Nae's brand identity
The Nae team aims to bring about change by closely and personally challenging and supporting organizational transformation with consulting services from start to finish. We know this now, both them and us, but we didn’t when we got their first email six months ago at Soluble. At the start of April this year we got an email from Alberto Hernández, Communications Director at Nae, which, amongst other things, said:
- " I think we share the same understanding of the “starting point” of a brand exercise and I am keen to know more about your approach. We might not be “your target client” (we’ve not been a start up for a good while now and we are also a consulting firm) but I’ve got to try at least. "
And they gave it a go and we gave it a go. And what a go we gave it! Because, as he said, Nae is not a startup. Nae is an international consulting firm with over 600 employees, across 5 countries, that will end 2019 with turnover of €50 million. To date, this type of company hadn’t been our target but that made it a challenge and we love challenges.
Emojis and a stroll can change everything
Both Ismael and Máximo won’t forget the meeting with Alberto and Inés that brought about the change any time soon. We went to present the progress on the verbal identity and some early ideas for the visual identity. When we were explaining the verbal style that would be used in Nae’s communications with clients, we suggested that emojis wouldn’t be used in emails. Albert’s face fell as he asked sadly “but why not?”.
Despite putting forward a solid answer, there was something that just wasn’t right. “Yesterday afternoon we went out on to the street for a hugging activity and Alberto’s discussion about love is famous in Nae”, Inéss aid. Alberto spoke again: “What about if we take a walk around the office?”
During this stroll through the work desks, meeting rooms, common areas, and Alberto’s and Inés’ explanations, we understood that Nae’s real spirit was based on diversity, on the many and different personalities present in the company. Understanding this reality which we hadn’t been able to grasp in the earlier strategic work meant a rethink of the whole verbal and visual identity that we’d devised and the strategy itself so that we could see what wasn’t working.
It was our turn to look glum as we started to plan out the next steps for a project which we now knew would be completely different to what we’d done so far. We gathered up everything and went to the studio to tell the team the latest news and keep on working.
- Moral of the story: when you think you’ve immersed yourself enough in a team, you can still go further. You can always do more to properly build a brand from within.
<i>If the Nae team were willing to be bold, then we had to as well.</i>
Strategy, Identity, Team
The Nae team speak about the company with a truly remarkable level of commitment and attachment. In the interviews we held to test our hypothesis we had comments like: “Nae is a part of me””, “Nae is a space for hope and creation”, “For me, Nae isn’t a thing, Nae is us”.
The answers confirmed that Nae’s strategy, team, and identity weren’t fully aligned. With a wonderful team and a strategy that we couldn’t hope to change but rather mould, the challenge was to provide them with an identity that matched the team’s feelings and the idea.
An identity that dares to go beyond
If something was to be kept in the strategy it was the slogan that captured the value proposition of Nae: “Dare to go beyond”. We understood, together with them, that we would only bring about change if we challenged ourselves and went beyond our own expectations and conventions to go beyond and reflect the human, expert, and disruptive vision of the team.
A sign that challenges and supports
In the process of removing an item that no longer represented Nae’s identity such as the hyphen in their logo, we found an element that gave that meaning of “going beyond”. The comma evokes perseverance, going beyond. The comma invites participation, support, and offers collaboration.
<i>A comma inviting participation and going beyond.</i>
The comma is a relationship and that is why Nae’s new visual system highlights the relationships and personal situations that form between Nae’s team and the people that support them. Nae’s solutions are personal and direct. Nae’s visual identity also reflects that.
We have used the comma as a building block for Nae’s visual system and it is a symbol that people can make their own. Nae, colleague. Nae, daring. Nae, expert. Nae, disruptive. A statement that always embraces the beyond.
Nae does not have a logo. At least not in the company’s understanding to date.
Just as we tweak the verbal tone of a brand because we don’t always use the same language, the spirit of Nae, based on the diversity of its staff, was crying out for an adjustment in the visual tone used by every team member to express themselves.
<i>More than a logo it is a tool of visual expression for the people at Nae.</i>
This was our challenge: achieve a flexible visual identity that really works and, above all, does not have a primary version.
<i>Nae’s visual system is a framework that allows us to put together different layouts whilst maintaining visual coherence.</i>
The good people at Nae have an online tool, developed at Soluble specifically as part of their brand centre where they can visually define how their bond with the company is expressed according to their own tastes or the relationship they want to have with whomever they are speaking to.
Whilst there are constant standards such as using lowercase and needing a comma, the rest of the design is free to evolve under the guidelines of Nae’s purpose and values. The result is visual diversity that is as proactive, challenging, and transformative as the company itself.
A full spectrum of expression
Nae does not have a colour. We like to perceive Nae as a variety of palettes, as varied as the very people who make up its teams. The people of Nae, using the specially developed too, can select the palette they want to use to express themselves and their relationship with the brand.
A daring font
Nae’s font is the suit that adorns its voice, that shapes its tone, and cements its style. It isn’t just any font. Nae’s font has unique features and qualities that make it ideal to stand out from typical corporate fonts. In fact, Nae doesn’t have a corporate font, they have a favourite font. Favorit Std, from the Dinamo type designer, is an essentially digital font. Digital and versatile just like Nae.
<i>Nae’s favourite font is Favorit. A font with character.</i>
A packed van and event to remember
Although the new identity has only been publicly unveiled very recently, the internal presentation took place a few months ago at the company’s annual event in Madrid. And was subsequently repeated in Mexico and Bogotá.
Just when we thought we’d given our all, Alberto set us another challenge to go beyond and said to us: “Do you dare to go a bit further beyond? Do you dare to organize our annual event where you’ll present the new brand?”. By now, you already know we said yes.
Given the way the new identity came to life, we felt that it was essential to make the guests at the event part of its creation. So, after a lot of preparation, we packed a van with materials and the Soluble team went off to Madrid to organize an event for 300 people.
Using activation activities and workshops (that’s the reason for the van full of materials), Nae workers were able to make the new codes and brand elements their own. They did so naturally and quickly, which goes to show again that when you build a brand with the spirit of the teams the result is a perfect fit.
Continuing with the challenge
The recent public presentation, whilst relevant, is simply a milestone on the road for us. It’s obviously very important but, just like the Nae comma, it inspires us to continue supporting Nae in the challenge of giving them tools to transfer their new identity to all the points of contact where it is in use.
We are still expanding the brand centre to assist in the quick uptake of the new materials, templates, and resources. We are starting on a transformative activation of office spaces to ensure they fully reflect the spirit of the identity and we are supporting the whole communication and marketing team at Nae with the creation of activities and materials for the new identity to be implemented as quickly as possible both internally and externally.