What makes an organization you can trust? For this interior design company based in Miami's Leah Arts District, I put together a visual language that would convey both a structural blockiness and a sense of modern stability.
It is always a unique challenge to build a brand identity that will occupy a niche in the market competing against established competitors. For Brutal, I decided the main brand differentiators would be a clean and modern aesthetic, bold use of secondary color, and contrasting graphic elements. Many of their competitors in 3D tiles still imitate traditional forms in their products, whereas Brutal tiles provide dynamic abstract ranges of light and shadow.
On Brutal's showroom facade water-jet cut aluminum letters are mounted as if floating on a wall of pure blankness and potential. When creating an entirely new visual identity for Brutal Ceilings LLC, it was also important to depict the organization as clean and sanitary, being their product is molded of the lightest of exterior grade plastics.
The Brutal Design Showroom is located in the heart of Miami's Leah Arts District in Hialeah, FL. Visitors can see the many tile designs available from Brutal on proud display in their gorgeous, modern, recently renovated warehouse and manufacturing space. The Leah Arts District has great food and even a craft brewery nearby, so it was important to create a brand identity that would fit into this dynamic upcoming cultural area, while looking towards its aesthetic future.
I selected ultra white for the base paint color to match Brutal tiles, which are made on-site from some of the brightest PVC on the market. The showroom floor, due to the complexity of the arrangement of the imported Italian ceramic tiles, was laid out and calculated entirely in digital design software. The tile layers used this plan to inform the placement of the ceramic with the utmost precision under my watchful design eye. The result was even better than I could have hoped, and provides a dramatic monochromatic contrast with the Brutal tiles suspended above.
The showroom is decorated with a curated selection of vintage, mid-century modern, and antiques. How cohesive the result is shows that Brutal tiles can find a place in nearly any home or office. Any color introduced into the space really pops against the ultra white surfaces.
The first and arguably most important step with with any brand identity is, almost without fail, the logo. Brutal's is no exception. With shapes that are blocky yet curved, geometric yet elegant, this logo encapsulates the company's essence and market position as the new standard in modern luxury ceiling tiles.
Created from the graceful curves and bold geometric lines of Brutal's premiere ceiling series, it is not so hard to glean, for example, the relaxed arcs of Brasilia, the angles of Blox, and the circular motions of SoBe tiles that inspired the letterforms.
To describe the features and benefits of Brutal tiles in a more visually striking way, I put together a series of icons based off simplified versions of each tile design. These designs are each paired with a corresponding vector image that conveys the relevant product feature, such as being fire tested, moisture resistant, and feather-light.
The icons below all follow the Brutal brand system of colors, based off of Risography inks. A potential customer can easily interpret each feature in a pleasant manner.
Icons as used on Brutal's product pages
Working within the overlapping constraints set by Brutal's head engineer and the cardboard box manufacturer, I developed a package graphic for printing that would positively convey the brand to new customers.
The logo is large and highly legible, and Brutal's premiere series of tile designs serve as both box decoration and palette of potential drop ceiling choices. Given the main constraints, namely restrictions on printing space and line thickness, the box cohered into a veritable menu of considered design choices.
Product Insert Postcards
When a customer receives their product, it is absolutely imperative that businesses include a product insert, be it a postcard, manual, flyer, or business card. Because of restrictions put in place by online sales platforms, companies are not allowed to overtly advertise their websites. However, it is perfectly acceptable to give customers a postcard keepsake, especially the back side carries a code giving access to installation instructions and answers to frequently asked technical questions.
This series of insert postcards elegantly brings Brutal's customers to a greater awareness of the brand and its products with a graphic sensibility. The dynamic and often whimsical designs achieved from the repetitions of Brutal tile forms is advertisement enough for the eye-catching sanitary virtues of the tile product.
Amazon Enhanced Brand Content
A fact for many new businesses today is that to make sales, you gotta be where the attention is. For selling products, that's the major sales platforms. Small businesses have a hard time competing for SEO against multinationals anyway, so if you can't beat them, join them. Brutal tiles can be purchased from BrutalCeilings.com, Amazon, Ebay, and soon Etsy. This allows them to be discovered and purchased by contractors, consumers, DIYers, business owners and home renovators all across the country.
Every platform has its quirks, and Amazon is no exception. I brought product images, sales graphics and copyrighting together for a listing that converts. Consumers today expect sellers to have sleek pictures and eye catching graphics, so we gave them some. Brutal's Brand Content makes sure potential customers are informed, engaged, and most of all – purchase motivated!
On social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, the infographic is king. Unlike traditional infographics made for print publication, infographics created for social media must conform to the format of their feed. The ideal instagram infographic is swipeable, colorful, informative, and most of all shareable.
By targeting content to people who would be interested in Brutal design products, e.g. architects, creatives, and Brutalism lovers, the consumer base can be expanded. This graphic illustrates the history of the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo in a way that is educational and fun! Being a new brand means being able to take more risks with design, small players should never be afraid to be bold and brave with their imagery.
Branding an entire new company was a huge undertaking, but it was well worth the struggle. It's not everyday that you get to create a whole new brand perception, and I relished the challenge. From logos to icons to images to showrooms, I did it all.
What's next for Brutal? As more sales happen all over the country, it's becoming a numbers game for our sales content. I'll be using purchase statistics to target and retarget the brand message, and to diversify our customer profile portfolio.
As a company based in an arts district, I want Brutal to become a part of the arts community, with events and outreach, promotions and customer features. I'm building out a new series of social content, 3D animations, and product demonstration videos.
Like many things, a brand identity is never really done. It is an evolving thing, driven by the creatives that make it, but also the market, the fans, and all the people that make it possible. I want people to be proud to call their ceiling, a Brutal Ceiling.