Creating a Distinctive brand

Distinctive brand on business card

With Head of Creative, Sam Bessant

When our founder Ben Lowndes asked me to design our new brand, it was obvious that our visual identity would have to represent distinctiveness. It needed to show how we stand out from the crowd and communicate our innovative approach.

I started with an in-depth chat with Ben about his inspiration for our company name and aspirations for the future.

With this background, I could put together workshops with the team, based on the Google Ventures’ Sprint model. This was about helping us to distil our brand personality and key audiences.

By understanding what makes us stand out, I was able to create a framework to build our visual identity.

Visual of the Distinctive brand

Collaborative creation

The framework set out what is special about our organisation. We are a small, dynamic team keen to express the vibrancy, personality and creativity of our work.

These workshops were vital to give me the tools I needed to start building our brand. Without this, the rest of the process could easily have stopped in its tracks.

But thanks to this early investment from the team, I had a clear steer on what Distinctive meant and the key audiences to whom we had to appeal – place-makers, purposeful businesses and public bodies. Our brand represents these three key strands.

When putting pen to paper, I instinctively focused on expressing distinctiveness through the letter D. So using this as an anchor point for our brand values immediately made sense.

In my creative process, I’m inspired by the simple, timeless, design we see in logos like HBO or the BBC.  Focusing on the first letter therfore felt like a good way to avoid cluttering up the Distinctive brand. I complemented this with a simple clean sans serif font – Poppins – to maintain the clarity of design.

I sketched out some initial designs, first using pen and paper and afterwards via Illustrator. As always, this design process involved seeing several concepts I’d sweated over fall by the wayside.

An early attempt to anchor the logo in forms representing building and construction did not work hard enough to reflect the good we are doing for clients in other sectors. A version which removed the dots from every letter fell foul of our proof-readers. Colleagues wanted to correct it every time I brought it up on the screen.

After working through this process, I presented my initial concepts to the team at our weekly meeting. As so often in processes like this, a version of the final design was the one which immediately appealed to the team.

Visual of the Distinctive brand and website on a phone

A Distinctive brand

Colleagues praised its simplicity and clarity. They got the brand’s link to our three pillars in a form that echoes a multi-layered stacked line chart. Each strand progresses upwards and represents the positive outcomes we achieve for clients.

Once we had agreed on the initial concept, the next step was to bring in colour. I chose an expressive modern colour palate to reflect our desire to be a vibrant, human brand. One that’s distinct from other, more corporate, organisations in our sector.

To complement the security and trust of the blue, I chose a lively orange, a friendly and warm pink and a natural, balanced aqua green.

I’m proud of the visual identity we’ve created for Distinctive. Creating a brand is something I’ve been through many times before. But making this new creative identity for our own team felt like a special opportunity.

I think the brand’s clarity and simplicity reflects everything I wanted to achieve when I first set out. And I’m pleased we’ve delivered this in a way that has a modern, friendly feel. And it’s been great to have such positive feedback from those who know and work with us. After all, they are who the brand is for.

I’m really grateful to the team for helping me through this process. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Distinctive brand evolves as our founder brand guardian.

If you’re interested in a branding workshop for your organisation, we’d be delighted to talk to you. Contact us to find out more.

Written by


Latest news & insights

Inspiring news, insights and comments from our Distinctive team.