complacency. Things like exercise, grooming, and wearing actual pants became useless trivialities in a time when survival was the only success metric that mattered. But thankfully/gradually things stabilized, leading to that moment where we caught ourselves in the mirror—or, as was the case for us at Joe Smith, logged on to our own website—and realized just how long we had let ourselves go.

We began planning our rebrand in 2019 by transitioning to a decidedly plain, non-identity identity as a stopgap for the time being. But time kept being—client work took precedence, once-in-a-century pandemics intervened—and the stopgap became the standard. As is often the case, it was right after we arrived on our new brand strategy and story that a sense of urgency took over. The gulf between this dynamic crew of Artful Problem Solvers and those drab fields of navy and white was untenable. Joe was due for a serious makeover.

We began by engaging our full team in highly strategic and only slightly navel-gazing conversations on how our value proposition could translate to visuals. We explored numerous directions, ultimately landing on the one most rooted in who we are.

The “Smith” in Joe Smith is a nod to the craft of blacksmithing. Building things that are at once beautiful, useful, and enduring always felt like a fitting metaphor for work we do (but you know, with PowerPoints and PDFs instead of flaming metal). Our challenge became how to channel the imagery of blacksmithing in a way that felt sophisticated, subtle, and relevant to the way we work.

Early visual identity explorations

The spectrum of hues metal gives off as it's heated inspired a color palette and gradient that runs from a steely grey to scorching yellow. A signature design element evokes wrought iron, symbolizing the simultaneous strength and flexibility that are hallmarks of a well-built brand.

Additional elements play up our personality and preview what it’s like to work with us. A custom font (Joe) casts headlines in a bold yet approachable manner, while a scribbly secondary design motif illustrates our belief that you got to get a little messy to arrive at a neat solution.

Translating your brand strategy into visuals is rarely an easy process. What’s missing from this 500 words-or-less blog entry, is all the second-guessing, obsession over detail, and socializing with stakeholders to make it happen. We benefitted from the fact that we do this every day for clients of all kinds. If your brand needs to burn off a little complacency, the team at Joe Smith is here to bring the heat.

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Got a messaging problem?
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