Aurasens is a startup design company and manufacturer of luxury lounges headquartered in Paris. Their debut lounge, the Voyager, pairs high-fidelity audio with a proprietary technology called vibro-haptic composition (VHC) in the form of a luxury lounge.
Aurasens founders Olivier Zeller and Nicolas Leroy had built their first draft of a concept chair – a luxury, seated, multisensory product for an elite market. A latent idea rather than a readily available item, communicating Aurasens to partners and prospects was both complex and critical to the business going forward. At the time, its primary online presence was a basic landing page – a stopgap website created to ‘park’ the domain space and make it possible for interested individuals to get in touch.
As the Aurasens enterprise grew closer to market-ready fruition however, the duo recognised it was time to enter into a new stage of development. Part of this involved developing a website which would more accurately and more elegantly convey the character of their brand and how it was positioned in the external market. Hastening them along this path towards change was an urgent prompt in the form of feedback: people were telling them directly they were confused about what exactly the lounge offered – what purpose it served and what it was, in its essence. In order to undertake niche marketing effectively, it was imperative for the company to overcome this communication challenge and make clear the visceral experience of the product through simple, engaging design.
At Nerve, out task was to build a website which would align with Aurasen’s new phase of maturity. They were at a singularly exciting – and singularly challenging – juncture in their business journey. Still in seed stage, they assumed the role of visionaries: demonstrating prototypes at conferences and fairs, gradually raising funds as the debut model edged closer to being manufactured into sales-ready reality.
As the primary objective guiding our revamp of the site’s architecture and content, we set about removing all ambiguity which risked confusing site visitors and demotivating on-site action.
Our solution was to create a concept for a narrative-style landing page – one which would eschew finicky technical details in favour of a powerful, evocative and alluring idea. Using immersive images and stripped-back copy in a tiered scrolling linear hierarchy, we leveraged this strategy of storytelling to express key messages in a coherent way.
When selecting photography to feature on the site, we made sure that the images all ‘spoke’ to each other in the same key, and were composed in such a way to convey the look, feel and style of Aurasens. Visual treatment was applied to the chosen photographs to capture the elegance of the brand’s unique offering – washing the site with dusky, muted and sensual colour tones.
When it came to the brand visuals of the website, we recognised that the Aurasens product offering was a little alien in its opulent futurism. As such, we worked to create a visual experience that would reflect this ‘strange yet seductive’ quality, while ensuring that it not be so ‘out there’ as to be inaccessible. Every detail on the site was crafted bespoke to fit the brand. For example, we animated the Aurasen’s logo as a pre-loader, conveying with simplicity the underlying vibration pad technology. And the small circles in the graphic served as a connecting element in the left-hand navigation menu to the landing page that follows. The combined result of this was to substantiate Aurasens’ high-end product positioning.
The client expressed satisfaction across the full scope of the project. It is moreover something of a testament to our positive, committed relationship with the client that we were able to deliver it in its entirety across two very different time zones (the distance: some 10,000km) and in two different languages (French and English).
Malton Rd is a boutique insurance brokerage based in Sydney, Australia. Its value is giving customers the right information at the right time, taking the stress and complexity out of insurance.
Having proven themselves in the market as a new business, Malton Rd was at a stage to refocus its operations on growth. With this refocus, Malton Rd intended to pursue more specific market niches, and needed a way to appeal to and communicate with them effectively. Additionally, their original logo gave customers the wrong impression that the business was a “Road Advisory” – i.e. A body keeping commuters up to date with congestion and other road blockage issues.
As is typical for our startup and small business clients, we began the project with a small-scale brand strategy. The strategy consisted firstly of a workshop that defined the brand’s environment and what it aspired to become and secondly a brand canvas, which was the result of the workshop and additional research we conducted. This brand canvas set the foundation for our rebrand of Malton Rd.
With the insurance industry positioned around the core values of selling safety and security, we saw this as an obvious direction. We then delved a little deeper into about what Malton Rd was really about. We discovered Malton Rd’s most valuable attribute was actually in simplifying insurance for customers; an ‘essentialist’ philosophy espoused by its Founder, James Fletcher. The team were especially skilled in directing customers to what is important, when it’s important. They were great at getting to the point and making a long story short. This clean messaging cut-through became the focus of our rebrand.
Taking this idea around crisp, clean messaging, we began brainstorming different ways to express this. After an exhaustive search for different expressions, we landed on road-signs or ‘informational wayfinding’ as a metaphor.
Setting aside the obvious connection between the word ‘road’ and wayfinding, we identified that road signs refine what’s displayed down to their most essential, appearing at critical junctures during your journey and resulting in pertinent decisions at just the right moment. The team at Malton Rd agreed with our reasoning and with their blessing, we constructed a visual system around this idea.
The visual system extended the informational wayfinding into using the direction of the arrow, driven by context, to convey salient information. On the website, we used colour and animations to emphasise the arrow motif throughout the user experience. We then defined a colour palette which aligned with creative industries (their target market), and differentiated Malton Rd from traditional insurance brokers (their competition). Additionally, we used the colour palette as a simple variable for Malton Rd to quickly convey information in their documents across product and/or industry segments.
The rebrand helped Malton Rd focus on its future goals by consolidating its value proposition and addressing its customers with a clear message. We delivered a simple but confident brand identity, which was realised across stationery, business documents, signage and a website. The brand launch post received great traction on LinkedIn (the client’s primary communication channel), with 50 likes and positive comments reflecting on the new brand and website.
Our initial understanding of design was limited to past experiences – provide a brief, agree on the colour palette and boom, here’s your new logo and business cards. Nerve however took a wholistic approach and considered all touch points people have with the business, identified issues and offered solutions. The boys took the time to understand what our company was all about, what it stands for and the consistent experience we want our customers to have. Thoughtful and tailored questioning revealed qualities about our business that we didn’t realise were our major assets. Each player in the nerve dream-team contributed a different and complementary skill, all working together seamlessly to produce amazing results. To say we are happy with the finished product is an understatement, our love for the new brand has even led to producing clothing, and I doubt it’ll stop there! Thanks guys.
– James Fletcher, Advice Director of Malton Rd
The Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN) is a not-for-profit organisation that provides networking, mentorship, and career and professional advice for young Sikh professionals. YSPN aims to create the conditions for young Sikhs to succeed and amplify their influence.
After completing a member engagement strategy project with Deloitte, YSPN approached us in mid-2016 to refresh their brand. The original YSPN brand was sufficient for the organisation’s launch, however, as it began to grow, the brand’s limits began to stretch. The brand lacked sufficient substance; different applications needed to be considered; and the member engagement strategy highlighted more specific requirements for the brand.
As is standard for a project like this, we started the YSPN brand project with an audit of their existing collateral: website, social media, communications and internal documents. Then, after extensive analysis of the strategic landscape, competitors and things that make YSPN unique, we landed on a single-minded idea that served as an analogy for the brand: Professional Sewa. Sewa is a concept strongly associated with Sikhism meaning ‘selfless service’, or helping others for nothing more than the spiritual fulfilment. YSPN is an organisation that practices and promotes Sewa in the professional sphere and as such, was a strong place to begin developing a new brand.
For the final brand concept we extended the idea of Professional Sewa visually to create a visual language we call ‘Greater Heights through Solidarity’. The idea behind this was that a community is always stronger when its members help each other rather than struggle to enact change separately – whatever that change may be. To support this concept, we created a custom typeface called Sewa Sans, designed to emulate the strength of the community and the individuals within it.
The rebrand was well received, with very strong feedback across a range of the brand assets developed. The brand launch video reached over 12,000 people, with high engagement rates (112 likes and 25 shares) and a flurry of positive commentary on social media and as delivered privately over email. In addition, the crowdfunding video produced by Nerve, which applied the new visual identity, reached nearly 29,000 people and was shared 49 times – helping to raise almost $10,000 in donations.
Overall, the rebrand helped YSPN hit its objectives of expressing its distinctive strengths, and create enough flexibility and engagement in the brand to expand the organisation. YSPN has since used the new brand identity to promote the organisation internationally, launching its first international chapter in Auckland and New Zealand, and build an even stronger network of young Sikh professionals. The flexibility of the brand system was instrumental in developing engagement across each chapter, making it easier for the organisation to expand.
Diversity Dimensions is a workplace and employment diversity consultant. They work with corporate and government organisations to develop strategies that increase diversity and help employers and employees maximise their working relationships.
After a brand strategy was developed by Truebrand, we were engaged to extend the Diversity Dimensions brand into the digital environment and to design their corporate website.
The brand and website were developed with the tagline “Shaping tomorrow’s workforce” as a foundation. We interpreted this tagline visually by designing a typeface we named Dimensions Display. This typeface was built by geometric shapes coming together to create letterforms that represented diverse people coming together to build an inclusive future. This concept and typeface became the Diversity Dimensions brand. We used these letterforms extensively throughout the Diversity Dimensions website to create headlines, content containers and patterns, which shaped the structure of the site.
Working together with True brand, Talia Gill and the development team at Hover Creative, we built a successful corporate website for Diversity Dimension and extended the brand into a range of applications.
World Wide Mind is an international creative communications company with offices in Sydney, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. They collaborate with agencies, studios, networks and brands from concept to completion, to create and produce extraordinary content, across all platforms.
World Wide Mind (WWM) commissioned us to design a website that represented their core service offering and collaborative approach to work. They wanted something clean, easy to navigate; something innovative and unexpected.
Our first challenge arose from a certain conflict we identified between the World Wide Mind logo (a geometric-shaped brain) and the company’s core service offering (video direction and production). Because, well, the symbol of a mind rarely makes the average person think about filmmaking. Since our commission didn’t involve a full-scale identity overhaul, agile thinking for a creative solution was needed.
Our solution was identifying the unifying theme of ‘Thinking in film’. This theme was uncovered during our discovery and exploration phase, which is a standard phase of every project we undertake. We then used the idea to underpin several unconventional and innovative conceptual directions per our brief.
The first visual concept, entitled ‘A worldwide frame of mind’, used the idea of film and frame-by-frame animation to set the visual foundation of the site. The concept also speaks to the collaborative mindset of the WWM group..
We then designed ‘The Storyline,’ leveraging WWM’s strong positioning as storytellers. The storyline concept was a multi-dimensional way of navigating through the website, similar to how you would use a scrubber on a video player. At the highest level, the interaction is linear, navigating from left to right, beginning to end – but as the user progresses through the story, the navigation opens a range of possibilities for the user to dive into on other planes. Think of it like the iTunes scrubber, if you will. You can scrub from side to side, but if you move your hand away from the scrubber itself, it changes the speed of scrubbing the further you get.
These concept designs succeeded in broadening the client’s perspective on how they could express their brand in innovative and unexpected ways. Though impressed, they decided something a little more minimal was the best fit for them. We accepted the challenge and commenced the third concept design.
In response to our client’s direction and our refined understanding of the client’s objective, we built a concept which used a modular grid to inform the layout and bring structure to the elements to bring the work and people to the forefront.
This concept successfully hit our client’s objectives: it resolved the contextual gap between the client’s brand name and the company’s core service offering and brought a focus to their collaborative approach through highlighting the people at WWM. What’s more, it did so in a clean, easy-to-navigate way. We used underlining to represent film edges, to highlight the W, W and M, and used photography in 16:9 aspect ratio to strengthen the expression of the brand through the website. Ultimately, we helped our client position themselves as an innovative and creative communications company.