"A brand is simply trust"
“A brand is simply trust.”
Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
When the Cryoniss team started thinking about how we wanted to appear to the outside world, we asked ourselves some searching questions. Who are we? Why would customers place their trust in us? What is our mission? Every company has a set of principles that are the essence of their identity and reflect the reason for their being, so what were our core values?
Cryoniss are a highly specialised biological sample storage and logistics management company. We have published many scientific articles as well as expert advice from Phil Hargreaves and Sonia Houghton about freezing and thawing protocols and informative reports/pieces about how we deliver agility without compromising quality, but in my eyes, what’s almost as important is the Cryoniss branding and how it was formed. How exactly did the brand has come together, from a sketch on a beer mat to the fully realised logo?
In the beginning…
As Sonia comes from a research science background, she knows exactly where the pitfalls in research and development can be, and that’s usually in the quality and amount of degradation of the samples a bench scientist has to grapple with. Our mission to become a vital link in the chain of scientific discovery was crystallised.
“Enabling Exceptional Science” - This came to be the keystone on which we focus our entire approach.
They say that to become an expert in something, be that learning a musical instrument or indeed freezing biological samples, you have to do something for 10,000 hours. As Sonia had been doing this job year in year out, usually pulling 70-hour weeks before branching out on her own, she can justifiably say she is an expert in the field of biological sample storage and logistics management.
It’s not what you know…
When I was asked to create a logo for Cryoniss, it was somewhat different to the usual client brief. The typical project initiation starts with an email or a phone call, “Are you available,” “Are you interested?” etc. This job was briefed in a much more casual fashion, over a cup of coffee one Sunday morning. At this point I should clarify that I’m married to Sonia, the CEO of Cryoniss, adding credence to the notion that ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know!’ When Sonia wanted to start up Cryoniss, I was just the supportive husband in the background, but as time went by and with my skillset burning a hole in my pocket, my interest in what was happening started to overtake and ultimately curiosity killed the freelance career!
It has to be said, the matrimonial nature of this business development led to some unusual client/creative business discussions, for example, the origins of the company logo were sketched out on the back of a beer mat over a bottle of wine one Saturday evening.
As well as being experts at what we do, we also want to work with other specialists in their fields, so we brought onboard Cynara Livera of CST Marketing Management in order to develop a marketing strategy. Often, it’s only a fresh pair of eyes that can see what is right in front of you, and Cynara’s assessment was that our brand essence was all about “sophistication”
Sophisticated | səˈfɪstɪkeɪtɪd | adjective
(of a machine, system, or technique) developed to a high degree of complexity: highly sophisticated computer systems.
(of a person or their thoughts, reactions, and understanding) aware of and able to interpret complex issues; subtle: discussion and reflection are necessary for a sophisticated response to a text.
Oxford Dictionary of English
We are the experts in the field of the legal and ethical biological sample storage and logistics management. We are a/the keystone part of the research process and as such strive to support our customers. It is a level of performance and professionalism that guides how we present ourselves, how we behave and what we constantly aspire to. It is more than a word; it underpins our way of being, it’s about going further, doing more, being the best in our field to enable our customers to achieve the best that they can.
You have to lose yourself to find yourself
Once we had established our essence, how would this translate into our brand? The first iteration of our name was Cryosphere Services, and what a mouthful that was in retrospect! Everything about our operation connoted sophistication except our name. A rebrand presented a unique opportunity to update both our strategy and identity, so a new more concise name was created and with it, an opportunity to revise our logo with sophistication as the watchword.
In the early days we would have discussions around keywords such as reliable, robust, dependable, strong, expert, trustworthy, consistent. These words became the foundation of our brand.
All together now…
What was really enjoyable about this exercise was that there was a real sense of collaboration during this process. Having everyone on the same page makes bringing an idea on a beer mat to life much easier. The team was very open about the kind of colour palettes, illustrations and 3D assets they preferred. This had fed into our brand guidelines and will run throughout our various social media channels as well as video content, in turn leading to a more focussed approach. Once again though, in many ways the fact that we could exchange ideas about how our branding might evolve over the dinner table made the process a lot smoother.
Researching the broader scientific industry and how we wanted to position ourselves within it led to a series of word marks in a variety of colour palettes being considered. Each variation was subjected to the “but is it sophisticated?” question. After numerous variations, tweaks and revisions, we had settled on a logo we were all happy with. After the initial hurdle had been cleared, the branding became a much more natural process.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this rebranding has taken place under dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not being able to gather the team around the table to exchange ideas has certainly been a different way of working and collaborating over video chats and email has been an interesting experience that will, in many ways influence how we and many of our customers do business in the future.
A design for life
So how might the Cryoniss image evolve in the future? Branding and marketing are both iterative processes and constantly evolving, whether in line with how the business might change over time, or in line with design trends, new technology. Either way, I look forward to sharing updates with you in future blogs.