Toby Russell Architects was founded in 1954 and is one of Western Canada’s oldest architecture firms. Responsible for such high profile projects as Sinclair Centre, Port Coquitlam City Hall, Buchanan Tower, and the Pacific Highway Border Crossing, the firm has navigated its fair share of change over the years.
Throughout the firm’s 60 year history the name has changed several times as partners came and went, but the traditional format of the name stayed relatively the same: last names or acronyms of initials. The latest incarnation was in 2007, when the firm principals made the decision to use an acronym TRB to represent the firm. They did this to contemporize the name and retain brand equity, despite the absence of any of the original principals whose names had graced the doors of the practice.
As part of succession planning, the two young principals about to take the reins weren’t so sure the legacy name was what they wanted, or what was right. We were consulted to look at naming options, develop a brand strategy and design an identity to suit the firm’s next 60 years.
Through research, talking to staff, clients, vendors and other stakeholders, we were able to clearly identify the defining aspects of the practice, and their aspirations. We uncovered strengths and potential shortcomings, and set aside obvious characteristics that any and all competent firms will possess in the pursuit of an authentic brand position.
We sought to preserve brand equity while addressing a real need to build on the firm’s DNA. A look at the most recent work gave insight into the future of the firm, and its true capabilities.
Curiosity, thought and challenge. These are the qualities behind how Ratio approaches their clients and their work. It may be argued that is what many firms may also say, it’s true. But what makes Ratio unique is the combination of these things in just the right proportions, and their ability to apply insights and experience to elevate the designs created for their clients.
The new name and identity is based on the idea of proportion, the symbol for this being a simple colon which has been customized and integrated into a clean wordmark. The new name is a real name, no longer tethered to individuals, but rather the power of the organization imbued with the promise for the future. The colours, one of which is a bold, vibrant, fluorescent orange, are used with considerable restraint, always with a generous amount of whitespace to convey a design-forward approach.
We collaborated with the managing principals to first introduce the new brand and identity to the staff. By addressing the rationale for the new name and logo, and the underlying structure that must be adopted, we set the stage to identify potential issues, ensure acceptance, and deliver on the new brand promise authentically.
Once the new brand structure was in place we were able to create the brand voice, establishing language and tone, identifying projects to reinforce the intended direction of the practice, write all copy for the website and elsewhere, and direct photography and content development. We then designed and produced a comprehensive stationery package, the new responsive website and teaser and launch marketing campaigns.
All brand, identity and marketing content was then packaged and delivered to the client in our secure, online brand resource and management tool called Managed Brand.
Results from client reaction, website and campaign analytics are pending, but by initial accounts, the new brand is a hit. Ratio is now well on the way to its next 60 years, and a reputation as an experienced firm with a fresh, progressive approach to architecture, interior design and planning.
Launch website: thinkratio.com
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