Delivering the goods

Derek Green Monday, May 16, 2016

At the beginning of 2015 we were approached by a potential new customer. Mr Smith was in the early stages of setting up a business. He asked us if we would be able to produce an identity for his new venture and create a digital presence for it, all for a limited budget. We said we could, as this was exactly the kind of design project that interested us, and which  [gawr-juhs] specialises in.

We asked Mr Smith to tell us more about his business offering and to share his vision of it with us. He explained that he was setting up a new courier company called ‘Smith Couriers’ and that it would mainly operate within the Manchester area. When we enquired why he’d decided on that particular name, he said “Because it says what it does on the tin.” Although we couldn’t disagree with that statement, our thought was that the proposed name wasn’t terribly dynamic or memorable.

Being a bit of petrolhead, Mr Smith also specified that he’d like the branding for his new company to adopt a similar colour palette to those used by Gulf Racing. For the uninitiated, this is predominantly light blue and orange.

As with all projects, we started by researching the industry and looking at the international, national and local competition. We noted that the most recognisable companies in this sector favoured typography over imagery for their visual branding. Some, though, do imply movement with the use of graphic devices like arrows, or use words in their company names to suggest motion.

The proposed name of ‘Smith Couriers’ was still troubling us though. Trying to find a comparison, we wondered how many people would be prepared to fly with Branson Airways, bank with Branson Money, or sign-up to Branson Active Health Clubs. Thankfully Richard decided to be imaginative at the outset by using an abstract word - Virgin - rather than simply applying his surname to the business. 

The more we thought about the company name, the more we were drawn towards the International Air Transport Association’s three letter code for Manchester Airport – MAN. We developed several alternative names based on this theme and checked to see if URLs were available. The one we felt was strongest though was ‘Man Delivers.’ To quote Mr Smith, “It does was it says on the tin” but our suggestion was creative and appropriate at the same time.

Taking inspiration from air transport one stage further, the design of airline luggage labels started to influence the typographic layout of our proposed company name. Similarly through researching imagery for Manchester, the stripes representing the Irwell, Irk and Medlock rivers on the City Council’s coat of arms, struck a visual chord with us. We incorporated stripes too, but varied their widths to produce a transition from one colour to another, and more importantly to create a sense of movement.

The design concepts were applied to vehicle liveries, apparel, stationery items and online mock-ups. But being [gawr-juhs], we always like to go that extra mile for a customer. We felt it was important that ‘Man Delivers’ had a positioning tagline. In five words we summarised what the company did and where it did it, but crucially conveyed that information quickly to new customers. In addition we worked-up a possible ad campaign, that could work at any size, from magazines to billboards. Our copy deliberately referenced areas of Manchester, again to ensure the target audience became aware that this business was based in, and operated from, their community.

We were excited to show Mr Smith our ideas. Apart from a marmite-moment, when we revealed our proposed name for his business, we felt the presentation went well. By the end, we’d even managed to get Mr Smith to buy-in to the  ‘Man Delivers’ name too. 

We asked him to take everything away and review it again at his leisure. We prefer it when clients have time to give careful consideration to our design proposals, rather than provide us with a knee-jerk reaction. However his initial comments appeared to be favourable.

A few weeks later we heard back from Mr Smith. He told us that he’d decided what we’d created wasn’t right for his business. As he needed to get his new venture operational, he’d now asked a friend to design a logo for him for free. One of the founding principles of [gawr-juhs] is to provide innovative design solutions at realistic and affordable prices. However we can’t, and won’t, compete with free. So we wished Mr Smith every success with his business.

This turn of events has left us with a rather stylish visual identity for a parcel logistics organisation. So if you're a new or existing courier company, based in the Manchester area, and are looking for fresh branding, then we have a ready-made design solution that would meet your needs. Have a look at our Man Delivers project page, and get in touch with us if it’s of interest to you.

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