S-Vox is an ideal example of strong brand management when the design partner (Riordon in this case!) is brought in to contribute right from the early thinking through to launch and beyond.
A few years earlier, Riordon had worked with Susan Mandryk on the brand design and development of Corus Entertainment. She later moved to VisionTV to serve as its Vice-President of Marketing and Communications. When the time came to rebrand the organization, she remembered working with Riordon.
“Riordon’s design work is top notch,” says Susan, “Their designers are great to work with…Nothing is too insignificant or too challenging to deal with. Their approach to creative development is inclusive and they deliver what they promise – on time and within budget.”
Bill Roberts, President and CEO of VisionTV recognized the need to adopt a more encompassing brand name. “What was once a single analogue television station is now a growing multi-media enterprise encompassing digital TV services, new media, an international programming distribution arm and more. We needed to create a unifying brand name – one that would be in keeping with our mission and values.”
Designing a New Identity
Riordon is often responsible for name creation and development, however in this case, the client first approached Riordon with two brand names in mind, and asked the firm to explore visual expressions of both for presentation to the Board of Directors.
Riordon developed several visual rollouts for the proposed names, along with preliminary applications for print and screen to show how the brand would “live” in its multimedia environment. While well received, neither of the names resonated with the Board members. So it was back to the think tank.
Two new naming options were submitted by Vision, one of which was “S-Vox”. Susan Mandryk describes the S-Vox name as meaning “the spiritual voice of the people”. She says, “It conveys the organization’s commitment to telling powerful and relevant stories of spirituality reflecting Canada’s diversity of cultures, beliefs and points of view – through traditional broadcasting and through emerging digital media. The S-Vox name has great boldness and clarity, and travels well across linguistic boundaries. It also evokes a powerful sense of what we have always strived to be: an organization that is insightful, inspirational, celebratory and visionary.”
The selected S-Vox identity incorporates a simple but forceful wordmark, along with an icon in the shape of a voice balloon. This icon features the shape of an “s” in reversed-out space, symbolizing the unseen nature of the spiritual. It is positioned above the wordmark to convey the sense of something greater than ourselves.
The Style Guide
The second challenge came with the simple scope of brand expressions that needed to be covered in the guide. The S-Vox identity would need to be expressed consistently across various media environments including television, web, print collateral, stationery, presentation materials and signage. Each component required detailed measurements, specifications for colour, clear space, fonts, supporting graphic elements and templates. Instruction needed to be thorough, and yet not overwhelming.
Final artwork and digital templates, in all their acceptable formats, are often made accessible through a password-protected section on the company website. In many enterprises, particularly larger ones, the identity will pass through the hands of many partners, internal and external, as applications are produced. An online databank of artwork, posted with the style guide, helps to safeguard the integrity of the brand.
Our philosophy for brand stewardship is that, if a guide makes sense and is easy to reference, people will respectfully use it. And a guide is somewhat organic. With time, it needs to be updated. As an organization evolves so must its brand expressions.
S-Vox was in the process of acquiring a large new space in the chic Liberty Market development of west downtown Toronto. The international, award-winning Marshall Cummings/IBI Group had been hired as the interior design consultants on the project.
Inspired by the beautiful space, Riordon began to assemble a design team for the project. “Over the years we have worked with sign maker Gary Capon of Planet Productions on a number of interesting projects and this seemed to be a perfect assignment to collaborate on,” says Ric Riordon.
“Gary and I met again on site with interior designer Liana Butt of MC/IBI Group to discuss ideas on what might complement the space and their design efforts. Liana’s input was extremely helpful in giving us another perspective on approaching each space uniquely and picking up on finish details and colours that pulled from the fixtures and interior design elements.”
Based on the reference photos and sketch ideas made on the team’s site visit, Riordon Design worked on 3D renderings for the marquee and reception area. This provided good visual reference to facilitate approvals to proceed with the design, not only from the client but from the building management as well.
Often there are functional challenges initially presented by the environment, such as communication barriers (covering windows, doors, privacy concerns), lighting (natural and manmade), technology and the availability of materials.
The S-Vox building was one such environment. The existing reception desk, for example, featured a distinctive satin chrome bolt detail that was used to fasten a linen frosted acrylic panel to its façade. Riordon was able to source that same bolt detail through the manufacturer, and these were then used on acrylic panels both in the marquee and reception areas.
Frosted vinyl privacy panels were integrated with selected inspirational quotes throughout the glass walled offices and meeting areas. These allowed light from the atrium ceiling of the warehouse space through, with as little interruption to the interior design as possible.
The marquee platform above the main entrance of the S-Vox offices defined a perfect opportunity for a sign architecture that would provide both drama and excitement upon approach. Finding a way to create the illusion of a floating voice balloon above the freestanding “S-Vox” wordmark, coupled with the knock-out of the letter “s” right through this graphical shape, yielded some challenges. Fortunately the support beam above provided assistance in the solution. Riordon used clear acrylic rods mounted to the top of each half to levitate the shape in position above S-Vox.