It might be obvious what the Trent Conference Centre do from their name, but their impact far transcends their apparent offering.
With one of the largest conferencing and events spaces in the midlands and a myriad of flexible and adaptable spaces, they've hosted product launches from Jaguar Land Rover, world-class training events for the NHS and team away days for the likes of Siemens and Boots.
All of that is incredible, but what really got us excited about working with these guys is their commitment to social action. Every year, TCC invests over 90% of their profits into the Trent Vineyard Charity, which facilitates social action and community across Nottingham to help address the needs of those struggling, those who are lonely, the homeless, ex-offenders, vulnerable youth, drug addicts, refugees and those facing debt crisis. Yes, you read that right; they give away over 90% of their profits!
So for every business that uses this conference centre, even more people will be positively impacted in the surrounding community. So when they approached us about helping reshape their brand positioning, identity and website, it was a massive yes.
STRATEGY AND POSITIONING
The fundamental part of any brand is not what it looks like but what it communicates to those who experience it. And to do this effectively, we must first understand the message the brand is trying to communicate, and to whom, before starting any design work.
This strategic process is one of the crucial areas missed in entry-level branding projects and often underpins why businesses will come to us for rebranding projects only a few years after that initial, and perhaps cheaper, branding work. A logo without strategy is like a house built without foundations; it won't stand the test of time.
Some of the insights gained during this discovery process led to the creation of four brand pillars. These pillars became the cornerstones for every decision, helping us shape a consistent, coherent, overarching message through each strand of the project.
Copywriting is a funny jargony word we use in the branding world. By Google's definition, it means the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material. In our context, it's the writing used on marketing assets or the website. Copywriting carries a lot of a brand's personality, acting as one of the main interaction touchpoints for the brand's audience.
As part of our copywriting work for TCC, we developed a hero tagline born from the 'Guide' brand pillar. Instead of just stating the types of events the conference centre can host (the conventional business-centric commercial approach), we opted to craft a series of taglines that engage the customer on a more personal level and put them at the centre of the story.
See video below.
The phrases encourage customers to imagine their specific event and firmly position TCC as their guide, ready to facilitate their vision for their particular event. It's simple, yes, but it's a counter-cultural stake in what can be a very corporate and business-centred sector.
Typically, when designing a brand identity, we'll present a few different concepts to the client for review. However, this was the first project where we've broken that rule—I showed one.
That's not to say that we didn't try to create other concepts; we did. But nothing else we tried seemed to come close to that initial idea. Although I won't lie, moments before that concept presentation, it did start feeling like a horrible idea... But after the self-doubt subsided and the client gave their feedback, we knew we were on to a winner.
The idea all stemmed from floor plans of all places. From the building's floor plan, the massive main auditorium at the heart of the building stands out beyond everything else. So I started playing around with the space's shape and the profile of the protruding stage as I could see some resemblance to the shape of a 'C' (for the Conference Centre). A few iterations later, once the design was refined to also draw connotations to an event ticket and a door to signify their welcomeness, it started to feel like a perfect match.
We also designed the mark to be flexible, changing shape so that it could take different forms for different applications, such as a window for an image, or for the shape of a button on the website. Again, this mirrors the conference centre's ability to 'flex' their offering through their adaptable spaces to suit almost any event.
Pairing the monogram with the wordmark, set in Ohno's Obviously, was the final piece of the puzzle. I've used Obviously for a few projects recently; its ability to balance professionalism with playfulness is unmatched. It works effortlessly across the brand, adding delight and joy to everything it touches whilst never crossing the line.
The primary purple colour was carried across from the existing brand, creating some continuity for their existing customers. However, we expanded the brand colour palette to pack more punch and be more flexible across the various brand collateral assets.
PRINT AND ENVIRONMENTAL
Trent Conference Centre shares its building with Trent Vineyard. This makes things challenging regarding wayfinding and environmental design. The building is a conference centre during the work week, but it's a church during the weekend with over 4000 congregants across a given month. So, we knew that a flexible wayfinding system was required, one that could adapt to the specific use case of the building at a given moment.
We started with bespoke a-boards. These can be moved around the building, acting as event delegates' first point of contact, confirming they are at the correct location. We then designed a range of physical collateral, such as name badges, leaflets and business cards, that can be used to dress the reception and staff, further reinforcing the brand upon guest welcome.
Finally, as a longer-term initiative, we proposed a series of screens and light installations inside the building that can dynamically adapt. For example, providing helpful information to event delegates, like how to get to their event space or find the toilets, but then seamlessly transitioning at the weekend to show church attendees where the children's creche is or what time the service starts. The screens and light allow the two distinct brands to coexist, adopting the relevant brand design and colours depending on the day of the week.
Finally, the website. This was one of my favourite parts of the project. The best way to learn more about the website is to go over and poke around—the link's at the top of this page. But for those who prefer the TL;DR version, here are my 3 favourite features.
The delightful animations when you land on the home page.
The 'Find a space' search feature. We spent soooo much time refining the little interaction details for how this works and how the search bar minimises when you scroll down.
The 'Our Story' page—and how it unfolds the brand's story.
This truly was a lovely project to be a part of, and thankfully it doesn't end here. We'll be working with the Trent Conference Centre over the next couple of years as part of a Brand Care plan. We offer these plans to clients at the end of branding projects to help with the wider roll-out and execution of their brand and marketing efforts. So keep a look out; there's lots more to come.