June 15 2018
When BioMed Central – the family of academic journals – needed to re-define their brand, and their brand purpose, they turned to True North for their expertise in making brands matter.
The advent of the internet in the 1990s brought great change to the world of academic publishing and the ways in which research was shared. A digital-first start-up, BioMed Central was a pioneer and the first to make an ‘Open Access’ model sustainable. However, competitors were quick to enter the market, offering their own versions of Open Access, causing BioMed Central to become one of many.
BioMed Central was still inventive, but felt that they needed to reinvigorate that original pioneering spirit, re-engaging with their audiences and clearly articulating their proposition to offer a wider portfolio of subject fields for authors or researchers considering Open Access publishing.
Biomed Central was now part of Springer Nature - the world’s leading academic publisher. And, as part of Springer Nature’s ongoing strategy to improve the quality of publishing and author services, there was a requirement for the brand to help galvanise their offer, both internally and externally.
We worked with the team at BMC to reframe their brand strategy – from being focussed on one breakthrough invention in 1999, to seeing innovation as an attitude where they continue to make incremental improvements to how research is shared.
Strategy Director Stuart Barnes said “The brand idea – ‘Research in Progress’ - was built upon insights of how BioMed Central operate, the nature of their service versus other brands, and the truth about how academic researchers view themselves – that most research is small steps forward rather than entirely new discoveries.”
Rebranded as BMC, they have successfully reached into new territories and markets, re-energised product development and now operate with far greater coherence. The visual identity system, inspired by the turning of a page to find out what’s next, has helped build their presence and achieve greater pride in the brand, inside and outside the organisation.
Following the launch of BMC, Rachel Burley, Vice President and Publishing Director at Open Research Group, Springer Nature said “This is a fantastic achievement, we are really delighted with the reinvigorated visual identity and brand story True North created for us and are looking forward to a successful future for BMC.”
June 13 2018
The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race has been rebranded by True North in a bid to reassert its position as Britain’s greatest race, helping to support future commercial ambitions.
The annual battle between the two universities marks one of the greatest rivalries in sport. This gruelling challenge spanning a history of over 185 years has become an annual British tradition that is broadcast around the world. However, with connotations of an event for the rich and the elite and the inclusion of the women’s race, the event branding needed to change.
True North Design Director, Sarah Dutton said “This was a once in a lifetime project. We aimed to recapture the race’s identity and heritage, to tell it’s unique story and help it rightfully claim it’s place as one of Britain’s top sporting events”.
Working alongside The Boat Race Company Ltd, True North developed a new positioning and visual identity that articulates the unique rivalry between the two teams, expressed through the concept of ‘Where Greatness meets’. “It is the perfect vehicle to highlight all the elements that go into making the race special” continues Dutton.
The new brand was rolled out at the latest race on Saturday 24th March, with further application over the coming 12 months.
March 11 2018
Due to an internal promotion, we’re looking for a Client Services Director with proven brand communications, leadership and business development skills. Combined with a natural flair for strategy, you will lead on a wide range of client projects across a variety of sectors.
As a member of the Management Team, you will work in close collaboration with our Managing Director, Director of Strategy and Creative Director, having responsibility for the delivery of projects, development of client relationships and will help to develop the agency offer.
The ideal candidate will have bags of drive and stamina, teamed with strong management skills and may currently be constrained by the strictures and structure of their current culture, where there may be little room to grow or develop. This isn’t the case at True North. We welcome original thinkers with a strong point of view.
As the focal point for clients and the account handling team, you will help to shape and deliver ideas that solve business challenges. Great communication skills, business acumen and natural relationship building are a must.
Experience in branding is essential, exposure to more diverse creative disciplines would be advantageous.
October 17 2017
If you're interested in joining our team, please send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
No agencies, thanks.
In the days after the attack on the Manchester Arena in May 2017, that led to the death of 22 people and the injury of many more, the City of Manchester came together, united in grief and defiance. It was a time to stand together, to remember and to recover. Crowds gathered in Albert Square to honour the people that had been killed, injured and affected by the atrocity. During the ‘Vigil of Peace’, a few days after the attack, Tony Walsh, also known as Longfella, read his poem ‘This is the Place’ to the large crowd that had gathered outside Manchester’s Town Hall. Tony’s poem became a fitting tribute, a ‘uniquely Mancunian tribute’ to this great city. The poem was also the inspiration for a creative project, it motivated James Torry to approach Manchester’s thriving and diverse creative community to produce a fitting memorial to ‘mark a moment, but to look forward with hope’.
Longfella on the steps of the town hall, image courtesy of James Torry.
Creatives from across Manchester were given a line from the poem and asked to interpret that line in an unique and thoughtful way. True North were given the line: And they built us a city, they built us these towns.
For us, the line illustrates the pride and hard graft of Manchester’s working class, the people who manually laid the foundations of the city we live in today. An early concept was to permanently imprint the line back onto the physical walls of the city. The medium chose itself, with Manchester being known for its range of industrial architecture; its warehouses, railway viaducts and cotton mills all synonymous with red brick. We wanted to build something new, but something that acknowledges the past with respect and appreciation, using original bricks from the city. The piece was to be about rebuilding, taking a mix of single, different bricks and fitting them together to represent a city broken by a tragic event but coming together to rebuild. Manchester’s strong foundation.
The first step was to source local bricks. There is a lot of demolition going on around the city at the moment so we approached a few of the sites to ask about original bricks. We were pointed in the direction of a reclamation yard that works closely with local demolition contractors. With the help of Dave at A1 Reclaimed Bricks, we were able to sort through the stacks of bricks they had at their yard to find a number of unique and individual pieces, some beautifully detailed.
The brick is such a simple building material, but by taking it away from its original purpose and context, and seeing it from a different perspective changes the aesthetic, creating a new structure that is visually strong and beautiful. A lot of time was spent creating the structure, interlocking the varying shapes until we had a suitable arrangement, we then looked at using a font that we could etch onto the bricks. How we used the type on the bricks would influence the decisions for the position and construction of the design.
A chiselled font was chosen, at first we used a design that was too detailed, we tested it and then re-drew it to create something that would work more effectively, that had enough detail but also complimented the bricks. We wanted it to look like it had always been there. The font was tested on paper and then on the brick and amended to make it as effective as possible.
Once the design had been finalised it was taken to be etched into the sides of the bricks. At this point we entered the unknown, we wanted to etch type onto the bricks but had no idea how to best achieve this, we had no idea what it would turn out like. After some extensive research we found Rob at The Blast Shop, he would attempt to sandblast the type into the bricks. Each brick had been made differently which meant we weren’t sure how they would individually turn out, thankfully Rob was happy to test and experiment to achieve the best results. The process and craft and the detail Rob managed was amazing. It was so exciting to watch the process, seeing the words revealing themselves, becoming permanently engraved.
With the finished bricks beautifully crafted, we took them to the photography studio of Will Shaddock, to rebuild the structure before shooting them for the final piece. The bricks were so detailed and beautiful, we just wanted them against a simple background so the brick told the story. After a day in the studio the finished image was submitted to the book creators.
For us this has been a unique and poignant project. Born out of tragic events and brought together by people who wanted to contribute to a lasting memorial, to look to the future and to offer hope. We want to thank everybody who helped make this happen. It was a truly collaborative project, with many people involved, eager to give their time, skills and experience to support us and to make a piece of work that in some small way would raise awareness and show that love wins.
The proceeds from the book will be split equally across the following three charities; Forever Manchester, We Love MCR Emergency Fund and The Greater Manchester Mayors Homelessness Fund. Forever Manchester will receive all funds and distribute evenly between all three charities. The organisers hope to raise money from the book for those worst affected by the darkness of that day and to help fund brighter futures for young people, the homeless community of Greater Manchester and strengthen communities and enrich local life by inspiring local people to do extraordinary things together.
To purchase a copy:
Waterstones - this-is-the-place
Amazon - This-Place-Choose-Love-Manchester
June 5 2017
This month sees the unveiling of our rebrand of the National Gallery of Ireland, the home of the national collection of European and Irish fine art.
A major refurbishment of the gallery’s historic wings and a new presentation of its permanent collections will reopen on 15th June 2017, and the gallery took this opportunity to refresh the brand strategy and identity to engage new audiences.
Through an insight phase with key stakeholders, staff and gallery visitors, we discovered how all audiences felt an affection for the collection and developed the identity based on the brand idea “Where Ireland embraces art”, reflecting the gallery's ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of its visitors through art.
The new visual identity features a bold, distinctive graphic symbol inspired by the gallery’s initial letterform ‘N’ and incorporates a stencil typeface inspired by engravings from its iconic building.
The simple but iconic marque is a useful brand device to communicate the breadth and diversity of National Gallery of Ireland, allowing the juxtaposition of words and images to really communicate the gallery’s offer, now and in the future.
Senior Designer Victoria Pinnington says “It was really important to us that the new brand identity reflects the values of the gallery, as well as feeling like it belongs with the space and the artworks. The new branding hopes to enhance visitor experiences onsite and online, to both inspire existing audiences and attract new audiences.”
The National Gallery of Ireland's new brand will begin rolling out across all communication touch points onsite at the gallery, and online following a redesign of the gallery’s website by True North and Reading Room.
January 17 2017
Working with illustrator Rebecca Strickson we have created the latest Royal Mail Special Stamp issue.
The eight stamps feature some of the most inspiring objects and atmospheric sites of British prehistory.
The stamps explore how people lived in prehistoric times and depict famous iconic sites as well as some of the most exceptional artefacts from around the UK.
The images present a timeline of prehistory, from a glimpse of ancient ritual of 11,000 years ago, to the Iron Age of around 300 BC. They indicate a huge degree of organisation in ambitious building projects, and sophistication in exquisite metal working.
Each stamp shows the contrast between how the site or artefact looks today and how it might have originally been used, through the addition of Rebecca’s linework illustrations layered over photography to tell individual stories.
We worked with historians and experts at the British Museum, English Heritage, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and Ulster Museum, carrying out in-depth research into each artefact and site, to discover how they might have been originally used.
Senior designer Sarah Dutton explains ‘Some of the subject matter was from way back in history so it wasn’t always clear how the sites and artefacts were originally used. Researching this with experts was a really interesting process and invaluable to helping us convey their use as accurately as possible. The challenge was in finding a creative solution that would apply to both sites and artefacts, showing the level of detail needed to tell their stories on two completely different scales’.
Illustrator Rebecca Strickson says ‘I really enjoyed the creation of the illustrations, particularly for Drumbest Horns, Star Carr Headdress, the Battersea shield, and the magnificent Mold Cape. The latter two, I went to see at The British Museum in the flesh to really get a feel of how they were used and worn. The workmanship on them both is truly staggering. These incredible artefacts, earthworks and places we treasure today deserve to be appreciated as the amazing feats they are.'
The Ancient Britain Special issue is released on 17 January and is available from post offices and the Royal Mail website.